WFOY Spotlight: Old Growth, Outstanding Outcome

Photos courtesy of Eric Herman | State of the Art Wood Floor Gallery

When Eric Herman of State of the Art Floor Gallery found himself on the parlor level of this historic five-story New York City townhouse, he was at a loss for words. He had approached the project thinking he would be ripping out an old floor and installing a new one in its place; however, that changed when he saw the floor.

“The wood had so much figuring. The grain was so strong and bold, and I was taken aback by how much time and energy must have been put into this floor when it originally was created. My first impression was ‘wow.’ I had never worked on or seen anything like this. As to what kind of pattern it is, I looked at it as psychedelic,” explains Herman. “The floor originally was installed for a famous musician. To my knowledge, it was his design. I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be a flower or a big star, perhaps.”

When Herman inspected the old floor, made of old-growth, quarter-sawn white oak, he saw numerous areas with water damage. While the owners wanted to keep the floor, they also were not fond of the yellowed color.

“We removed different planks and cleaned what we could as we wanted to use existing wood wherever possible,” says Herman. “We couldn’t sand it like a regular floor, as it was paper-thin. That said, we didn’t want to rip out the floor either. We decided not to use a traditional sanding method and instead used a Lägler Trio. I told them I was confident that if we used the Trio, we would be able to keep the floor.”

The next challenge for Herman was finding new wood for areas of the floor that needed to be replaced.

“This was not a normal house, and the wood used for the original floor was of amazing quality for its time. Because we could not get old-growth wood, we used bundles of rift and quarter-sawn wood, and we chose the wood with the most fleck. We sifted through it to find the best wood we could so that it would match the existing wood as much as possible,” explains Herman. “We milled those down to 3/8” as per the rest of the floor and patched those areas in. We put face nails back in, oxidizing the nails to make them look like they had been there forever.”

The finishing process also involved bleaching the new wood and using different reactive stains to match the background color of the original floor.

“It took a lot of work, but this was a floor that a lot of care, energy, and time went into when it was originally installed, and we wanted to take the same approach during the restoration,” says Herman. “We’re very proud of the outcome.”

Featured Category

Best in Historic Restoration

Detail of Finish Process: The floor was sanded with a Lägler Hummel and finished with a Lägler Trio, and then two coats of Rubio Oil were applied.

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

Installation Type: Nail Down
Flooring Type: Solid
Flooring Finish: Rubio
Flooring Sheen: Matte
Species: Old Growth White Oak, Maple, Wenge
Pattern: Custom
Square Feet: 1,500

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