It’s been said that imperfections make art exciting and memorable. For Tom Ourada of Ourada Designs, located in Nine Mile Falls, Washington, it’s these same unexpected details that push his artistic floors to another level, and that made his stunning creation the 2021 Wood Floor of the Year Members’ Choice winner.
“It’s the little things that come together to make something I consider to be ‘art.’ I perhaps could have made this floor a bit more ‘perfect,’ but I’ve always taken the approach that things are more interesting when I lose the fear of doing the unexpected,” says Ourada. “It’s not a mistake when you allow the beauty and randomness of nature to shine through in your work.”
Nicknamed the “Seattle Swoosh” by Ourada, this 12’ x 17’ installation came about through close collaboration with a homeowner who wanted something unique for her dining room floor.
“She was familiar with my work, but did not have any specific idea of what she wanted me to do,” explains Ourada. “I tend to have a lot of ideas in my head, and I offered her four different options, which varied by cost. I thought about exciting ideas that I wanted to do and incorporated them into different designs for her.”
The homeowner liked two of those designs, and Ourada then worked to incorporate aspects from both into a single floor. After a bit of back and forth, he had a final design that he was almost ready to begin creating in his shop. Ourada would then pull up his completed creation and re-install it in its final location.
“One change the homeowner requested was to increase the size of the corner pieces, which are partial 24-sided radial spheres. This alteration caused one of the radiating points to intrude into the swoosh. Rather than alter the floor, I thought it would be neat to have the swoosh appear to avoid the penetrating point,” says Ourada. “I recall imagining the jutting point as being a portion of Coronavirus, and that the swoosh, which represented beauty and happiness, was trying to avoid it. It’s a small thing, but it’s something that makes the floor very unique and fun.”
Ourada selected a variety of wood for the swoosh, including maple, white oak, Russian olive, black walnut, and wenge. Those same materials also are included in the radiating corner pieces.
“After following my gut on what wood to use for the swoosh, I then decided to create the field using adjacently laid and scribed slabs of black locust. I have a fair amount of natural edge wood that I’ve kiln dried, cut, and stored for years,” says Ourada.
With the layout completed in his workspace, Ourada pulled up the entire floor and moved it across the state in pieces. In putting it back together again, he was meticulous to avoid gaps.
“On a floor like this, it is important to do the big pieces first, then do the smaller pieces from one point out. For example, I did the large border of Russian olive at the beginning,” explains Ourada. “I then went piece by piece, starting with the big radiating portions of the floor. I also thought it would be best to install the two corner sections at the same time by screwing them down.”
Ourada next began gluing down the swoosh, starting in the middle.
“What was exciting about this floor is that you could just see it getting better and better as each piece went down,” notes Ourada. “With the boards finally in place, I can recall my excitement and eagerness to get it even, sanded and finished, as I could tell that what I had was something special.”
Ourada used an electric hand planer to grind down high spots and make the floor generally flat. He then used open coat sandpaper on his edger to remove his planer marks.
Next, he used a big machine, starting with 36-grit to remove the edger marks, working his way up to 60 and 80 grit, moving in different directions to ensure the floor was flat. The floor was finished with the Lägler Trio. With the floor sanded flat, Ourada applied a DuraSeal finish.
“Putting on the finish was my favorite part, as I could see the floor just pop. No stain was needed, as the wood already had nice, rich colors. The homeowner and I were thrilled with the end result,” recalls Ourada. “It’s such a fantastic feeling to be able to create something and have your creation be so enjoyed by someone. It’s why we do what we do as wood flooring installers, and it’s a great feeling.”
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.
Installation Type: Nail Down
Flooring type: Solid, Strip, Plank
Species: White Oak, Russian Olive, African Mahogany, Maple, Black Walnut, Wenge, Black Locust
Square Feet: 204
Flooring Finish: DuraSeal Polyurethane
Finish Sheen: Satin
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.
- Wood Floor of the Year: Ourada Designs Takes Top Honors
- 2021 WFOY: Best in Color/Finish and Textured Wood
- 2021 WFOY: Best in Historic Restoration
- 2021 WFOY: Best in Marquetry/Inlay
- 2021 WFOY: Best in Parquetry
- 2021 WFOY: Best Staircase
- 2021 WFOY: Best Use of Technology
- 2021 WFOY: Manufacturer Spotlight
- 2021 WFOY: Entry Showcase