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

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Florida's Finest

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This year's Wood Floor of the Year contest expanded to include winners in each category for CNC (computer-designed and cut) and non-CNC (hand-cut) floors. Winners were chosen by NWFA members in online voting before the NWFA convention; voting for the Members' Choice award took place online as well as in Ft. Lauderdale. To see the winning floors, turn the page. Because of the large number of entries and winners, this year all the non-winning floors in each category can be seen by going to www.nwfa.org, clicking on the "Floor of the Year" link and then clicking on the link for the 2008 Rest of the Best.


Winning Creations Members' Choice & Best Engineered (non-CNC) | Universal Floors Inc. (Washington, D.C.)

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Nestled in Virginia's horse country is a new equestrian estate anchored by a 25,000-squarefoot mansion. Although work on the home and its floors is still in progress, two of its floors have already garnered Wood Floor of the Year awards.

While most of the home features textured, handscraped plank floors, Universal's President Sprigg Lynn wanted to steer clear of them in the dining room. Not only is that floor over radiant heat, it also has a stone perimeter, and the wood floors had to be scribed to the stone. Lynn called in John Yarema of Johnson Yarema Hardwood Floors for the design meeting with the owners and builder. Lynn suggested a parquet floor for the dining room, but the wife replied that she "hated parquet." Not to be deterred, Lynn and Yarema suggested looking through various books and pictures, and a photo of an antique captain's sea chest created with American folk art marquetry caught her eye. The design was perfect for the turn of the century American design planned throughout the home.

Shortly thereafter, Yarema produced a parquet floor based on that marquetry pattern; the floor is engineered so there is minimal stress against the stone perimeter. The Universal crew worked around the clock to get all 12,000 pieces installed within the time constraints. After machine-sanding, stain, dye and tung oil finish were applied to lend the floor an aged appearance.

"It's a complex pattern, but it doesn't come across as complex; it's easy to the eye," Lynn says. The pattern ended up winning over the NWFA membership as well as the client: "She went from disliking parquet to this being one of her favorite rooms in the house," Lynn says.

Best Entry/Foyer (CNC)

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Meanwhile, the client felt that the entry to her library was lacking. She repeatedly told the pair of wood floor men that she wanted "creation." They repeatedly agreed, but they honestly weren't sure what she meant. As it turns out, she had recently been to the Vatican, and she envisioned a recreation of the hands from Michelangelo's famous "The Creation of Adam" on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Because she also wanted to emphasize fertility at the entrance of the library (as in, fertilizing the mind), the pair suggested an egg and dart pattern—the egg being an ancient symbol of fertility—surrounding the inlay.

The inlay was installed late at night, and the client happened to stop by as it was completed. She said she loved the inlay, but she disagreed with the orientation of the hands. So, with the narrowest router bit possible, Lynn and Yarema cut out a thin circumference around the inlay, enabling them to release it and rotate it to her liking. They disguised the routed area with a thin piece of bent walnut.

While that complication may be over, there are more floors to come from this estate. Lynn says that the library floor, in progress now, could be a serious contender for the Wood Floor of the Year awards in 2009.—K.M.W.

Members' Choice and Best Engineered (non-CNC): Abrasive: 3M | Adhesive: Bostik Inc. | Buffer, Edger: Clarke American Sanders | Distributors: Cherokee Wholesalers, Derr Flooring Company, Long Floor | Dye: Industrial Finishes | Filler: Timbermate USA | Finish: Waterlox | Nailer: Powernail Company | Router: Porter-Cable | Sander: Hummel (Palo Duro) | Saws: Festool | Wood Flooring: Yarema Marquetry

Best Entry/Foyer (CNC): Abrasive: 3M | Adhesive: Bostik Inc. | Distributors: Cherokee Wholesalers, Derr Flooring Company | Dye: Industrial Finishes | Edger: Clarke American Sanders | Filler: Timbermate USA | Finish: Waterlox | Nailer: Powernail Company | Router: Porter-Cable | Saws: Festool | Wood Flooring: Allegheny Mountain Hardwood Flooring, Yarema Marquetry

History Revealed Best Restoration (non-CNC) Universal Floors Inc. (Washington, D.C.)

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While this home blends perfectly well with its surroundings near D.C.'s famous Embassy Row, it isn't from D.C. at all; it was originally built in the mid-1700s in Boston. In 1930, it was deconstructed, piece by piece, and rebuilt at its present site. Much of the home had been updated, but the floors, which are Eastern white pine in widths up to 19 inches, were in dire need of restoration.

