The Evolution of Parquetry

Where did all of the wood parquet flooring go? At one time, it seemed like every mid-century modern home has a kitchen, dining room, den or rec. room with these geometric hardwood tiles used for the floor. Today, though, wood flooring retailers seem to prominently display their exotic hardwood strip flooring up front, while the cartons of wood parquet tiles languish in the back room. And many homes have covered over their parquet flooring with ceramic tile, engineered wood, luxury vinyl planks, or laminate planks.

Parquet or Parchet, as how it was known to the French aristocracy, has evolved with the same pace as standard solid and engineered wood floors. The only difference is you get to use when designing your parquet floor. The original parquet floors were glued to concrete and hand-scraped before finish. The development started from blocks to become triangles and finally long planks. Just like the innovations in food and gardens, the flooring deserved the same attention with colours were also dabbled

Since these floors required a great amount of attention to detail, they were only available for the wealthy and royal families. Then, parquet floors started to develop in the 1700’s across Europe in estates. This is where the term “parquet” was first formed. This was a way to say “little forest”, since it is considered solid wood and recalled the woods that were around the Versailles and other European mansions.

At one point, a genuine parquet hardwood floor could indicate the sign of opulent wealth as these floors were produced by fine craftsmen that painstakingly cut and fit small pieces of hardwood into creative and artistic geometric patterns on a floor. The earliest true parquet hardwood floors date to the 16th century when wealthy aristocrats began laying it over marble flooring. Hardwood floors of various types were the staple for centuries, although American homes covered them over with carpeting in the post-war era. During this post-war era, carpet reigned in all but the finest homes, where hardwood flooring, including parquet, could still be seen.

All this changed when flooring manufacturers began to mass produce thin parquet tiles 8 to 12 inches square in the 1960s and 1970s. By creating engineered wood tiles with pieces of hardwood veneer arranged in geometric patterns, manufacturers made it possible for just about anyone to create the appearance of a very expensive parquet floor. And because the tiles used only thin hardwood veneers, the costs of this flooring were very reasonable. The result? Hundreds of thousands of home suddenly were using parquet tiles for flooring all over the place, often removing their carpeting to do so.All of sudden, everything changes, and gradually the look of parquet tiles became common and was recognised for what it was—an inexpensive copy of what was once a very expensive floor installed by artistic craftsman. And as new flooring materials, such as plastic laminates, vinyl planks, and porcelain tile came into vogue, hardwood parquet tiles began their move out of the front of the store and into the back room.

These days, only an elite select handful can understand and appreciate the true life of the wood that lives within real hardwood parquetry.