Restoring Woodblock Flooring

Woodblock or Parquet flooring can be very attractive in any home, but especially in period homes. Over time, a woodblock floor can become faded and damaged, even losing some of the many hundreds of individual wooden blocks which make up the pattern. Having a Parquet floor completely replaced is extrordinarily expensive, so knowing how to restore and maintain your existing floor is well worthwhile.

Broken or missing blocks

The first thing you should do is check that all of the individual woodblocks are still securely fixed to the subfloor. If any blocks are missing completely (if you have recently moved in, it is worth checking sheds, garages or cupboards to see if the previous owner kept the loose blocks), take a sample or the exact measurements of a block to a local timber merchant and see if they can make you some replacements. If this is not possible, you can try finding some at reclamation yards or even online auction rooms.

Re-laying missing blocks

Once you have a full quota of either new or the original blocks you can start to replace them in the gaps in the floor. If old blocks have the original black pitch adhesive on them, you can remove it by scraping carefully with an old chisel and then finishing them off with sandpaper.

Now spread a layer of layex flooring adhesive (available from most DIY stores) directly onto the floor in the space where the blocks need replacing. This layer should be about 5mm thick across the whole surface. You can now spread a little adhesive onto the bottom of the blocks and start to replace them. Make sure you take note of the pattern of the existing blocks and match it with the replacement blocks.

When all of the blocks are in place and the hole in the woodblock floor has been filled, place a sheet of plastic over the newly laid area, lay some plywood or a sheet of MDF over the plastic and weight this down with a few bricks. Leave this in place for as long as is needed for the flooring adhesive to dry (follow manufacturers instructions). Once the adhesive has set, you can fill any small gaps between the blocks with wood filler that matches the colour of the wood blocks.

You could now simply varnish the new or replaced section so that it matches in with the rest of the floor. However, if you have the time, it is better to sand the whole floor back to bare wood and then revarnish completely. When using a floor sander (which can be hired by the day quite cheaply) to sand a woodblock floor, you will usually need to sand once in one direction and then again at right angles to the first. This is because the grain of the blocks will be facing in different directions. Once you have the floor sanded back to bare wood, a final sanding with a fine belt will smooth everything off and then you can apply your chosen finish.

For more advice on choosing and applying finishes to wood flooring, have a look at our Treating Wooden Floors guide.