"The floors had multiple layers—seven or eight layers of paint, varnish, wax, you name it," says Sprigg Lynn, president at Universal Floors. "They were literally black." Universal's Vice President of Operations Shawn Gorman was the lead man in making sure the complicated restoration was handled to perfection. The process involved first hand-scraping every inch of the 5,500 square feet of the flooring. For two months straight, at least 10 men hand-scraped the floor every day, with two men whose job it was to just sharpen hand-scraper blades all day long. Lynn says the company uses a technique they call "restoration scrape"—not a distressed scrape and not a flat scrape, but something in between that carefully follows the contour and maintains the patina of the antique floor. The company uses an array of all shapes, sizes and weights of hand-scrapers, some handed down in Lynn's family and some new versions collected from industry friends such as Daniel Boone and Wayne Lee.

Next the floor was scrubbed by hand with potash lye, an old-fashioned mild detergent that slightly bleaches the floor. Then the floor was hand-rubbed with a fine-grit abrasive, after which a proprietary dye was used. Finally, the floor was finished with several thin layers of wax.

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"It had to be hand-rubbed," Lynn says. "That slight fl ow from board to board, the undulations of the wood—machines would have taken that out."

Fortunately, Universal Floors does so many restorations that it has built a sizeable inventory of salvaged antique flooring. In this case, wood flooring the company had previously bought from an auction at the Johns estate (of Johns Hopkins fame) happened to match this home's flooring perfectly for repairs.

Once complete, "The light just shimmers off the wood; it literally makes you want to get on your knees and run your hands across the floor," Lynn says, explaining that although the materials used were simple, it was a complex job. "We've restored a lot of floors from the White House on down, but this was the most physically challenging and professionally challenging," Lynn says.—K.M.W.

Abrasive: 3M | Adhesive: 3M (epoxy) | Buffer: Clarke American Sanders | Distributors: Cherokee Wholesalers, Derr Flooring Company | Dye: Industrial Finishes | Filler: Timbermate USA | Finish: Dura Seal (wax) | Router: Porter-Cable

Pushing the Limits Best Engineered (CNC) | Johnson Yarema Hardwood Floors ( Troy, Mich.)

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With this year's winning floors, Johnson Yarema Hardwood Floors continues to push the boundaries of hardwood flooring design. These three award winners from three different projects show the depth of style that John Yarema, president of Johnson Yarema Hardwood Floors, is able to create.

The Best Engineered winner is an intricate inlay that contains more than 12,000 pieces of wood and 48 species. The design, which depicts the battle between good and evil with a lion, angel and the Lamb of God, was inspired by the Moroccan-themed décor and original wood carvings in the massive summer estate. Originally slated to be a pinwheel medallion, Yarema suggested something more grandiose. "I did a sketch on a piece of paper, and they loved the idea of taking all the carvings and putting it in one place," Yarema says. The catch was that the owner wanted it done in eight weeks.

The rough sketch, which was drawn on a piece of loose-leaf paper, came to life after it was created at the shop and assembled into 12 panels. Once the panels were assembled on-site, the wood was bleached and scraped three times in order to create an Old World painterly style. "We were trying to take out the 'bright' and make it look like it had been there for 200 years," Yarema says. The white oak around the perimeter was darkened with a chemical stain to also give it an aged look. The new "old" medallion met the owner's timeframe while exceeding his expectations.

Best Bedroom (CNC)

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The floor that earned Yarema the Best Bedroom Wood Floor of the Year award started out as a simple basketweave pattern that the interior designer originally had in mind. Again, Yarema suggested something a little more intricate, and the end result was a three-dimensional basketweave-inspired design with iroko, wenge and walnut. The designers specialized in working with fabrics, so they were drawn to Yarema's textile-like pattern. The rich, colorful floor offset the clean, black-and-white, modern lines found in the rest of the home. "All the cabinetry in this room was flat panels, and so they really wanted the floor to pop," Yarema says. "They view this as an art piece." And with 30,000 pieces that needed to be glued down piece by piece, it truly was a work of art.


