Benjamin Suer, the owner of Diamond Wood Floors in Dearing, Georgia, recently brought a homeowner’s flooring dreams to life, fusing traditional craftsmanship with his experienced eye for design and transforming an everyday kitchen into a unique statement-piece.
“I previously had done some decorative work in this client’s hallway, as well as built a staircase for them. When they decided it was time to remodel the kitchen, they reached out, and we began discussing custom patterns,” Suer recounts. “The homeowners were drawn to a Bordeaux pattern they had seen at a home show years prior.”
That original pattern was composed of white oak and walnut centers. However, Suer and the homeowners decided to make a departure, opting instead for red oak and Brazilian cherry. This change was designed to complement the home’s existing red oak flooring. Suer explains, “The homeowner loved Brazilian cherry’s rich, red color. It provides such brilliant deep red contrast that we knew would make the floor pop.”
Suer says the pattern for the space required meticulous planning, attention to detail, and customization to ensure cabinets or doorways would not obscure the pattern. To accommodate the kitchen’s size and layout, he scaled the panel size to a non-standard 28-1/2” x 28-1/2” preserving the aesthetic proportions.
“I wanted to ensure that the floor works visually with the room as it would be lived in. I wanted to ensure that the panels would fall in line with the cabinets that were to be installed later.”
Working on a parquet pattern is a meticulous process akin to solving a giant puzzle. For Suer, it’s all about breaking it down into its components.
“From attending NWFA Advanced Installation courses, I learned the simple but critical lesson that every pattern will look complicated until you break it down to its individual pieces,” says Suer. “Knowing this assisted us. We knew exactly how many panels and parts we were going to need. We could tell how many pieces we had and how many we had left to cut. It makes things not feel overwhelming.”
So that boredom doesn’t breed complacency, Suer stresses the need to check your work constantly.
“It can get a bit boring standing in the shop and making repetitive cuts all day, but that’s what a floor like this calls for,” says Suer. “The last thing you want is to have a failure because of a simple oversight or because you were in too much of a hurry.”
With the pieces made in his shop, Suer encountered a minor setback when humidity and heavy rain in his area caused the pieces to swell. To mitigate this, the panels he had crafted were cross-stacked inside an air-conditioned office to regulate their moisture content. “The key is to have a shop roughly the same climate as your client’s home if you can,” he advises.
Once the panels were on-site, the team prepped the home’s subfloor using Bona R540 moisture retarder, followed by Bona 850 adhesive on the panels.
“The panels were routed with slip tongue and face-taped, allowing them to contour as needed. We popped lines to find the center of the room and accommodate different points of ingress,” Suer explains. “After installing the floor, we then returned to sand and finish it the next day. We did a quick pass with a Bona Power Drive sander; then we used a gloss oil polyurethane over the top to bring out the richness of the wood.”
The result was a stunning floor that surpassed the homeowner’s expectations. It’s a great example of how having a vision, having the right materials, and taking a careful approach pays dividends.