Hand sanding Versailles parquet

Location: Parkstone, Poole.

Property: Large detached residence

Timber: Hand rolled oak Versailles parquet panel on plywood

Age: Unconfirmed – possibly circa 1995

Removed finish: Coloured shellac and wax

Applied finish: One coat natural shellac, three coats Junckers matt lacquer

Notes: Floor was hand rolled (wavy effect) and had to be carefully hand scraped and sanded to preserve these undulations

Description: This was a job I undertook in a very large property by the sea where I completed this floor which was the main living room (around 60 sqm) and a bedroom. The floor was a hand rolled oak Versailles parquet panel floor, which means it was shaped by hand to give it an aged effect. Personally I really do not like these artificially aged floors as to me they look, well, artificial. The dimensioning had to be retained and so hand sanding and scraping on my hands and knees (again) was required. I did manage however to reduce the amplitude of the fake ageing which I think improved the look and made it appear more authentic. The floor was not a real true Versailles panel which traditionally are made from solid oak, glue free with wooden pegs, this floor had an oak layer which had been cut and glued to a plywood base then artificially aged which I am sure would be enough to fool many people.

The world of skilled wood finishing craftsmen is small, a point which was reinforced when I contacted an old colleague (who now runs his own floor sanding company) and asked him for advice regarding another floor in the property. The property and floors are quite distinctive and after a few questions my friend laughed and said to me “I finished that floor when it was put in!” so I was asking the right person at least. The floor was finished in shellac and three coats of finish which I normally only reserve for commercial areas but due to the large amount of direct sunlight on the floor and the proximity of the sea (the spray from which entered the room with the window open on a windy day) I thought a stronger coating specification was required.

There were few surprises, just a very large, very wavy, difficult to sand floor which was quite difficult to coat as it had to be finished one panel at a time via brush due to the wave effect, which was nerve wracking, especially as the grain runs in all directions, not fun. The finished pictures did not come out very well, which was a shame as it did look reasonably impressive. I think the natural oak colour along with the reduced faked wear pattern the floor looked much better than when it was laid.