Considering parquet flooring? You’re in good company. Parquet has been a tried and trusted flooring solution since the 16th century, when it was first recorded in France.
Reportedly, the owners of grand historic mansions were fed up with how difficult their marble floors were to maintain and clean. As condensation built up on the marble, the wooden joists of the floor suffered from rot, and the heavy marble sank and became unstable.
Looking for alternatives, wooden floors seemed a sensible choice, but lacked the decorative element which marble brought, so flooring technicians of the time started laying the wooden pieces in decorative geometric patterns. Louis XIV, who was the King of France in the 1680s, installed several creative designs at the Palace of Versailles, which were envied and imitated by his visitors for hundreds of years. Rectangular pieces in different sizes could be arranged in a variety of ways, but the herringbone pattern was the most popular choice. Other patterns soon developed, including 'Three Fingers', which uses three narrow rectangles slotted together to make a square. The adjoining squares were rotated 90 degrees, giving a chess board style pattern.
Over time, people got better at looking after their parquet floors. The natural moisture found in wood was discovered to be the culprit for many parquet disasters, and cleaning methods improved, stopping the floors buckling quite so easily.
As with all fashions, parquet lost some popularity in the 1930s, when new flooring
surfaces like carpet and Lino were the flooring of choice. Nice as they were, their
generic patterns lacked the charm and history of parquet, and as time has gone on,
we find ourselves dealing with more and more enquiries from people keen to get a little
of that Edwardian charm back into their homes.
These days, the rectangular blocks are far more stable than their historic ancestors,
with many employing a tongue and groove system to click them into position quickly
and securely. Hardwearing parquet flooring is just as advanced as commercially
alternative laminate flooring planks, or solid wood floors. The advantage of parquet
over these long planks of flooring is that the smaller pieces of parquet can be far more
easily customised to your own design.
Parquet floors are a lot easier to maintain than you might think. All that historic knowledge, combined with modern techniques like sanding, varnishing, polishing and refinishing of parquet floors, means that your parquet flooring can look as good as new – and be something that King Louis XIV would be seriously envious of!