Herringbone flooring guide

Herringbone may be something you’re more used to wearing, but a 21st century revival means it’s making a major impact in the flooring as well as the fashion stakes. Keep reading as I share with you all you need to know about this stylish flooring.

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What is herringbone flooring?

Herringbone flooring is a type of flooring known as parquet block flooring that’s widely referred to as herringbone because of its distinctive pattern that resembles the bone structure of a herring.

Parquet block flooring is made up of smaller blocks of wood that are laid in different ways to create a variety of geometric patterns and styles. Herringbone is hugely popular because it looks natural and delivers maximum visual impact in all spaces.

The benefits of herringbone flooring

The advantages of having herringbone flooring are widespread and include:

1. Visual appeal

There’s no mistaking herringbone flooring when you see it. Effortlessly striking with a classic elegance, no wonder it’s such a popular flooring option that’s featured in many a social media feed and elsewhere.

2. Versatility

Given its classic design, herringbone is a flooring option that looks stunning, regardless of where it is, e.g. in hallways, dining rooms or kitchens. It also looks equally-impressive in both residential and commercial settings.

3. Hard-wearing

Because of the way it’s assembled, with slim pieces of solid wood or engineered wood being individually placed jigsaw-style alongside each other, herringbone flooring is considered to be a hard-wearing flooring choice. Given the chunkiness of parquet flooring, it can also be sanded down and revarnished or stained to remove any wear and tear.

4. Low maintenance 

Due to the fact herringbone flooring has a smooth, gap-free finish, it’s easy to look after and keep clean. Sweep it over once a week to collect any dust and debris and then gently mop the floor, using cleaning products that have been specifically designed to look after the wood your flooring has been made from. If you do want to vacuum it, make sure you use a soft brush head to avoid scratching.

5. Space-enhancing

Given its intricate pattern, it’s easy to assume that this flooring design can make spaces appear smaller. But believe it or not, it’s actually capable of having the complete opposite effect, particularly in narrow spaces, such as hallways. It’s all down to the pattern and the way it gives the illusion of movement. 

Key considerations for herringbone flooring

One look at herringbone flooring and it’s easy to be hooked. But for all the aesthetic appeal, it’s important it works from a practical perspective. Make sure you factor in these key considerations before switching to herringbone:

1. Foundation 

As is the case with laying any new flooring, the foundation needs to be clean, dry and even. This is particularly important when installing herringbone because of the way it’s made up of individual pieces.

If your original floor is made from concrete, it needs to be clear of any adhesive. If it is uneven, it may need to be re-levelled, using a self-levelling compound. If you have original floorboards, putting a piece of plywood over the top will create a stable base. 

2. Materials 

Herringbone flooring is most commonly made from hardwood, e.g. walnut, oak or sapele. It’s also available as vinyl tiles for easier installation and maintenance.

The condition of your base will most likely influence the material you choose, as well as your budget and size of the space you’d like your new flooring.

3. Pattern

While herringbone is difficult to mistake for other flooring patterns, there are different variations of it. For example, you can have:

  • Standard-sized – uses wood pieces measuring 9 x 45cm
  • Narrow – uses 6 to 7cm wide pieces 
  • Large – uses 12 to 15cm wide pieces 
  • Oversized – uses 18 to 24cm wide pieces 
  • Double – created by laying two pieces side-by-side.

4. Direction

The orientation of the design can really influence the end result. Take a step back and identify the key features within your space, e.g. windows, a fireplace, doors, as well as the overall shape of the area.

Herringbone has maximum impact when it flows down and through the entire length of a room. However, if you have a particularly special feature you want to make more of, then it’s also possible to lay your herringbone floor so that it guides the eye to this special point.

5. Colour

Colour is important for all flooring decisions. Darker colours can make spaces appear smaller, and lighter colours can help create the illusion of space. The same principle applies to herringbone flooring.

Lighter shades of solid or engineered wood can help lift spaces, while darker colour schemes make things feel more boxed in, so be sure to have lighter walls if you prefer to have a darker floor.

I’ve ran through the importance of preparing the floor, but you’ll also need to make sure your measurements are spot on too.

For help with this, have a read of How to measure for flooring

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Jack Odgen

Written by:

Flooring Specialist

at ScS Coventry

14th December 2022

Jack is the Flooring Specialist based at the Coventry ScS store. Having been part of the ScS flooring team since 2019, Jack knows everything there is to know about the flooring ranges at ScS. Jack's favourite flooring is carpet as it can make a house feel more homely, has a nice underfoot feeling and can help to keep the house a little warmer.