2017 WFOY: The Answer Mark Floor

When you spend decades designing wood floors, you hear a lot of questions from your team and clients along the way. For this winning entry, the “answer” was in the floor.

Mark Scheller, president of Scheller Hardwood Floors, Inc. in Lemoyne, Pennsylvania, and Chuck Crispin, founder of Legendary Hardwood Floors, LLC in Chicago, Illinois, have worked together on a variety of projects throughout the past 25 years. During this time, the duo’s unique designs, innovative installation methods, and uncanny attention to detail have repeatedly been recognized within the wood flooring industry. Their work together has earned eight Wood Floor of the Year Awards, including two Members’ Choice Awards. The floor awarded this year’s Members’ Choice Award is no exception.

The installation, which was a part of a much larger project in Rockville, Maryland, came to life after undergoing eight design iterations. The designer, whose client is an avid art collector finally selected the top half of one design and the bottom half of another, which created the obverse of a question mark. “While neither one of the halves originally went with the other, we slid them together, made a conversion, and made it work,” says Crispin.

The team affectionately calls the result the “answer mark floor.”

The initial concept was sketched by hand and then digitized using AutoCAD. The result was then taken to a local print shop and scaled to actual size. “The art of working with pencil and paper hasn’t gone away like everyone thought it would,” shares Scheller. “In fact, I think it’s stronger than ever. This floor started out as a sketch on paper and although it was digitized on a computer, nothing was added through that process; it’s freehand work.”

Crispin adhered a full scale print-out to a plywood subfloor in his office and began the layout process, starting with the perimeter tree rounds. As the pieces were laid out, he cut and glued them in place as he cut the paper out from underneath them.

Next, he bent a feature strip around the spiral pattern. “We ripped down a couple of strips of walnut 1/8 inch + 3/16 inch thick to the thickness of the tree rounds, which was a little over 3/4 inch and then bent them around the inside and the outside of the spiral. I used a method that Mark invented 20 years ago for molding and placing free-form curves,” says Crispin.

Scheller refers to this method as an “infinite curve,” which not only serves as a mold for the wood floor but also a perfect ledge upon which a router could ride and cut out a template of the curves. “The traditional method of constructing a mold to shape flooring strips and a template to cut the existing wood floor to fit the shaped wood was repetitive and time-consuming,” says Scheller. “Using this method saves a tremendous amount of time.” Scheller demonstrated this method during a Tech Zone at the 2016 NWFA Wood Flooring Expo, which can be viewed through the NWFA Online University.

Another unique aspect of this project relates to the materials used. “We had some twigs left over from another project that started out from an apple tree in my backyard and maple trees from a local park,” shares Crispin. “During installation, we realized that we didn’t have quite enough of the teeny tiny sticks to fill between the bigger ones so we walked to Cabin Johns Park up the street from the residence, and picked through the driest branches we could find. And that filled the space, so it’s locally sourced and consumed.”

The floor was fabricated as five big panels, the main one including the curly cue feature. Once everything arrived on site, Scheller’s team had to fit it with no mistakes. “Too big or too small and there’s really no starting over,” says Scheller. “We templated the piece, and it took almost a full day, with two guys just to fit that central piece. We had to be extremely careful and ensure the template fit and get it in line with where we wanted it to be.”

The result was a homeowner who was ecstatic with the finished product. “The homeowner saw it during the various stages, which can be tricky especially during an art-type installation. Some people can’t imagine the full picture, but she was especially excited, and it was more than she had expected visually,” says Scheller.

He continued, “The idea of a floor like this or many of the floors that Chuck does is that once it’s done and we step away, it looks as if it has always been there. Which is interesting, because of course you want to step back and say ‘hey, I did that’ but if you’re successful, you step back and see it as if it just grew in place.”

When asked what advice they had for the emerging leaders in our industry, Scheller shared, “I make promises and then figure it out later. William Arthur Ward once said, ‘If you can imagine it, you can achieve it.’ I challenge anyone to stretch their boundaries. The other thing that I would suggest is that they go to the NWFA schools, not only for the technical and hands-on experience but also for the interaction with the other students and instructors. A rising tide lifts all the boats.”

Crispin added, “Choose your customers wisely. Try to find someone who will allow you to be creative and don’t expect to make a lot of money at it. Enjoy what you do.”

Mark Scheller founded Scheller Hardwood Floors in 1991. His nationwide installation credits include Bob Villa’s residence in Martha’s Vineyard, Bobby Kennedy Jr.’s residence in Mount Kisco, New York, and the NWFA headquarters, in St. Louis, Missouri. Mark also was featured on HGTV’s “Home Matters,” demonstrating wood floor medallion installation. He has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Better Homes and Gardens, Casa y Estillo, Fabulous Floors and Walls, Central Pennsylvania Business Journal, and numerous trade magazines.

Entries in this category include any circular shape within a flooring system, such as circles, ovals, curves, and bent material. Applications can include job site finished, manufacturer finished, solid or engineered wood flooring.

This floor was hand-scraped and sculpted with a sander, hand-rubbed with a propriety custom stain, and finished with penetrating oil. The log-end field was grouted with a cork powder based mixture.

Wood: Legendary Hardwood Floors LLC | Saws: Festool | Adhesive: Bostik | Sander: Festool | Abrasive: Festool | Finish: DuraSeal

Installation Type: Glue-Down
Flooring Type: Solid|Engineered
Flooring Style: Parquet
Flooring Finish: Jobsite Finished
Finish Sheen: Satin
Finish Type: Surface Finish: Oil-based
Species: White Oak, Walnut, Maple, Gathered Sticks and Twigs
Square Feet: 175

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