Avedis Duvenjian of Wood Floor of the Year Members' Choice winner Archetypal Imaginary Remodeling Corp. and his son Tigran with HGTV celebrity Carter Oosterhouse (left) at the 2012 NWFA Expo in Orlando, Fla., on April 12. (Photo courtesy David Stluka)

With a new NWFA Expo comes new excitement as people speculate which companies will take home the industry's much-coveted NWFA Wood Floor of the Year awards. The winners were revealed at the Expo in Orlando at the awards luncheon on the second day; this year's presentation had the added prestige of a celebrity presenter: HGTV's Carter Oosterhouse did the honors.

Winners for all categories except Designers' Choice were voted on by NWFA members online before the show. The 2013 Wood floor of the Year contest will open this fall; entries will be due by Jan. 7, 2013. To view all the entries in the 2012 Wood Floor of the Year contest, go to www.nwfa.org.

 

Exceptional End-Grain

Best Residential & Members' Choice | Archetypal Imaginary Remodeling Corp. (Little Neck, N.Y.)

photo of Archetypal Imaginary Remodeling Corp. projectAvedis Duvenjian loves end-grain flooring. Ask him what makes end-grain flooring so great and he'll rattle off a list of ways people have used this type of wood surface to great effect in the past. He'll tell you how the renowned Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí insisted on end-grain flooring in his home so that he could bring his horses inside. He'll tell you about centuries-old end-grain streets in Munich and even end-grain parking lots in Chicago that remain in use today. He'll remind you that the lowly butcher's block is actually a beautifully crafted utensil because it incorporates end-grain wood: "They are extremely durable and extremely strong," he says of anything made using end-grain blocks.

Duvenjian and his team of artisan craftsmen at Little Neck, N.Y.-based Archetypal Imaginary Remodeling Corp. don't install end-grain floors for their durability alone. They take things a step further and make "mosaic end-grain" floors by using hand-cut pieces that are ¼ inch by ¼ inch, much smaller than the typical 3-inch- or 4-inch-square sizes for end-grain. By making the pieces smaller, they can turn a floor into a blank canvas on which they can place any mosaic design, an artistic technique that typically calls for ceramic tile.

This floor, installed in a home in Middle Asia, was designed by Archetypal's Vartan Arutyunian with help from Nashville, Ind.-based Custom CAD Design LLC. After the design was finalized, the flowing pathways of wood were sketched onto a plywood backing, and then Archetypal's installers individually placed each hand-cut piece into a layer of adhesive. Encircled by a woven-patterned border is a field of dots, six-point stars and a large, six-point Arabic ornament; the height of the mosaic pieces ranged from ¾ inch to 1 inch, with taller pieces used to accent certain patterns in the floor. The entire floor was made using solid white oak and American walnut pieces. After each piece was in place, the entire floor was hand-scraped. To finish the floor, Duvenjian and his crew burnished it with hardening oil and then applied a custom-formulated beeswax filler.

The crucial component of this floor, in Duvenjian's opinion, was its penetrating oil finish. Whereas a surface finish would eventually break down to reveal bare wood, this oil finish penetrated at least halfway through the pieces. As the wood wears away, Duvenjian says, the color will be altered some, pathways will form, and, over time, it will take the look of an antique floor.

Whenever he discusses a particularly beautiful floor or his company in general, Duvenjian is certain to attribute his ability to the NWFA and its technical schools. "I made an end-grain floor that will not break down," he says. "The color is penetrated so deep that the more it wears, the better it will look, and this is exactly the kind of thing that I learned from the NWFA schools." With additional offices in Moscow and Dubai, Duvenjian, who was born in Armenia and raised in New York City, is showing the world what the NWFA is capable of.-D.D.

Suppliers for this project | Advertisers in this issue appear in bold

Adhesive: Bostik Inc., Sika Corporation | Finish: Woca Denmark | Moisture Meter: Tramex Ltd. | Saws: Festool | Wood: Distinctive Hardwood Floors

 

Masterpiece in Moscow

Best CNC/Laser Cut | Yantarnaya Pryad-Parquet (Khimki, Russia)

photo of Yantarnaya Pryad-Parquet projectIt is safe to say that this type of floor is the modus operandi for installation company Yantarnaya Pryad-Parquet of Khimki, Russia. The company's style is intricate, often relying on a deliberate assortment of natural forms and geometric shapes displayed in a diverse range of wood species, a tactic that lends its floors a rich palette and leaves onlookers with the impression the company's works are teeming with life.

