How To Install Parquet Flooring
Parquet flooring can deliver boundless personality to any style of home. No matter which pattern you choose, you’re sure to have a decorative feature that’s perfect for hallways, kitchens, and living rooms.
But there’s one catch: parquet flooring is notoriously tricky to install.
Due to their intricate designs, a little more work is required in order to get the best possible results. However, if you are set on fitting your own flooring, there’s a few things that you can learn that will make DIY installation efficient, effective, and pain-free.
Whether your parquet flooring comes in solid blocks, tongue and groove, or with a click installation system, the most important thing you can do is be prepared.
Before we begin, please bear in mind that this blog provides an overview of the installation process. Undertaking installation can be a complex procedure, so if you have any doubts it’s best to seek the expertise of a professional fitter. For a broader range of advice on installation methods, click here.
If you're looking for a place to start, here are some useful tips to get you on the right track:
Before You Start
If your renovation project requires the use of wet materials, make sure they have dried before you begin preparing for installation.
Plastering, masonry, and painting can alter the moisture content of a room, and will affect the structural integrity of your parquet flooring.
Additionally, make sure that you have everything you need for successful installation. Whilst some equipment may vary, tools such as tapping blocks, spacers, tape measures, and saws will always prove invaluable.
This guide will help you figure out which materials are needed for quick and easy fitting, so take note!
Preparing Your Subfloor
If you want your new parquet flooring to be secure and stable, you need to ensure that your subfloor is in suitable condition.
Whether you’re using traditional or contemporary fitting methods, your subfloor needs to be dry, even, and solid. Hardwood can be installed above a selection of subfloors, so it’s important to know how to prepare each one correctly.
Concrete, plywood, tiles, and existing hardwood flooring are all ideal candidates, but require different kinds of preparation.
Concrete and Tiles
Thoroughly clean your subfloor, removing any debris, grease, or broken tiles. Foreign bodies will prevent your parquet flooring from being level, and will reduce the effectiveness of glues and other adhesives.
Secondly, you are going to want to assess the moisture content of your concrete base. The presence of moisture can cause movement within the boards, and prevent adhesives from working effectively.
There are 3 ways you can test for moisture:
- Plastic Sheet Test: Cover your subfloor with plastic sheeting, sealing all sides with duct tape. Leave for 48-72 hours. If moisture is present, condensation will appear underneath the sheet.
- Calcium Chloride Test: The instructions of each testing kit may vary depending on manufacturer. However, all follow the same principle. Dry calcium chloride is poured into a container, weighed, and then sealed above the subfloor. The solution is then left for 72 hours and re-weighed. The difference in weight will indicate how much moisture is present.
- Handheld Moisture Meter: The device is held perpendicular to the concrete or tile subfloor, with pins protruding from the top. These pins are pushed into the subfloor, and a measurement is displayed on the screen.
If there is moisture present within your subfloor, you will need to apply a layer of plywood or Damp Proof Membrane before your parquet flooring can be installed.
Finally, you must level your subfloor. Deviations in height that measure above 2mm will cause instability and unevenness once your parquet flooring has been installed.
A belt sander can be used on concrete to reduce the height of any peaks, or a floor leveller can be applied. In this case, a latex bonding agent must be introduced to the subfloor first. This will make the floor leveller adhere properly.
Existing Hardwood Flooring
Unlike concrete, hardwood flooring can be prone to movement. Whilst this is perfectly fine for day-to-day use, you will need to amend any squeaks or loose boards if you wish to use this as a subfloor.
Simply nail or screw each board in areas where movement can be felt underfoot.
Don’t be afraid to put your flooring to the test. Jump up and down on your flooring to locate any additional squeaks, and add support where necessary.
Once your existing hardwood flooring has been properly secured, thorough cleaning is required.
Finally, floor leveller can be applied. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for best results.
For a more comprehensive overview of subfloor preparation, check out our blog post!
Acclimatise Your Parquet Flooring
Once your room has been prepared for flooring installation, you can begin to acclimatise your parquet blocks.
In previous posts, we have discussed why this is so important. Put simply, wood that has not been acclimatised will be prone to warping and buckling, and can be damaged if there are fluctuations in humidity.
It is important to note that some changes will occur as the seasons change. Don’t worry, this is perfectly natural, and cannot be prevented.
To ensure that your parquet flooring does not move once fitted, each board must be introduced into the room 2 weeks before installation.
However, you need to check the humidity of the room beforehand. The area should have 40-60% humidity for optimal results, and should not exceed 23°C.
You can achieve this measurement with a Thermo-hygrometer, which are cheap and easy to find online.
If the installation space is unsuitable, you can reduce humidity by improving air circulation, or by placing a dehumidifier in the room.
Once your room has reached the correct temperature and humidity, you can begin to store your parquet flooring.