Best Limited Species (CNC)

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The floor that proved the most unusual in this year's contest was the Best Limited Species winner, which Yarema created for a client's library. Although the floor consists of only two species—wenge and maple—the snake-like design makes the floor anything but simple. The design was inspired by a photo Yarema saw of a white-tiled, black-grouted herringbone floor that continued up the wall. "It's almost like a selfstanding art piece where the floor becomes the art piece," Yarema says.

Creating it was no easy task. The 40-foot structure starts out 12 feet wide on the floor, shrinks down to 4 feet wide as it curves up the wall and ends up 8 feet wide on the ceiling. The logistics of such a massive structure meant reframing the back wall and installing cables in the ceiling for support. All the pieces were engineered ahead of time in the shop using a vacuum process to bend the wood, but the curves still had to be tweaked on-site to get just the right bend. This involved lightly wetting the wood and using a drum-like contraption with straps to bend the wood into position. It was a tedious process to get the wood to bend without breaking. "If you cranked it too hard, it would break, and you would have to start all over again," Yarema says. This meant two to three trips per day to the job site just to crank the straps.

Yarema says he wanted to prove that there were no limits as to what could be done with wood. Look for more unique floors from Johnson Yarema Hardwood Floors in the future. "Unless we're over our head, it doesn't feel comfortable," Yarema says.—C.L.

Best Engineered: Adhesive: Stauf-USA Adhesive | Distributors: Professional Hardwood Distributors/Schafer Hardwood Flooring Co. | Wood Flooring: Yarema Marquetry

Best Bedroom, Best Limited Species: Abrasive: 3M | Adhesive: Stauf-USA Adhesive | Buffer, Edger: Clarke American Sanders | Distributors: Professional Hardwood Distributors/Schafer Hardwood Flooring Co. | Filler: Timbermate USA Inc. | Finish: Glitsa American | Nailer: Stanley-Bostitch | Sander: Hummel (Palo Duro) | Saws: DeWalt | Wood Flooring: Yarema Marquetry

Desert Oasis Best Factory Finished (non-CNC) | DM Hardwood Designs (Farmington, N.M.)

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Northern New Mexico probably isn't where most people would expect to find a lighthouse, but that's the setting for this floor, which won the Wood Floor of the Year award in the Best Factory Finished category. The Animas River flows through the backyard of this 10,000-square-foot home, topped with a lighthouse overlooking the river. The job involved not only the circular floor but 56 curved steps leading up to it.

In the design meeting, as the client perused the photos from Dave Marzalek of DM Hardwood Designs, his San Clemente compass medallion caught her eye, and she asked if he could reproduce it again. That wasn't a problem—Marzalek has made the medallion by hand at least 35 times after it was published in Better Homes & Gardens in 1997—but Marzalek stressed to the client that the surrounding floor would have to create the right setting for the medallion.

Although the resulting sunburst design would intimidate many contractors, Marzalek says it was business as usual. The complicated part of the job was creating the curved bullnose under the railing and the 56 curved steps, all of which had to be scraped, stained and fi nished to match the factory-finished white oak flooring, putting the fi nishing touch on this nautical desert oasis.

Abrasive: 3M | Adhesive: Sika Corporation | Filler: Timbermate USA | Finish: Dura Seal (on inlay and staircase)| Nailer: Powernail Company, Senco | Saws: Hegner (scroll), Hitachi (laser slide), Makita (table) | Wood Flooring: HomerWood Hardwood Flooring Company (fi eld) | Rare Earth Hardwoods (inlay exotics), Allegheny Mountain Hardwood Flooring (steps)

Best Entry/Foyer (non-CNC)

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Marzalek's second Wood Floor of the Year trophy from this year (bringing his total to 14) is typical Marzalek style. "I own two sanding machines, and they never go out," he says. In the Southern California market where his company was based until recently, Marzalek was known for his hand-scraping style. When he relocated to northern New Mexico last year, Marzalek found that although the market is dominated by factory-fi nished flooring, his handscraping style was quickly embraced. The only change is that his new clients seem to prefer a "deep and gnarly looking" scrape, he says.

This floor, which Marzalek did for the home of his good friend Brett Elliott, is evidence of that. The focal point is a wood and stone medallion. Elliott and his wife had found a marble medallion on the Internet, "But it was too simple; it didn't have anything really going for it," Marzalek says. As he often does, he took the basic design and ran with it, combining elements from his previous medallions and using granite, as requested by the couple's designer. All pieces were cut with a scroll saw; for the thin granite pieces, Marzalek used a diamond blade on the scroll saw.