This particular floor was installed in a residence in suburban Moscow. Giving the floor its palette of browns, oranges and blacks is a selection of solid Karelian birch, oak, wenge, walnut, lemon tree, maple, jatoba, olive tree and jarrah-nine species in all. The medallion comprises concentric circles of parquet arrangements: There are leaves, stars, diamonds, twigs, squares, buds and ribbons; the shoots twist in paths echoing the golden ratio, yet they seem to be growing in no particular direction. "The style of the medallion is close to Rococo," Natalia Lebedeva, import manager at Yantarnaya Pryad, says.

The medallion here is one of two Yantarnaya Pryad installed in the home's grand hall. To complement the marble encircling the medallion, Yantarnaya Pryad incorporated small, circular marble accents in the spiral-patterned section near the center. After the medallion was glued down and site-finished, the marble accents were glued into holes left in the floor. Last came application of a water-based glossy finish.

With this project, Yantarnaya Pryad displayed its preeminence in the field of elaborate CNC-cut wood flooring, and it took home its third Wood Floor of the Year award. With no shortage of well-heeled clients-the company works for anyone from private homeowners to the Russian government-it's likely we'll see this company add to this total in the future.-D.D.

photo of Yantarnaya Pryad-Parquet project
photo of Yantarnaya Pryad-Parquet project

Suppliers for this project | Advertisers in this issue appear in bold

Abrasive, Buffer: 3M | Adhesive, Filler, Finish: Chimiver Panseri S.p.A. | Edger: Mafell | Sander: Eugen Lagler GmbH | Saws: Leitz Tooling Systems

 

A Preeminent Project

Best Commercial | Acme Floor Company Inc. (Lenexa, Kan.)

photo of Acme Floor Company projectWhat's made of wood, sounds great and seats 1,600? That would be Helzberg Hall, a music venue inside Kansas City's Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

This floor in the hall's seating area, installed by Lenexa, Kan.-based Acme Floor Co., had the right stuff to take home the Best Commercial category during the NWFA Wood Flooring Expo in Orlando, Fla., and you might have noticed it featured on the cover and in a feature story in the December 2011/January 2012 issue of Hardwood Floors. "When we got out there, we saw that there were so many other great projects entered in that category," says Emily Kenney-Moore, the company's vice president and chief financial officer, of the trip to Orlando for the Expo. "I never really thought that we would win."

In the end, though, Emily and her brother, Brian Kenney-the fourth generation at Acme Floor Co.-got to accept the award and bask in the glory of strolling the Expo floor with the trophy. Really, though, the project-and the credit, in Emily's eyes-belongs to her father, Bob Kenney. "It was my father's project. It was his baby, and it's something our family is really proud of," Emily says of her father, the company's president and owner.

Acme Floor Company won the contract for this floor-about 20,000 square feet of quartersawn red oak for the hall's seating area-back in 2006. That lead time ensured Acme would be well-prepared when it came time to install the project in 2011, and Emily says that preparation was crucial for her company's keeping its quality consistent over such a large installation. "It was the largest project Acme had ever done, and we didn't want our part to cause a lag in the schedule," Emily says.

"As soon as we were done accepting the award," Emily says, "Brian looked at me and said, 'Why haven't we ever entered this before!? This is awesome!' So, most definitely we'll be entering again in the future. We're already on the hunt to find that particular project."-D.D.

Suppliers for this project | Advertisers in this issue appear in bold

Abrasive: 3M | Adhesive: Bostik Inc. | Buffer, Edger: Clarke American Sanders | Fastener, Nailer: Bostitch | Filler: Woodwise/Design Hardwood Products | Finish: Bona US | Router: Bosch | Sander: Hummel (Palo Duro) | Saws: Fein | Wood: Frank Miller

 

Dazzling Do-Over

Best Extreme Makeover | Majestic Wood Floors (Frederick, Md.)

Before
 

After

 

"This is actually probably my favorite category, because if you design something from the start and think later, 'I should have done this or done that,' this category gives you the opportunity to do that," says Bob Humphreys, president at Majestic Wood Floors, of the category that requires contractors to do a "makeover" on an existing wood floor while leaving at least 50 percent of the original floor intact. It's also a category that's been particularly successful for Majestic: This is the second time the company has won the Wood Floor of the Year award in this category-the first was for the company's showroom-and the company also won twice when there was an Xtreme Makeover competition on-site at the convention.

