9 min read

What is parquet flooring and how to lay it?

Posted in: Ideas and Advice
6 October 2022

Go into any stately home, both in the UK and particularly on the continent, and you'll see stunning examples of one of the most desirable types of flooring. Parquet turns an ordinary floor into a showstopping interior feature, showing off the skills of the craftsmen and women who create these masterpieces. It’s no wonder that parquet and herringbone flooring is seen in all the finest palaces in the world. 

It's been around for centuries, but does it have a place in the modern home? How easy is it to create that Versailles palace look in your front room? And how do you Install and look after parquet flooring? Here is Arnold Laver's guide to parquet flooring.

What exactly is parquet flooring?

Also sometimes referred to as mosaic flooring, parquet is achieved using blocks of wood to create an intricate design. Depending on how you lay the blocks, you can produce a variety of different patterns. The classic parquet design is chevron style, but you can incorporate more complex designs such as diamonds, squares, triangles, and rhombuses into your floor.

Parquet has its roots in 17th-century France, where it was used as an alternative to stone or marble floors in luxurious chateaux. Because it’s made of wood, it’s also much lighter and is popular as decorative flooring in upper storeys. The lighter construction doesn’t put as much strain on the floor’s supporting beams. So you’ll see them in bedrooms as well as entrance halls or grand drawing rooms.

What is herringbone flooring and why it is different from parquet?

Herringbone flooring uses exactly the same principles as parquet. It is simply a specific design or pattern where the blocks are arranged in a herringbone pattern rather than a more ornate basketweave design. To create a herringbone pattern, blocks are cut into rectangles and laid in a zig-zag or staggered pattern. Blocks can be made of wood or LVT (Luxury Vinyl Tiles). No matter what material you choose, the result is striking and works particularly well in hallways.

Modern parquet

As carpets have lost their hold on the nation’s floors, parquet and decorative wood flooring have regained their popularity, and there a few types to choose from.

  • Classic wooden parquet
  • Vinyl parquet
  • Solid wood flooring

Thanks to modern materials and manufacturing techniques, it's also more affordable. You now have even more choice, from classic wooden blocks to vinyl tiles and hardwood alternatives such as bamboo. As long as you create a geometric pattern with those blocks and tiles, you can call it parquet.

If you don’t want to create a parquet floor from scratch, you can use prefabricated parquet panels that feature wood designs within the tiles themselves.

What to consider before installing a parquet floor

When you're planning a parquet floor, colour is an important consideration. The real beauty of a parquet or herringbone floor is the way in which the grain and colours interact to create a warm, rich pattern. Natural wood shades are an obvious choice, but if you have a more contemporary home, then LVTs in grey, white or even coloured hues can add energy and dynamism to your décor.

When you’re picking your colour and creating your design, look at:

  • The type of property you live in – a rich wood with warm honey tones works well in a traditional property, whereas a blonde pine or a subtle grey pattern will look good in a modern home.
  • The size of the space – a narrow passageway can be made to look wider by creating a pattern that gives the illusion of space.
  • The size of the blocks – in a wide-open room, small blocks could end up looking fussy and over-complicated. In a small space, large blocks will be too big to create a pleasing pattern.
  • The amount of ‘traffic’ – this will determine what kind of material you choose to create your floor. Hardwood blocks or tiles will be ideal for heavy-traffic areas such as hallways, while LVTs are perfect for kitchens and bathrooms because of their waterproof properties.

How to lay parquet flooring


We’re often asked, ‘how easy is it to lay parquet flooring’? It is possible to lay parquet flooring yourself, but we will say from the outset that it’s not for the fainthearted! Getting three-quarters of the way through the process and finding that you’ve laid a couple of tiles or blocks incorrectly could ruin the whole pattern - and your day. So the number one rule is to plan first carefully.

1. Planning

You’ll need to measure the size and shape of the room. Our top tip is to draw the plan out on graph paper and remember to measure at least twice to make sure your dimensions are 100% accurate.

2. Design

The type of design you go for and the size of the room will determine how many tiles or blocks you’ll need. A simple pattern using larger blocks or tiles will require fewer individual tiles, while a more complex design using small blocks will require more. 

3. Remember  

If you use real wood, you will need to factor in expansion and contraction of the blocks during hot and cold weather.

