Parquet Flooring – All About Parquet Patterned Floors

parquet flooreParquet flooring is an elegant style of flooring with geometric shapes & patterns. Today, parquet flooring refers essentially to the patterned style of flooring rather than the flooring material. Parquet floors were originally constructed of solid wood blocks, intricately & painstakingly pieced together into elaborate designs by highly skilled woodworkers. Nowadays with the wide variety of flooring materials available, parquet style floors are made from practically any type of flooring material from wood, vinyl, tile & stone to bamboo & cork.

Floor tiles or planks are arranged in repeating patterns, angles & shapes like triangles, squares, zig zags & even suns & stars. Many modern materials which can mimick wood like vinyl, tile & laminate can create what looks just like an authentic hardwood parquet floor. The patterns can also vary in colors & materials. In some cases several species of wood are combined.

Though to come across a true hardwood parquet floor that was pieced together like a puzzle by a skilled woodworker is actually uncommon. Today, square prefabricated parquet floor tiles are the most common way of laying parquet floors. These are do it yourself friendly & can be easily laid together to create a parquet patterned floor. Many click together & can be floated over existing flooring without nails or glue. They do not require the experienced craftsmanship of a highly specialized professional installer. They are less costly than such skilled labor & are most common in vinyl or engineered wood.

Solid wood prefab parquet tiles are also available. They are however the most expensive and are less common, available only through a few specialized manufacturers like Czar Floors. The less costly engineered wood tiles have a surface (veneer) indistinguishable from hardwood tiles. The difference is that engineered wood is made with a veneer – a thin layer of hardwood only. Most engineered wood has a veneer which is too thin to be refinished like solid hardwood which can be refinished several times. Engineered wood & vinyl however are less costly than hardwood and are more water resistant, so they’re suitable for humid places like basements or bathrooms.

Parquet Flooring History & Popularity

parquet floorParquet style hardwood floors originated in France during the 16th century when the most wealthy would decorate their extravagant palaces by having skilled laborers piece together the most unique & intricate type of flooring that money could buy. In the 1960’s American flooring manufacturers popularized prefab engineered wood parquet tiles. They offered the opulent parquet style at a relatively reasonable cost. Parquet style floors became very common in American homes during the 60’s & 70’s until lower cost options like luxury vinyl & laminate eventually took over.

Parquet flooring, though more popular at times has never gone out of style. Flooring trends tend to wax & wane like the moon. With parquet there’s many patterns & certain patterns have been popularized at times, then faded & later made their comeback. Because parquet is bold, unique, luxurious & varied it will always have a place somewhere in some form or another.

In 2022 some reports on trending styles claim that parquet is becoming more popular again with the resurgance of mid century modern home styles. Of course style is a subject of debate because for some folks parquet flooring may appear dated. There’s always those who are more inclined to neutral & safe styles which are not too busy and are more universal. This is especially a consideration when designing a home that is going to be sold.

Popular Patterns

parquet-patternsThe Herringbone pattern is hailed as a classic & the most well known parquet pattern of all time. It is a somewhat straightforward & simple but elegant zig zag pattern done with boards of equal length & width laid at 90 degree angles. Herringbone pattern may not look too difficult to lay down, and there’s no fancy cutting, but a small error in alignment can throw off the entire floor. The subfloor should be perfectly flat. So unless you’re a real go-getter do-it-yourselfer, it’s best left to a professional.

Of course, as mentioned, herringbone or any other parquet pattern can be done with just about any type of flooring material. Many parquet patterns like herringbone are called brick patterns as they are patterns which are also used in brick laying.

The Chevron pattern is very similar to Herringbone & was very popular in the 60’s & 70’s. The boards are also laid at 90 degree angles but the ends are cut to 45 degrees so that both ends meet together & create a V shape.

The Versailles pattern originates from the parquet floors installed in the palace of the French King Louis XIV. It is a type of basketweave pattern more complex than herringbone. It’s composed of squares that have strips of wood arranged in a woven pattern. There are many different types of basket weave patterns & Versailles is a popular one.

Parquet Flooring Cost

As mentioned, solid wood is the most costly type of parquet flooring, whether it’s for premanufactured floor tiles or for a custom cut specialized installation. In fact this is about the most costly type of flooring money can buy running from $20-$50 a square foot. Such floors are not really meant for high traffic areas or rooms for kids & pets. Such an investment is suitable for areas which are showrooms of elegance like dining areas & ball rooms.

Herringbone & Chevron however, which do not require any fancy cutting, are popular patterns which are often done with hardwood planks. Although more time consuming & costly than a regular hardwood installation, the cost is more feasible. These patterns are often found in foyers, living rooms & dining rooms. Solid hardwood herringbone or Chevron in these areas is a good investment that will surely add value to the home.

For everyday usage & something more affordable, easily installed prefabricated tiles made of materials like vinyl, engineered wood, laminate & bamboo is most practical & cost effective. Luxury vinyl & engineered wood are great for concrete slabs & moist areas like basements, bathrooms & laundry rooms. Engineered wood is also great for use with radiant floor heating. It is available in various types of wood species like oak, walnut & ash. These types of tiles range from $3-$7 a square foot, $7-$12 with professional installation.

Parquet Flooring Performance

parquet floorParquet floors performance & care is according to which material it’s made from & is essentially the same as any floor made of the same materials. There is some exceptions to this for solid hardwood floors though. Solid hardwood tends to expand & contract with temperature & humidity, periodically creating gaps. This is more an issue with parquet which has many more wood pieces & seams. Thus solid hardwood is not recommended for parquet in humid places. Also solid hardwood parquet floors are more costly & time consuming to sand & refinish than regular hardwood floors because of the alternating position of the wood grain. This requires very careful expertise by a professional refinisher to sand the floor without creating cross grain marks.

One must consider the performance properties of whichever material is used whether it’s solid or engineered wood, vinyl, laminate, tile, etc. Consider the cost of materials & installation, how water resistant it is if necessary, how environmentally safe it is, if the materials & finishes are certified free of VOC’s. Consider the manufacturer warranties & other properties like resilience & insulation of sound & temperature according to your needs. Cork for instance is soft, warm & comfortable to walk on while insulating sound & room temperature. Solid hardwood is less warm & louder to walk on, yet warmer than ceramic tiles. Also consider which type of install is best in terms of glue down, nail down or a click together floating floor. There’s even inexpensive peel & stick vinyl tiles with parquet patterns that are super easy to install. And consider how flat & level the subfloor is. Some rigid materials require a very flat level surface while something like luxury vinyl is more flexible & forgiving.

With flooring there are practically endless options. We hope this helps you get a better idea of what works for you & whether parquet flooring is the right choice.

The Floor Master

Hardwood flooring expert for over 30 years, serving in the NYC area.

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