To tie the floor together, granite squares were integrated into the basketweave parquet pattern with walnut flooring. To achieve a heavy scrape, Marzalek first used a hand-planer with a round head, then hand-scraped the floor. The final result garnered lots of attention in this prefinished market. "The decorators and the person who photographed the floors were quite amazed," Marzalek says.—K.M.W.

Abrasive: 3M | Adhesive: Sika Corporation | Buffer: Clarke American Sanders | Filler: Timbermate USA | Finish: Dura Seal | Hand planer: Festool | Nailer: ET&F, Powernail Company, Senco | Saws: Hegner (scroll), Hitachi (laser slide), Makita (table) | Wood Flooring: Allegheny Mountain Hardwood Flooring

The Right Angle Best Kitchen/Dining Room (non-CNC) | Best Living Room/Family Room (non-CNC) | Seabaugh Custom Hardwood Floors Inc. (Cape Girardeau, Mo.)

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As NWFA's director of technical training, Steve Seabaugh, who is also president of Seabaugh Custom Hardwood Floors, teaches contractors how to install even the most technically challenging wood floors. But on this highly technical custom floor, it was Seabaugh who found himself being the student. In the process, Seabaugh produced two Wood Floor of the Year-winning floors, which are both part of an elegant contemporary home in Glenco, Ill.

Both the kitchen and living room floors were riftsawn ash with aluminum strips. The architect had the idea of creating an abstract nondirectional floor to match the lines of the modern home. Seabaugh worked with the architect and homeowner to make the floor a reality. While the simple, clean lines may make the floor look basic, it was anything but—everything needed to be precise and line up perfectly.

Seabaugh started by tearing out the old terrazzo floor and creating a new subfloor onto which he drew the templates for the wood and aluminum. "The decorator actually made an actual-sized rug and Styrofoam cutout of the table, chairs and couch where everything was going to be placed," Seabaugh says. He traced the entire layout on the subfloor until the client approved it. "She was real specific that she wanted things a certain way, so we kept doing it until we both liked the way it hit the wall and places where it was going to be seen," Seabaugh explains.

With the layout approved, Seabaugh began the arduous task of cutting everything on-site to fit precisely, including the aluminum strips, which he routed for a tongue and groove.

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The kitchen, which had a granite border around the ash and aluminum, was installed first. The tile contractor made replicas of the granite tiles from OSB as a template for Seabaugh to follow as he was installing, and the actual granite was installed after the wood and aluminum were completed.

The kitchen floor fl owed directly into the living room, where Seabaugh began work on the multidirectional floor. The odd angles of the living room meant cutting 58- to 60-degree miters, and Seabaugh found it challenging to get everything to align. He was surprised to learn that being off by as little as 1.64 of an inch meant the miters would start to grow or shrink after three or four rows. "I learned as I was doing it," Seabaugh says.

After several cuts and a couple of tear-outs, Seabaugh got everything to align exactly. "Every point in there lines up. I'd take any floor guy in the world in there and say 'find a flaw.' There isn't one," Seabaugh says. And best of all, it met the homeowner's exacting standards.—C.L.

Abrasive: 3M | Adhesive: Bostik Inc. | Buffer: Clarke American Sanders, Lägler (Palo Duro) | Distributor: Greer Company Inc. | Edger: Clarke American Sanders | Filler: Timbermate USA Inc. | Finish: Poloplaz | Nailer: Powernail Company Inc. | Sander: Galaxy Floor Sanding Machines, Clarke American Sanders | Saws: Festool | Stain: Dura Seal | Wood Flooring: Taylor Lumber Inc.

Destined for Greatness Best Kitchen/Dining Room (CNC) | Floor Man Company Inc. (Toledo, Ohio)

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Some things are just meant to be, and it seems this floor was fated to earn Rick Wilson, president of Floor Man Company Inc., his first Wood Floor of the Year award. The project was for a high-end home overlooking the Maumee River in Ohio, where the homeowner had specified a marble and wood floor to match a photo she had seen of a European parquet. Wilson was easily able to design the parquet, but he suggested she go with a black wood rather than marble. So, switching out the marble for African wenge, Wilson sent the design to Winneconne, Wis.-based Oshkosh Designs to manufacture 2-foot-square paper-face parquet blocks. "Tom Peotter [of Oshkosh Designs] told me that when he saw it come off the line, he said it was a Floor of the Year if he ever saw one," Wilson recalls. As it turns out, it was. Even though the parquet came manufactured, Wilson still had his work cut out for him. The bricklayer for the dining room had installed the curved brick wall before Wilson could install the floor, so after gluing down the field of the flooring, "I just got down on my knees with a bandsaw and took my time," Wilson says. It took Wilson more time to install the small area by the wall than it took him to install the rest of the floor, but in the end, it looked like the flooring had been installed first. "The owners are just tickled to death with it," Wilson says. "It's their favorite room!"

