7 Easy Steps To Repair/Restore You Parquet Floor
What is a nicer surprise than to remove the carpet from a room in your home and to discover a valuable original parquet floor is hiding beneath it! Especially when you consider that installing a brand new parquet floor costs around £ 125.00 - £ 145.00 per sq m. And that’s just for a simple herringbone or basket weave pattern.
If your floor is missing some blocks, has damaged blocks – damages from plumbing comes to mind - or you notice areas where the blocks no longer stuck firmly down on the underfloor just follow the 7 Easy Steps below to repair/restore it and start enjoying your valuable, easy to clean and anti-allergic original parquet floor in no time at all.
(Or order our extensive special Ebooklet with even more tips and advice - see further below for details)
For all materials needed we’ve included a list of quality products on the next page.
If you are short of time or fear you don't have enough DIY-skills? Get the professionals in.
"Wow, thanks for that -- certainly the best how-to guide I have seen to this. It's always helpful, especially, when something says "Ideally, do ABC, but if you can't, then X Y or Z can happen", instead of just "Do ABC." -- i.e. I know I should remove the bitumen from the floor, but it isn't possible to remove all of it, so it is just good to know what happens if I don't."
If, however, your floor has no missing blocks/tiles, find out if it can be restored without sanding here (it's more often possible than you think)
- Check for any missing, damaged or loose blocks
Always check the whole floor if any block is no longer firmly attached to its underfloor – you notice either some movement when walking on it or a hollow sound when you ‘knock-on-wood’. Even if your floor is missing blocks – removed for adding central heating or other plumbing/building work – check the rest of the floor too.
Because most original parquet floors have small tongue and grooves to lock them together you need to handle the removing of loose/damaged blocks with care – you don’t want to loosen connecting blocks needlessly. Missing blocks can be sourced perhaps from another room which you do not plan to restore (or try any cupboards in or around the room – you’ll be amazed how often a parquet floor was installed there too!), or from reclamation yards. Before you set out to find replacements note the exact size of the existing blocks, there were plenty different types of wood blocks in Imperial measurements around when these floors were popular (1930 – 1970). Also make sure the reclaimed blocks you find are from the same source to prevent very different wood species or colours ending up in your restored floor.
(Many bungalows have 5-finger tropical mosaic floors hidden underneath carpets. We have a selection of most used species in very economical packs - only 0.691 sq m per pack - if you need to source missing "fingers" or want to extend the area with the same pattern)
- Clean blocks and underfloor
Old parquet floors normally were fixed down with Bitumen – black tar - an ‘adhesive’ no longer allowed to be used inside the house. Any residue of bitumen has to come off as best as possible.
The underfloor (concrete or sheet material) must also be cleared of old ridges of Bitumen and if possible thick remaining layers.
Any residue of Bitumen will affect the bonding time of the modern adhesive you use to install the blocks back. Where normally it takes between 6 – 8 hours, the residue could increase this to 14 or even over 48 hours!
Do note: if both the underfloor and your blocks are (still) covered with bitumen, it will be almost impossible to get a proper bond with any of the modern adhesives: two layers of bitumen is too much to handle for these, mostly water-based, adhesives. One - or both - bitumen layer has to be completely removed first!
- Leveling the underfloor
You might discover your underfloor where blocks have been removed is rather uneven. Or the removing the Bitumen has damaged the concrete or sheet material. You can use acrylic leveling compound to level a concrete floor out as best as possible – 3mm maximum per coat. Always read the instructions carefully before you begin with this type of job! And even though it is non-water based, allow sufficient time for the compound to dry before you start installing the wood blocks back.
For uneven sheet material you can try to level it out with a hand sander or nailing/stapling thin sheets of hardboard onto it – smooth side down!
- Re- installing blocks
Have a good look at the existing pattern your parquet floor is laid in, you will get the best result when following this as precise as possible. Take your time, but don’t be too afraid when small gaps appear between the blocks. Gaps should be kept as small as possible – hence our advice to clean of the Bitumen from grooves – but will appear nonetheless.
Use a notched trowel to spread a modern parquet adhesive on the underfloor, this will create ridges of adhesive onto which you firmly place the blocks. But please remember: adhesive is not a filler for deep or large dips in the underfloor (see step 3).
Keep a cloth at hand to wipe of any spillage of the adhesive from the surface of the blocks – once dried it is harder to clean it off.
Cut the 'new' blocks to the right size with a jigsaw and install them into the pattern. It might be necessary to remove the tongue of some blocks but that’s not a problem – the modern adhesive you use will keep the blocks in place.
- Sanding the whole floor
For the best result and a very uniform finish on the whole floor it is best to sand the whole area, not just the re-installed blocks. Remember – the more Bitumen was left on the blocks and/or underfloor the longer it will take for the blocks to bond firmly and the longer you’ll have to wait before you can start sanding. You don’t want the blocks to start moving around and creating wide gaps!
