Chetzeron, Crans-Montana

The Swiss Alps

The brief was to supply a floor suitable for this exclusive Swiss hotel that would have the same appearance on opening day as it would after many seasons in a ski resort.

October 2009. This would need to be a distressed floor suitable to be laid over underfloor heating while at the same time capable of withstanding fluctuating moisture conditions and of course, a guarantee would be expected. Not an easy undertaking unless you have the confidence in the proven reputation of Cathedral flooring. Samples were prepared with various specialist finishes and sent off for approval. This would be a very interesting project to be involved with.

The client chose our Cathedral 200 mm face board, sanded but unfilled to be finished on-site, with black filler and hand distressed and coloured. We were asked to recommend a company that would be prepared to travel to Switzerland and install the flooring and finish.

This was to be a collaboration of The Heated Hardwood Flooring Company, a Winchester-based company, and Unique Refurbishment from Exeter. The costings were submitted and the work was scheduled for installation in September.

The materials were exported out to Switzerland three weeks prior to the installation date but unfortunately, one day before the installation team was due to travel out they were informed that the project was running behind and the fitting date had to be cancelled. The installation was rescheduled for late October leaving only a couple of weeks before the first expected snowfall.

Any later than this would mean that access would be more difficult and work conditions unfavorable. The vans were loaded with tools and the fitters drove out on a Thursday night, unaware of just how difficult this installation was going to be and how hard they were going to have to work to get the job done.

Arriving at the site Saturday morning they met their first setback.

This floor was to be laid over underfloor heating in screed and so it was necessary to first bond 6 mm plywood sheets to the screed and then bond the floor to the plywood. The client was meant to supply the plywood sheets but had not. This meant waiting until Monday morning when the timber merchants would be open and a loss of valuable time. The second setback was that the flooring had been delivered and left outside the building. It had not been properly covered up to protect it from the weather and rain had seeped into the torn packs. Not a good scenario!

So there was now extra work for the weekend laying out the flooring inside the building to assess the damage and give a little time for drying out. Some of the boards were water stained but there was no distortion in the planks. The decision had to be made by the fitters; either abort the installation or risk laying a floor with high moisture content. The staining did not matter so much as the floor treatment to distress and colour the floor was going to mask most of this.

It was finally agreed that the installation of the floor could not be put off due to scheduling and the opening date. The client was warned that he would have to take on the responsibility if the floor was to fail later.
The only saving grace here was that the fitters knew Cathedral flooring having used it for many years.
They had the confidence to trust that it was capable of enduring the task ahead.

Six days had been scheduled for this installation and by Monday morning two days had been lost so now the task was on to make up time. It was a 7 am start with a midnight finish for the first day. Tuesday was to be a 7 am start and then working through the night with only two hours of sleep finishing at 7 pm Wednesday evening. The end of this shift saw 120 m2 of the floor all laid, the distressing and colouring done, and the first coat of oil, all done under endurance. Now all that had to be done was apply the second coat of oil Thursday morning and drive home. Well, that was the plan!

A plastic sheet had been hung to separate the Bar area where the floor had been laid from the restaurant where the dry lining was being installed. On arrival at the site, the fitters found the dry-lining guys sanding the jointing compound after removing the protection sheeting. The oak floor was covered in fine white dust and the oil had not completely dried. The only option was to hand scrape the soft surface of the oil to remove the dust and then re oil. So another hard day and a late getaway for the long drive home.


The Conclusion

The floor was finished and looked stunning. The clients were very happy.
They had the floor they had imagined, new but with the appearance of age.
The floor survived and does to this day.

Images by © Thomas Jantscher – Hotel Chetzeron, Crans-Montana, The Swiss Alps


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