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Design Parquet: engineering one of the most stable solid floors

A bit of history about sizes and methods.

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Still one of the most admired types of wood flooring is the "Design Parquet", available in many patterns. From single or double herringbone, two or three strips basket weave to the most elaborate "Versailles" tiles. A feature in many restored castles, old manor houses and nowadays more and more to be found in modern homes.

There are various types of blocks used for Design Parquet. In older, and still some times in modern days the wood blocks originally used (produced) in the UK were around 20mm thick and came with Tongue & Grooves. These blocks were installed on a thick bed of bitumen where the T&G's kept the pattern together (and when now the old bitumen becomes brittle these same &T&G's makes it rather difficult to only lift up loose blocks without loosening neighbouring blocks).

If you look at main land Europe, a completely different size and method has been used for ages and is still in practice - because of the stability such a floor is able to provide, the simplicity of the method and the "ease" - with professional tools and some experience - of installing any pattern.

"Tapis" floors - carpet thickness, two historical view-points

It was quite common in manor houses to show off your richness. Not by changing the whole decorative style of the "reception rooms" but by changing the oriental rugs (tapis - tapijt) in these rooms when seasons changed. Oriental rugs were much more expansive than 'common' wooden floors and being able to change them two or three times a year really was regarded as the summum bonum of wealth. The rug was not placed on top of a wooden floor, but in fact the wood floor surrounded the rug to create a level surface but with the possibility to change one rug for another. Both rug and wood floor were of the same thickness to prevent tripping of (drunken?) guests or the slipping of the rug itself.

The above explanation is sometimes disputed by other historians who say that the main reason for tapis floors had nothing to do with being able to change the rugs, but everything to do with the size of the rug and the owner not wanting to show the bare and mostly battered floorboards not covered by the rug. Installing wood blocks of the same thickness around the rug to create a large 'mat well' solved this problem in a very easy way.

Hence the name "Tapis wood floor", a 6 to 10mm thick wood floor, the same thickness as the 'tapis' (rug) had, no matter which historical view point you find more believable.

From tapis to patterns and modern construction

While design styles changed over time, from rugs surrounded by large wood borders to complete floors in 'tapis wood', the thickness of the wood used for design floors has stayed the same: from 6 to 10mm thick blocks without Tongue and Grooves. Patterns became more and more elaborate - because without T&G you can use both sides of the block or strips without wasting too many off cuts. Whole tiles where created on site by master joiners/carpenters who nailed/pinned the blocks/strips into 'floorboards'.

Then came first the modern adhesives (although we're reluctant to call bitumen "modern" or even an adhesive, come to think of it) followed by concrete underfloors. Nailing 6 - 10mm blocks in concrete is not possible but on the other hand bocks or strips longer than 35 - 40 cm need to be pressed into adhesive for a time to make sure it bonds correctly. This is best realised by pinning/nailing blocks down.

The solution came in the form of a subfloor - thick and stable enough to be nailed into - glued down with modern adhesives to the concrete floor. Small sheets of chipboard were quite often used but do have the disadvantage of a very open structure - prone to absorb moist rather easily. Nowadays with the water-resistant chipboard there is another problem: modern adhesives don't bond with it at all.

Introducing the mosaic subfloor

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Although used on main land Europe for a very long time now, still quite unknown in the UK. Not the mosaic itself, there are plenty of homes built in the 50's to 80's who have a mosaic floor in Teak, Merbau or Oak - and are still quite valuable when restored to their former glory.

The mosaic we're talking about here is made with 'Industrial grade' Oak fingers - a grade that is not deemed suitable to be used as a top floor due to the amount of knots, small damages and colour variations in the wood. It is however still Solid Oak. Glued down on a concrete floor is creates a perfect subfloor for any design parquet floor, be it herringbone or one of our 30 different other designs.
After the mosaic is glued down it is sanded to create a very level surface onto which the blocks, strips or hand-assembled tiles are glued and pinned down. Let's take a closer look at this method

Details

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Underneath the Industrial Grade Mosaic is the concrete (this 'portable' sample has plywood as backing, concrete would be rather too heavy to carry around). The blocks of 7-fingers are either vertical or horizontal placed, creating one of the most stable - immovable -subfloors you can have. You can see that all blocks of the top floor connect with at least 3 blocks of 7-fingers. "Engineering" the most stable Solid floor you can imagine.

Not just more stable, more sound insulating too

Tests and surveys have shown that a Design Parquet floor installed using the above method will withstand increased humidity much better and longer than any other method.

If you remember some of the very wettest seasons this last decade (2000, 2001, 2007 and 2008) where the humidity went up to more than 70% you might also know that many solid wood floors started to buckle, cup and lift up from their underfloor or subfloor. In The Netherlands - roughly same climate as in the UK - home owners experienced the same problems, even with Design Parquet floors glued and nailed to special chipboard subfloors (the old fashion chipboard in 30 - 60cm sheets).
Expect Design Parquet floors installed on Oak mosaic, with these hardly any problems were reported or found.

Other test and surveys have found that the sound insulation effect of a Design Parquet floor using the above method is surprisingly high, hardly any noise transfers up or down. We say surprisingly because most expect that a solid wood floor without any added 'sound-insulation' (like foam underlayment with the floating installation method) would transfer noise from footfall more than floors which are installed on insulation. But the opposite is true: this 'solid' engineered construction creates in fact its own sound insulation, there is no vibration passed through (which causes most noise effect) to other materials.

Fit for a King, fit for you!

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In this brochure you can view a very wide range in Design Parquet patterns, available in a wide range of wood species and Oak grades to select your own "fit for a King" solid floor. (If you haven't requested access to our online brochures yet, fill in this form here).

Call us for more information or if you want us to calculate all needed materials for you (we can install the floor for you too of course, but this depends on where you are based).
Tel 01233 - 713725

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