Refinishing Old Parquet Floors

Oct 11, 2023

Refinishing Old Parquet Floors: A Guide to Restoring Their Vintage Charm

Parquet floors, with their intricate patterns and warm hues, have graced homes for centuries. Yet, over time, like any other wooden floor, they can succumb to wear and tear. However, the beauty of parquet is that, with a bit of love and care, it can be brought back to its former glory. In this guide, we’ll delve into the art and science of refinishing old parquet floors.

Refinishing Old Parquet Floors

Understanding Parquet Floors

Before jumping into the refinishing process, it’s essential to understand the unique nature of parquet floors.

History and Appeal Originating in France in the 16th century, parquet flooring was a symbol of luxury and sophistication. The detailed patterns, often resembling a geometric mosaic, were crafted from different types of wood, each with its own grain and colour.

Structure and composition Unlike standard plank flooring, parquet is composed of wooden tiles made up of smaller wooden pieces arranged in distinct patterns, such as herringbone, basketweave, or chevron.

Refinishing Old Parquet Floors

When to refinish

Parquet floors are sturdy, but they do have a lifespan. If your floor shows signs of:

  • Deep scratches or gouges
  • Fading or discoloration
  • Worn-out finish with exposed wood

It might be time to consider refinishing. Additionally, if your floor has been previously sanded multiple times, it’s crucial to check the thickness before proceeding. Ensure there’s enough wood left to handle another round of sanding.

Refinishing Old Parquet Floors

Step-by-Step Refinishing Guide

1. Prepare the room.

  • Remove Furniture and Obstructions: Clear out all the furniture, rugs, and décor from the room.
  • Clean the Floor: Sweep or vacuum the floor to remove dust and debris.
  • Protect Adjacent Areas: Seal doorways with plastic sheeting and tape to prevent dust from spreading.

2. Sanding Process

  • Choose the Right Sander: For parquet floors, an orbital sander is recommended because it’s gentler and less aggressive than drum sanders.
  • Start with Coarse Grit: Begin sanding with coarse-grit sandpaper, usually around 40-grit.
  • Sand Diagonally: Since parquet patterns are often at angles, sand diagonally to the grain to prevent gouging the wood.
  • Progress to Finer Grits: Gradually work your way to finer grits, typically up to 120 grit, ensuring the floor is smooth and all old finish is removed.
  • Clean Up: Vacuum the floor and wipe with a tack cloth to ensure it’s free of dust.
Refinishing Old Parquet Floors

3. Staining (Optional)

If you wish to change the colour of the parquet or enhance its natural hue:

  • Test a Small Area: Before staining the entire floor, test a small, inconspicuous spot to ensure you’re happy with the colour.
  • Apply the stain: Use a brush or rag, following the wood grain. Wipe away any excess stain.
  • Allow to Dry: Let the stain dry as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

4. Sealing and Finishing

  • Choose your finish: Popular options include polyurethane (water-based or oil-based), wax, or oil. Each has its pros and cons regarding durability, sheen, and Wood Floor maintenance.
  • Apply the Finish: Use a brush or applicator pad, working in the direction of the wood grain.
  • Allow to dry: Wait for the recommended drying time. Some finishes may require multiple coats.
Refinishing Old Parquet Floors

Maintaining Your Refinished Parquet

Once your parquet floor refinished, it’s essential to maintain it to ensure its longevity.

  • Clean Regularly: Sweep or vacuum frequently to prevent dirt and grit from scratching the surface.
  • Use Protective Pads: Place felt pads under furniture legs to prevent scratching.
  • Avoid Moisture: Wipe up spills immediately and avoid using wet mops.

The Challenges and Rewards of Refinishing Parquet

While the process of refinishing parquet floors might seem straightforward, it’s not without its challenges. However, understanding these obstacles and how to navigate them can lead to a more rewarding outcome.

The Unique Grain Direction

One of the beauties of parquet flooring is the multi-directional grain resulting from its geometric patterns. This is also a challenge when sanding. Unlike traditional hardwood floors, where the grain direction is uniform, parquet’s diverse grain direction means extra attention is needed during the sanding process to avoid damaging the wood.

Preserving Patterns

Parquet floors often come with intricate patterns that can become less defined with wear and tear over the years. During refinishing, it’s essential to ensure these patterns aren’t further diminished. This might involve detailed hand-sanding or using specific tools to preserve the intricacies.

Matching Replacement Pieces

Sometimes, certain sections of a parquet floor might be too damaged for refinishing and need replacement. Finding or crafting a piece that matches the original can be a challenge. It requires sourcing the same type of wood and ensuring the grain and colour match seamlessly with the existing floor.

Benefits of Professional Assessment

Due to these challenges, before starting the refinishing process, it might be beneficial to consult with a professional. They can provide a detailed assessment, advice on potential pitfalls, and tips for achieving the best results. While it’s entirely possible to DIY a parquet refinishing project, a professional’s expertise can be invaluable, especially for floors with significant damage or intricate designs.

The Reward: A Floor with a Story

Every scratch, dent, and imperfection on an old parquet floor tells a story. While the goal of refinishing is to restore the floor’s beauty, it’s also about preserving its history. The result isn’t just a shiny new floor; it’s a piece of art with history, character, and charm.

Eco-friendly Refinishing Options

In today’s world, where sustainability is a growing concern, you might be interested in eco-friendly refinishing options. Thankfully, the market now offers a range of eco-friendly stains and finishes derived from natural resources, containing low or zero volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These options not only minimise environmental impact but also contribute to healthier indoor air quality.

When selecting products, look for seals of approval from environmental organisations or certifications indicating low VOC content. Eco-friendly doesn’t mean compromising on quality. Many of these products offer durability comparable to traditional finishes, but with the added benefit of being kinder to our planet.

Refinishing Old Parquet Floors


Refinishing old parquet floors can breathe new life into a room, restoring the vintage charm that made you fall in love with them in the first place. With patience, care, and a bit of effort, you can enjoy the beauty and elegance of your parquet flooring for many more years to come.

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