This year's award proved particularly meaningful for Majestic and Humphreys, who says this award "was almost like our phoenix out of the ashes." After the company won its last Wood Floor of the Year award in 2009, Humphreys tried to take the company in a new direction and get big fast. It proved to be a painful but valuable lesson for Humphreys: "We're much better in the niche market, where I can focus on big projects and larger-sized homes," he says. Now the business is smaller again and focused back in Humphrey's wheelhouse-projects just like this winning floor.

Humphreys had installed the original floor, which is in a theater room in an upscale home in Maryland, and although he entered it in the Wood Floor of the Year Limited Species category in 2009, he wasn't entirely happy with it. "I just didn't like it much; it didn't look complete," he says. So when the client said he was doing some remodeling work, Humphreys jumped at the opportunity to have a second crack at the floor. When he showed the client a handful of CAD drawings, the client chose Humphreys' favorite, which added medallions, diamonds, rectangles and squares to the floor of overlapping circles. It took three weeks of just routing to add the more than 500 individual inlays, all of which were designed using CAD and cut in the Majestic shop using sleds and table saws. Because of the sharp points on some inlays, particularly on the diamonds, the crew used two different routers, then a Rotozip with a ?-inch blade, and then a drywall knife cut to be 1 inch long and sharpened on a grinder to act as a chisel.

That high level of custom work at the shop and at the job site may sound both intense and arduous, but this time around, Humphreys is positive that's exactly how he likes it.-K.M.W.

Suppliers for this project | Advertisers in this issue appear in bold

Abrasive: 3M | Buffer, Edger: Clarke American Sanders | Distributor: Long Floor Supply | Filler: Timbermate | Finish: Lenmar | Router: Festool | Wood flooring: Allegheny Mountain Hardwood Flooring

 

A Vision Comes to Life

Designers' Choice | Artistic Floors by Design Inc. (Parker, Colo.)

photo of Artistic Floors by Design Inc. projectJoe Rocco had a great week in Orlando at the NWFA Expo in April: He earned his NWFA Craftsman degree, was elected to the board of directors and, to top it off, his company won its first Wood Floor of the Year award. Appropriately, the design for the winning floor was one that originated when Rocco was a student at an NWFA Expert Installation School in St. Louis. He didn't end up having the opportunity at the school to execute the design, but when he got home, he explained his idea to his wife, and in his spare moments, over a period of two months, the idea came to life in their dining room.

Rocco wanted to incorporate many of the techniques he learned at the Expert School into the floor. The final design has sculpted red oak squares-some pyramids, others topped by smaller squares created using a router template-that were cut out of 6 quarter material, then run through a band saw to get the general shape. "The real tricky part was getting the right height elevation on those squares," Rocco notes.

Before installation, Rocco scraped the squares' edges and dyed their edges black. Once the field was glued in place on the plywood subfloor, he palm-sanded the floor and dyed the squares again (the same dye with different intensity was used two create two colors for the squares). With the field complete, he custom-cut the sapele border, which free-flows all the way around the perimeter, hand-brushed on two coats of a waterborne sealer and rolled on a waterborne topcoat. The final custom touch was crafting sapele vents to match by hand. Although the shadows make it appear more dramatic, the height in the final sculpted floor varies by only ? inch.

Now, the floor is a family favorite. Rocco's boys use the floor as terrain for their remote control cars, and his wife loves to host events at their home. "People come in and say, 'I didn't know you could do that,'" Rocco says. "You can do quite a bit; you just have to have the vision."-K.M.W.

Suppliers for this project

Adhesive: Bruce | Finish: Basic Coatings | Router, Sander: Festool | Saws: Grizzly Industrial Inc., Hitachi

 

Timeless Style

Best Restoration | Czar Floors Inc. (Newtown, Pa.)

photo of Czar Floors Inc. projectSince winning its first Wood Floor of the Year award in 2007, Newtown, Pa.-based Czar Floors Inc. has established itself as one of the preeminent companies installing wood floors that bear influence from Europe's Middle Ages. The company's latest award winner fits that bill, although it was installed in a country club about a stone's throw away, in New Jersey. The country club's operators wanted Czar Floors to re-create an ornate wood floor in the club's foyer; first installed in the 1920s, the floor had fallen into disrepair as a result of water damage and decay.

"There weren't any original photos or designs left, so we transferred the original design to rice paper, and then we transferred that drawing into AutoCAD," Edward Tsvilik, the vice president of Czar Floors, explains. "The country club managers wanted the new floor to have the exact design as the old floor."

