History of Parquet Flooring
The Royal French court of Louis XIV, “The Sun King”, is widely considered to be the birthplace of parquet flooring.
Soon after Louis moved his court to the Palace of Versailles, maintenance issues led him to replace marble floors there with wood in 1684.
This was the height of the Baroque period, a time when architects and designers were preoccupied with geometry and symmetry.
In keeping with the geometric splendour of Versailles, the replacement floors were made up of large self contained diagonal square wooden mosaic panels or compartments. Each panel comprised an elaborate geometric lattice.
Early Chevron and Herringbone
Modern Herringbone and Chevron parquetry began finding its way into upmarket European and North American buildings from around 1870.
The uniform size and shape of chevron and herringbone blocks was far cry from the ornate multicoloured inlaid panels introduced to Versailles 200 years earlier.
These new blocks were a product of the second industrial revolution. A time when new mechanised saw mills with precision cutting technology made it possible to quickly turn offcuts and less usable pieces into a valuable new byproduct.
Elegant looks aside, Parquet was an ingenious and very practical solution to an age old problem: how to insulate and alleviate the harshness of cold stone floors.
Their small blocks separated by many joints allowed freedom for the floor to expand and contract with temperature and humidity changes in a way that floorboards could not.
Rather than warping like floorboards, expansion and contraction of a parquet floor would typically result in a few blocks coming loose and requiring re-gluing from time to time.
During its first lease of life, Parquet flooring was popular up until the 1930s, when new technology made mass production of wall-to-wall tufted carpets possible for the first time.
Modern parquet blocks are different again from those used between 1870 and the 1930s.
These days most modern parquet blocks are made from engineered wood, rather than solid blocks.
Premium quality engineered wood flooring is usually 16mm – 21mm thick.
It comprises two layers, a base layer of high quality ply bonded to a top layer called the ‘wear layer’ of hardwood above the tongue and groove (T&G) of the blocks.
Engineered flooring is superior to solid hardwood flooring in that it’s much more stable and resistant to changes in temperature and humidity.
Anyone familiar with solid parquet flooring will know how the blocks often come loose and require re-gluing. This is typically caused by expansion and contraction of the blocks with humidity and temperature changes.
This problem is far less common with engineered parquet.