Best Bedroom (non-CNC)

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Ohio is known for many things—including poisonous buckeyes and a winning football team—but unique wood flooring isn't one of them. "We don't get the L.A., New York or Chicago kind of jobs often, but this was one," says Rick Wilson, president of Floor Man Company, about this high-end project. Wilson loaned the homeowners the past 10 years of Hardwood Floors' Wood Floor of the Year issues for inspiration and eventually designed flooring in seven rooms for these clients. To continue the patriotic theme of this house, the homeowners requested a five-point Brazilian cherry star be produced for the space in front of the floor-to- ceiling windows in their bedroom. Wilson wanted to create a floor to accent the star that would also call attention to the amount of sunlight coming into the room, so he fashioned a starburst out of Brazilian cherry and white oak. "The biggest challenge was keeping the boards in proper alignment," Wilson says of how he designed a ray of the burst to come off each point of the star. Cutting was done on-site and was tedious because Wilson works on his own; he used to have eight employees until he realized he was spending more time running his business than doing the work he loved. As a one-man operation, he has the freedom to work on the projects he enjoys most, and as his two Wood Floor of the Year trophies show, it's obviously been time well-spent.—M.D.

Abrasive: Norton Abrasives | Adhesive: Bostik Inc. | Buffer, Edger: Clarke American Sanders | Distributors: Floor Style Products, Erickson's Flooring and Supply (kitchen/dining room only) | Filler: Woodwise/Design Hardwood Products | Finish: Basic Coatings | Nailer: Primatech | Sander: Hummel/Trio (Palo Duro) | Saws: Festool | Wood Flooring (kitchen/dining room): Oshkosh Designs | Wood Flooring (bedroom): Allegheny Mountain Products, Brazilian Direct

Sweet Home Chicago Best Commercial/Showroom (non-CNC) | Birger Juell Ltd. (Chicago)

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This may be a new showroom, but Birger Juell Ltd. is hardly new to the wood flooring industry. The legendary company is a fixture in both the wood flooring business and Chicago's Merchandise Mart, where the company has had a showroom for two decades. When the opportunity came to move into this more centrally located space on the Mart's main floor, the company took it.

The new space features the company's custom flooring as well as its architectural millwork (the company's namesake tells the story that one night he had three martinis and dreamed the flooring went up the walls, thus the millwork). Featured is a Versailles parquet with wenge feature strips as well as a popular parquet that Juell designed based on a floor from an 18th century chateau in France's Loire Valley, Chateau Montgeoffroy. Between the two parquets is a large starburst pattern in which all eight points of the star are purposely slightly distorted to highlight different areas in the showroom.

The green aspects of the products suit both the Merchandise Mart and Birger Juell Ltd.'s clientele. The Merchandise Mart is the largest LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-certified building in the country, and Birger Juell Ltd. President Chuck Crispin estimates customers' interest in green products has tripled in the last year alone, making Birger Juell Ltd.'s wood flooring—much of which is reclaimed or manufactured from Chicago city trees that have died naturally—a perfect fit.—K.M.W.

Adhesive: Bostik Inc. | Buffer: Clarke American Sanders | Filler: Timbermate USA | Finish: Dura Seal | Nailer: Powernail Company | Router, Saws: Festool | Crotch Walnut: Kent MacPherson | Fabricators: Sam Garcia and Francisco Valenzia | Scraping & Finishing: Lyman Gaines, Eric Wermager, Bill Arnold and Steve Merritt | Special Projects Manager: Don Morrison | Scheduling/Production Management: David Guido, Quentin Grayst

Last-Minute Artistry Best Commercial/Showroom (CNC) | Maximum Hardwood Floors (Coral Springs, Fla.)

