ROGERSVILLE — Wayne Highlander has worked as a hardwood floor contractor for 30 years.

But due to health issues, he decided that he would install his last floor and enter it for the Floor of the Year Award sponsored by the National Wood Flooring Association.

“About eight years ago, we bought an old, historic home in Rogersville,” Highlander, 61, said. “And I knew that what my wife saw was the outside, but what I thought was, ‘This is gonna be a really cool place to do some nice floors, really interesting floors.’ ”

The Floor of the Year competition is a global contest, and Highlander, who is the adhesive sales manager for Bona US, has entered it many times.

“I’ve actually been trying to win the contest for 20 years, but it’s very difficult to win,” Highlander said. “If you’re going to win a Floor of the Year, you’re going to have to do something pretty out-of-the-box and unique, because there’s a lot of talent out there. ...

“I knew I only had one floor left to do it because my knees are shot and I don’t do floors anymore with my job,” Highlander said.

For his contest entry, Highlander knew he wanted to make something that looked three-dimensional. He submitted his creation under the Manufacturing category, and every product that touched the floor was made by Bona.

Highlander specializes in the art of marquetry.

“Some of the really fabulous floors being done in Russia and in Europe are magnificent marquetry floors inlays,” Highlander said. “I’ve studied them over the years and became pretty passionate about learning marquetry and combining that with my love for doing hardwood floors.”

Highlander prefers to make his marquetry floors using traditional techniques.

“It requires a lot of patience because it’s all done by hand with a scroll saw,” Highlander said. “Some people are doing really magnificent floors, but they’re using CNC routers, and it’s done by computer. But all this is done like it was done in the old days with the scroll saw.”

Highlander said that marquetry floors have three main elements: the field, the border and the medallion.

“One of the interesting parts for me [about his winning design] was that it’s on a radius, so I could do some really neat scroll-sawing around the border,” Highlander said. “And I really wanted a nice medallion. I wanted something when you walked in and looked at it, the center almost looks like a rug that would be a really timeless visual.”

His efforts finally paid off. Over the summer, he learned he won the award.

“I mean it is one of my proudest achievements because it is so hard to win one,” Highlander said. “Some of the best craftsmen in the world are going after this award.”

Highlander said he gets a lot of satisfaction from doing this kind of work.

“I like the challenge,” he said. “I mean, after doing what’s called straight laid floors for years and years, I really liked the challenge of doing something more visually interesting. And flooring today is kind of getting away from real hardwood floors and then going into LVT and different products, but hardwood floors are very sustainable. What I like about the flooring industry is that I’ve gone into houses with floors that are 150 years old and sanding them over and they look beautiful. So the sustainability part of it is really intriguing.”

Highlander also does a podcast on Spotify called “On the Floor with Wayne and Rob.”

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