The Flooring Group Ltd. doesn’t normally do small wood floor repairs as part of its high-end services throughout London, but when officials at the famed Barbican Centre contacted them about a repair, the company jumped at the opportunity, says Managing Director Benjamin Hawkes.

“If they had asked us to get on our hands and knees and do a break dance, we probably would have complied,” Hawkes jokes about the venue that hosts the Royal Shakespeare Company and the London Symphony Orchestra, among numerous other prestigious institutions.

As it turned out, it was more than just a simple repair that was needed on the iconic Douglas fir end grain flooring at the center.

“It was in a terrible condition,” Hawkes says. “It’s an institution that has been around for ages and has been utterly battered by millions of people.”

That battering left the 32,000-square-foot floor severely discolored, with some areas around the venue’s bar ailing from water damage. “There were quite a few spillages, as you can imagine,” says Hawkes, who notes that it had likely been at least a decade since the floor had last been refinished.

The first thing Hawkes did was sit down with all the stakeholders to go over how to keep as many people off the floor as possible during the refinishing and make sure the lights and power were kept on. Then the five-person crew sanded the floor twice, using filler in several sections that were gapping, and gave the end grain three coats of Bona Traffic primer and sealer. At that point, however, some staff members decided the “keep off” signs didn’t apply to them. “A few Barbican staff said, ‘We can go anywhere,’” Hawkes says, and their footprints necessitated a recoat. “They got told off,” he chuckles.

The project took just under three months to complete. Hawkes says refinishing doesn’t typically take that long, but for this project, they wanted to make extra certain everything was perfect. “You want a client like this to stay with you,” Hawkes says.

More projects by The Flooring Group can be seen at its website here.


Note: The original version of this article stated the end grain flooring pictured was oak. While there is oak in other parts of the Barbican, the end grain pictured is actually made of Douglas fir.