Restore and Refinish Parquet Flooring
With parquet enjoying a well-deserved resurgence in homes and business properties across the UK, it naturally follows that the best way to restore and refinish aging parquet can become a hotly debated topic. With new parquet costing anything from £130 – £170 per sq. ft. for the simplest design motif it is no wonder homeowners want to save money by rejuvenating and refreshing their existing parquet tiling.
The first thing is to uncover the floor and really check it over closely for signs of wear, tear and obvious damage to the tiles and of course spaces where tiles may be missing altogether. Depending upon the style of motif it may be difficult to source replacement blocks, although if the floor is of the most popular weave or chevron design it should be much easier. If you are unable to locate a good match then it is better to enlist the help of a professional wood floor restoration company than to use a tile that ‘almost’ fits in, as any mis-match will become glaringly obvious after the final refinishing!
Assuming then that damages and missing tiles have been repaired/replaced as necessary, the next step is to sand the existing veneer from the floor. If the floor has spent dark decades hidden beneath carpeting you may be tempted to think any existing finishing has long gone. But this will never be the case. Original parquet tiles were fixed to the underfloor with tar, which is no longer allowed to be used as an interior adhesive. So there may well be bits of bitumen on the floor and there will also be patches of old varnish, lacquer or stain adhering to the tiles which will completely spoil the finished look unless they are sanded away.
Know what you’re doing
You should have at least a fair grounding in carpentry and joinery skills to attempt a parquet restoration under your own hand. If in any doubt the wisest advice would always be to obtain professional advice.
In addition to the minute removal of drops of veneer and glue, the purpose of sanding is to obtain an all-over smoothness of finish. Any new blocks put in must therefore be treated exactly the same as the rest of the floor and sanded evenly with an industrial sanding machine.
Drum and belt sanding machines
Both drum and belt sanders are available for hire and if you have never operated such a beast before, then equip yourself with a full set of operating instructions and read them fully before switching on the machine. Make sure you wear eye protection and gloves. The sander will sound noisy in a confined space, so ear defenders may be a good idea if you have particularly sensitive hearing. Keep windows open at all times.
The main difference between the drum and belt sander is how the sandpaper is inserted. The drum sander uses sandpaper discs which rotate as the machine moves and must be changed regularly, whereas the belt sander uses a continuous belt of sandpaper which runs on, reducing the chances of leaving marks on the delicate parquet motif. The drum sander has a small metal bar which holds the paper in place and can cause marks on the floor if the machine is left on idle whilst running. Corners and other small areas should be tackled by an orbital sander.
Rinse and repeat…
When the whole room has been sanded start again this time using a finer grain of sandpaper. Now the parquet should be looking lighter, smoother with the motif more visible. Carefully vacuum, the room and wipe with a dust mop to remove all residue of dust particles. Any stubborn spots of veneer can be removed with a tiny amount of white spirit on a lint free cloth although if you do this makes sure you wipe the white spirit off and thoroughly dry before continuing.
Next and final stage is to apply your finishing of choice. This can be clear or coloured varnish, oil, lacquer or plain varnish. There is a superb range of toxin-free finishing products on the market in both matt and gloss finishing so you will not be stuck for choice. Whichever you choose, apply exactly as stated and never rush the drying time.