Parquet tiles make laying wood flooring a snap

January 24, 2009|By PAT LOGAN / Creators Syndicate

Dear Pat: I have always been partial to standard hardwood-strip flooring, but installing it myself would be difficult. Are the packages of parquet flooring labeled "do-it-yourself" really do-it-yourself? - Ali W.

Dear Ali: Strip-style hardwood flooring can be difficult to install yourself for the first time. To do it properly, you must drive nails through the edge of one piece into the tongue of the adjacent piece. Any uneven gaps between strips will be readily apparent.

Many people believe that hardwood parquet flooring is more attractive than traditional strip flooring. Parquet flooring is available in many patterns and woods, such as maple, walnut, ash, and oak. The 1-by-1-foot squares offer the flexibility of varying the floor design throughout a room.

Installing hardwood parquet flooring is truly a simple project for even the inexperienced do-it-yourselfer. With the crisscross pattern of parquet flooring, minor misalignment of a few square tiles is not particularly noticeable. Because labor costs are significant when installing flooring, the savings can be substantial.


Thicknesses of parquet tiles generally range from 5/16 inch to 3/4 inch. A thicker tile costs more but holds up better. Greater thickness also allows for more refinishings throughout the life of the floor. The only drawback is a thicker parquet tile raises the floor level more, so you must cut more off door bottoms for clearance.

Most hardwood parquet floor tiles are available as either tongue-and-groove or butt edges. You must also select between unfinished or pre-finished tiles. The simplest to install are pre-finished tiles with smooth butt edges. These are best on a level and flat floor with stable subflooring. They can be purchased with self-adhesive backing.

For most subfloors, you would be better off installing tiles with a tongue-and-groove edge. If there is any unevenness in the subflooring, the tongue-and-groove edges lock the tiles together so the edge joints stay even. Also, if a tile comes loose from the adhesive, the adjacent ones will continue to hold it in place.

Preparing the surface of the subflooring is key to a professional-looking floor. Take some time initially to remove all the furniture from the room instead of just tying to move it around as you work. Remove the baseboards and shoe moldings. Mark the location of each one or you will surely forget when it is time to reinstall them.

Parquet tiles can be installed over almost any stable subflooring. Using a sander, remove any highpoints on the existing floor. If you are installing parquet flooring over existing tiles or other flooring that has been waxed, be sure to strip off all the wax so the adhesive sticks well.

Start laying parquet tiles in the center of the room, not at an edge. Find the true center of the room by driving nails into the floor at the center point along all four walls. Stretch chalk lines across the nails on opposite walls and snap chalk lines on the floor. Use a carpenter's square to make sure the lines are perpendicular.

Tongue-and-groove tiles fit together only one way, so you don't have to worry about getting some backwards. Spread adhesive on the floor just up to the chalk line and lay the first row of tiles. Place six tiles at a time and then tap them into the adhesive bed with a rubber mallet.

Send your questions to Here's How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit

Copyright 2009 Creators Syndicate Inc.

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