Depending on the old finish layer of the original parquet floor you might have to clean off that layer first before you start sanding – layers of wax will clog-up your sanding paper very fast, making it useless and could spread the wax all over the place! If this is the case you first have to remove the old wax with White Spirit – try this out in a corner. Make sure there is enough ventilation in the room when applying this product.
Start with vacuum-cleaning the floor.
Use a belt-sander for this part of the job, the endless sanding paper won’t leave scatter marks on your wood floor like a drum-sander can (because of the metal rod that has to keep the sheet of sanding paper fixed to the drum). An so-called smaller edge-sander will help you sand edges and the corners of the room where the large sander can’t reach. Most professional hire companies will have a combi-offer: belt-sander and edge-sander for a weekend at reduced prices.
If you notice many height differences between the blocks, especially where old meets new – the reclaimed blocks – start with grit 40. It’s advised to sand with the grain, but herringbones and various other patterns could make this a bit problematic. Nothing to worry about, the various sanding rounds you will have to make will sort this.
Start at one wall of the room and ‘walk’ the belt-sander across to the other wall, walk back sanding over the same area. After you’ve done the last row this way, turn 90 degrees and redo the whole room in the same way.
Place grit 40 paper on the edge-sander and tackle the areas the belt-sander couldn't reach.
Repeat the whole task now with grit 80. Before you start sanding, empty the sand-dust collecting bag, you’ll need the dust of grit 80 – clean dust – for mixing with the wood-filler later. The dust from the first sanding will contain dirt and residue of the old finish layer.
After finishing round 2 vacuum-clean the whole floor.
- Filling gaps and last sanding round
If you want to fill the gaps in your wood floor mix the collected sand dust from the second sanding round with the special wood-filler. Don’t make too much at once, it dries rather quickly. Fill the larger gaps with a scraper as best as possible, don’t worry about excess filler on the wood blocks, the third sanding round will remove it. If you want you can also ‘plaster’ the whole floor with a thin layer of filler, using a flat trowel, to fill almost every tiny gap.
After you’re satisfied you've filled all gaps you wanted to fill leave the applied filler to dry out sufficiently, 30 to 60 minutes depending on how deep the gaps were.
Then use sanding paper 120 for the third sanding round, this will remove the excess wood filler and give your wood floor the smoothest surface, ready to have a new finish applied to it.
Once again, vacuum-clean the whole floor.
- Applying the new finish
HardWaxOil (two-in-one product) will show off your restored Oak or Pine floor best, bringing out its natural character in a none-glossy way. The oil will penetrate the wood for long term protection and the wax will create your wear and tear layer, protecting your floor against dirt and drips.
For tropical species we recommend the "tropical combo": first coat very thin oil, second coat HardWaxOil.
If you prefer a varnished or lacquered finish you’ll have to sand again with grit 150 to prepare the wood as best as possible for a varnish/lacquer finish.
Always, always read the instructions of the product you’re going to use. HardWaxOil tins should be shaken firmly before opening to make sure the oil and wax are mixed together. Apply the HWO thinly with a brush or sponge on a small area (3 – 5 sq m at the time). See below for a professional HardWaxOil applicator for a smooth, thin and professional end result.
Then immediately go over it with a clean, non-fluffy cloth or white-pad on buffing machine to spread it out evenly, giving you the best result. Continue to apply and spread the HWO this way until you’ve finished the whole floor.
Let it dry for 6 – 8 hours and apply the second coat of HardWaxOil. This has to be done within 36 hours after finishing the first coat! Otherwise you’ll have to lightly sand the whole floor again (grit 120). Use the same applying/spreading method as with the first coat and let it dry again for 6 – 8 hours.
Job done! You could notice some local patches appearing duller or shinier than the rest of the floor. This could mean the wood there has absorbed more or less oil than its neighbouring blocks. Don’t apply a third coat of HardWaxOil, but buff the area lightly. If this doesn't’t seem to help, wait a few days to see if it ‘evens-out’. If it still appears differently than the rest of your floor apply some power wax or wax-polish locally to feed it. 9 times out of 10 this will do the trick.
You can place most furniture back in the room once the second coat has dried for 8 hours. Wait 10 days before you place rugs on top of your newly restored wood floor, HardWaxOil takes 10 days to cure completely. It will however protect your floor against dirt and drips immediately!
Congratulations – you now have a beautifully restored, valuable and durable floor covering! Remember, a newly installed parquet floor would have set you back £ 125.00 - £ 145.00 per sq m. With these 7 easy steps you do this labour of love for a lot less!
Take good care of it now (wooden floors have the extra benefit of easy-maintenance) and it will continue to reward you for many years to come for all the TLC you’ve spent on it.
p.s. if you are short of time or fear the above pratical tips are beyond your DIY-skills, get the professionals in to restore your original parquet floor to its former glory for you - it will absolutely be worth every penny spent on it.
Wood You Like highly recommends the following quality products for repairing/restoring your original parquet floor. We use these ourselves and are guaranteed to make your 'labour of love' less laborious, giving you the best and professional result: For all relevant restoration products, see next page
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