Here’s something I didn’t know existed and turns out to be a great product to consider for our midcentury homes: “Unit block” oak flooring. 9″ tongue-in-groove solid pieces (rather than in the finger block style that we have profiled before.) In a big coincidence, we received tips on two places to buy these in the span of the same week — and once I was able to figure out some of the terms to describe this style of flooring — “unit block flooring” seems to be the generic, “K-Block may be the more specific, or possibly a brand name — I was able to search these term and find a variety of places to buy it.
Source #1: Wood Floors Plus
The first place I spotted these tiles was via midcenturyrichmond on instagram. She has an original floor made of these tongue-in-groove tiles, but needed some replacements to repair some damage. The photo above is hers. She searched and searched and finally found them at WoodFloorsPlus.com.
I called Wood Floors Plus twice to ask about the product. Jordan — very helpful! — told me that starting in the 1960s or 1970s, the industry started moving away from fingerblock parquet to this single-block designs. He said these blocks today are engineered red oak with a veneer on top.
In my followup with Amanda — also very helpful — I also learned there are TWO options to purchase these parquet blocks:
- Unfinished — at $4.09 s.f.
- Finished with a natural color — $4.19/s.f.
Note, Wood Floors Plus told me that these engineered floors are topped with veneer. As such, there will be a limited number of times you can refinish them. That is: If you try to refinish more than twice, you risk sanding through the veneer to the less pretty engineered oak substrate. Talk to Wood Plus about this.
If you want a wood parquet floor that can be refinished multiple times, the finger block parquet option is composed of solid wood, so it can be refinished over and over.
BUT, engineered wood does have other benefits — it can be installed below grade, on concrete, because its “engineered” substrate is designed to wick moisture. Solid wood floors typically can not go down on concrete. Also, the Wood Floors Plus engineered parquet floor is less than half the price of the solid parquet we found online.
BUT BUT me no expert! For complete specifications and instructions, talk to Wood Floors Plus and any other potential retailers directly to select the floor that’s right for you.
Note, Wood Floors Plus said this floor is manufactured by Indus Parquet; I could not find it on their website.
Nice find, midcentury richmond!
Source #2: K-Block Flooring available from numerous online sources
Next, I heard from reader Alesha — she found her unit floor blocks — K-Block flooring on ebay (affiliate link). Above: That’s her original floor with the yet-to-be-installed K-Blocks alongside. She wrote:
Pam,I thought I would share this with you just in case people are looking for 9″x9″ wood tiles for their midcentury house. Our living room floor is made of 9″x9″ red oak tiles that are tongue and groove and a half inch thick. Our kitchen floor meets this floor, but is covered in awful peel and stick. I keep my eye out for wood tiles on Ebay, but usually it’s too expensive for us. This is extremely affordable, and we ordered just a few to make sure it would match well enough for us. I just ordered 70 more tiles to do our kitchen in and have extra! They have three different pre-finished colors to choose from. We went with the natural and it worked out just fine. The seller has good communication and has to set up an auction tailored to your specific needs.
Search online for lots of place to buy unit block flooring
- “Wood block” refers to flooring like this generically. However, wood block flooring can get very spendy depending on the species and cut and if it’s solid wood.
- “Unit blocks” are wood blocks, but unit blocks seems to refer to the more affordable, mass-market building material — oak, as the best example, that has been built up into one unit.
- “Fingerblocks” are are a type of unit blocks — they are slats built into one unit then installed.
- “K-Blocks” are a second type of unit blocks. Built up wood with a single piece of veneer on type. I remain unclear on whether K-Block is a generic term or a brand name.