Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Parquet pattern differences for those with a sense of adventure!

There are various parquet patterns that can be achieved in your parquet project. It takes a bit of care and planning for success, but it can be done. You can have the floor fitted in the classic herringbone. But you could for example have the simpler, very modern brick pattern. Or if you want to go retro, try chequerboard. Some of the border work can also be done in a contrasting block, darker or lighter - that can be very effective - you can see examples of this on our website.

We have a few different patterns in the 'favourite' and 'more favourite' photos gallery. However to help you consider the options I have placed the various designs together on this page, courtesy of fitters or customers who have created something beautiful from reclaimed parquet:
Herringbone pattern
Classic herringbone pattern in Coralwood as fitted by Robert Taylor
Brick pattern
Maple Lobby in a brick pattern as fitted by 4D
Chequerboard pattern
Chequerboard pattern in Sapele by Shaun Gordon
And the time consuming but extremely clever basket weave:
Basketweave pattern
Basketweave in oak as fitted by a very skilled customer
Below are a couple of the options for border blocks, either using a thinner piece or a whole block to add your contrast.
Chequerboard pattern with border
Chequerboard with border
Ekki Border block
Ekki Border block
The only pattern that cannot be done with a right-angled cut is a chevron. Chevron is a special cut, much less common in the UK and to be found everywhere in France, which tells you something! The chevron pattern is extremely fashionable at the moment particularly in faded tones of oak, but is not readily available in a reclaimed parquet. The panel below is one we made in our workshop but using beech, as you can see the cut is different!
Beech chevron pattern
Beech chevron
So if you fancy giving a parquet design a try, we carry a good range of reclaimed blocks in stock at all times. The wood types do vary depending on what we have recently reclaimed: Oak, Maple, Pitch Pine, Sapele, African Walnut, Partridge Wood, Beech Panga Panga etc, etc.

Monday, 16 September 2013

How to spot the differences

The differences matter! We have a lot of calls from customers looking to match into an existing floor, most commonly when they have removed a hearth or dividing wall. So not only do we need to find the right sized block (and believe me there are many sizes in the reclaimed parquet world when things were cut in Imperial sizes - unlike the uniform metric world we seem to inhabit today!) but we also need to work out exactly what the wood type is.

Often the block is a pale colour but very grubby, so the original grain is hard to see. However when you look at the side of the block you can sometimes scrape the debris off and see the grain. Or indeed if you can find an area and sand a bit back to view the original surface you are better off. If it is pale it is almost always a European wood, Beech, Pine or Pitch Pine, maple or occasionally oak. So how do we know which is which?

Firstly, for Pitch pine and Columbian Pine - see how noticeable the grain is? Pitch Pine has dark and resinous lines contrasting with the pale honey colour you would expect from pine, and the lines are normally significantly thicker than pine. It is a much harder-wearing block and 'bruises' or dents less easily than pine.

Secondly how hard and heavy is it? Trouble is if you don't know your pines, that is hard to compare. Both pines have 'open' pores however but generally Pitch pine has harder wood between the resinous lines. See the photos below for an illustration.
Pine close-up showing grain
Pitch pine close-up
Sometimes the only way to tell is to look at a larger area to get an overall feel for the amount of dark contrasting lines you can see as every block is different.

The other confusion is maple or beech. The differences between beech and the pines are marked when you start looking, but between beech and maple on initial viewing there are similarities.

The colour of beech is pinkish pale honey and the grain is flecked, even though there are other grain lines to distract you, look for the background flecking. Maple is a pale almost warm ash blonde with a shimmer, and  a more varied grain, but without expertise you can be none the wiser. The good news is that the timber hardness is the giveaway - if you press your fingernail into beech wood you can hardly make a dent, whereas you will easily leave a nail mark in the much softer maple.

See below for grain differences:

Maple close-up show grain differences

Beech close-up

Lastly, oak. You can always tell oak when you look closely and when you handle it - it is a hardwood, it has a lovely smell and the colour is a silvery grey brown which is unmistakeable once you get your eye in. You can also occasionally see the medullary rays across the wood like little silvery streaks, an absolute confirmation that you have oak. You can see that in the panel below:

Oak panel showing grain

So hopefully this will give you a bit of an idea as to how to work out the differences between these European woods when you are trying to match your floor.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Coralwood floor from start to finish

Coralwood, a beautiful reclaimed parquet block which we currently have for sale. This floor has been beautifully laid by Sebastian Cox and his team last month in London. Here are the photos showing the progress of the work:

Before laying the floor
Laying the centre line
Filling in the space
After 1st sanding
And more!
More fine sanding
Beautiful clean wood
Polishing begins
First finish going on
As you can see from the photos a lot of work goes into laying a reclaimed parquet floor, and it requires a lot of faith from the customer! When the blocks arrive, it can be a bit disconcerting, to see a stack of blocks, unsanded and grubby. However there is a process and the results are well worth it.

