Now in its fourth year, our Installation Awards program continues to honor the most creative installers and most interesting installations in a range of flooring categories, in both residential and commercial settings. Ranging from impressive ballrooms to artistic flooring designs that serve as the focal point of the room, this year’s entries did not disappoint. The industry voted and here are the winners:

In this issue, we will take a closer look at our residential winners. You can find more information about our commercial winners in our November/December 2017 issue.

Residential Hardwood/Laminate:
Legacy Floors

matching height of tile to hardwoodWaldorf used Laticrete’s Strata_Mat uncoupling membrane to ensure that the height of the tile matched the hardwood.Taking a design that was conceived by a homeowner and bringing it to life was the task at hand for Jeremy Waldorf and the Legacy Floors team in Howell, Mich. And while this isn’t an uncommon task, for this project, the team was fortunate to be working with a client that came prepared not just with a vision and inspiration photos found online, but a very specific computer-aided design (CAD) drawing to help get the job done.

“More often than not, my clients will defer to me to help them with design elements in terms of tile layouts, hardwood selections,” said Waldorf. “In this case, he already had everything laid out for me. Actually the CAD drawing was almost scary accurate.”

To create the requested basket weave design throughout the homeowner’s kitchen, the Legacy Floors team blended hickory hand-scraped engineered ¾-thick hardwood and a limestone tile.

“There were a lot of things that made this project unique for me,” said Waldorf. “I don’t often get the chance to blend ceramic tile or stone with hardwood in such a comprehensive way. With this layout, the entire vision was conceived by the homeowner, but the technical end was a big challenge for me.”

To properly execute the install and design, Waldorf looked to Laticrete’s Strata_Mat uncoupling membrane to ensure that the tile’s height matched the hardwood’s. “There were a lot of little details that I went over several times to make sure that everything was accounted for so that this would come together just as he wanted it,” said Waldorf.

A challenge that presented itself was working around the kitchen’s island, which the owner opted to leave in place during the install. “Going around the island was tough,” said Waldorf. “With the basket weave, all of the pieces of hardwood had to be cut individually out of longer boards so that they were the same exact size as each other. The biggest challenge was wrapping around that island making sure that everything lined up exactly as it should, and tied back in again on the other side without losing the pattern.”

Comparing the homeowner’s inspiration photos to the end result was most satisfying for Waldorf. “I took photos of the job after we were done from the same angle and when I was finished I put both photos next to each other and they look almost identical. It’s a really good feeling to have a project that requires everything you know of being a tile setter and everything you know of being a hardwood installer and at the end of the job and it comes out basically exactly the way you want it. There isn’t anything on that project that I would say I would have liked to have come out differently, and that’s not always the case.”

Winning this award is extra special for Waldorf because it comes from his industry peers, a group that he often seeks advice and ideas from himself. Waldorf enjoys networking and connecting with the installation community on social media through flooring groups. “I learn a lot through those groups, and I try to share as much as I can as well.”

Representing the next generation of installers, Waldorf’s first teacher in the industry was his father, who was in the industry for almost 50 years before passing away. “I learned a lot from him. He was one of the hardest workers that anyone ever knew. He actually mentored a lot of my friends as well, and there are several of us that are in the trade today because of what we learned from him.”

Residential Tile and Stone
LMK Contracting

anti-fracture isolation membraneTo ensure a successful and lasting install, Kerman used an anti-fracture isolation membrane, Laticrete thinset and Spectralock Pro Premium epoxy. When asked to add a fractured porcelain tile mosaic to a couple’s outdoor living area, Morgan Kerman, owner of LMK contracting in Addy, Wash., used his expertise to formulate a unique design concept that was along the lines of their vision, but better fit their environment.

“They wanted a fractured porcelain tile mosaic, but they released creative liberty to me and that’s when we formulated the sunburst idea.”

Drawing inspiration from the husband’s profession, a surveyor, with Kerman’s guidance, the couple chose a design for a sunburst compass made with natural stone for their outdoor space.

