Your Guide to Parquet Flooring

This age-old flooring has a few modern tricks up its sleeve.

By: John Riha
Related To:
A Kitchen Warmed by Natural Wood

A Kitchen Warmed by Natural Wood

Accented by natural walnut open shelves and contrasted by the newly matched parquet floor, wood tones repeat the natural theme with the customized basket weave marble tile in the backsplash.

Instantly recognizable for its repeating, geometric patterns, parquet flooring is a centuries-old technique historically valued for an upscale appearance. Visit an upscale chateau or villa in Europe and you’ll often find parquet floors. In the U.S., parquet floors were popular in the 1950s and 60s.

Although the term “parquet” refers to flooring made with short pieces of wood arranged in geometric patterns, such as herringbone and basket-weave, most modern parquet flooring is made up of narrow strips of wood glued to a backing and cut into 9" x 9", 12" x 12", and 18" x 18" square tiles. 

Manufacturers offer motifs, designs, and color variations that, once installed, form visually striking patterns. Most wood parquet tiles are made from oak, ash and walnut, but you can find exotic species available at rather exotic prices. Some makers offer decorative borders and edgings that add even more visual texture to floor designs.

The thickness of wood parquet flooring varies from 5/16" to 3/4". The strips of wood are bonded to either a plywood backing or a mesh made from plastic, paper, or cloth. This creates lightweight tiles that are easy to install. Most parquet tiles are made with tongue-and groove edges and are designed for glue-down applications, but some thicker materials can be nailed to a subfloor. 

Wood parquet comes unfinished or prefinished. Unfinished tiles can be custom stained, and prefinished tiles have tough sealers. Prefinished parquet allows you to mix-and-match colors so you can add even more visual interest to your floor. Depending on the thickness of the wood layer, hardwood parquet flooring can be periodically refinished.

Although most parquet hardwood flooring is not recommended for below-grade installations, some manufacturers offer special moisture-resistant coatings and finishes that can be used in bathrooms, laundry rooms and other areas where spills, splashes and moisture occur regularly.

As an alternative to real wood, many laminate flooring manufacturers have products that mimic the look of wood parquet. Laminate flooring products feature a photo-realistic design layer under a tough plastic wear layer glued under heat and pressure to a fiberboard core. Laminate parquet flooring comes as DIY-friendly snap-together planks rather than individual tiles, with two or three repeating designs on each plank. Offsetting the planks creates a traditional parquet look.

Other options include vinyl tiles or sheet vinyl made to look like wood parquet. Sheet vinyl is an easy, inexpensive way to add the look of real wood parquet in high-moisture rooms and below-grade basements.

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