When we bought our mid-century modern home, I pledged myself that I would restore as many original features as possible. One of such features was flooring. Our three bedrooms had the original 9” x 9” oak parquet flooring under the carpet which needed to be restored.
Fortunately, there was a flooring company (father and son team) that everyone in the neighborhood recommended. I called for an estimate and the young guy (I thought he was the son of the owner) came out. To my surprise, he said he couldn’t refinish this type of flooring. I told him everyone in this neighborhood recommended his company, but all he said was “Sorry, but I can’t do it.”
It took me over a month to solve the mystery. The guy failed to tell me that he was just a helper and not the owner nor the son. He was just filling in while the owner was out of town. I finally got hold of the actual owner and his son. Fortunately, they were able to start the job right away and had done an amazing job restoring our bedroom floor to its original glory.
It was a great disappointment to find that there was no original parquet flooring underneath the carpet in our living room. Since leaving the carpet was not an option with two bulimic cats, I had to come up with other mid-century modern flooring options.
I looked into a few different options – vinyl composite tiles (VCT), cork and concrete. While I was weighing in the pros and cons of each flooring types, I came across an eBay listing of the same style oak parquet tiles – The seller described them as “used, but in good shape, can be re-installed to cover 400 square feet.” It would be a gamble, but I thought it would well worth to have the original floor back.
We made a trip to Dallas and picked up six big tubs of parquet tiles. The bottom of tiles was still covered with old black mastic. I had to remove the mastic from each tile using a heat gun and scraper. I scraped a total of 500 tiles all by myself! It just took me almost two months to finish as scraping the tiles were not the only thing on the list of things to do.
My original plan was to lay the tiles myself. I have installed the parquet tiles (like the ones you see at home improvement centers) in my kitchen of the previous home, so I was pretty confident I could do it. I removed the carpet and found more mastic from the original parquet tiles.
Since the mastic could contain asbestos, I decided to use a soy based mastic remover instead of grinding the floor. Despite of all positive reviews, the remover did not work on my floor. I made a huge gooey, slimy, sticky, black tarry mess!
In a meanwhile, I realized I did gamble on this eBay deal:
1. There was not enough “good” tiles to cover the square footage – damaged tiles need to be repaired
2. Not all tiles were in the same height – they probably came from different rooms
3. Top veneer is too thin to be sanded
By the time I realized that the conditions of the tiles were not exactly as the seller described, it was too late to file a claim with Paypal. So I had to come up with Plan B – which I usually don’t have.
I ended up calling my floor guys back for help. At this point, I was so overwhelmed that I gave up on tackling the project myself. Not only I made a mess on my floor, but also there were more damaged tiles than I thought. Many tiles had to be repaired before installation.
It took me a while to recover from a sense of defeat for not finishing what I started, but the floor looks amazing. At least, I installed baseboards myself – I should be happy!