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Some masterpieces take years, even a lifetime to perfect. This Wood Floor of the Year winner and luxury showroom, however, took only a week. Brothers and business partners Evandro and Alisson Carvalho of Maximum Hardwood Floors were moving into their new showroom in a hurry. "There was nothing fancy about designing it," says Evandro Carvalho. "We had some leftover material lying around and it was like, this is what we have to work with." So, with scraps remaining from previous jobs, including several high-end CNC-designed borders and medallions, the two installed myriad flooring options for customers to peruse. Carvalho's favorite area of the showroom features hand-scraped, fumed 5-inch American walnut. Such product displays are usually the deal-closers for Carvalho. "If they're hesitating on making a purchase or closing the contract, once they see the showroom they say, 'OK, we're comfortable with you,'" Carvalho says.

This is the fi rst Wood Floor of the Year Award for Maximum Hardwood Floors, and even though the Carvalhos have always taken pride in their work, they have often felt intimidated by the craftsmanship of the beautiful floors entered into the contest. "You see how some of these people are working for billionaires, and you think maybe we don't have a chance. The whole thing is you have to keep trying," Carvalho says. With this award backing his own craftsmanship, Carvalho now feels motivated to enter at least three of his floors in the contest each year.—M.D.

Abrasives: 3M, Cumi Canada Inc., Norton Abrasives | Adhesive: Sika Corporation | Borders/Medallions: Oshkosh Designs | Buffer, Edger: Clarke American Sanders | Distributors: Custom Wholesale Floors, Design Flooring Distributors Inc., Floor Style Products | Filler: Woodwise/Design Hardwood Products | Finish: Basic Coatings, McGrevor Coatings | Nailer: Porter Cable, Powernail Company, Stanley-Bostitch | Sander: Hummel (Palo Duro) | Saws: Bosch, DeWalt, Fein, Festool | Wood Flooring: BR-111 Imports & Exports, Foreverwood, Mullican Flooring, Owens Flooring Co., Virginia Vintage

All Hands on Deck Best Limited Species (non-CNC) | Palembas Hardwood Floors Inc. (Escondido, Calif.)

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Brothers Michael and Christopher Palembas always make the most out of their annual trip to the NWFA Convention, sourcing both information and products for upcoming jobs, but the 2006 convention in Baltimore proved to be especially useful. A client had requested a nautical design for a billiards room shaped like a boat. While in Baltimore, the brothers were able to meet the master shipwright of the USS Constellation, a U.S. Navy ship originally built in 1854 that is now a tourist attraction in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Since 1991, the shipwright has been leading a team of carpenters who have been rebuilding the ship, and he ended up giving the Palembas brothers a private tour of the Constellation and divulging the techniques involved in its restoration.

Armed with that knowledge, as well as research on the Internet, they felt ready to tackle this unusual job, which was further complicated by the fact that it's in a radiant-heated basement 75 feet from San Diego Bay. Teak boat decking 2¼-inch wide (with a ½-inch rabbet), ½ inch thick and 6 to 12 feet long was used, as well as a marine epoxy resin that would stick to the oily wood. Although teak boat decks are typically screwed down, this client didn't want that, so the brothers devised a system of using torque screws and washers to hold the boards against each other in tension while being bent and set into the epoxy. The boards were not ripped and relaminated together as most "bent" wood flooring is, nor were they steamed or wetted to aid in bending. Once the bent strips on each half of the room were done (a process that took two men 5½ weeks), a template of the space for the middle board or "king plank" was created, cut at the shop and installed. Next came 4,400 linear feet of ¼-by-¼-inch wenge, which was hand-set in epoxy resin. Finally the floor was coated with neutral stain and waterborne fi nish. "It was interesting to go through all the issues and come up with a floor that is probably bulletproof," Michael Palembas says of this unique job.—K.M.W.

