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Laying The Parquet Floor

When I went to bed last night I closed my eyes and all I could see was a big black sea of bitumen. I woke this morning to find that my knees has been mysteriously swapped with those of an octogenarian. Why? Because I spent all day Saturday and all day Sunday laying this floor:

Parquet floor down

Now you’d be forgiven for thinking – as I did – that this would be a straightforward process. Slap down the bitumen and stick the blocks to it. In essence it’s as simple as that. In practice it’s an impossible jigsaw where none of the pieces are meant for each other.

Here I am making steady progress:

Parquet floor laying

I wanted to be able to write some kind of “How to lay Parquet flooring” once I’d done. The web doesn’t seem to have one so far and I think I found out why: there probably isn’t a definitive how-to. The best I can offer is a guide to what we did and what we learnt. Hopefully this will help others out. What I doubt is that your situation will ever be similar enough to mine to ever warrant doing exactly what we did!

The most important thing to ensure is that your base floor is as perfectly level as you can get it. I didn’t bother to use levelling compound to remove my dips and troughs, as I assumed the Synthaprufe would do this for me. The trouble is that it’s too thin to be laid anything more than a few mm deep. You also need to make sure there is no grit whatsoever. The smallest piece of dirt on the floor will give you a wobbly block!

Make sure you wear old clothes (I ended up burning my jeans, which were literally covered in bitumen, on the firs with the left-over off-cuts). You also need quite a few pairs of rubber gloves. You and all your tools get covered in the stuff, which is very sticky. You end up having to peel the paint brush off your gloves each time you want to lay a block.

Depending on the blocks you’ve bought you might want to grade them. My dad advised me to do this and I foolishly ignored him. After all, who wants to spend a night sorting 450 wooden blocks in to the thick and the thin ones?!

We were told our blocks all came from an old school gym. The more I think about the more I think they came from different rooms, if not different buildings. The difference in the depths of some of them is crazy. If you don’t grade them you end up with a floor like mine where I need to spend another weekend on my knees sanding for what will probably be ages.

Our blocks are 9″ by 3″ and between ½” and 1″ deep. The widths vary from 215/16” to exactly 3″. This difference may seem tiny but it makes a big difference after you’ve laid 20 rows of the stuff.

What I found useful was to lay each row “dry” before actually sticking them. This way you can swap out the thick ones and make sure there are no great differences in height between any two.

To stick them down I first painted the floor one section at a time, as you can see in the second picture (be liberal with it!). When it came to laying each block I daubed a load more on to the back of the block with a paint brush and stuck it down.

Orginally I had bought two 5l tubs of Synthaprufe. I then panicked and bought two more. There’s nothing worse than running out mid-task. In the end I used 10 litres and the top of the third tub. This works out very roughly as one litre for every square metre. Very rought that though. Just buy loads of it and take back what you don’t use!

You can see in the picture a concrete plinth with one block stuck to it. I’ve got no idea how long it’s going to take for the stuff to set completely. Hopefully this block will act as a guide. For now I am thinking that a week should be long enough before we start walking round on it or attempting to sand it.

As I’ve said, there’s no definitive how-to. In fact this is by no means a how-to. This is simply how dad and I did it. Whether or not it actually works remains to be seen. However, Karen came home on Sunday just as we were laying the last few and she’s over the moon. Personally, I find it hard to picture the finished thing just yet. It better look good for the amount of time that’s gone in to it.

If you want to ask me anything in particular about this, feel free.

original post Jake Howlett