Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Why do builders make their customers feel silly for wanting to do a good thing?

Reclaimed Oak laid in Hallway before sanding

I thought it was time to turn our attention towards what reclaimed parquet actually is and why it is important to persevere with the idea (once you have it) of having a reclaimed floor in your house. And how not to let your builder make you feel like you are mad for wanting to install a parquet floor.

The parquet that we reclaim is invariably from public buildings constructed from 1930s to 1960s where the materials are of a good quality and usually much more interesting than the wood types commercially available today, so the end results of such a floor are normally stunning. Some of the wood types are extremely rare too, but having already been felled it is criminal to waste them and we applaud customers who see that and want to reclaim not only for budgetary reasons but for principled reasons too.

The problem we find however is that many customers who instinctively want to reclaim are often discouraged by their general builder. We hear it over and over:

The customer says, "I would like a reclaimed parquet floor, I have always wanted one" and the builder says, "Oh it will never work, reclaimed materials are damp, they will warp, you will need to order 25% extra because there will be so much that you can't use, I have stripped out better stuff and put it on a skip" etc. etc. etc!

But if the customer insists, the builder will often agree to fit it after having rubbished it! Then we get phone calls whereby once the pallet arrives the builder refuses to do what he promised (even after having seen the sample) because, " It is has bitumen on it which needs to come off and the quote didn't include for cleaning, it is all different block, and he has put better stuff in a skip" etc.etc. etc.!! None of which by the way is true - you can lay parquet with bitumen on, you just need compatible glue, the tongues do need cleaning for a tight fit and that is made clear from the start, all of our supplies are kept separate so that we sell something which will make a complete floor for the customer and the parquet would definitely have gone into numerous skips if we had not reclaimed it - but that does not make it a bad material!

Some of you out there will recognise this scenario. I certainly do. I have to calm down customers from time to time who are totally wound up by their mischievous builders. The bare truth is builders are not floor fitters just like joiners aren't cabinet makers. This job can be done by builders, indeed by a competent DIY person but you need to have the open-mindedness, courage, patience, experience and skill sets to do it.

Over the years we have learned to make our customers aware of this type of tyranny from builders who like to work with only new materials and will never get the concept of reclaimed parquet. We know there are builders out there who are not like that, and who work as a team and will go the extra mile to give the customer what they want. These are the ones to treasure and nurture. If you have one like that, you too can have a reclaimed parquet floor. If you don't, the moral of the story is - get a floor fitter experienced with reclaimed materials to give you what you really always wanted!

Same Hallway when sanded and sealed.


  1. Good for you! Reclaimed might be extra work for someone out to make a quick buck but it's characterful, beautiful, ultimately very economical and a lasting testament to the craftsmanship of previous generations yet modern and hard wearing. I love your work!

  2. Thanks for that, we feel very strongly about how important it is not to waste what we already have!