Throwback Wood Floor of the Year: Making Waves with CNC Technology

Distributor: Schafer Hardwood Flooring Co.
Flooring: John Yarema Engineered
Finish: Glitsa
Adhesive: Bostik
Nailer: Stanley-Bostich
Abrasive: Cumi Canada (Künzle & Tasin)
Sander: Lägler
Buffer: Bona
Edger: American Sanders
Saw: Dewalt

It is hard to believe that 15 years have passed since this stunning Wood Floor of the Year entry graced the cover of Hardwood Floors magazine. The year was 2006, and this entry from John Yarema, with Johnson Yarema Hardwood Floors, took the prize for Best Commercial/Showroom.

The floor, which is an art deco design originally destined for singer-songwriter Kid Rock’s recording studio, includes wenge, quartersawn white oak, quartersawn maple, and quartersawn walnut that was stained to provide greater color contrast. The parquet pattern, which was an original custom design by Yarema, is “rooted in a herringbone,” he says, but “feels like sound waves.”

To execute the extremely precise cuts required for this installation, Yarema and his team used CNC technology. “We were at the tip of the spear in terms of CNC cutting at the time,” he says. “Our guys were all the best of the best, so I would just push them and push them.” Yarema adds that he and his employee, Brett Russell, “came in on a weekend
and installed and finished the floor. All the points were perfect, and [as to how that happened], I have no answer. That never happens.”

Although back in 2006, the criteria for the Commercial/Showroom category was very broad, Yarema’s winning entry would be a contender for several 2021 Wood Floor of the Year categories, which are based on mastery and execution of specific skill sets. This floor specifically highlights some of the criteria in both the Best Circular/Curved, and Best Parquetry categories.

Yarema concurs that the competition is better-suited to recognize skills rather than specific installation locations. “It is not as important what room or building [the floor] was installed in,” he says. The competition is better when it is “more focused on the techniques employed to get it done.”

For his part, Yarema concedes that he learned the skills to execute a floor like this through trial and error, but he recommends that “being a member of the NWFA is a great place to start. The NWFA classes are well done, but most importantly, you meet people in the floor trade all over the country that really care about trying to be good at what they do.”

Today, Yarema works with his son, Philip, designing, fabricating, and building their own floors, while also focusing on creating entire spaces using all kinds of materials. “We have two giant ceramic kilns for making our own brick and tile, and an iron forge and a power hammer for creating and integrating iron, copper, and bronze into walls, floors, and ceilings,” he says. His team currently includes retired model makers from Mercedes, blacksmiths, metalsmiths, ceramicists, masons, and flooring professionals. Philip’s training is in furniture design, so Yarema and his team are able to offer full-space consultations, of which flooring is an integral component.

What is Yarema’s advice for creating opportunities to produce award-worthy floors like this one? “Spend one day a week creating something new,” he says. “A color treatment, a design, even just a small mockup. Then go out and try to sell it.”

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