A couple of years back, Floor Covering Installer held an annual installation contest, the Installation Excellence Awards, to highlight the most challenging and beautiful installations our readers had done. The readers sent in photos of their best installations with descriptions of how they were done. Before that contest, I must admit that I had only looked at installation as a craft, a set of skills that people learned to make a living. Once the photos and stories started arriving, however, I quickly realized that it could be much more. Clearly, these installers were not just craftsmen; they were also artists – some of the installations were beautiful works of art as well as functional floors. Since that time, I’ve never looked at installation, or installers, the same way again.

To be able to take a customer’s concept for a design and turn it into a finished work of art, using common materials such as wood, stone or resilient flooring, requires a unique combination of craftsmanship and artistry. For the installers who achieve this level of skill, the rewards can be significant. Because of the labor-intensive nature of these types of installations, installers can charge considerably more for them. Along with increased income, there is also increased visibility, which can lead to referrals. In this sense, a beautiful custom installation can serve as a calling card for the installer.

In this issue of Floor Covering Installer, we examine the issue of customized installations from contrasting perspectives. Ed Korczak, executive director/CEO of the National Wood Flooring Association, explains how installers can increase their profits by doing borders and medallions. The article highlights some outstanding installations that demonstrate what is possible with the right planning and techniques. Before you run out and start doing custom installations, there are some important issues to consider first, which our resident wood expert Mickey Moore covers in his informative article, “Customizing Wood Floors.” In this article, he takes an in-depth look at what went wrong on two customized wood floor installations, and offers advice on how to avoid these types of problems in your own installations. These two articles show the potential benefits and problems involved with customized installations. We hope that you enjoy these articles, and that they inspire you to jump-start your creativity and inject some artistry into your craftsmanship.