“Natural stone is great to work with for art projects,” said Kerman. “Not only is it organic, the grain and veining led to fluid lines to bind the piece together.”

Using yellow marble tiles to denote true north and south on the compass, Kerman and the couple further customized the compass by incorporating tiny elephant and bear figurines as well as charms among the stones.

“Having them both actively involved made it much more personal for them,” said Kerman.

An anti-fracture isolation membrane was used, and to set the stones, Kerman used Laticrete thinset and Spectralock Pro Premium epoxy. “The things that are underneath are as, if not more, important than what lies above; the preparatory work. Making sure the piece will not fail is more important than the end product, because if it fails, the end product is done.”

While this award and recognition from his peers and the industry is gratifying, Kerman finds even more gratification in completing a job well done. For him, knowing that the install, which was completed in northwest Washington State, can withstand the state’s temperature and humidity variations year-round is amazing.

Jobs well done and successful installations are made possible by continual learning, says Kerman. A certified floor covering installer, he goes to as many educational seminars as he can as things are constantly changing in the industry. “The knowledge base is so vast, you always have to continuously educate yourself.”

Kerman’s advice to his fellow installers and those considering entering the industry? Keep an open mind and read, read, read. “Read every time you open a package; every time you go to mix a bag of thinset, reread it; every time you open up the epoxy grout instructions, reread them because things change.”

Residential Carpet
Far Out Floors

carpet installation in progressGriego’s winning installation used surplus carpet he had from a variety of projects.For Dave “The Carpet Slave” Griego, this winning project is one that’s especially close to his heart. “The lucky client of this wild arrangement happens to be my mother. She had a room that was being wasted as storage space.”

This award-winning project gave Griego the opportunity to chip away at the surplus of carpet he purchased from Cheney’s Carpet, a wholesaler out of Plymouth, Minn. Acquiring more than 700 pieces of carpet in the sale, Griego’s seemingly endless inventory has allowed him to merge his love and talent for art, with his skills and knowledge of carpet installation.

“I have a surplus of 6’ or less rolls of carpet,” said Griego. “I paired up what I could, inventoried the stuff that matched and grouped the carpets the best I could—be it commercial, patterned, Berber, plushes, and what not, and I have not looked back! It has been a great investment, but the drawback is that I have a lot of carpet rolls that are just not big enough to utilize on anything of significance, so it has been a challenge finding ways to put them to use.”

When it was time to replace the stained Berber carpet that had been in a small storage room in his mother’s basement since the 80s, the opportunity to use some of the smaller rolls from his inventory presented itself.

“I had my mother draw a wavy line on back of one of the carpets with a charcoal, and I took it from there,” said Griego. “After putting together the first few pieces, it reminded me of different layers of the earth. It also felt a bit too monotone, so I added the red carpet. I call this the layer of lava beneath the earth’s crust. The lines were completely organic, and free flowing, that I felt gave it a natural feel to it. I have been doing so many borders, and patterns that if was nice to break free from my straight edge, and let the knife go where it may.”

The end result? A unique combination of eight carpet colors and styles from Beaulieu, Mohawk, Shaw and Camelot pieced together by an Orcon seam sealer to make something one of a kind and beautiful.

“It was left over carpet, that would most likely see a landfill had it not been procured by me, said Griego. “This is something you would not see anywhere else. The colors, and types of carpets used was completely random, with the exception of the red.”

Winning this award, now for the third time, is motivation for Griego to continue pushing boundaries and getting creative with carpet. “Winning this award for the third time is validating. It is inspiring and motivating for me to keep pushing the boundaries. It means that all the work, and time, that I have put into focusing my efforts into trying to exclusively do nothing but custom, and creative one of a kind carpet installs has been worth it.”

Charged with the momentum of this recognition from his peers, this third consecutive win is about much more than just bragging rights for Griego. For him, it’s the catalyst of a marketing and advertising campaign redesign. “The first award has helped my marketability, the second award meant it wasn’t a fluke, and this will put me over the top.”