Lenny Hall, a five-time Wood Floor of the Year winner, has been in the wood flooring business since 1981. What started as what Hall thought would be simply a job during college, eventually evolved into a lifelong career.
“When I started working at Endurance Floor Co., it was out of necessity. I was going to the University of Rochester with a double major in physics and mathematics. I was on my own and forgot to renew for the grants and scholarships that got me into U of R, so I needed to earn some money to get back,” said Hall. “I had worked two previous summers at Endurance with my father and uncle, who worked as installers there. So I asked my father and he got me a job, where I volunteered for every hour I could get just to earn money for school.”
Hall had worked there for about a year and a half when the owner approached him and said he wanted to retire and that he had a plan. That plan was that if Hall rented the building from him, he would give him and his daughter the company. Hall eventually bought the daughter out.
“I had no desire to be a wood flooring guy at that time; I was just earning money to get back into school. But I decided I would give it a try. If it didn’t work out, then I would go back to school,” said Hall. “So I ended up still working in the field and learning the company from the ground up. When I got some control of the company, I analyzed what we were doing, finding the hardwood segment being more profitable per man-hour, I transitioned it from an all floor covering company to a hardwood-only company.”
Then a 1986 magazine article served as a source of inspiration that set Hall on the path to becoming a craftsman.
“I read about a guy in Dallas named Randy Yost who would do floors for $100 a square foot all around the world. I knew I wanted to be like that guy,” said Hall, “but at the time, I didn’t know about NWFA, and there were no schools, so I had to teach myself how to do higher-end wood flooring. I researched cabinet making, furniture making, and all the old craftsmen from Europe. And I started practicing; there were tons of failures and redos on practice panels. Then I would take what I learned out into the world and show people that I could do this stuff.”
Hall’s winning entry for Best Restoration/Extreme Makeover was one that he originally crafted in 2005.
“I was introduced to the client by the builder. This guy didn’t know what he wanted, so we had a chat, and he gave me an idea that he wanted something that would ‘take somebody’s breath away.’ He expressed that he was interested in geometric stuff, so I mocked up a four-foot square panel out of materials that I had handy. Once he saw the panel, he immediately approved it.”
The 280-square-foot 3D parquet floor was made from raw lumber and unfinished plank using Gaboon ebony, English sycamore, massaranduba, sapele, and Brazilian ebony. The border used Macassar ebony, padauk, bocote, pink ivory and Bird’s eye maple – the only wood from North America in this floor.
The original floor was done with a wax finish, which Hall advised the owner against. “He went with it anyway, though.
Over the years, he really lived on the floors, and the finish eventually walked off and made the floor look bad. He also had water damage in one corner, damaging several tiles. Then he decided to renovate another room adjacent to this floor, so I got the chance to refurbish it.”
Hall first set about replacing the damaged parquet with new tile centers. “Luckily, at the time I made the original one, I made an abundance of extras just for my own benefit. So I had the extras on hand, and I was able to pull them out and replace those tile pieces and then resand and refinish the floor.”
The entire process took about a week and a half. No drum sander was used on the floor (all hard plate work) because of the densities in the different species of wood. The floor was then finished with a universal sealer followed by a water-based finish.
“It was great seeing my old floor again; it’s like seeing your children as they grow up,” said Hall. “You just remember how they were, and it felt great to have the opportunity to bring this floor back to life.”
Entries in this category include all types of restorations, repairs, or refinishes, in either a residential or commercial application. Applications can include job site finished, manufacturer finished, solid or engineered wood flooring.
Finish: Bona | Sander: American Sanders | Sandpaper: Norton Abrasives, Bona, 3M