First, Czar Floors presented a CNC-cut prototype to the club. The club operators, however, said the edges produced using the CNC cutter were too round. "The client wanted it to look like it was made in the '20s," Tsvilik says. So Czar Floors made a second prototype cut using scroll saws, which could have been used to make the original floor and produced sharper edges.

The client approved the second prototype, and Czar Floors constructed the solid 3-by-3-foot panels that would comprise the floor; for species, they used walnut, wenge, maple and purpleheart. Before they installed the floor, Czar Floors repaired the concrete subfloor, which was broken down and out of level in some parts. Next, the panels were installed using adhesive, and then Czar Floors sanded them down and applied a water-based finish on the surface.

In the end, this floor proves that client service, contractor innovation and European-influenced flooring will never go out of style.-D.D.

Suppliers for this project | Advertisers in this issue appear in bold

Abrasive: 3M | Adhesive: Bostik Inc. | Buffer, Edger: Clarke American Sanders | Finish: Bona US | Router: Bosch | Sander: Eugen Lagler GmbH | Saws: Festool

 

That Winning Feeling

Best Manufacturer Factory Finished | MP Caroll Hardwood (Cheektowaga, N.Y.)

Photo courtesy Mark Dellas

Back when the Wood Floor of the Year awards began-when there were only two categories and the contest was called simply "Floor of the Year"-Mike Caroll and his brother, Jim, collected trophies for four consecutive years for his brother's company, Buffalo Hardwood. Jim has since sold Buffalo Hardwood, and Mike Caroll now has his own company, MP Caroll Hardwood, but the thrill of winning remains the same. "I still am just as excited today as I was in my late 20s when we were winning those awards," Caroll says.

The floor that won this year's honor for Caroll originated when the designer on the project showed him a photo of a parquet pattern he liked. Caroll set about creating and sizing the pattern in CAD so that there would be no partial cuts in the room. Factory-finished hand-scraped hickory and Samoan mahogany from two manufacturers were used to make the pattern come to life. "We basically had a big puzzle to put together when we got on site," Caroll says. "I really feel that 99 percent of the work was done in our shop fabricating and cutting all these little pieces."

Photo courtesy Mark Dellas

Because the factory-finished flooring was stained and hand-scraped, a labor-intensive part of creating the floor in the shop was disguising all the freshly cut edges on the flooring. Caroll himself took on the task of sanding, staining and finishing all the freshly cut edges-a task that suited his experience in furniture restoration. "With my wood finishing background, I really love doing specialty projects like this," Caroll says.

Caroll's most recent award is adding to the positive momentum surrounding his company, which started in 2003 and is moving to a new, larger showroom this year. "The whole company-from the office staff to the warehouse to the men out in the field-everybody is super excited that we won the award … There is so much good positive buzz going on in the company. This award helped us put a feather in our cap, and we don't have many feathers, because we're a new company," Caroll says.-K.M.W.

Suppliers for this project | Advertisers in this issue appear in bold

Adhesive: Bostik Inc. | Distributor: Installers Warehouse Inc. | Wood Flooring: Johnson Premium Hardwood Flooring, Shaw Industries Inc.

Here are the winning projects from Buffalo Hardwood that Caroll was a part of in the early 1990s.

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Pub Fare

Best Reclaimed | Schmidt Custom Floors Inc. (Waukesha, Wis.)

photo of Schmidt Custom Floors projectThings are good for Tim Schmidt and Schmidt Custom Floors Inc. in Waukesha, Wis. In addition to the company's retail, installation and distribution services, the company branched into sport court installation in the past few months and also recently launched a division specializing in hand-scraped wood flooring. Headed by Tim Schmidt's sons Austin and Taylor, the new division, dubbed Handcrafted by Schmidt, has already made an impact in the wood flooring industry by helping win the company's second Wood Floor of the Year award.

Made from reclaimed equine fencing from Berryville, Va.-based Cochran's Lumber & Millwork Inc., this herringbone floor was installed and finished by Schmidt Custom Floors with hand-scraping by Austin and Taylor. It resides within the Rumpus Room, a new gastropub in downtown Milwaukee that specializes in locally sourced pub fare, and the antique-looking wood floor dovetails nicely with the restaurant's European-influenced décor.