Stack the boards in small, ‘Jenga’ style piles. Make sure to place each pile at a distance from one another. This allows for sufficient air circulation, ensuring that every single piece can be acclimatised.
Once the two-week period has finished, installation can begin.
Begin by measuring each wall, marking the centre point.
Extend a chalk line to the opposite wall, lift, and snap to mark a straight line. This will create a visible intersection at the centre of the room.
This will act as the starting point for your installation.
If your room is not a square or rectangular shape, finding measurements may be trickier. However, we have created a dedicated guide to help you get quick and easy results.
At this point, the installation process will vary depending on which method you are using. Fixed blocks, tongue and groove, and click fitting all require different steps, so make sure to check before installation.
Parquet patterns may also vary, so it’s important to feel comfortable and confident with your chosen design before you begin installation.
If you are installing herringbone, the blocks will have to be off centred. This is to ensure that the characteristic zig-zag remains central.
The direction of your pattern is down to personal preference. However, most parquet flooring is fitted parallel to the longest walls of the room.
In addition, remember to remove any old adhesives or debris from your parquet blocks. This is imperative if you are using reclaimed boards, as left-over bitumen will cause issues with the installation process.
DO NOT forget to leave a 15mm expansion gap at the base of each wall. To achieve a consistent width, use a spacing piece at all times.
This gap will compensate for the natural movement within you parquet flooring. You can cover this space with skirting board after the installation process.
Once a mid-point and pattern has been established, start by laying one row of your parquet flooring without adhesive. This will ensure that the pattern is even and symmetrical.
All patterns can easily become bowed or curved, so always refer to the central line.
Once you are happy with how the pattern looks, it’s time to begin applying adhesive.
Using a V notched trowel, cover the desired area in a suitable glue, and begin securely bedding each block. Working one row at a time, firmly push each block into place, leaving no gaps.
Leave each row to set before applying more glue. This will prevent your pattern from moving as you add more blocks.
Tongue and Groove
Tongue and groove boards differ from fixed blocks. Each plank has been cut with a protruding ‘tongue’ and an indented ‘groove’.
This design allows each board to fit together securely, instead of simply lying next to each other. Once in place, use a tapping block and rubber mallet to ensure connection between the planks.
When using this method, remember to check the tongue and groove for any debris, and sand away if necessary. If the tongue does not fit seamlessly into the groove, unevenness may emerge on the surface.
As with fixed blocks, begin installation in the middle of the room, fitting one row at a time.
The tongue and groove design can be fixed directly to the subfloor, however, there are a number of other installation methods that can be used:
- Secret Nails: If you are installing above a wooden subfloor, each board can be nailed. The nails are positioned at a 45-degree angle on the lip of each tongue. This can be achieved by hand, or with a specialised nail gun. Once the tongue has been placed inside of a groove, the nails become hidden.
- Floating: One of the simplest method of installation. No additional nails and adhesives are required to fix the boards to the subfloor. Instead, a thin layer of PVA glue is applied to each tongue. Underlay is often required for comfort and support.
For more information about floating your flooring, click here.
This is by far the easiest way to install parquet flooring.
Similarly to tongue and groove boards, the click installation system allows each plank to fit together securely. However, the tongue has been rounded on one side in order to lock into place without glue.
Use a tapping block and rubber mallet to ensure that each board has properly clicked into place.
As click installation parquet flooring is not glued or nailed, it is recommended that a weight is applied to the surface of the wood during installation. This is to prevent the pattern moving as each board is locked into place.
Remember to always consult your central line. Minor adjustments can be made, however, this will become difficult as more boards are attached.
To ensure symmetry and even fitting, begin in the middle of the room, installing one row at a time. This process is identical to the methods described above.
Cutting The Edges
As your parquet flooring reaches each wall, you are going to have to make some cuts to your boards.
Depending on which design you have chosen, you may want to add a border for decoration, or extend the pattern to the expansion gap. If you are using the tongue and groove or click installation system, the absence of a border may make completing the parquet design more difficult.
This is because the small pieces will be tricky to fit securely into each groove.
If fixing to a subfloor, it’s recommended that the adhesive doesn’t reach beyond where you intend to make the cut. This will prevent the off-cut from being easily removed.
If installing a border, use a crowbar to pull the board away from the wall, and place a spacing block to maintain the size of the expansion gap.
Sanding and Finishing Your Flooring
In some cases, your parquet flooring will require sanding to remove any damages, blemishes, or imperfections. Additionally, a finish of lacquer or oil must be applied to seal the boards, making them suitable for footfall.
If your planks have been pre-finished during the manufacturing process, this shouldn’t be necessary.
Instead, you will only need to clean your flooring. This should be done without using excess moisture, as this may damage the boards.
Have Your Say
Don’t hesitate to tell us about your latest flooring renovation projects. Got your own tips for installing parquet flooring? Leave a comment below!
The images features our: Chamonix Mocha Oak (CHE210).