Wood Floor of the Year

NWFA's Hardwood Floors - June/July 2007

Best Factory-Finished Floor


Highlighting History
Universal Floors
Washington, DC

Georgetown in Washington, DC is an area famous for its university as well its historic atmosphere.  Nestled against the Potomac River, it still has cobblestone streets & buildings well over a century old.  Just one block off the river is M Street, noted for its high-end shops---among them, this year's Wood Floor of the Year winner in the factory-finished category.

A building from the 1820s is the setting for this Levi's store & its winning floor.  The design of the new store plays off the setting's historic atmosphere & the company's rustic heritage.  The acrylic-impregnated flooring is a 3/8-inch-thick engineered oak in an ebonized color.  In keeping with the company's green directive, it is also FSC-certified.

Universal Floors was called in to install the flooring.  While the company may be better known for its work on high-profile government buildings---including a 2005 Wood Floor of the Year Award for a restoration in the building that houses the US Department of State, as well as work on the White House & the Naval Observatory---its expertise really spans anything found in the immediate DC area, explains company President Sprigg Lynn.  "We've done nearly every retail store down there on M Street, " he says, noting that the job was only about four miles from the Universal office.  "We stay within 10 miles of our shop.  People don't like to work in DC, but we've got it down to a science."

Most of this particular DC job was straightforward.  There was about 1,400 square feet of the floor laid over a concrete slab.  To fit the rustic atmosphere, the designers did not want the subfloor as flat as would normally be called for, Lynn says.  Once the floor was in, the designers had the afterthought to add the inlay "Original since 1873"---a reference to the year of the company's first blue jean patent---and worked with Winneconne, Wis.-based Oshkosh Designs to create it.  The inlay's text is in copper, like the rivets on the famous Levi's jeans, and the heavy metal letters arrived in pieces, just like a puzzle, Lynn says.

Since the store was a prototype for the new Levi's store concept, the Levi Strauss & Co. CEO was flying in to see the store.  Lynn & Universal's Guy Hunter managed to drop in the inlay & epoxy down the letters just as the CEO arrived.  "He walked in literally as we were wiping the floor," Lynn says.  The floor & its inlay found favor with the CEO.  "He liked it so much that all their installations are going to have some version of this, so you'll start seeing it in the new stores," Lynn says.

As for Universal Floors, the company's energy is now turning to the type of project it's known for---resanding & finishing 17,000 square feet in the Supreme Court.---K.M.W.


4625 41st Street NW - Washington, DC 20016

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