Parquet looks like wood but installs like tile. Here's how to add it to your home.

If you're looking for an easy-to-install, beautiful, and functional flooring material, parquet tile is the answer. Most parquet tiles are cut with tongues and grooves, which makes installation effortless. Plus, a multitude of tile design options ensure you'll get a look you love. 

In the long run it pays to purchase the highest quality tile you can afford. A higher quality finish offers greater longevity and quicker installation time. The tongues and grooves of less expensive tiles may not fit together smoothly.

To seat the tiles against each other, tap them with a hammer and a block of wood. Avoid sliding the tiles, and kneel on a sheet of plywood as you get deeper into the project. Be sure there is no adhesive between the knee board and the tiles. Otherwise you'll pull up the tile when you move the board.

Take special care in laying your first 10 to 12 tiles—these determine how well the joints on the rest of the floor line up. If any adhesive gets on the tiles, clean it immediately with a rag soaked in solvent. Never apply the solvent directly to the tiles; it could mar the finish. Leave a 1/2-inch gap between the edge tiles and the walls.

You'll need about 12 to 15 hours to tile an 8x10-foot floor. Before you begin, make any necessary repairs to the floor. 

Learn More About Parquet Flooring

What You Need

  • Pencil
  • Hammer
  • Extension cord
  • Shop vacuum
  • Fan(s)
  • Jigsaw or circular saw
  • Chalk line
  • Tape measure
  • Notched trowel
  • Carpenter's square
  • 100-pound floor roller
  • Trim saw
  • Cork strips
  • Mastic or adhesive
  • Parquet tiles
  • Adhesive solvent
  • Rags

Before You Begin: Prepare the Subfloor

You can apply parquet over several different subfloors. Each calls for slightly different preparation.

Wood: In new construction install 3/4-inch plywood. On an existing wood floor, remove the finish and repair. On planks wider than 4 inches, install 3/8-inch underlayment. Fill all nail holes and depressions and sand smooth.

Concrete: You can lay parquet on concrete at and above grade. Check for moisture by taping plastic sheets to the slab every 2 feet. If moisture beads under plastic after a couple of days, don't install tile. Remedy the moisture problem if possible. If moisture is still present, choose another finished flooring material. Clean and roughen the surface slightly to aid the adhesive bond.

Vinyl tile or sheet goods: If existing material is cushioned, remove and prepare subfloor. If vinyl tile is installed on a wood floor and is loose, waxed, or glossy, sand or strip the finish and repair.

Ceramic tile: Level the tiled surface with self-leveling compound. Remove damaged tile and repair.

Carpet: Remove carpet and repair wood or concrete subfloor. Install lauan plywood over the plywood subfloor.

Step 1: Dry-Lay Tile

Prepare the subfloor, then snap chalk lines between the midpoints of opposite walls. If the shape of the room is irregular or features protrusions, snap the lines on the largest rectangular portion of the floor. That way your installation will be centered on the primary focal point of the floor. Square the lines with a 3-4-5 triangle and adjust the lines if necessary. Dry-lay the tiles so you have edge tiles of the same width and adjust the lines again if necessary. Set a cork expansion strip, usually provided by the manufacturer, along the wall when you're dry-laying the tile.

Step 2: Spread Adhesive

Scoop a small amount of adhesive onto the floor. Holding the trowel at a 45-degree angle, comb out the adhesive with the notched side of the trowel. Spread the adhesive up to but not on top of the chalk lines. Allow the adhesive to become tacky according to manufacturer recommendations.

Safety Tip: Many adhesives used in the installation of parquet are petroleum based and contain chemicals that evaporate rapidly. These chemicals and others, called driers, are volatile and sometimes toxic. When installing a parquet floor, be sure to provide plenty of ventilation. Open windows to create cross drafts, exhaust the fumes to the outside with a window fan, and extinguish any pilot lights on gas-fired appliances. Wear a respirator and gloves.

Step 3: Lay the First Tile

Set the first tile in the adhesive exactly at the intersection of the layout lines. Use the edge of the tile, not the edge of the tongue or inside surface of the groove, to line it up. Position the tile with some precision. Avoid sliding the tile, as this will push up the adhesive.

Step 4: Install Second Tile

Hold the second tile at a slight angle to the first. With the tongue engaged in the groove of the first tile, push the tile simultaneously down and toward the first tile. Tap the tiles together with a rubber mallet.

Step 5: Finish Laying First Quadrant

Using the same technique, continue laying the parquet in the remainder of the first quadrant. When you reach a point where you have to work from the surface of the newly laid tile, spread your weight evenly over a 2x2-foot plywood sheet. When you reach the walls, mark the tile for cutting the border or edge tiles. Mark and cut each tile individually; don't cut them all to the same width unless you're absolutely sure the room is square.

Step 6: Install Other Quadrants

Once you've completed the first quadrant, use the same methods to install the tiles in the remaining quadrants, always starting at the intersection of the layout lines. Within the time suggested by the manufacturer, roll each section with a rented 100-pound floor roller to set the tiles firmly in the adhesive.

Step 7: Mark Tiles for Cutting

To mark tiles for cutting, set a loose tile bottom side up exactly on top of the last tile, then a marker tile on top of that one. Run a pencil down the edge of the marker tile to mark the cut.

Step 8: Cut Tile for Edge

Clamp the tile to a supporting surface and cut it with a jigsaw equipped with a fine-tooth blade. Cut the tile facedown if using a regular blade or circular saw, faceup with a reverse-cutting blade.

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