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Unit block wood flooring — 9″ oak tongue-in-groove floor tiles — and where to find them

parque-floor-tilesHere’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.

wood-floors-plus-parquetI 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:

  1. Unfinished — at $4.09 s.f.
  2. 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

wood-tilesNext, 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.
Thanks, Alesha!

Source #3 — Woodlawn Floor Supplies

 
Kate sent us a linke to Woodlawn Floor Supplies, which also stocks a variety of these unit block giles.

Search online for lots of place to buy unit block flooring

Alesha’s tip was the one that led me to the term “unit block”: Once I searched “K-Block,” the term “unit block” came up in some listings… so then I searched “unit block” and found a number of other places to buy it. I won’t list all the other places — [although I will note: I found another source for a good-looking selection fingerblock parquet here.] I will say: I did not research the differences, if any, company-to-company. Looks like some are prefinished, some not. I’m not sure if they are all veneer-on engineered-wood, or not. Another set of issues to research and understand fully before you pull this trigger on this option.
 
Finally, further clarification on the words. Seem like:
  • “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.

If others can clarify the terms, ya know how I love to know this stuff!

  1. Richard Paquette says:

    I have a floor with 9x9x 3/4″ inch unit blocks or (parquet) each sq. Has 6 strips I am looking for 13 sq. For a remodel
    Any ideas

    1. Pam Kueber says:

      Hi Ruth, the places to buy this style of flooring are listed in the story. The brite blue text = hotlinks to their websites.

  2. John Aguilar says:

    Hi Pam,

    Ah I am well familiar with this flooring! The house I grew up in was built in 1955 and has this flooring still today. As a kid I played with my toy cars on the floor and followed the grid pattern like streets.

    I remember my dad replacing a damaged one ages ago, our house was built on a concrete slab and each wood piece was glued down with some kind of asphalt or tar-like adhesive. We refinished the flooring once and it’s probably due for it again in some places, but at 83, I don’t think my dad will want to bother with it.

    As an aside our kitchen had white Skylark Formica counters, sadly that was removed in an 80’s update.

    Thanks for sharing on your website, I refer to it constantly!

    Best, John

  3. Penney says:

    I have a 1958 ranch with 9×9 k squares in 2 bedrooms. They are glued to the slab foundation. I’ve googled and also checked YouTube but have found very little. I’d like to sand them and use a darker stain to refinish. The firs room is not large 10.50×13 and I was not sure if I actually need a large sander.
    The squares are young and groove fit and look pre-finished.
    Just not sure if I can sand them. Stain them and then poly coat. I do not want to ruin what is in good shape except yellowed and sun darkened in spots.
    Any help would be appreciated

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