In the past wood blocks were used for the most expensive floors in our great houses. Nowadays this splendid material is used more and more because there are available thinner blocks, cheaper and easier to handle. Old block work was frequently done with wood up to two or even three inches thick. However, since wear is very slow indeed most of this expensive wood was wasted. Nowadays manufacturers provide very thin blocks of good quality hardwoods, which are glued to a backing of cheaper, softer wood. These blocks may be applied to almost any normal home floor, solid or timber, provided that its surface is perfectly flat and, of course, free from damp.
There are two principal methods of layout. In the first, the blocks are glued down. In the second they are slotted together without being glued down permanently.
The glued types may be purchased either in individual blocks or in ready-prepared groups of blocks. The individual blocks can be fitted together in various more or less complicated patterns. This is a fascinating undertaking for anyone with the time and inclination to do such work. The results are very good indeed and indistinguishable from the most expensive parquet flooring.
Alternatively, the ready-prepared groups of blocks, up to eighteen inches square, often on a plywood backing, may be bought and stuck down. This is naturally a very much quicker undertaking and looks much the same although the range of patterns is limited to those the manufacturers provide. Either of these two kinds will give a first class permanent surface and will enhance considerably the value of the home. There is no technical difficulty with the job and the manufacturers provide fully detailed and easily followed instructions.
In principle, the surface of the floor is covered with adhesive and the blocks pressed into it touching each other. At the edges of the room blocks must of course be sawn as required to fit up to the skirting board.
The second type of wood block flooring which is arranged to slot together has a number of advantages for ordinary householders. It does not require gluing and it can be applied over a more irregular surface than glued block types. It is even possible to apply it over a slightly damp surface by spreading a large polythene sheet over the whole floor before laying the blocks.
Some manufacturers provide a cork felt underlay which adds to the resilience and the luxurious feel of the wood.
Laying out slotted wood block flooring IN a very clean and pleasant undertaking. Its principal advantage, though, is that it may be removed. The joints are not glued together so one can lift all the parts, take Ilium to another room or even another house and then re-lay them. The second room need not be the same shape or size as the first. Line, you will probably lose a few of the original wood blocks which you cut to shape but this is a small cost compared to the advantage of being able to take your host floor covering along with you.
After all, not all of us live in homes of our own. A large number live in rented flats or houses. Wood blocks that are glued down become automatically the property of the landlord whereas slot-together types, which can be removed without damaging the floors, remain the property of the tenant.
This removability is a great advantage oven for owner-occupiers. It is possible that the increase in value of the home given hy laying a wood block glued floor would not be so great as the cost of laying a further floor at a new house.
For these reasons we recommend the slot-together unglued type of flooring for general work. The choice though is by no moans a straightforward one and much will depend on your individual circumstances.
If you do decide on glued type flooring prepare the floor well beforehand, make sure it is smooth, flat and free from damp and follow the instructions of the manufacturers in laying out.
The Lynx Interlocking Parquet Panels that we show in detail are manufactured in Scandinavia and freely available in Britain. Its surface is a pleasing light oak and it has very good wear resistance. There are of course other makes which differ slightly in appearance but the general method of layout is the same in nearly all cases.
Laying a floor of wood blocks
1 These blocks can be laid either on solid or wooden floors. If a solid floor has any trace of dampness then you should spread a sheet of polythene DPC material over the entire floor beforehand. Blocks are normally laid over a bitumen and cork underlay which is supplied in rolls. Unroll this across the surface of the floor but leave a space of in. to 1 in at the skirting and between each strip to allow for expansion of the felt.
2 The floor tiles are made very accurately and have tongues on two sides and grooves on the other two sides. These tongues and grooves fit together perfectly to give an almost invisible joint. They require no glue.
3 To lay a normal floor start by making up a panel of nine slotted-together blocks. The makers of the blocks supply a special moulded wooden strip so that the edges can be hammered without damaging the blocks themselves.
4 Blocks that fit right against a skirting board must have the protruding tongues sawn off.
5 Now place the prepared panel on the floor over the felt underlay, right up into a corner.
6 Further blocks can be added, tapping them well into place to close the joints completely.
7 It is very unlikely that the floor will be of such a size that the blocks fit exactly. At one or two sides you will have to cut them to shape. Start one complete block away from the wall.
8 Fit this one in the normal way. You will find it difficult to use a hammer, because of the nearness of the skirting. To get over this the makers produce a special tool which is shown here. By hammering one end of the tool the lip at the other end draws the block tightly into place. We found though, that this could damage the surface of the blocks unless one interposed a piece of waste board or card between the tool and the block surface.
9 To cut the small adjoining piece to exact size first place a complete block over the last one, but with the grain running at right angles.
10 Now place a further block on top butted firmly against the skirting. You now have three blocks one on top of the other.
11 Mark a clear line along the middle block using the top block as a guide. Saw the block across at this line.
12 You will find that the sawn off piece will fit perfectly between the last block and the skirting and that the grain will run the correct way.
13 When you get right to the last corner. However, it is not possible to do this because there is not sufficient space to slide the block into position. You can still fit them quite easily though by following this method.
Cut the blocks to size and then, saw away the lower lip of every groove, as shown here.
14 You can lower one part easily into place, applying a little glue into the cut-away groove to make it hold firmly.
15 Next fit the corner piece. This you can tap sideways into place without further ado. (Its lower lip need not be removed).
16 Finally the remaining piece can be slotted downwards into place to give a perfectly sound corner. If you later have to lift the floor it is quite easy to snap the pieces apart.
17 At the skirting edge a vastly improved appearance is given by nailing a prepared oak moulding to conceal the edges of the blocks. One type has a space behind through which electric cables or television aerials can be passed, concealing them most effectively.
18 For doorway openings a reducing strip is made which fits into the last row of floor tiles. This reducing strip can also be used right round a carpet well in the middle of a room. In this way the blocks can be laid as a carpet surround without covering the entire floor.
The strip is drilled and countersunk, then screwed firmly to the floor. On solid floors, the screws must pass down into Rawlplugs.
Glued wood blocks
These are by no means difficult to lay end some have slotted sides too.
- First prepare the underfloor very accurately ao as to give a perfectly level surface.
- The glue will not bond properly if the surface is irregular, lumpy, greasy or dirty. Every trace of old loose paint must be removed.
- The surfacing blocks are made up into manageable sizes of panels (if they are of the slot together kind of course). Then these are glued down, using the manufacturers ,,commended adhesive. Most of the slot legether, glued down blocks have a top ..urface that is ready sanded so they need very little extra work other than polishing.
- However, individually glued blocks may not be finished so accurately and they will therefore require sanding down and polishing. This is quite a major operation and we strongly advise you to hire a sandpapering machine. These are available in most big towns. This will save you hours of hard labour and will enable you to get an even better result.
- The great advantage of glued blocks is that the variety of patterns is much wider than with the slotted types. Indeed it is only limited by your artistry and imagination.
- By using blocks of different woods you can attain a marquetry effect which is very pleasing.
- Such floors undoubtedly add to the value of any property in which they are installed but it must be remembered that they do become the property of the landlord in a rented house. Non-glued types normally remain the tenants property.