There's been a recent resurgence in the popularity of parquet flooring, no doubt in part to its use on home renovation television programs. What exactly is it, and is it even a viable option for the everyday homeowner looking to add charm and personality to their home? Here's what you need to know so you can decide if it's for you.
It's a really old style of flooring
It was introduced in France in the 17th century as a high end flooring option that was reserved only for the wealthy. This is because it's a mosaic of small pieces of hardwood pieced together in a repeating geometric pattern to create a dramatic designer floor. When it was first introduced each hand crafted piece of wood was placed individually, by hand, and installed one piece at a time. Understandably, this took a long time and cost a great deal of money. Fast forward to modern times, and parquet has certainly changed a great deal.
What was once only an option for the wealthy is now a reasonably priced option for any homeowner. Modern options have the gorgeous look of its early ancestors, but it's a heck of a lot easier--and quicker--to install. Small pieces of hardwood are mounted on a mesh or thin plywood base. You could still have a custom parquet floor installed (piece by painstaking piece), but that increases the cost significantly and you may struggle to find a contractor willing to install it for you.
A great DIY option
Because modern parquets come in pre-assembled tiles that are set in place, it is a popular choice for homeowners who want to install it themselves. As long as you take the time to make sure your pattern lines up properly, you'll get a great-looking floor for a fair price. Wood parquet floors cost between $3 and $5 per square foot if you install it yourself. It's closer to $7-$10 per square foot when installed by a contractor.
Pros and cons
Like any other type of floor, it has its positives and its negatives. On the plus side, it is a fairly easy and inexpensive way to get real wood flooring in your home. There are numerous patterns and types of wood to choose from, and you get a retro look that is currently coming back into fashion.
As far as negatives go, it does have its limitations that depend on the type of wood you choose. Because it is usually made of hardwood, it isn't suitable for below-grade floors like basements, although there are some tiles that can be used in those places. They are referred to as engineered wood floors and they are much more flexible in any area where humidity, temperature, and moisture levels can fluctuate.
The biggest negative that is the fact that not everyone likes the bold patterns. If you're planning on selling your home in the future, you may want to think twice about installing it since it might put off potential buyers who could see it as too old-fashioned. And refinishing old parquet flooring to make it look new again can be a pain since you have to make sure you sand in the direction of the grain on every single small piece of wood in each tile.
Overall, it can be a great choice for your home, especially if you're looking for the reliability and warmth of real wood with an added punch of personality. Just make sure to talk to your salesperson to help you choose from the different parquet flooring options and care for it in much the same way that you would traditional hardwood to keep it looking great for years to come.