Home Improvement

How to Lay Parquet Flooring

Parquet floors are fantastic. They bring style and cosiness to any room, and can easily be combined with different furniture and rugs. However, parquets are not very easy to install and can give any homeowner a run for their money if they decide to do it on their own. 

So, if you:

  • Would like to cover the concrete floor in one of your rooms with a solid wooden floor;
  • Want to replace your old, grimy tiles with a fresh set of parquet floorboards;
  • Have never laid wooden floors before and don’t even know where to start,

Then read along to learn how to lay parquet flooring!

Choose your parquet

Parquets come in many colours and patterns, but in their basic design, they are separated into 3 categories:

  • Solid parquet – As the name suggests, this kind of parquet is made up of one solid piece of wood. It’s cut as such from the tree it comes from. 
  • Engineered parquet – These are engineered from different layers of hardwood, which is why people sometimes refer to them as multi-layered floors. The top layer is hardwood, and the layers below are made of other wood-based products. These come in a wide range of thicknesses and formats, yet are not as expensive as laminate.
  • Parquet overlay – This is best installed over an existing floor, as it is much thinner than the other two types.

The installation process is the same for all kinds of parquet floors. The important thing is to calculate how much of it you actually need. That’s super easy to do:

  • Measure the length and width of the room;
  • Multiply the two numbers;
  • Add 10% for wastage (multiply by 1.1);
  • The result is the area in square metres.

To know how many packs of parquet you will need, divide the room size by the size written on the pack.

How to acclimatise your parquet 

Before you get down to laying your parquet flooring, you need to acclimatise it first. What is floor acclimatisation, you ask? Much like us humans, wood also requires certain temperatures and moisture levels to function properly. Hence, acclimatisation is the process of making your parquet boards familiar with their new environment. Not all wood boards require this, so read the packaging carefully. Failure to do this right might result in shrinkage, structural damage, or excessive wood expansion. Here is how to do it properly:

  1. Place your parquet in the middle of the room – a pretty self-explanatory step.
  2. Give the flooring at least 3 days – some wood materials may require an extra day or two. Generally, the more time, the better. This is so the wood material and the room even out in moisture levels. It should be neither gaining nor losing any moisture after this process is done.
  3. Unpack the flooring – take the boards out of the box and organise them into smaller piles. This will allow better air flow between the individual pieces. The wood will absorb moisture from all sides, instead of just one or two.

Leave the boards horizontally on the floor while they acclimatise. Otherwise, they might warp, and there’s no fixing that.

How to prepare a subfloor for laying parquet

Since parquet flooring is made of many small pieces, it requires a perfectly levelled and completely stable subfloor. In that regard, you can lay your parquet on concrete, tile and even a wooden surface, as long as it abides by those two criteria.

Wooden subfloor

If you want to use your existing wood floor, you will need to do the following procedures. If it was installed recently, however,  you can ignore these steps. So, what are they?

  • Fix squeaks – Insert screws every 15 or so centimetres to fix squeaks. Afterwards, walk around the floor and jump to see if there are areas that still squeak. If you find any, add extra screws to those spots.
  • Apply a floor leveller – In terms of consistency, it is very similar to concrete and will make the floor surface completely flat once it settles. Before you apply it, though, clean and wash the entire floor as best as possible. Afterwards, you can premix the leveller and slowly pour it onto the floor. If it is premixed properly you will not need to direct its movement, and it will level itself.

As far as wooden subfloors go, this is all you need to do before the installation of your parquet.

Tile floor

If you are not the one who installed the tiles but rather inherited them by moving to this property, you should do a moisture test. Perhaps the previous owner just preferred the look of tiles, but it’s also very possible that they went with tiles because of moisture levels.

Do a moisture test to make sure. If so it happens that the levels are too high, you should remove all the tiles and install plywood as a base. 

Provided that everything is okay with the moisture levels, you can now check for any broken or loose tiles. If you find any, replace them. Then wash the entire floor and leave it to dry.

When that is done, it’s time to apply a latex bonding agent and a floor leveller. Once it’s dry, you can get down to the actual installation of your parquet.

Measuring moisture levels is generally done with a hygrometer, however, there are some diy methods as well. Check this post on how to find the right humidity level in your home.

Concrete floor

If you plan to lay your parquet directly onto your concrete floor, check the moisture levels once again. If low, then you have nothing to worry about. On the other hand, if they are relatively high, you need to install plywood as a working base.

Provided everything is alright with your concrete, you need to clean it of any dust, oil, or grease. Then, make sure it’s level. If not, you will need to apply a floor leveller. Also, it’s recommended you add a moisture-resistant layer of plastic film. Once that is done drying, you are ready to install the parquet.

Important: Besides moisture protection and a perfectly levelled floor, you should also take into consideration noise reduction. It may be necessary if you have neighbours in the apartment below yours.

How to lay parquet flooring

There are two ways to lay a parquet floor: fixed or floating. Fixed means the parquet is glued to the ground, whereas floating means the parquet rests loosely on the subfloor. Whatever you chose, the laying method is the same.

You should also choose a pattern in which to lay the parquet boards. The most popular one is the herringbone, but you might find it too challenging if you’ve never done it before. So, it is recommended you go with a linear pattern.

If you use old parquet boards for a more authentic look, you need to check if they have bitumen on the underside. Bituminous paint is often used on floors of properties for its waterproof and corrosion resistance qualities. If you have bought reclaimed parquet boards, chances are they have been glued to the floor with bitumen. But bitumen becomes brittle over the years, it doesn’t help the boards stick better to the floor and it might cause lumps after the installation is over. 

With that said…

  1. Lay the first board in the left corner of the room. The tongue side of the board should be facing the wall.
  2. Remove the tongues from the long sides of the other planks which will be in the first row.
  3. Add wedges between the boards and the wall to make a gap of about 15 millimetres. This is quite necessary, as the wood naturally expands and contracts because of moisture levels and temperatures.
  4. Lay the rest of the planks in this row across the entire width of the room.
  5. Cut the last plank in the row and leave another gap of 15 mm between it and the wall.
  6. Make sure all the planks in the first row are perfectly straight.
  7. Cut the first plank for the second row in half.
  8. Hold the plank at a 30° angle and push it, tongue first, into the groove of the plank in the first row. They should snap into place.
  9. Tap with a hammer to completely secure the boards in place.
  10. Do this for the rest of the boards in row two, and so on.
  11. If you have obstacles, such as heating pipes for radiators, cut the boards into the right shape with a jigsaw. Keep in mind that you need to leave some space around the pipes because, as already mentioned, the wood subtracts and expands.
  12. You will have to cut the last row of boards to make them fit.
  13. Remove the wedges.
  14. Attach the skirting boards.

You can book Fantastic Services for other flooring services as well. Check our dedicated page for more info.

Hire professionals

If you find the task of installing a parquet floor too difficult and tedious, don’t worry. You don’t have to waste your time and efforts, hire professionals instead! Fantastic Services works with floor fitters who are highly experienced and fully equipped. They will lay your parquet flooring in a stress-free manner while you spend your time on more pleasurable activities.

Takeaways

  • Choose the right kind of flooring according to your taste.
  • Always acclimatise your parquet for a few days by leaving it unpacked into the room where it will be installed.
  • Prepare the subfloor in accordance with the ground in the room.
  • When laying your parquet, remember to leave 15 mm between it and the wall. This is because of the expanding and subtracting properties of the wood.

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Did this post help you with your parquet fitting? Did we miss anything? Leave us a comment.

Image source: Shutterstock / KarepaStock

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