Thanks to Dougie for the photos, taken by him as the work went along, we hope to get some more glamorous Coralwood pics soon. Fab job!

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Maple reclaimed parquet in the cinema!

Maple reclaimed parquet in the public areas of a new cinema just built:
The Everyman Cinema, at the new Trinity Shopping Centre, Leeds.

Start of the laying process
These photos show the foyer and gallery of a cinema recently expertly fitted by 4D Contract Flooring. The flooring used was our maple reclaimed parquet block . The blocks supplied by us all had a carpet adhesive on the surface and had to be cleaned back without looking too 'perfect' for the designers. That is no mean feat when you start with glue on the faces! However 4D did it and it looks amazing.

Overhead view of the maple floor
Subtle lighting really works well with this finish
This covered a large area of about 250 sq m and the results are brilliant. The gallery has a warm and stylish feel which we hope the cinema-goers will appreciate when they get a chance to visit.

It really does prove that with some confidence and expertise you can get a new life from even the most unlikely looking blocks. All credit to those involved for having the imagination and tenacity to turn the vision into a reality and give more people a chance to see what a great material reclaimed parquet can be.

Cafe area with maple flooring
The photo above shows the cinema cafe/ restaurant area also with the same Maple reclaimed flooring, photos courtesy of Rob K of 4D - many thanks.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Reclaimed Parquet Flooring Is Cool...

Parquet is cool...
Ark Oak
Although we have been selling reclaimed parquet flooring for quite some years now, our customer base has really begun to change and grow. We have many more young designers and architects thinking about the application of the material in novel and imaginative ways.

We have sold quite a few reclaimed parquet floors which have been laid without being sanded, just to create a 'lived in', or a random look, like the floor in the photo which was laid in an Ark shop in the Arndale Centre, Manchester. This is generally in public areas like shops, offices, bars and the most recent one, a cinema!

Customers are looking at ways of using the wood creatively too, using parquet on the floor and then continuing it up the walls for example. We have a customer making table tops with reclaimed parquet, another cupboards. All very interesting and challenging to the classic use of parquet. Stuff which we are always delighted to hear about from our customers as well as friendly builders. So you can see why parquet flooring is cool!

On a more serious note, reclaimed parquet is a great option for flooring (and walling sometimes!) which we hope over the next few years will increase in popularity and uses, because otherwise it goes to landfill. We shouldn't waste timber that still has a useful life and if it is reclaimed correctly parquet can still have another incarnation.

In its original location parquet would have been an expensive floor, selected because of its hard wearing properties. It was also a material that could be laid onto concrete. There must be many of us out there who sat on a school assembly hall floor and were extremely glad it was made of wood! And it would have been terribly exotic too!

Keep thinking creatively about how to use this fantastic resource. We would be really interested to hear your ideas!

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Thinking about where reclaimed parquet comes from...

I recently read a very interesting article by Paul Gibson on the history of timber yards in and around Hull docks, and I had no idea there were so many! I was researching the name of a couple of timber merchants: Calder, stamped on the back of some parquet blocks we had reclaimed from an ex-commercial premises in Leicester, and the other from a school in Birmingham, J.A. Hewetson & Co. Ltd., which lead me to the article.

The timber stamped with J.A. Hewetson came from Hull, and that is where I came to find the fascinating article about the size and scale of Hull docks. Quite incredible sizes of lumber shipped from all over the world and ending up being cut into wood block flooring in Hull! J.A. Hewetson was operating in the latter half of the 19th century, and into the first half of the 20th century, so for over a hundred years it cut down timber into all shapes and sizes for the domestic market.

Hull Dockyard c 1950
 The wood type stamped with Calder is Coral Wood, a very beautiful African hardwood, mainly from West and Central Africa; and seemingly it was processed in Boston, having been shipped into the docks also ‘in the trunk’. Calder continues today, importing and processing timber, still through the port of Boston.

This is what is so exciting about reclaimed parquet and what it represents: the variety, the history and at times, the rarity of wood types which are available. It is wonderful quality, but for such a reasonable cost.

If you want to read the very interesting history of Hull's timber and docks follow this link: