Parquet originally comes from the French term “parquetry,” meaning “small compartment.” It originated in France in the 17th Century, when artisans created elaborate designs by cutting and fitting small geometric pieces of wood together, one at a time, and then gluing them to the floor. Because of the skill and time required, parquet floors were initially the province of wealthy households and public buildings.

While artisans can still piece together a custom parquet floor, the vast majority of modern parquet flooring comes in square tiles, featuring strips of hardwood bonded to a mesh or thin plywood base.

Custom parquet is rarely found in residential homes today because it still requires individually cutting wood pieces and assembling them in puzzle-like fashion to form mosaics, mandalas, and other intricate designs. The few companies that specialize in custom parquet charge $20 to $45 per square foot or more, depending on the level of complexity.

Parquet flooring tiles are the product of choice for homes today—and they’re do-it-yourself-friendly. An assortment of hardwoods, including oak, chestnut, ash, and walnut are popular in these tiles, and you can also find some exotic wood species and bamboo. Parquet flooring tiles sell by the carton, in 9-inch, 12-inch, and 18-inch squares. When installed by a homeowner, parquet flooring runs $3 to $5 per square foot. Professional installation of parquet tiles will raise the cost to around $7 to $10 per square foot.

Parquet is thought to be one of the best types of hardwood floors currently on the market. Most often, parquet floors contain a mixture of at least one or more species of wood, including oak, walnut, maple, pine, and even bamboo. These pieces are glued together using strong adhesives and then placed directly onto a paper or plastic backing. Keep in mind that vinyl parquet patterns are not made of hardwood.

While there are a variety of patterns with real wood and pretty easy installation, there are also a few challenges with parquet flooring. It can be very challenging to refinish and shouldn’t be installed in basements due to moisture issues. Along the lines of moisture, parquet flooring is not suitable for humid areas either, including bathrooms and laundry rooms. You will need to consult a flooring expert before adding this type of flooring in your home. 

Refinishing a parquet floor can be difficult because removing the old finish involves sanding, and wood should always be sanded with the direction of its grain to prevent cross-grain marks. Because a parquet floor features pieces of wood grain running in different directions, removing the old finish without damaging the surface of the wood beneath requires painstaking care. This should definitely be done by a professional to ensure your refinish is done correctly.