Installing parquet tile

MATERIALS: Parquet tile, adhesive, adhesive cleaner, plywood scrap

TOOLS: Tape measure, chalk line, notched trowel, saber saw, safety glasses, rubber or leather knee pads, rubber mallet, floor roller or rolling pin

Parquet tile is made of thin strips of solid wood glued together to make a pattern. Each tile is usually made of four smaller tiles glued together, measures 12"xl2", and has a tongue on two sides and grooves on the others. Small strips of soft metal reinforce the tile, helping to keep it from breaking into smaller pieces. The metal is soft enough that you can safely cut through it with a saber saw, but not with a circular saw. Because the tiles are wood, they expand and contract with changes in humidity. To allow for this movement, leave a 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch gap between the tiles and the wall. Once the floor is in, install baseboard on top of it to hide the gap. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations in caring for the floor.

1 REMOVE THE BASEBOARD, THE QUARTER-ROUND, OR BOTH, AND PREPARE THE SUBFLOOR AS NECESSARY. Undercut door trim by placing a saw on a parquet tile and cutting through the trim. When it comes time to install the tile, slip it under the trim.

2 TILE LAYOUT BEGINS AT THE CENTER OF THE ROOM. Find the center by measuring to the halfway point of opposing walls and snapping a chalk line between them. Measure and find the middle of the chalk line, and lay out a perpendicular line, using a square and the carpenter's triangle.

3 TEST-FIT THE TILES ALONG THE LAYOUT LINES IN BOTH DIRECTIONS WITHOUT USING ADHESIVE. The tiles along the walls on opposite sides of the room should be the same width. If not, reposition the layout lines until the tiles are the same.

4 USE A NOTCHED TROWEL TO SPREAD ENOUGH FLOORING ADHESIVE FOR THE FIRST THREE TILES, following the manufacturer's directions. Take care not to cover the layout lines with adhesive.

LAY TILES IN A PYRAMID - Tiles can vary by as much as 3/32 inch, making them hard to align. When you start laying them, place them in the pyramid pattern shown here. It helps solve the problem, because you fit most tiles into a corner made by their neighbors. They still won’t align perfectly, but the variations won't throw you off. Once you've established the pyramid, work your way methodically along the outside edges until you've filled half the room. Then lay a pyramid to begin the other half of the room.

5 LAY THE TILES IN A PYRAMID. If you need to kneel on freshly laid tiles, put a piece of plywood over them to keep them from shifting. Sometimes the color in one of the strips that makes up the tiles contrasts sharply with the other tiles. Some installers like the look; others don't. Make your choice. Finish the first half of the room, then lay the second half of the floor.

6 SET AND LEVEL THE TILES BY TAPPING THEM INTO THE ADHESIVE WITH A RUBBER MALLET. Wipe up adhesive that seeps between the joints, using a solvent recommended by the flooring adhesive manufacturer.

7 MARK THE BORDER TILES FOR CUTTING. To allow for tile expansion, leave a 1/2-inch gap at the walls. Lay out the cut by placing a 1/2-inch spacer against the wall. Put a loose tile directly over the last full tile. Place a tile or half tile against the spacer and over tile. Mark tile. Cut along the line with a saber saw. (If you used a circular saw the wires in the tile would get caught and ruin the cut.)

8 AT OUTSIDE CORNERS, MARK THE TILE AS IN STEP 7. Then slide the tile against the wall to mark the second cut. Use a square to draw a line at the mark, outlining the final shape of the tile. Mark the same way at inside corners, putting the loose tile first against one wall, then the other.

9 SOME MASTICS REQUIRE YOU TO BED THE FLOORING IN THE ADHESIVE; others do not. Follow the manufacturer's directions for the specific product you are using. Allow the recommended drying time before walking on the floor.

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