About Parquet Flooring: Types and Installation

Updated on December 22, 2016

What is Parquetry?

In the flooring industry, a parquet is a type of floor made from wooden blocks or strips forming a pattern. Sometimes the parquet can include inlays of other wood types and materials.

Parquet comes from the French word ‘parchet’. In the XVII century parquetry became very popular under name ‘parquet de menaissance’ after replacing the marble floors in the bedroom of Louis XIV himself. From this point, onward parquetry has become a symbol of taste and luxury which only the rich can afford. At least until XX century when machines finally made the process cheap and accessible to everyone.

The most commonly used wood flooring material is oak. Parquets are no exception to this. While you can find parquetry made of more exotic species like mahogany, those are rare cases because of the cost involved.

The installation of a parquet requires a well-levelled subfloor and the sanding involved in the process better be left to а professional. The most important thing when stripping the wood is to always follow its grain and this is rather hard to achieve on a surface made from wooden blocks facing multiple directions.

The most popular type of parquet pattern is the herringbone. This simple pattern alone comes in several variations like single, double or diagonal (square) herringbone. However, there are completely different styles like brick, basket weave, hexagon or chevron.

Structurally parquet can be divided into three major groups:

  • solid, made from solid wood blocks of parquet flooring,
  • engineered usually created from multiple layers of hardwood and
  • finally parquet overlay manufactured from much thinner wood pieces and commonly installed on top of already existing floors.

Like every regular floor, parquets can be found in three grades – prime, select and rustic. Prime is the highest quality with no knots or sapwood. Selected is the middle ground with few knots and a small amount of sapwood. Third is the rustic grade which offers the most natural look with many different types of knots.

Pattern of oak parquet

pattern of oak parquet flooring
pattern of oak parquet flooring

Herringbone pattern of parquet installation

Preparation of the area for the installation of parquet - laying down ply wood
Preparation of the area for the installation of parquet - laying down ply wood
Gluing down the oak parquet blocks, they still need sanding and finishing in lacquer
Gluing down the oak parquet blocks, they still need sanding and finishing in lacquer
Finished flooring
Finished flooring

What is Marquetry?

Marquetry is an art dedicated to cutting and arranging small pieces of wood veneer in order to create a decorative image or pattern. Marquetry is a way of decorating more often applied to furniture rather than floors.

Marquetry uses many of the wood species found in the flooring industry like oak and walnut but often relies on other materials such as tortoise shells, gems, ivory, nacre, stone and many others. In the past, the process of cutting and shaping the wood required incredible skill and a steady hand. Today modern technologies have significantly eased the procedure but it still remains a sign of luxury.

Marquetry flooring pattern
Marquetry flooring pattern

The Difference Between Marquetry and Parquetry

Parquetry involves the creation of a certain image by arranging wooden blocks or strips in a certain geometrical pattern. Marquetry is the application of a veneer to an already existing surface while parquets are actually forming such surface. The image created with marquetry can also be complemented by materials different from wood while parquets are entirely made of it, even the engineered ones.

We must not forget, though, that the term 'parquetry' is not used for flooring alone but in furnishing as well. As far as furnishing is concerned, both marquetry and parquetry are a type of veneering. The distinction between those two is that parquet veneers create geometric patterns while marquetry makes figural patterns (like people, animals, landscapes).

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Laying of parquet flooring


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