Antique hardwood flooring in oak, maple, cherry, ash, birch, Brazilian cherry, and walnut hardwoods has been used in Victorian homes. Parquet flooring is a wooden flooring of small pieces of wood arranged in patterns. This kind of flooring, technically named by the French parquetry, owes its beauty to the arrangement of small pieces of wood in an ornamental form. It is, in fact, a species of mosaic in wood. All beautifully grained wood, capable of being cut up into veneers, such as maple, cedar, mahogany, satinwood, rosewood, and ebony can be used. Centuries ago this sort of workmanship in antique hardwood flooring was in high favour, especially in France, where a workman named Boule carried the inlaying process to a high degree of delicacy.
Ad from June 1896: Parquet flooring by the National Wood Manufacturing Company was available 7/8 inch thick. Samples of antique hardwood flooring were available in the "Book of Patterns."
In some examples the pieces of wood employed were so small and the colors so selected, as to admit of the formation of pictures, or of small articles for furniture or ornament. In such case the term marquetry was applied to the result produced, parquetry being the name employed when floors were the object of the workmanship. For artistic effect, cleanliness, and durability, parquet flooring deserves special praise. Parquet floors can be laid on all kinds of existing floors, and in every variety of artistic design, from the medieval to the renaissance. Those who have a penchant for the old waxed floors can indulge in this taste without the inconvenience and danger attendant on that method of polishing, while for cleanliness parquet flooring is unrivalled.
By the 1840s, the wooden parquet was found in many better houses. In 1845 two small rooms in Windsor Castle and a portion of one of the staircases in the new Royal Exchange were floored with parquet. The thin layers, or veneers, of ornamental wood were fitted on stout oak frames formed into compartments, comprising squares, diamonds, polygons, or any other desired shape; the oak frames were more than an inch in thickness, and the rich or colored wood laid on them was from a quarter to three-eighths of an inch in thickness.
By the 1850s, with the use of sawing and planing machines the production of parquet flooring was rendered more easy to install than formerly. The simpler parquet floors were implimented in a desire to avoid the warping of long narrow boards, by employing boards only three or four feet long by as many inches in width, and arranging them in various patterns.