Ben Suer, the owner of Diamond Wood Floors based in Dearing, Georgia, installed his very first wood floor in May 2002. “I had seven months of construction experience, owned few tools, and barely knew how to read a tape measure. My previous experience had been as a general laborer for a remodeling contractor, and most of that consisted of picking up construction debris, and loading and unloading materials,” says Suer.
He continued, “When I arrived at that jobsite, my new boss brought me inside the home, showed me where the flooring was to be installed and left. His instructions consisted of, ‘You do this, this, and this. You’ll figure it out.’ Eventually, I did figure it out – many floors later, and that job, well, I survived it!”
Fast forward to today, and Suer has been installing and refinishing floors more than 17 years. But Suer doesn’t see value in touting the number of years he has been in business; rather, he focuses on the education he has accumulated. “I didn’t want to be the floor mechanic that said, ‘I’ve been doing it for X years!’ – Implying that experience gave me authority. Because, if I had been doing it wrong for X years, then I would be really experienced at doing it wrong. Therefore, I turned to outside sources of education to avoid learning through trial and error on my client’s floors,” says Suer.
Bona Certified Craftsman. Most recently, Suer has assisted with teaching a class for the NWFA and currently is working on attaining Master Craftsman Certification.
On this winning floor for Best Color & Finish Application, Suer was given the opportunity to let his finishing skills shine. Literally.
“When I received the initial phone call from the client, he told me he was on the way back from Florida with a new bike. I arrived at his house, and the first thing he wants to show me is his new Harley Davidson, which was metallic blue,” says Suer.
“We go inside and start talking, and I see that he has surfboards and other nautical items. He tells me he used to live in Hawaii, and then we started talking about compasses and inlays. It was personal for him because it spoke to him with the nautical theme,” he added.
After multiple discussions to determine the specifics of the dimensions, species, and aluminum banding, the client granted Suer free license to decide the color of the medallion. While the client was aware that blue colorants, intended to match the color of his Harley Davidson, would be used within the points, he was not aware that Suer also had something else in mind.
“I just kept asking him, ‘Are you sure you want some blue in your floor?’ And he said, ‘Dude, yeah, whatever you want to do, that’s great.’ I figured if somebody was giving me free license to do whatever I wanted, I’ve always wanted to make something glow in the dark,” says Suer.
To achieve this look, the team did a final sanding of the floor at 120-grit on a Hydrasand, then vacuumed and tacked it. Next, iron acetate was applied, and the surrounding floor was allowed to dry overnight.
The next day, a custom stain mix was applied using a lambswool block and a buffer with carpet. The medallion did not have iron acetate applied and instead was coated with a combination of paint, sealer, and glow-in-the-dark acrylic. Various sections of the medallion were taped off for different finishes. The remainder of the floor pulled in the idea of the modern, sleek, blues and grays of the home. Finally, the entire floor was top coated with two coats of water-based finish.
Then came the time for Suer to enlighten the client on what he had done.
“At the end of the project, I called the client and asked if it would be possible for us to come do a photoshoot. He agreed and asked what time. I told him we’d be there at 8 p.m. and he expressed concerns about the lighting,” says Suer. “Then I got to tell him that it wouldn’t be a problem because I made it glow in the dark; he didn’t believe me at first.”
The client was incredibly happy with the results and loved the colors and the glow in the dark feature. The beauty of this floor is that it hits all the marks in regular light and goes to the next level when the lights go out.