4. Prepare your sub-floor

You can lay parquet or herringbone flooring onto almost any surface as long as it has been prepared correctly. However, do not lay herringbone or parquet flooring directly onto wooden floorboards as they tend to flex, which could damage the flooring. 

5. Getting ready

Make sure your blocks spend some time in the room to acclimatise. This will prevent warping or issues when laying them. Also, ensure that your blocks are the right way up! Draw a centre line on the floor and start laying the blocks without adhesive. Work outwards from the centre line, ensuring that you follow your pattern for each block. Once you are sure that you've completed several rows 'dry' (without adhesive), you can then go back and fix them into place.  

6. Finishing

Allow the adhesive to dry and cure. Then sand and fill any gaps before sealing with a wood finish of your choice.

Installing parquet or herringbone floors using LVT

If all of that sounds complicated, you can make life easier by using LVT. The process is the same, but thanks to the ‘click and lock’ feature of LVTs, you can achieve a parquet or herringbone floor in a fraction of the time.

How to clean parquet floors


One of the significant advantages of parquet flooring is that it's super-easy to care for and keep clean. If you’ve used wood blocks to create your parquet floor, regular vacuuming and the occasional wipe over with a damp mop should be sufficient to remove everyday dirt. To bring the natural beauty of the wood out, regular polishing will also help protect the surface.

Although they're not as long-lasting as hardwood blocks, LVT tiles are even easier to care for. Simply vacuum and mop regularly.


How to restore parquet flooring

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Pellentesque mattis consequat nisi, quis molestie ex vehicula ac. Nunc ac metus interdum, laoreet nibh nec, laoreet diam. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Vivamus imperdiet eu leo quis imperdiet. Donec feugiat vel ipsum sit amet consequat. Curabitur eget placerat leo. Donec enim mauris, maximus sit amet neque eu, sollicitudin lacinia nibh. Cras dapibus, lacus sit amet ullamcorper molestie, diam velit sagittis nisi, in viverra augue purus at nisl. Fusce venenatis bibendum nulla, sit amet feugiat arcu eleifend malesuada. Vestibulum aliquam urna mauris, et faucibus ligula congue at. Mauris porttitor aliquam suscipit. Cras sit amet urna elementum, consequat massa ac, pellentesque dolor. Maecenas et urna suscipit, pharetra metus id, pellentesque enim. Nulla a nisi a urna iaculis fermentum.

1. Clean the floor

Once you have cleared out the furniture from the room, you can start by removing all of the dust and debris from your parquet flooring. Then, prepare a solution of warm water and an appropriate floor cleaner. Give your flooring a good wash, being mindful that your mop is damp and not overly wet. Too much moisture could damage your flooring. Repeat the process with just warm water to wash off all the soap. Not forgetting to give those stubborn stains a light scrub!

2. Test the floor

Select a section of flooring that is not normally seen, such as under a sofa or a set of shelves. Place two drops of water on the section of floor. Leave the drops for around 10 minutes, and examine the results. If you can see white spots on the parquet, the floor was originally finished with either oil or wax. If there are no spots, either lacquer or varnish was used. You can then remove white spots from the parquet using a piece of steel wool coated in floor wax.

3. Choose the right product

Purchase an appropriate maintenance product for the original finish on your parquet floor. This product will restore it. Apply the product to the floor, following the manufacturer's instructions carefully. Most maintenance products for floors with an original varnish or lacquer finish take the form of polishes. However, in the case of an original oil or wax finish, you have the option of using either polish or a hard wax. In the case of an oil or wax floor in very poor condition, use hard wax and apply two coats.

4. Buff your parquet flooring

Buff the floor. Be guided by the manufacturer's instructions as to how long you should leave the maintenance product on the floor before doing this. Use either an old-fashioned buffing block or a semi-professional buffer with a large white pad attached. In the case of parquet restoration, an ordinary domestic buffer may not achieve the quality of finish necessary.

Want to know more on parquet flooring?

If you want to know how to lay herringbone flooring or want to add value to your home with a parquet floor, take a look at our blog hub for plenty of practical, no-nonsense advice and information from the experts at Arnold Laver.

Previous article:
Next article:
Related posts

Branches Nationwide

Branches nationwide, local serivce, collection or delivery options - Arnold Laver delivers

Same Day Click and Collect

Arnold Laver makes it easy to get your essential project materials - just a few clicks away

National Timber Group Logo

Part of the UK's largest independent timber group, Arnold Laver offers high-quality timber at scale