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Herringbone: A Short History On a Time-Tested Pattern

21 Aug 2018

Design starts from the floor up. A common way to make a statement with engineered timber flooring is through the incorporation of geometric mosaic patterns in the place of straight timber planks. These geometric patterns are known as “parquet”, meaning “small compartment” in French. The most common and well-know style of parquet flooring is the herringbone pattern.

The earliest examples of the herringbone pattern can be seen in the intricate jewellery of the Ancient Egyptian elite and in fabric originating in Ancient Italy. In the Roman Empire, the herringbone pattern was used in road paving systems to create extremely durable and stable thoroughfares.

Named after it’s resemblance to the skeleton of a herring fish, the herringbone pattern consists of an arrangement of rectangles or parallelograms in a repetitive pattern, based on the symmetries in the pattern (known as a wallpaper group).

Today, the herringbone pattern is commonly utilised in many industries and applications. It can be found in wallpaper, mosaics, fabrics (both in the make of the cloth and in decorative pattern), shoe tread, security printing, herringbone gears, jewellery and sculpture.

Herringbone flooring – parquetry – is often used to bring a sophisticated feel to a space. Materials for herringbone timber flooring are most often wood, tile, or brick, or can be a mix of materials depending on the look and feel the designer is aiming to achieve. Alternating colours in the herringbone pattern is another great way to bring a modern touch to a classic pattern.

Laying a herringbone timber floor can be challenging and best practice is to employ an expert. Herringbone, and any parquet flooring, must be carefully aligned to maintain the look and integrity of the pattern. Modern installation methods and products improve the ease and speed of installation and pre-finished products allow you to save on time as they are often ready to walk on within 24 hours or less.

Herringbone to this day remains a popular style of flooring. Spaces incorporating this pattern can achieve a feel of history and tradition, or by mixing colours and materials, can create a modern twist on a familiar favourite.


Havwoods boast a comprehensive range of herringbone timber flooring. Explore our herringbone products and find the perfect colour, finish and size to create your herringbone masterpiece in your space.