Located about an hour north of Santa Barbara, Calif., the sleepy California town of Orcutt awakened in the summer of 2000 as Dearborn Construction Inc. (DCI) began building an Albertson’s grocery store at 1120 East Clark Ave. The one-stop shop required stylish, sturdy and functional flooring. Phil Wilcox, president of Floors, Inc. and owner of Contractors Flooring of Santa Maria, Calif., found these complementary components in flooring products manufactured by Armstrong, Dal-Tile, Azrock and others.

In May 2000, Wilcox led a six-person team from Flooring Contractors in the flooring installation of over 30,000-square-feet of sales floor space. The team completed the project in sections, scheduling their work around the construction work in the facility. The store is divided into sections, such as frozen foods or snacks, according to the services or products it provides. The flooring was installed to reflect these divisions, creating a different pattern, such as checkerboard or basket weave, for each section.

As specified by DCI and Courtney Architects of San Luis Obispo, Calif., Wilcox and his team installed the flooring, primarily Armstrong’s vinyl composition tile (VCT) and sheet goods and tiles from the company’s “Possibilities” line. The project also included Azrock’s slip-resistant Cinnamon Stone. The floor incorporated 1 ½-inch tiles in shades of rose, copper, black, white and gray. Porcelain paver tiles from American Olean and quarry tile from Dal-Tile played an important part in the overall design as well. Wilcox and his team followed Armstrong’s manual recommendations and specifications from the installation process to the choice of adhesive.

“Never compromise with regard to the manufacturer’s recommended installation procedures or equipment,” Wilcox said.

The Contractors Flooring team faced several challenges while working on the Albertson’s project. In order to prevent runoff in checkerboard patterns measuring more than 100 feet, Wilcox used the “sweat-in” method as suggested by an Armstrong installation manual. Using this method, when runoff is unavoidable, the installer leaves out a tile and begins the next row on line. Once this process is completed, the open spaces are filled by heating and installing a tile, corners first.

While installing the waterjet-cut insets, Wilcox faced another obstacle: placement. “The challenge was getting them [the insets] in the right place (centered in the aisles) as there were no fixtures in the building at that time,” Wilcox said. He solved the problem using a fixture floor plan to mark the location of the aisles. This process helped the team to find starting points and center the insets.

The Albertson’s project was one of Wilcox’s more extensive installations. For installers with a large project ahead of them, Wilcox recommends keeping things in perspective. “If you come across a large, complicated layout, try to view it as a small job. Approach your reference lines and starting point as you would on any simple layout,” he suggests.