Abrasive: 3M | Adhesive: West System Inc. | Buffer: U.S. Sander | Edger, Sander: Clarke American Sanders | Finish: BonaKemi USA | Saws: Hitachi, Makita | Stain: Dura Seal | Subfloor Prep: Bostik Inc. | Wood Flooring: TRB Flooring Co. Photo: Hewitt

Legends of the Floor Best Library/Office (non-CNC) | Rode Bros. (Los Angeles)

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This floor is fit for a king—or a duke, as in "The Duke." The Orange County branch of Rode Bros. Floors worked tirelessly with designers from Los Angeles-based Barry Design Associates to produce this library floor for the renovation of John Wayne's former residence. The homeowners of the Newport Beach, Calif., mansion desired a focal point to break up the straight-lay flooring of the adjacent rooms, so Rode Bros. went above and beyond with this distinct creation using walnut, wenge, santos mahogany, Brazilian cherry and maple. According to Mark Lehner, who handles West Coast sales, the multiple species gave the floor "a range of colors that fit … for a distinguishing color movement," that moves the eye along the floor to take in its detail. The solid glue-down parquet is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the amount of wood flooring and the number of intricate designs throughout the home. Although the area is only 200 square feet, the floor took installers more than two years to complete. "That was due to some fi ne changes and arm wrestling for areas to work in," Lehner says. But succeeding with such a floor is enough to give Rode Bros. a ride-off-intothe- sunset hero status.—M.D.

Abrasive: 3M | Adhesive: Sika Corporation | Buffer: Clarke American Sanders | Distributor: Galleher Inc., Pacifi c Hardwood | Filler: Woodwise/Design Hardwood Products | Finish: Basic Coatings | Saws, Router: Bosch, DeWalt, Fein | Wood Flooring: Pacific Hardwood/Engineered Flooring Manufacturers

Mapping Success Best Library/Office (CNC) | Ralph's Hardwood Floor Company Inc. (Black Creek, Wis.)

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Contractors often find that the projects that seem the easiest and most straightforward can often end up being the most challenging. This was the case for Rod Lorenz, president of Ralph's Hardwood Floors, with this highend home in Wisconsin. Most of the library was easily taken care of by laying randomwidth, ¾-inch-thick walnut flooring on a 45. However, in the center of the room, the homeowner wanted an antique-looking map. He sent five of his own drawings to Lorenz, who passed them on to Troy, Mich.- based Yarema Marquetry. It turned out the company had previously done a similar design, which was a map of the world as people envisioned it in the 1500s, with a strong nautical theme. The homeowner liked it, but wanted to make several changes. "Most of the work was upfront, trying to get things the way he wanted it," Lorenz says. Yarema and Lorenz worked together to add a sea creature border and Latin writing within the map. Although the homeowner requested 15 ships, the number was limited to eight in order to retain detail, and the homeowner's explicit directions were carefully followed to perfect the look of each wave and fish in the border. The extra attention to detail proved worth it—the resulting floor is the highlight of the home.—M.D.

Border, Medallion: Yarema Marquetry | Edger: Clarke American Sanders | Finish: Glitsa American | Sander: Hummel (Palo Duro) | Wood: Schmidt Lumber of Shawano

For Good Measure Best Living Room/Family Room (CNC) | Czar Floors Inc. (Newtown, Pa.)

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A good contractor measures twice and cuts once. But what if no cuts are allowed? Then the floor relies almost entirely on measurement, as it was with this Czar Floors Inc. project in New York City. The customer had already purchased high-end furniture and wanted flooring to match it. The species and pattern were easy enough to select, but the homeowners didn't want any part of the 600-square-foot floor to have awkward cuts, and the room was a diffi cult shape. "We had to rescale every detail of our design using AutoCAD to have it match perfectly to the shape of the room," says Edward Tsvilik, president of Czar Floors. Once the design was fl awless, the pattern was manufactured into ¾ -inch solid parquet at Czar's facility, using white oak for the main body of the parquet, and merbau and maple for the grid. "We actually had to change our standard sizes for this parquet; they had to be perfectly fit," Tsvilik says. All that attention to detail resulted in accolades from the clients and a new product for future clients: Designers from Disney loved the parquet so much, they put it in the presidential suite of a new hotel built at Disneyland.—M.D.

Adhesive: Bostik Inc. | Filler: Woodwise/Design Hardwood Products | Finish: BonaKemi USA | Sander: Lägler (Palo Duro) | Wood Flooring: Czar Floors Inc.

Forest Floor Best Reclaimed (non-CNC) | Goodwin Heart Pine Co. (Micanopy, Fla.)

