Green & Main Shows Off ‘New’ Maple Flooring… and Gives Salvaged Gym Floor a New Home

The Original Green & Main Maple Floor

Cambria, Iowa school

The old school in Cambria, Iowa needed a new floor at the same time Green & Main was looking for salvage flooring. Repurposing the old maple floor was a perfect fit for the main floor — and sustainability goals — of our Pilot Project.

The original maple hardwood flooring in the Green & Main Pilot Project building provided solid footing for many, many years, probably since the 1930’s when the building housed Sherman Hill’s H&H Grocery Store.

“We could actually see how the store was used by how the floor was worn,” remarked Chaden Halfhill, developer of the Green & Main initiative. Most noticeable was a small area of the wood worn down to only 1/8” thick by the shopkeeper himself who stood in one part of the floor serving customers for years.

Preserving as much of the original floor as possible was of paramount importance to the Green & Main team. However, wear and tear and some exposure to the elements had taken its toll on the solid maple flooring. So a process of painstakingly cleaning the tongue and groove maple flooring began. The Green & Main construction crew carefully pulled up individual slats of the maple flooring, evaluated each piece to ensure that it could be salvaged, and cleaned and replaced the slat back into the floor.

Preparing individual slats of the salvaged maple flooring

Preparing the repurposed maple flooring for installation.

However not all the maple slats were in good enough shape to preserve. So, the Green & Main team set out to find matching maple flooring to fill in the areas of the floor that couldn’t be saved.

Flooring from Cambria, Iowa in Wayne County

Around the same time maple flooring matches needed to be found, Mike Kinter of Des Moines’ Kinter Construction had discovered that a public school in Cambria, Iowa was hoping to replace the gym’s original wood floor. The southern Iowa community in Wayne County was converting the school, which closed in 1991, into a community center. The old gym floor was for sale, and it was hardwood maple. A perfect match!

“I drove down to Cambria and found the flooring in good shape,” said Kinter. “Most hardwood flooring in older school gyms is subjected to many layers of varnish over the years. Given how old the Cambria school gym was, it was amazing to find this flooring with just one or two layers of varnish which takes much less time to remove. So much of it was salvageable, it took me two truckloads to bring it all up to Des Moines.”

Through the grapevine, Mike heard that the Green & Main building was in need of supplemental maple flooring. The width of the maple flooring from Cambria’s old gym was a perfect fit. The needed pieces were identified, cleaned and integrated into the existing flooring. Now a beautiful ‘new’ maple hardwood floor is ready to support the many people who will step foot into the Green & Main building’s education space in the coming decades.

“It turned out that re-using the Cambria gym floor was a good solution for everyone,” concluded Halfhill. “We’re estimating that 70% of the new floor ended up coming from the Cambria maple. And, the purchase price for the old maple gym floor will go to completing construction of the Cambria Community Center.  Any wood flooring that we determined to be too damaged to be used in the Pilot Project will be recycled.”

That’s a win-win-win!

Laid repurposed flooring

A shot of the Green & Main Pilot Project main floor shortly after the maple flooring from the Cambria school was installed. It’s now ready for finishing and many more years of traffic as the flooring for this building’s education space.

 

 

– Ann Wilde is a Des Moines marketing strategist and writer who also has a special interest in preserving and creating sustainable communities. She likes traveling to places that have amazing technological gadgets.

 

Comments

  1. as a commercial warehouse flooring guy dealing with mostly epoxy and urethanes in NJ. This is pretty neat. I love natural flooring and wood is super tough. Nothing like a clean wood floor. which after all, is usually coated with Urethane.

  2. I’m trying to help a high school in Wisconsin sell its 60-year-old gym floor. Any ideas?

    • Have you had any luck finding a new home for the HS gym floor?

    • I paid 71cents per square foot for old maple gym floor, delivered, about 2,700 sf, and had about 20% loss due to weathering, breakage, etc. So you will not get rich selling this stuff. Refinishing this stuff is not easy, especially when old and weathered, and getting the striping off can be tough.
      I paid the same for warehouse flooring, a mix of maple, birch, and oak
      The gym floor finished out very consistently, and looks almost new, sort of, but cracks etc were left alone to show age; the warehouse floor actually looks older. We did not attempt to fill nail holes or make anything look new. All beautiful.
      Everything was 3/4″ or 1″, and subfloor was set to correct this. I’ve seen the maple go for $ 3-13/sf, but don’t get hopes up on price

      • Did you stain the floors and strip down teh original finish? I found some local gym flooring that I woudl like to use in my house and sand down and stain a darker shade. It is a Maple and has the markings on it still. I think would look great!

  3. Donni Alley says:

    That flooring came from my old junior high school, and I’m so excited to learn it’s being given new life in the Green & Main Pilot Project! I attended my first dance on that floor. I love how sustainable building practices and historic preservation efforts are enabling Green & Main to help out the Cambria community while also enhancing the Des Moines community. Great story!

  4. Chad Alley says:

    I went to Jr High at this school and remember practicing basketball on this court. It looks better than my basketball skills. Nice job!

Trackbacks

  1. […] The solid maple flooring is a combination of the building’s original flooring and salvaged wood from the gym floor in a Cambria, Iowa school that was being torn down. See full article. […]

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