In a previous case study, we covered replacing safety flooring at the Dauntsey’s School, near Devizes, Wiltshire. This was just one project of several that kept one of our flooring teams at the school for almost five weeks during a summer period.
Of a more unusual nature was the request to repair parquet flooring in the main reception. The headmaster was beginning to despair that a company could be found willing to tackle some damage to this once beautiful wood floor which was laid when the school officially moved to the site in 1895. The situation was becoming a
health and safety hazards. The last thing anybody wanted to do was have it ripped up and replaced. We agreed it was too precious to lose. However, it needed some specialised TLC.
Most of the original parquet pieces were oak at the imperial size of 9” (228mm) by 2¾” (68mm). However, not all were uniform. The original parquet was ¾” (18mm) thick. The small oak planks we sourced were only 10mm (2/5”) thick. As anything thicker would have been very expensive, it was decided to pack out the subfloor with plastic levelling shims (spacers), so the new parquet pieces could be laid flush with the surrounding floor.
We progressed initially by lifting the damaged oak (1) and removing the surplus bitumen (the only form of damp proofing and glueing used in the late nineteenth century). The new oak parquet pieces were then sawn to size from the planks (2 and 3) and placed in position using the shims as necessary (4). A wood floor polymer adhesive was then poured into the subfloor cavity (5). This eventually bonded everything together. At the same time, the oak pieces were aligned into the floor as flat and as level as possible (6). A light oak filler was used where gaps were excessive. The drying time was about 12 hours for everything to set solid.
In some areas, it was difficult to get the new oak completely flat with the old (7). Sanding everything level was necessary. Dust can be a problem and we wanted to reduce this to a minimum in an area where wall lights, pictures and other historic mementoes were prominent. The smallest amount could also set off the smoke alarms.
It was decided to construct a canopy of dust sheets to seal in as much of the work zone as possible (8) and to also use an industrial vacuum unit (9). It was a good decision, as it was a dirty job (10), but one that paid dividends in the results. After cleaning, the repaired areas were brush finished with two coats of a satin oak stain (11 and 12) which brought out the beauty of the wood. It was not the intention to make it look new. As a repair, it is certainly almost indistinguishable from the surrounding floor (13 and 14) and that is just as it should be.
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