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Parfait Parquet – Frequently Asked Questions

A key part of my business in France involves providing clear information about the process of floor sanding and the renovation of wood floors. No two floors are ever the same – even in the same house. So my job to assess each room, provide professional advice and give you a price for my work and materials. I want my clients to feel confident that they have made the right choice and to ensure they have the best outcome possible. I’m always being asked lots of questions about my work and what it entails. So to help you understand what’s involved I’ve listed a few common questions and answers below.

Is my wooden floor too damaged to be sanded or restored?

Many old French wood floors actually look worse than they are. In fact the ones that do have layers of old paint and varnish on them are usually the best protected underneath. Once I start sanding you will quickly see the beauty of the natural wood coming through. Any remedial work that is required, such as repairing cracks, replacing boards or gap filling will be part of the complete flooring project.

The exception to the rule is pine floors, and more often pine attic floors. They are very rarely sanded and 80% of the time are affected by wood worm. So they need be assessed in person on a site visit before a price can be given.

Do your sanding machines make lots of dust?

The simple answer is ‘No’. But I’m sure you will find that hard to believe, so I’ll tell you exactly how I protect your property from dust.

Sanding is virtually dust free and I will not damage any skirting boards as I work. This is because I only use Pallmann, Bona and Festool equipment. The names probably won’t mean much to you, but rest-assured they are the best and most efficient products, and will help ensure that your home stays clean and dust free. 

My professional sanding machines are 99% to 95% dust free although, inevitably, some dust can be generated on certain restoration projects. In some instances, where I encounter a very uneven floor for example, it may generate a slightly higher percentage of dust than normal. But I also use high–powered dust-extracting machines. In addition, I tape up doors to other rooms and cupboards if needed for restoration floors projects. So if low-dust emission is a critical factor for you, perhaps because members of the household have an allergy, or chronic illness, then please let me know in advance.

How long does it take to sand a floor?

An average-sized square room of between 25 to 30 square metres, in straight parquet (bedroom, lounge or hallway for instance) takes a day to sand and finish and a second day to hand finish and varnish, wax or oil. However, if repairs are required to the main body of the floor, or several floor boards need to be replaced then the job will take a little longer. 

I also factor in additional time to let the VITRIFICATEUR or oil finish fully cure because during this time the floor should not be walked on. You will be informed exactly how long it will take depending on the chosen floor finish. Large rooms with uneven floors, or traditional pattern floors, can take longer to sand and prepare.

Should I consider filling the gaps between my floorboards?

Firstly, it depends on the gap size and the floor type and if the parquet is flexing or moving due to age or the beams or subfloor below all floors need to be assessed on a ‘room by room’ basis. Pine floors and  old parquet floors in particular need different treatments to get the best results. 

The cost of gap filling is based on room size and gap size, and priced accordingly. So the client can then decide whether they want to add it to the overall quote for the project. Filling gaps between floorboards is a good idea if you are keen to eliminate draughts in ground floor rooms. It also reduces the amount of dirt and dust that gets trapped between the floorboards. Filling can also make the older pine floors look more refined and give a cleaner look to the floor. 

Gaps are filled using a resin filler and sawdust from your floor to get an exact match during the gap filling process. Occasionally, splints may also be used. Splints are narrow strips of wood glued between the floorboards and then sanded down, so they are level with the existing boards. Generally, if the gaps are very small I use a resin filler and sawdust because it gives a much better, more even finish.

What colour will the floor be after sanding?

The main aspect to take into account is that the finished parquet will be light and bright and depending on the wood species and the finished used it will darken once a finish is applied. For French walnut parquet we recommend a vitrification with a pre primer to fix the parquet and reduce it going darker. For Oak parquet either oil or vitrification works well.

It all depends on what wood your floor is made from, in their natural form hardwoods like oak, mahogany and walnut tend to be darker. Whereas softwood pine can vary from a pale honey colour, to a dark, golden brown. However, most woods can be stained, bleached, waxed or oiled to be whatever colour you’d like them to be.

Should I use vitrification, oil  on my parquet?

Each floor finish I use has its own particular strengths and weaknesses. But for a home environment, with average levels of foot traffic, I recommend an pallmann or Osmo oil finish. However, wear and tear on commercial-use wooden floors, such as a restaurant, bar or reception area, is far greater. Therefore heavier-duty wood care products can be used here.

Oiled floors creates a protective barrier inside and on top of the wood surface as the wood absorbs the oil which means it can repel liquid and dirt. The key benefit of oiled floors is that local repairs can be carried out on damaged areas and they will easily blend in with the rest of the floor. 

Re-oiling needs to be carried out more frequently on average about every  3 years for heavy traffic floors. Although much less frequently for bedrooms and other low traffic rooms.

What are the maintenance options for each finish?

Firstly we only parquet finishes that come with a well written and comprehensive cleaning products. 

That would be Pallmann, Bona Osmo and Wocca are most used finishes. 

My advice for all floors is to have good clean doormats to help trap any grit and outdoor dirt. Sweep and vacuum regularly. Ensure you follow the top tips we provide on our website.

The best way to keep a wood floor looking good is maintenance. Keep grit, dirt and dust off your floor and it’s unlikely you’ll need to carry out much re-oiling or re finishing. Using the correct cleaning products from the supplier of your floor finish – is vital to ensure floors remain in tip-top condition. 

Why use Osmo or Pallmann stains and vitrification on parquet floors and not just a coloured varnish?

This is a very common question.  First its doesn’t last very long and its not great quality. Staining parquet should be completed as an two processes stain then finish. 

Professional finishes such as Pallmann, Osmo or Bona finishes the seal protects both the wood and colour stain, so the stain remains consistent for longer. 

At the staining stage of your floor project, I will sand small areas of the floor back to bare wood. Then I’ll apply your chosen sample colour stains to the floor.

Important note:

When I’m asked to stain a floor I ask the client to sign a photo, showing the floor and colour test stain. This is to confirm it’s the chosen colour to be applied to the rest of the floor. Once signed the photo then becomes part of the contract.  

Staining floors will not always have a successful outcome on old parquet especially on pine floors with old signs of woodworm. As a professional, if I’m asked to stain floors and I cannot guarantee the process will be 100% successful without a site assessment.  

How long can I expect my new floor to last?

The most important point of a long lasting parquet once completed is is down to the client really. Ensuring that they maintain the floor as per instructions from the artisan using the product finish guidelines. 

The general rule is more foot traffic, the greater the wear. In an average family home – two adults, two children and a dog – it is hallways that see the most traffic. Without a good quality doormat and only minimal maintenance and cleaning, I wouldn’t expect a floor to last more than 3-5 years. However, with regular cleaning and sensible precautions, such as felt pads under chair legs, sofas and furniture, your floor will last much longer.

Should I decorate before or after the floor has been sanded?

Ideally I would recommend a assessment of the parquet to confirm the best option for decorating before or after floor sanding.

The only thing I suggest leaving until after the sanding is complete is a final coat of finish/paint on skirting boards. This is in the very rare event that our sanding machines scuffs the paintwork slightly. You should, of course, then mask the floor carefully to avoid any paint spots and drips.

Finally, if I have not answered all of your questions above, please feel free to call or email me your question. I will respond to you directly by call or in writing, whichever you prefer.

Brad Quarless

Ébéniste & Renovator parquet