The 5-Finger Parquet Floor. Also called:
1. Square parquet; 2. Basket weave; 3. Mosaic parquet floor; 4. Parquet damier (in french)
… and a lot more that I’m sure have slipped through my google research.
Whatever you plan to call it, this parquetry consists of 5 stripes of wood going horizontal and vertical alternatively, making up a square pattern, sort of like a weave.
I’ve never really fancy this type of flooring, and I know I’m not the only one (no offense to the people who like it). I think that is probably because you find it mostly in post-war buildings in Paris, and it is not really the most charming or the most valuable type of hardwood floor there is on the market.
Alas, sometimes life has a way of making fun of us. This year, we happily became the owners of a bright little flat in the Southeast of Paris.
But of course, it is in a post-war building, 1958.
And of course, it comes with the 5-finger parquet floor.
It is not too bad, really, the wood was just basically a little worn and the colour made it look a bit dated. And it was oak wood from the original construction in 1958, which says a lot about it’s solidity.
Tough decision. So what to do now? What are our options?
I decided to ask the oracle of modern age, The Internet, for some answers, and to see what others before me had done.
Here’s a list of options that I found:
#1 – Dispose of it and Replace it with another floor
Very tempting, and as the flat is not very big, it doesn’t cost a lot, and we could simply lay another hardwood floor on top of it.
#2 – Painting with Coloured Top Coat
It exists nowadays a Polyurethane Coat that is coloured like paint specially for hardwood floor, it is very resistant and it feels like you are painting your floor.
#3 – Clear Waterproofing Wood Sealant
Used mostly for outdoor areas like the deck or patio. In France it’s called “Imprégnant”. It micro penetrates into the wood and does not leave a plastic film on top of it
#4 – Sanding and Staining
Classic approach, usually staining it into a darker shade.
#5 – Sanding and Refinishing with Clear Top Coat
Basically protecting the wood and making it as close to it’s original colour as possible.
After going back and forth with these options in mind, we finally decided on #5: keeping the hardwood floor, sand it and refinish it with a transparent top coat. We really wanted to keep the natural aspect of the wood, all the while having the most durable finishing possible due to our 1 year-old marvel who is very adorable but equally destructive.
I have seen a few fellow 5-finger-parquet-floor owners redecorate their flats and it looks reasonably attractive, which boosts my confidence a little.
The Home Makeover from A Cup of Jo, decorated by Emily Henderson, was one of the most convincing ones. The space felt so comfortable with mid-century style. They didn’t really talked about their 5-finger parquet floor, but I’ve noticed the floor colour was light and they mostly used a rug to break up the busy patterns of the parquetry.
Another one is from Desire to Inspire, this Mid-century modern bungalow has been refreshed to perfection by David and Scott who run a small creative agency in Berkshire. The parquet floor really adds to the charm of the mid-century style they were going for.
So with our minds made up, we rolled up our sleeves and got to work. Yes, we sanded and refinished by ourselves. How brave is that?
The whole process of sanding and refinishing took around 4 days, we put in 3 layers of top coat. The wood had been sanded before by previous owners, and there is only around 1mm left in certain areas of the floor. Paper thin.
The results are pretty good, even though we were bumped that the “transparent coat” is not really transparent, it’s a little tinted yellow.
A pretty good job done by amateurs like us, don’t you think?
It’s been about 4 months since we’ve set our foot in, and our crawling baby has been romping on the floor daily, throwing toys around and banging them hard against the floor (aïe!). There are shallow marks and little holes everywhere if you inspect it carefully, but they are really not very obvious in general. Every time I see him knock something against the floor, I send a thank you note mentally to the universe for not letting me install new hardwood floor.
One thing we could have done better, it’s probably to choose a professional brand of top coat, or to delegate the finishing to a specialised company, as apparently, the chemical coatings they use are much more stronger and resistant in the long run.
We have grown to love our floor after all this labour, and we are so thankful that the busy inlay of this floor helps to hide most of the marks made by our daily use. It is a flooring that is very practical for a growing family and we are starting to appreciate its vintage vibe that will be the direction of many of our decorating decisions. It can be rather charming, really, if styled carefully.
What’s more, seeing this is the original parquet from 1958, we get to keep a piece of the building’s history with us.
à la vie aujourd’hui,