In addition to looking fabulous and bearing the fingerprints of the Schmidt family's third generation of wood flooring contractors-the business was started by Tim's father, Bob, in 1968-this floor is unique because it marks the first time Schmidt Custom Floors installed directly over ceramic tile; this was done to save the client from having to pay to have the tile removed. Thoroughly testing the process before putting it into practice, the company started with scarifying the tile, then glued the solid red and white oak directly to the tile. Then came the hand-scraping and last was an oil finish.

By Tim Schmidt's account, the company's new hand-scraping division is paying off. "Today we have a three-month backlog of projects," he says. "Ever since we started it, it's been a huge hit."-D.D.

Suppliers for this project | Advertisers in this issue appear in bold

Adhesive: Chemque Inc. | Filler: Woodwise/Design Hardwood Products | Finish: DuraSeal | Router: Porter Cable | Saws: DeWalt | Wood: Cochran's Lumber & Millwork Inc.

 

Going to Great Lengths

Best Limited Species | Distinctive Hardwood Floors (Nashville, Ind.)

photo of Distinctive Hardwood Floors projectDistinctive Hardwood Floors' Dan Antes is no stranger to winning Wood Floor of the Year awards-he's just usually in the background as a supplier and fabricator of the high-end wood flooring the contractors in the spotlight use (in fact, he supplied the flooring for the winner on this year's cover). This job, however, was right in Antes' backyard, and this year, for the first time, it's Antes who is front and center with a floor unlike any that has won before.

The winning floor, an L-shaped catwalk hallway with white oak planks, is only 300 square feet of the 5,000 that Distinctive Hardwood Floors installed over a year-and-a-half in the new $10 million home. Antes suggested a "live edge" design (leaving the bark on) inspired by famous furniture maker George Nakashima, which the owner agreed to. However, the homeowner didn't want any butt joints in the floor, meaning most of the planks would have to be an astounding 27 feet long. Being located in the middle of the one of the largest remaining contiguous hardwood forests in the country, Antes was able to procure the necessary logs within 50 miles of his location; he sliced them sequentially at his shop and then sent them to be dried (since his facility can't handle such long lengths).

Once the flooring was on the job site, the crew realized there was no way to get the planks through the house, so a crane company had to be hired to use a telescopic handler to maneuver them into the upstairs through a window. Installer Kevin Zobott led the installation of the planks, which ranged from 15 to 24 inches wide and were glued down over radiant heat. "We took a jig saw and cut down the live edge to take the actual bark off but followed a grain line so it still looked live edge and still had the heart and sap line," Antes explains. Where there were voids between the live edges of the planks, they took rubbings of the voids, used spray adhesive to stick those impressions to quartersawn material from the center cuts, and used a jig saw to cut the "filler" boards out. "You'd be surprised what kind of tolerance you can get with a Festool jig saw and a lot of patience," Antes says. Once everything was scribed together, the floor was hand-scraped on site, dyed and coated with a lightly pigmented tung oil finish.

Amazingly, the floors in the rest of the house are all different but just as complex as this winning floor; Antes didn't enter them in the contest because they would have been in categories competing with his own customers. And although he's usually happy to be in the shadows, this is a once-in-a-lifetime job Antes was thrilled to handle himself. "I was pretty happy to get the big fish that was my own," he says.-K.M.W.

Suppliers for this project | Advertisers in this issue appear in bold

Abrasive, Buffer, Sander: Ceno | Adhesive: Bostik inc. | Distributor: Wooley Lumber | Filler: Sculptwood | Finish: The Real Milk Paint Company | Moisture Meter: Wagner | Nailer: Powernail Company | Router, Saws: Festool | Shop Production/Management: Richard Antes | CAD, Finishing: Christopher Antes

Take a look at past Wood Floor of the Year winners:

San Diego Spotlight: Wood Floor of the Year 2011

Prizes on the Potomac: 2010 Wood Floor of the Year Winners

West Coast Winners: 2009 Wood Floor of the Year Awards

Florida's Finest: 2008 Wood Floor of the Year Winners

Best of the West: 2007 Wood Floor of the Year Winners

Baltimore's Best: 2006 Floor of the Year Winners

Waikiki Winners: 2005 Floor of the Year Awards

Show Stoppers: 2004 NWFA Wood Floor of the Year Winners

In the Spotlight: 2003 Floor of the Year Winners

Best in Show: Floor of the Year Awards 2002

Sweet Victory: 2001 Floor of the Year Winners

That Winning Feeling: 2000 Floor of the Year Winners

Master Craftsmen: 1999 Floor of the Year Winners