The parquet floors of grand European castles are revered for their craftsmanship, and after painstakingly recreating one, Joshua Crossman knows why.
"I was starting to pull my hair out,” Crossman laughs. “Because each square has 37 pieces in it, and there's 800 squares. And if they're off just a little bit, it shows really fast."
Inspired by castle floor designs he’d seen on Instagram, the Yelm, Wash.-based PTL Hardwood Floors owner decided to incorporate the challenging flooring into his new showroom. It was a break from the typical 2¼-inch red oak strip flooring he usually installs in the area. "I also wanted something that's uniform, and I really like those patterns,” Crossman adds.
Crossman has been renovating his showroom since purchasing it in late November of last year. The building was previously a grocery outlet store, and the concrete slab was in rough shape.
“It had about 2 inches of drop in it that I had to make flat and level,” Crossman says. After leveling, he laid two layers of ½-inch plywood floated on top of it.
For the field’s 800 squares, he chose red oak, as it’s the most common species used for flooring in his area. It’s also domestic, giving his castle floors a distinctly American flavor.
The painstaking cutting of the pieces took place mostly on the table saw with a sliding sled and jig setup, and some of it was done on the chop saw with a stop block.
"It was just days and days of cutting, hoping not to lose a finger—only cut myself a few times,” Crossman says. In the center of the squares, Crossman placed pieces of moabi cut from boards left over in his shop.
When all the pieces were cut, he assembled the squares in frames on a table, taped them together with clear packing tape, then glued them to the plywood subfloor.
“Just keeping everything square and as it should be, that was the most difficult,” he says. “I recut so many pieces."
For the borders, Crossman used maple and walnut, which he also cut using the table and chop saws. He glued the pieces of the border together before gluing them to the floor. He then nailed and glued red oak herringbone for the apron of the 2,800-square-foot room.
The floor was sanded with a 50-grit on the big machine, then given 50- and 80-grit cuts on a planetary sander before the final sanding with a 100-grit mesh. At the last minute, Crossman decided not to stain the floor.
“I was trying to choose a color with my wife, pulling out color samples, and I was just like, 'I just can't find one that really speaks to me,’” Crossman says. "So we kept it natural, and I think it turned out really nice.” He coated the impressive floor with a two-component hardening oil penetrating finish.
Crossman had to close his business for a month due to the pandemic, and he used the time to focus on completing the floor. Now that he’s open again, he hopes clients will see the skilled craftsmanship and details put into the project.
“They probably won't want something like this, but they know that since I can do this, I can easily handle their project, whatever that may be,” Crossman says.
And on a personal level, the 20-year wood flooring pro says he’s proud to have completed a flooring project of this magnitude.
“I've always done patterns like this in schools or just in my house playing around,” he says. “So taking on a floor of this scale was kind of my crowning achievement."