Home>Discussions>INTERIORS>Molding & Carpentry>How to renovate Parquet Wood Floor
5 posts / 0 new
Last post
How to renovate Parquet Wood Floor

Our 1965 house has original parquet flooring squares - we just moved in and are new to this.

The high traffic areas are worn out and are quite dirty, and we see very little written about refinishing or renovating parquet floors so would like any advice.

(1) These parquet tiles are about 9" x 9" squares and appear to be interlocking with tongue & groove, and over a thin concrete floor (over a below-grade level). We have a walk-out basement underneath & a below-grade garage. Since the main level is concrete, there are no joists and the basement ceiling surfaces are plaster finished.
(2) The parquet tiles have dried and shrunken over the last 45 years so there is creaking in some places, and gaps have opened up throughout.
There are about 1,500 sf of this and I don't know enough to DIY. At about $10 sf to rip out & install something else, I will have to keep the original flooring, and try to renovate it.

(3) I don't see how to stop the creaking except to have the wood go back to its original moisture content.

Also, we suspect the floors have been previously cleaned with water-based products (like Ajax/Mr. Clean floor mopping) so the wood was exposed to both water products and indoor heating due to No. Virginia winters.

(4) My reading about parquet floors is that they were mostly waxed finished/protected. We can't find any wood cleaning products. The Bona products and the like say "not for wax floors."

(5) EVERY refinishing product I've seen says the floor must be free of wax, and I don't know of any product that removes floor wax.

Then, the high traffic area is worn out -- we don't how to "refresh" or re-protect the wood.

The floor is not so bad that I would want to sand them and refinish. I just think a cleaner and a new topcoat would refresh it.

A. Spruce
Re: How to renovate Parquet Wood Floor

IMHO, refinishing floors are not a DIY project, there are just too many variables that the average homeowner isn't equipped to handle. I would recommend consulting with at leas three different wood floor restoration companies and choose the one that best suits your needs.

I am a former general contractor with a good amount of knowledge on fine wood working and finishing and even I would be leery to tackle such a project on my own.

Re: How to renovate Parquet Wood Floor

When instructions say that a product is not meant to be used on "waxed" floors, they mean hardwood floors which have had Carnauba Wax applied to them. Carnauba wax is made from the nut of the Carnauba palm tree that's native to Brazil. The reason for this is that nothing sticks well to Carnauba Wax except Carnauba Wax. The problem is that Carnauba wax will penetrate a small distance into hardwood, and the only way to get it out of that hardwood is to sand it out. Unless and until you do that, other hardwood floor finishes won't stick well, with the result that you can get something called "fish eyes" in the floor finish.

However, Bayer patented the first polyurethane in 1956, and polyurethane quickly replaced Carnauba wax as the finish of choice over hardwood flooring. So, it may very well be polyurethane you have on your parquet flooring, not Carnauba wax.

The problem you're facing is twofold:

1. Parquet floors don't lend themselves to refinishing because the wood grain goes in different directions. You can't sand the floor down without sanding across the grain of some of the wood.

2. If your floor does have Carnauba wax on it, you can't simply strip off the Carnauba wax and put something else down. Any floor finish (like a polyurethane) won't stick unless and until you sand off the layer of wood containing the Carnauba wax.

I'm thinking your best bet is simply to put area rugs over the high traffic areas of your parquet hardwood floors until you save up the money to refinish them, and then contact any of the janitorial firms in town to sand down your floor.

Above is a photo of someone using a "Centaur Woodpecker" to sand the polyurethane off a hardwood gymnasium floor. This machine is nothing more than an ordinary floor machine with a 1 1/2 inch hole drilled into it's skirt so that a 1 1/2 inch vaccuum hose could be attached to the skirt to vaccuum up the dust as it's created.

If any of the janitorial service companies in your area are willing to drill a 1 1/2 inch hole in the skirt of one of their floor machines, they could do exactly the same work for you. Since the wood grain on a parquet floor goes in different directions, you could hire a janitorial company to sand down your parquet floor using a floor machine rather than hire a much more expensive floor refinishing company to do the job.

Every janitorial service company will have several floor machines and several vaccuum cleaners. They even might have some older folks on staff who remember what can be used to strip Carnauba wax off floors. And, I think most of them wouldn't have any serious complains about drilling a hole in the skirt of one of their machines because the skirt and machine can still be used for their normal purposes even with that hole.

Re: How to renovate Parquet Wood Floor

I'm supporting Spruce's suggestation, since no DIYer has the equipment and knowledge to tackle such a job as yours.

Call around, ask friends, look for references, talk to people and find a pro to do a perfect job. Properly done, parquet floor is gorgeous.

Re: How to renovate Parquet Wood Floor

Personaly, I don't care for the look of the parquet tiles even when they are in good condition. I don't know how much effort I would put into such a floor in bad condition which also squeeks. As a DIY project, I would sooner pull it all up and put in one of the laminate or engineered wood floors. Or possibly, do the dirty work of ripping out the old floor and having the pros install the new, saving considerable cost.

Sponsored Stories

TV Listings

Find TV listings for This Old House and Ask This Old House in your area.