2021 WFOY: Best in Historic Restoration

Michael Dittmer Wood Floors | Putnam, Illinois

Photo courtesy of Michael Dittmer Wood Floors


Entries in this category include all types of restoration projects, replacements, or repairs, in either a residential or commercial application.


When a homeowner’s living room floor began injuring her family, she reached out to Mike Dittmer of Michael Dittmer Wood Floors in Putnam, Illinois, to inquire about what he could do to repair or replace it while maintaining the historical integrity of the home.

“I had worked on the house previously, which was built in the 1890s, to do small repairs,” explains Dittmer. “Revisiting the home, I saw that the original living room 5/16” floors had been all top-nailed. Each 12” x 12” section of the border contained more than 40 nails in its face. After too many sandings over the years, portions of the floor were as thin as a credit card, and nails kept coming out.”

The client wanted to maintain the historic nature of the floors, but they needed to be safe for a family to live on. The exposed nails were continuously causing torn socks and cuts in the feet of her family members.

“The priority for her was that it be a safe floor. I knew that a replacement glued down solid 3/4” floor was the best option,” explains Dittmer. “That said, she wanted to keep that original border pattern with our new installation. To me, the pattern resembled an interlocking chain running through the floor with walnut in the center links.”

To ensure a match, Dittmer took exact measurements, did a species check, and contacted Oshkosh Floor Designs in Winneconne, Wisconsin, to have them exactly duplicate the old floor’s existing parquet pattern.

“We identified that the floor was made of red oak, walnut, and American cherry, along with a small bit of white oak. Because recreating designs is something that Oshkosh Floor Designs specializes in, it saved us both time and money,” says Dittmer. “An exact duplication of the original pattern was manufactured, as well the same pattern layout along the walls to duplicate the original border as close as we could.”

With the new floors installed, Dittmer then sanded with a Pallmann Spider, Clarke edger, and stained the floors with
a natural DuraSeal stain, then followed up by two coats of Loba 2K finish.

“Being able to restore a floor back to its near-original state like this for a homeowner in need was a real thrill. She trusted us to bring her floor back to life in an updated, safer fashion,” says Dittmer. “By doing research, taking reference photos, and honoring the original craftsmanship that went into the floor, I was able to do that.”

Installation Type: Glue Down
Flooring Type: Strip, Parquet
Flooring Finish: DuraSeal Quick Coat Stain, Two coats Loba 2k finish
Finish Sheen: Satin
Species: Red Oak, Walnut, and American Cherry
Pattern: Custom manufactured to match original size and species by Oshkosh Floor Designs
Square Feet: 260

Click on the links below to learn more about that floor, the other category winners, and to see a showcase of all projects entered into the contest. And be sure to check out upcoming episodes of the NWFA Wood Talk podcast, as Brett Miller, VP of technical standards, training, and certification, will have discussions with WFOY winners about their projects.

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