Is It Time To Bring Back Wood Parquet Flooring?

Wood Parquet Flooring
Getty/Fernando Bengoechea

Where did all of the wood parquet flooring go?

Visit a wood flooring retailer and up front you will find perennial favorites such as 3.5" hardwood strip flooring and wide plank flooring. In back: cartons of wood parquet.

At one time, wood parquet flooring was a staple of mid-century modern homes' kitchens, dining rooms, dens, and rec rooms.  Over the years, it was replaced with sheet and tile vinyl, luxury vinyl plank, ceramic tile, or engineered wood.

But wood parquet deserves much more attention than it gets. It looks great; it is an easy install and it adds instant class to a room.

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Wood Parquet Floor At a Glance

  • Easier To Install: Wood parquet is the only solid hardwood flooring that installs as easily as tile.  Glue-down installation means no nailing is required. Urethane-based adhesive has a 60-minute working time, which allows you ample time to perfect the placement.
  • Above-Grade Only: Because parquet is real wood, manufacturers recommend that you install this product at or above grade. This means it is not recommended for basements.
  • Thin:  Parquet is very thin--about 5/16".  As such, you are not getting much structural value.  Parquet flooring is much thinner than solid or engineered flooring.
  • Rich Look: Multi-piece construction lends a deep, 3D appearance.

    From Royalty To Post-War

    Wood parquet flooring has enjoyed a high-toned past, going back as far as three centuries. If you tour European castles, mansions, and chateaux, fine wood parquetry will no doubt grace the soles of your tired tourist feet.

    Parquet flooring's aristocratic past is ironic, considering that parquetry is a method to use up small wood scraps that are otherwise too small for flooring.

    Wood parquet floor lends itself perfectly to complex patterning. Skilled artisans can achieve a lustrous, three-dimensional look.

    Owners of mid-century modern homes get special "brownie points" for owning and maintaining parquet flooring.  While everyone knows about MCM icons such as pendant lights, exposed beams, and room dividers, only the true connoisseur knows about authentic touches such as pine cabinet kitchens and parquet flooring.

    The Only Wood Floor That Installs Like Tile

    Wood parquet flooring enjoys one distinction that no other solid wood flooring can claim: simple, glue-down installation and manageable tile sizes.

    While you will find plenty of varieties of floating, self-stick, and glue-down laminate flooring, if you are intent on installing real hardwood with the convenience of glue-down installation, parquet flooring is your answer.

    No hammering or nailing is required.  Because wood parquet typically comes in 12" x 12" tiles, at about 30 lbs. per box, it is easy to handle.

    Solid hardwood will tax your miter or hand saw.  At around 5/16", thick, wood parquet flooring is a slick and easy cut.  You can cut it with little effort with a hand saw.

    But Be Aware

    Acquired Taste:  Plan on selling your house in the near future?

     Do not install parquet.  As the saying goes, parquet is "an acquired taste" that you may enjoy but buyers likely will not.  

    Adhesive Installation:  While installing wood floor with adhesive is easier than nail-down solid or engineered wood flooring, it is still more difficult than the increasingly popular lock-and-fold joinery used with luxury vinyl plank or laminate flooring.

    Sanding Difficult:  The multiplicity of wood "puzzle pieces" means that wood grain runs in both directions, perpendicular to each other. This gives wood parquet its attractive appearance, but it also means that floor sanding needs to be approached very gently. Sanding needs to be consistent with the grain of the wood, difficult when the grain is running in many different directions.  In the end, parquet's thinness means that you will not be able to substantially sand it down.

    Its veneer top can tolerate only very fine grain sandpaper, with only the lightest pressure on the sander.