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Wood block / Parquet floors

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Preparing your own blocks

The flooring is usually laid in a pattern with the grain running in two directions. If you are preparing your own wood blocks enhance the grain pattern by sanding in two directions with a coarse paper - in the directions of the tiles laid. Finally, to remove any scratch marks, use a fine sander with a fine grade paper in both directions across the room.

Sanding is a very noisy and dusty job and wearing a mask and goggles is advisable. It is important to keep the doors and windows closed when sanding. This will allow the dust to settle and then be vacuumed away as well as preventing dust permeating through the house.

When the sanding is complete and the area has been cleaned to remove dust, the floor needs sealing. Use two or three coats, according to the manufacturer’s instructions, of a matt or gloss floor sealer. For a professional finish, use a fine grade sand paper between each coat, remembering to remove the dust with a moist cloth before applying the next coat.

Using parquet panels

Unpack the panels and leave them unlaid in the room for a few weeks prior to laying. This will allow the timbers to expand as they acclimatise themselves to the moisture levels of the room. Conditioning the timber in this way is essential for a professional finish.

Start by dry laying a row of panels along the longest straight run of wall in the room, approximately 12.5mm from the edge. The distance of 12.5mm between the wall and the first row of panels is to allow for an expansion gap, which is filled with cork expansion strips. These strips are later covered with moulding. Mark the positions at each end, leaving the 12.5mm gaps and adjust the positions if necessary, to avoid difficult pieces being cut and added at both ends.

Dry lay a single row in the opposite direction to check adjustments on the other side of the room, once again allowing for a 12.5mm expansion gap. When you are happy with the layout of the panels, mark their positions on the floor. Mix and match panels from different packs being used to enhance the natural timber colour variations. Lay all the whole panels first, according to the manufacturer’s fixing details. Press the panels into position rather than slide them.

Use a saw with a fine tooth or a power jigsaw to cut the panels for filling in around the edges and in difficult corners. Make a template of a difficult section using hardboard or cardboard. Check the measurements and alter if necessary, before using the template to help cut the wooden panel.

Once complete insert the cork expansion strips into the perimeter gaps. These areas will be covered by moulding or skirting board. Use two or three coats, according to the manufacturer’s instructions, of a matt or gloss floor sealer if the panels are unsealed.

For a professional finish, use a fine grade sandpaper between each coat, remembering to remove the dust with a moist cloth before applying the next coat. Varnish the floor two or three times, according to the manufacturer’s instructions, to protect the joins from dirt and moisture.

Cleaning and caring

Parquet flooring is usually sealed, which stops dirt penetrating the surface and improves the surface appearance. It is therefore easy to maintain. If newly laid, blocks should be professionally sanded before sealing. Sweep and clean with solvent-based wax. Some flooring is factory treated with lacquer, and requires only vacuuming and wiping over with a damp-dry cloth. A rug is advisable where there is heavy usage to avoid scuffing.

If the flooring begins to show signs of wear and tear, the surface can be given a new lease of life by light sanding and re-sealing with varnish. A polyurethane varnish is recommended because it is very hard wearing and easy to maintain.

Repairing parquet flooring

The flooring can get damaged, badly stained or burnt. Use a mallet and a chisel to remove the damaged strips of hardwood from the panel. Clear the area of debris and use the chisel to remove the old adhesive below the strip. Clean the area using a moist cloth to remove any dust. Prepare the new strip and dry lay in the space. Make sure it fits correctly, planing the sides if necessary.

Use a layer of adhesive suitable for the flooring already laid and apply it to the floor surface where the strip will be fixed. Press the new strip into position. Once it has dried, rub with a fine grade sand paper if necessary and clean the area. A wood stain may be required to match the colour of the surrounding area before resealing.

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