Dear James: We like hardwood parquet floors, but it is expensive to have them installed. Are do-it-yourself parquet flooring "kits" easy to install for inexperienced DIYers? — Chris H.
Dear Chris: The two primary types of hardwood flooring are traditional long strips and parquet. If you are an inexperienced do-it-yourselfer without a power saw, installing strip hardwood flooring would be difficult but not impossible. Each piece must be nailed or glued separately, and your errors will be very noticeable.
Parquet flooring is available in many patterns and wood types such as maple, walnut, ash and oak. The small 1-by-1-foot squares offer the flexibility of varying the floor design throughout a room. The identical flooring pieces can create rooms that look completely different.
Although not technically a "kit", adding hardwood parquet flooring is truly a simple project for even the inexperienced do-it-yourselfer. With the crisscross pattern of parquet flooring, minor misalignment of a few square tiles is not particularly noticeable. Since labor costs are significant when installing flooring, the savings can be substantial.
Thicknesses of parquet tiles generally range from 5/16 to 3/4 inch. A thicker tile costs more, but it holds up better. More thickness also allows for more refinishing sanding throughout the life of the floor. The only drawback is a thicker parquet tile raises the floor level more so you must cut more off any door bottoms for clearance.
Most hardwood parquet floor tiles are available as either tongue-and-groove or butt edges. You will also have to select between unfinished or prefinished tiles. The simplest to install are prefinished tiles with smooth butt edges. These are best on a very flat floor and stable subfloor and can be purchased with self-adhesive backing.
For most subfloors, you will be better off installing tiles with a tongue-and-groove edge. If there is any unevenness in the subflooring, the tongue-and-groove edge locks them together so the edge joints stay even. Also, if a tile comes loose from the adhesive, the adjacent ones hold it down.
Preparing the surface of the subflooring is key to a professional-looking floor. Take some time initially to remove all the furniture from the room instead of just tying to move it around as you work. Remove the baseboards and shoe moldings. Mark the location of each one, or you will surely forget when it is time to reinstall them.
The parquet tiles can be installed over almost any subflooring that is stable. Using a sander, remove any high points on the existing floor. If you are installing it over existing tiles or other floor that has been waxed, be sure to strip off all the old wax so the adhesive sticks well.
Start laying parquet tiles in the center of the room, not the edge. Find the true center of the room by driving nails into the floor at the center point along all four walls. Stretch chalk lines across the nails on opposite walls, and snap chalk lines on the floor. Check to make sure the lines are perpendicular.
Tongue-and-groove tiles fit together only one way, so you don't have to worry about getting some backward. Spread adhesive on the floor just up to the chalk line, and lay the first row of tiles. Place six tiles at a time and then tap them into the adhesive bed with a rubber mallet.
Send your questions to Here's How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit www.dulley.com. To find out more about James Dulley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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