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One might think the best part about owning a hardwood flooring manufacturing company is having access to all the great products you could put in your own home, and that was exactly the case for this Wood Floor of the Year winner. Carol and George Goodwin, owners of Goodwin Heart Pine Co., installed their company's century-old, recovered long leaf heart pine and cypress flooring in their Florida vacation home. This alone would be enough to constitute a grand floor, but the crowning piece is the 83-by-72-inch center inlay featuring an antique topographical map depicting the locations of Florida's original forests. Each forest is represented by a different species, and within the inlay is a compass rose. "It's an original design based on traditional themes," says Andrew St. James, COO of Goodwin. The compass borrows elements from antique sea charts as well as a cabin compass in a museum in Cluster, Mass. The compass also features scallop shells, a tribute to the Goodwins' hobby of scalloping in the Gulf of Mexico. All the pieces were hand-cut on a scroll saw. "Some of the cutting is on a fairly small scale, and it was a little bit of a challenge," St. James says. The result is a winning floor that combines business and pleasure.—M.D.

Buffer: Ceno Group | Edger: Clarke American Sanders | Finish: Loba Wakol | Saws: Advanced Machinery | Wood Flooring: Goodwin Heart Pine Co.

Rustic Rehab Best Reclaimed (CNC) | Enmar Hardwood Floors Inc. (Mesa, Ariz.)

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This is the second consecutive year that Enmar Hardwood Floors has won in the Best Reclaimed category. Not surprisingly, creating custom rustic-looking floors is where this Phoenix-area floor company has found its niche. This year's winning floor is in a remodeled 6,000-square-foot ranch in Queen Creek, Ariz., a booming rural community in the East Valley of Phoenix. The clients have horses on the property and a lot of acreage, so the floors needed to convey an Old West cowboy style. At first, the clients only wanted a 100-square-foot area of wood flooring, but the longer they worked with Enmar, the more confidence they gained in the company's skill and the wood flooring—so much that the project grew to 3,500 square feet of wide-plank reclaimed red and white oak throughout the home.

"The clients said, 'The more rustic, the better,'" says Tricia Thompson, co-owner/ treasurer of Enmar Hardwood Floors. They chose 6- to 10-inch planks with a light chestnut stain. In the dining room, Enmar installed the material in a basketweave pattern and inset stone. After installation, the floors were lightly buffed to preserve the character of the saw marks, worms holes and nail holes and finished with satin polyurethane.

The installation, sanding and finishing process went along smoothly until Enmar's crew went in to finish up the trim and smelled smoke. An electrical first re had started in the upstairs loft, and first re crews doused the blaze with water that eventually ended up on the newly installed wood floors. Enmar's crew had to wet-vacuum the floor and let it dry for 10 days. "Nothing cupped, which to this day I don't understand," Thompson says. Luckily, the floors withstood the first re, allowing the clients to move in on time and earning Enmar its third Wood Floor of the Year award.—C.L.

Abrasive: Virginia Abrasives | Buffer, Edger: Clarke American Sanders | Distributor: Galleher Inc. | Filler: Woodwise/ Design Hardwood Products | Finish: Absolute Coatings Inc. | Nailer: Stanley-Bostitch | Sander: Lägler (Palo Duro) | Saws: DeWalt | Wood Flooring: Pioneer Millworks

Educational Reform Best Restoration (CNC) | Pasadena Wood Floors (Pasadena, Calif.)

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It takes a big heart and a lot of patience to give as often as Marla Jakovljevic, the owner of Pasadena Wood Floors, does. She takes on one charitable project a year, usually for an area school. "I have children, and education is very important to me," Jakovljevic says. This particular restoration project, an observatory at a Monrovia, Calif., high school, required extra patience. The first challenge was leveling the incredibly damaged subfloor in the 120-year-old building. After receiving the necessary materials donated by Bostik Inc., Jakovljevic then had to figure out how to creatively use the small space to be most appealing to teenagers. She glued down sustainable 5-inch-wide maple flooring donated by Mullican Flooring in the 300-square foot first floor of the observatory, then used the maple on the staircase up to the second floor. "At night, when the staircase is illuminated, it looks like a waterfall," Jakovljevic says. For the 120-square-foot upper level of the observatory, she glued down cork donated by Nova Cork and called Oshkosh Designs to donate a star medallion. "The kids were asking, 'Why are you designing a floor, just put in carpet!'" Marla laughs. "But I know that floor will be there for so long, and other students will appreciate it."—M.D.

Adhesive: Bostik Inc. | Medallion: Oshkosh Designs | Nailer: Powernail Company | Wood Flooring: Mullican Flooring, Nova Cork

Take a look at past 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

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