Premium Partners

WFB Throwback: Ridding the Oval Office of Vinyl Floors in 1982

Ryan Kushner Headshot
Oval Floor

John Stern, formerly of Louisville, Ky.-based Kentucky Wood Floors, has never minced words when asked his opinion of the wood-look vinyl floor that adorned the Oval Office from 1969–1982. "It's ridiculous that the Oval Office has a vinyl floor," he told a journalist in the early '80s. "If I was the President, I'd be embarrassed." Stern feels the same way today, nearly 40 years after milling the iconic hardwood floor that would replace the vinyl. KWF provided wood flooring in the East Room in 1978 and got the order for the Oval Office in the winter of 1982. It was designed by Nancy Reagan's interior designer, Ted Graber, and called for 1,000 square feet of ¾-by-4-inch clear rift-and-quartered white oak and walnut engineered plank. The custom 14-inch border was factory-cut into a 4-inch walnut, 6-inch white oak, 4-inch walnut design. KWF shipped the material Aug. 3, 1982, and it was installed over 10 days by Rode Bros. of Los Angeles and sanded and finished by Classic Floor Designs of Washington, D.C. Stern, now owner of Louisville, Ky.-based Louisville Wood Floors, went on to provide wood flooring for several other rooms in the White House (he replaced the Oval Office floors again in 2005), but his first time in the Oval Office was the most memorable—perhaps due to the relief of replacing that vinyl. "Our employees were especially proud to have worked on that," Stern says.

Photos John Stern took at the time of the now-iconic floor's installation.Photos John Stern took at the time of the now-iconic floor's installation.

A letter of thanks from the president himself after the flooring was installed.A letter of thanks from the president himself after the flooring was installed.

 Scan 1543


RELATED: A Wood Floor Install of Presidential Proportions



Resource Book
Looking for a specific product or a company? Wood Floor Business has the only comprehensive database of the industry.
Learn More
Resource Book
Podcasts
All Things Wood Floor, created by Wood Floor Business magazine, talks to interesting wood flooring pros to share knowledge, stories and tips on everything to do with wood flooring, from installation, sanding and finishing to business management.
Learn More
Podcasts