Artistry in hardwood flooring
Last updated 1/25/2022 at Noon
Hardwood floors are works of art to Fred Silva. He’s always felt that way.
“I’m a carpenter by trade, I can build houses; I can do it all,” he said.
But creating beautiful hardwood floors is his passion and his art, the thing he truly loves. That love affair started very early — when Silva was about 8 years old.
“My parents took me to Hearst Castle when I was a little kid,” he recalled. “I admired the hardwood floors.”
Hearst Castle was the lavishly constructed home of publishing tycoon William Randolph Hearst.
Years later, after building a thriving business in California, the hardwood floor artist is established in Central Oregon, with Hardwood Floors by Fred Silva.
After becoming a carpenter in California, Silva decided to focus on one aspect of the trade and truly master it. His old fascination with hardwood floors came to the fore, and that was the path he chose. Silva is entirely self-taught.
He taught himself the intricacies of laying a floor straight and turning the work into something unique and beautiful.
“It launched me really quick,” he said.
Silva became a go-to contractor for hardwood floors across California for the past 44 years.
Fred and his wife, Susette, grew restless in El Dorado Hills, California, and sought something different. They visited Bend, and took a trip out to Sisters.
“The second-to-last day we were here, we put an offer on a piece of property,” he said.
They sold their home in El Dorado Hills in a cash transaction, which meant they had to be out of their home of 28 years in 12 days. Then they were on the trail north to Oregon.
Silva believes Hardwood Floors by Fred Silva will thrive in the Bend and Sisters communities, where artistry is part of the culture.
“I’m looking for the person who wants something special and unique,”
He was particularly taken on his youthful visit to Hearst Castle with the floors’ distinctive inlayed roses — and he is proud to say he’s done that sort of work on clients’ floors.
“I talked a client into letting me inlay roses in his hardwood floor,” he recalled. “So I did the Hearst Castle flooring on one of my jobs.”
He also once built a bartop that featured dogwood flowers.
Silva creates his inlays by laying down a template and carefully cutting down about a quarter inch using a tangent router.
The painstaking process is truly artistic — it is, in a sense, like painting or engraving. It involves a great deal more than cutting with a router and laying in a colored piece of wood. The wood has to be cut so that the grain looks like a flower opening up.
After nearly five decades in the trade, that sense of artistry still thrills Silva.
“The spiral staircases I do are pure art, too,” he said. “I hope I get to do one or two more before I’m pushing up daisies.”
Silva says he’s very transparent with his clients, and takes time to get to know them and what they want and need. While he loves the artistry of the work, he doesn’t mind doing straightforward work at a high standard of quality.
“If they can’t afford artwork, we just go back to laying the floor straight,” he said.
Susette is involved in the business side of Hardwood Floors by Fred Silva.
Besides his passion for his work, Silva has enthusiasms that also fit right in to the Central Oregon way of life — hiking, backpacking, four-wheeling.
“My favorite hobby is fly-fishing,” he said. “I tie my own flies.”
Silva is planning to build a custom home on his property in Sisters, where he can deploy all the skill and artistry he’s developed over decades in the trade.
He also says he’s looking forward to becoming an active part of the Sisters community.
Hardwood Floors by Fred Silva is located at 704 W. Hood Ave., Suite D. For more information call 916-496-1617.