A Stitch in Time

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Best Circular/Curved Application + Members’ Choice
Artistic Floors by Design Inc. | Parker, Colorado

Joe Rocco, of Artistic Floors by Design Inc., is a Certified NWFA Professional and multiple Wood Floor of the Year winner, and handles all aspects of the craft from installation to sanding and finishing. He has more than 20 years of wood crafting and floor installation experience.

“What I thought I wanted to do in life and where my passion eventually took me were two very different roads. Even while I was getting my degrees in economics and political science, I was installing and finishing wood floors. The work got me through college, but, more importantly, the art of it got under my skin. I kept at it and, in 2006, my wife, Joni, and I started our own company,” says Rocco.

Rocco considers himself to be a lifelong learner and is always on the lookout for jobs that will allow him to further not only his own skills, but also his crew’s. “It’s all about being able to try something new and push the boundaries. This job also allowed me to train my team on new techniques.”

This Wood Floor of the Year Award winning project came to Rocco through a local seamstress, who asked him to create a floor for her sewing room in her basement. Originally she requested a standard straight lay. Rocco saw this as an opportunity to encourage his client to think outside the box and made some suggestions for a design that would ultimately transform the space into an inspirational work environment.

“Since this room was in the basement of the home, there weren’t a lot of windows. She loves the mountains, so I wanted to bring those majestic elements into the space,” says Rocco. “I also wanted to incorporate her other passion in life, being a seamstress and sewing.”

Rocco first came up with the idea to install an offset chevron pattern in white oak to mimic the Rocky Mountain range. Rocco and his team, consisting of technicians Kevin Eder, Paul Chaffin, and Yesid Ortiz Castro, started production of the chevron pattern. After the materials were cut and delivered to the site for acclimation, Rocco’s mind didn’t rest.

“The closer we got to the time to do the installation, I knew that I wanted to do more. My thought was, she’s a seamstress, so I really wanted to attend to that and do something that mimicked a sewing stitch,” says Rocco. “I did some research and found a stitch called a chain stitch, commonly used in Zouave designs, that I thought would be interesting and complicated enough to give my technicians and myself a good challenge.”

Next, Rocco added an outside apron consisting of red oak, maple, and padauk. He and his workers created templates for a 43′- and 43.5′ radius since the room was not perfectly square. They cut the inside radius first, laid the maple soldier border and fanned corners, then routed the outside of the apron.

Next, the team had to make a procedural decision on whether they wanted first to inset the stitch pattern and then stain the outside or wanted to stain first and then do the stitching portion. “We decided that we wanted to do the routing of all the stitch work first, which was another jig template that we set up. Then we went through and sanded everything on the inside and sanded the soldier border flat and stained all of that,” says Rocco.

The team began the arduous process of making the actual stitch pattern, which consisted of four pieces of maple and two pieces of padauk. After cutting, the pieces had to be steamed and placed into a jig so they could dry in the bent pattern. Once they were dry, the team removed the pieces from the jigs, glued them, and put them back in the jigs to dry overnight.

During the process, Rocco realized he was going to be four circles short, so he went outside to cut the needed pieces. Since it was snowing at the time, he brought them back inside and left them on the fireplace hearth to dry.

The next day, when Rocco returned to the site, he discovered that the pieces were missing. When he questioned the homeowners about whether they had seen them, he learned that they had mistakenly thought they were scraps that could be used as firewood. “I can laugh about it now,” says Rocco. “But it did cause a minor delay in the project.”

The stitch insert was hand-routed using a template, and the tips were hand-chiseled. Once installed, it was left slightly raised and sculpted.

All of the flooring is wire-brushed. The apron was stained ebony, while the chevron field has a silver metallic ceruse and is all finished with three coats of finish.

Once the final piece was in place (including the center oval medallion with an offset wenge starburst and epoxy resin flowers), it was time for the client to see the floor for the first time. “I pretty much kept all of it a secret. She knew about the chevron pattern, but all I shared was that we were going to do a border around the edges,” says Rocco.

If you haven’t guessed it by now, there is another secret to this story. The client was Rocco’s mother.

“This project was an amazing experience in so many ways. It’s nice to be asked by your folks to do something for them,” says Rocco.

“As long as I can remember, my dad has always told me that he would be proud of me no matter what I did in life. My parents have always been huge supporters, and it was a nice way for me to give back to them. Not only did I get to spend time with them during the month-long project, but I also got the opportunity to share my craft,” he continues.

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

Wood: WD Flooring, Palo Duro | Finish: Loba Wakol Abrasives: 3M | Adhesive: Stauf USA | Sanding Equipment: Lägler | Tools: Festool

Installation Type: Glue-Down
Flooring Type: Solid
Flooring Style: Strip | Plank | Parquet
Flooring Finish: Jobsite Finished
Finish Sheen: Matte
Finish Type: Surface Finish: Water-based
Species: Red Oak, White Oak, Wenge, Padauk, Maple, Birch, Padauk, Amaranth,
Doussie, and Beech
Square Feet: 150

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