Origin of Herringbone Flooring

You have no doubt seen the herringbone design pattern many times in your life, but probably didn’t realize how long it has been around, and all the different ways it has been utilized. The herringbone pattern is an arrangement of rectangles used in parquetry, floor tilings and road pavement, so named because of its resemblance to the bones of a fish such as a herring.

Herringbone patterns can also be found in wallpaper, mosaics, cloth and clothing (herringbone cloth), shoe tread, security printing, herringbone gears, jewelry, sculpture, and elsewhere.

It was a pattern first used by the Romans after they discovered that roads could be made a lot more stable by aiming the bricks in the same direction that the traffic flows in. While the pattern was used in interiors from Roman times though the Middle Ages, it was in the 16th century that the herringbone pattern made it into wooden flooring. One of the first examples of wooden herringbone can be found in the Francois 1 Gallery at the Chateau de Fontainebleau, which was installed in 1539. From the seventeenth century to the second half of the eighteenth century, parquet floors surged in popularity. Patterned wood floors were laid in castles, palaces and the homes of the nobility and wealthy throughout Western Europe. Herringbone wood flooring continued to be a popular choice throughout the 18th and 19th century, most notably in Paris during the Haussmann era when much of the city was rebuilt in a large scale urban planning effort. A return to a more natural look in recent years has seen herringbone patterns once again become the wood flooring of choice for many traditional and contemporary schemes.

When it comes to parquet flooring, herringbone patterns can be accomplished by laying hardwood planks at 45 degree angles. The pieces are cut in perfect rectangles and then staggered a bit so that the end of one plank meets the side of another forming a broken zig zag. Alternating colors may be used to create a distinctive floor pattern, or the materials used may be the same, causing the floor to look uniform from a distance.

Laying a herringbone floor can be very challenging, since the number of small rows must be made to line up evenly, which can be difficult in a room which is not perfectly flat or square. Small mistakes in a herringbone floor can be rather glaring because of the way the pattern lines up, so care must be taken.

German Standard is an experienced supplier and installer of hardwood flooring in herringbone and other styles. Take a look at our large selection of hardwood flooring options.