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We can thank the French for the invention of parquet flooring, which they used regularly, beginning in the 17th century. It wasn't until the 19th century that North Americans picked up on the style for their own flooring. And even then, it was only in the nicest of homes that this floor design made its appearance.
Parquet flooring design involves short planks which are arranged in various patterns. The older versions of these floors probably had each plank individually placed, but today's flooring is done with 6- to 12-inch tiles. The fact that parquet flooring is non-structural means it needs extra support. This can be achieved by laying the tiles over a sturdy base, such as plywood underlayment and at least a 3/4-inch subfloor.