Parquet hardwood floors were first seen in the 16th century when wealthy aristocrats began looking for an alternative to marble, as the constant cleaning that marble floors required tended to rot the joists (wooden beams used for support) beneath the floors . In 1684, large diagonal squares known as parquet de Versailles were introduced as parquet de menuiserie (“woodwork parquet”) to replace traditional marble flooring. Artistic craftsmen created the iconic geometric patterns in the flooring by meticulously arranging wooden squares, triangles and lozenges. For most of the next three centuries, parquet hardwood floors of various types were the staple choice of flooring for most American families.
*European cherry brushed and varnished
After World War 2, American homeowners began covering up their floors with carpet, and having solely wooden floors became more of a status symbol for the rich. In the 1960s and 1970s, flooring manufacturers began to mass-produce thin parquet tiles, which were 8 to 12 inches square. Since the tiles only required thin hardwood veneers to make, they were very cheap, which resulted in hundreds of thousands of homes removing their carpeting in favor of parquet tiles once again. Gradually, parquet tiles became common all across the U.S., and people started to see it as an inexpensive copy of what was once an expensive status symbol. However, as new flooring materials such as plastic laminates, vinyl planks, and porcelain tiles came into fashion, hardwood parquet tiles fell out of favor once again.
Today, parquet flooring is seen not as a cheap knockoff version of a former status symbol of the elite, but as a tribute to the vintage era of the 60s and 70s. The quality of parquet flooring has also increased drastically, thanks to flooring manufacturers using solid wood instead of hardwood veneers, which means these floors can be sanded and refinished at least once. Thanks to the renewed popularity of mid-century modern styles – where parquet was once wildly popular – it is safe to say that parquet flooring has found its way back into the contemporary 21st century home.