To honor his grandfather’s craftsmanship, a homeowner contacted Eric Salrin of Brookens Wood Floors in Springfield, Illinois, to help expand his grandfather’s beautiful maple and American walnut flooring into new parts of the home.
“The homeowner’s grandfather installed wood flooring in parts of the farmhouse years ago, and he was excited to carry on the designs, while tweaking it a bit to make it his own,” explains Salrin, Brookens Wood Floors’ general manager. “He was very excited to be able to continue his grandfather’s designs into new areas of the home.”
“There was a living room and entryway that had existing wood floors with those patterns,” explains Andrew Burk, the lead installer on the project. “On the floors we replicated, we had some leeway as far as widths and dimensions as they were in adjoining rooms. The existing floor was made out of 2” wide material, and we use 2¼” now as a standard. We shaved a few rows off the border when we created it to keep the dimensions the same.”
To slightly modernize the look of the floor, the corners of the floor were designed to be somewhat more intricate than the original design.
“We changed the design of the corner blocks as the originals were a bit basic. He wanted to change them, so we showed off a few ideas,” says Burk. “We changed them by interchanging walnut with maple.”
“Every single piece of the floor was cut individually onsite. This was a bit of a challenge, but we were not married to anything, and we were able to adjust things as needed,” explains Burk. “Lon Musolf provided good material for us to work with. It makes a world of difference getting good quality materials versus trying to save 10 or 20 cents and buying a lower grade run and finding splits, cracks, etc.”
In addition to quality materials, the installation was made easier due to a
subfloor still in good shape.
“Whoever built it knew what they were doing. The front third of the house also had newer subfloor due to more recent work on the home,” explains Salrin. “Once we knew the subfloor was good, the next step was finding the center of each room and then squaring everything to make sure all the lines stayed parallel.”
“Once you find the center, it’s just determining where your starter row needs to be so everything ends evenly once you hit the border. You start in the center and work your way out, and then figure out how wide the border is,” says Burk. “We spent a good amount of time chalking lines, re-chalking lines, moving things. We did all the prep work well so that when it came to the install, we were moving at a very good clip.”
“We changed the design of the corner blocks as the originals were a bit basic… We spent a good amount of time chalking lines, re-chalking lines, moving things. We did all the prep work well so that when it came to the install, we were moving at a very good clip.”
— Eric Salrin, Brookens Wood Floors
During the installation, the maple was laid first, then cut square, and then rows were added to create the border.
“The field was done first, followed by the border, and then the apron around it,” explains Salrin. “We did the corners last, as we had given him a few options and it took some time to figure out which one the homeowner liked.”
Finally, Salrin and Burk worked on the floors’ finish.
“As far as sanding, we mostly used the Lägler Trio due to all the changes in direction in the floor, working through the grits, paying attention, and then being careful not to dish out the walnut as it sands faster,” explains Salrin. “We water popped the floors, then laid down stain and three coats of polyurethane. We laid down some different colors during that process and tried to yellow out the new maple to match the existing floor.”
In the end, both the homeowner, Salrin, and Burk were extremely pleased with how their replication turned out and expanded on the farmhouse’s original floors.
“We wanted to give him as much bang for the buck as possible, and I think we did that,” says Salrin. “Furthermore, jobs like this also are great for us. Doing projects like this keeps you on your toes.”