2023 WFOY: Best in Marquetry/Inlay

Floor Master Company | Crystal Lake, Illinois


Entries in this category include any hand-cut marquetry/intarsia, or inlay featured within a wood floor as a stand-alone feature, inlaid into the floor, or throughout the entire project.


Two years after Floor Master Company’s Matthew Szyszka installed maple flooring in a client’s home, she approached him with an exciting new challenge.

Floor Master MARQ“The homeowner called me while I was attending a flooring school, and she told me someone had spilled paint on her floor. Once I got back from school, I visited to clean up the paint, and while I was there, showed her pictures from the school,” says Szyszka. “She was super impressed with the creativity on display and asked me to do something special in her foyer.”

Szyszka drew a one-to-one design on paper, starting with an oval and working his way outward. His vision was to create the appearance of organic growth emanating from a central star. Zebrawood grains were used to give a sense of spreading, while wenge depicted new organic life, complete with unfurling leaves and fully grown flowers in the corners to represent the cycle of life.

Floor Master MARQ Close UpSzyszka says he relished the opportunity to work on this custom project, finding joy in the limitless possibilities of imagination and thinking outside the box. Striking a balance between eye-catching and elegant, Szyszka presented the 4 1/2’ by 7’ inlay design to the client to discuss wood species and colors for each element.

With the client’s approval, Szyszka milled the selected wood species, procured from Top Quality Hardwood Flooring, to about 1/4” thick and installed them on 1/2” plywood to achieve a 3/4” thickness, matching the existing solid maple flooring. He hand-cut all elements, starting from the middle, using a variety of tools like a miter saw, table saw, band saw, scroll saw, and fret saw. In total, eight wood species and more than 2,200
elements were hand-cut.

Although the project took longer than anticipated, Szyszka used the extra time to incorporate additional details, such as small 3/8” walnut square plugs. The inlay was placed and routed around and was laid in using a moisture barrier and adhesive.

The completed panel was pre-sanded at Szyszka’s shop and then delivered to the client’s home for three weeks of acclimation. After acclimation, he finished sanding with 100- and 120-grit abrasives and applied a Loba water-based finishing system.

Installation Method: Glue Down
Flooring Type: Solid, Engineered, Parquet, Other
Flooring Finish: Loba Easy Prime, Loba 2K DUO
Finish Sheen: Satin
Species: Purpleheart, Leopard Wood, Wenge, Zebrawood, Maple, American Black Walnut, White Oak, Red Oak

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