HomeFront Fall 2019

Skyro Floors Professional Installer Is Award Winner

By Pat Johnson | Sep 13, 2019
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Eagleswood — Ken Ballin of Skyro Floors admits to being a “geek” about tile and flooring installation.

“My wife tells me that all the time when I talk about my work.”

But all you have to do is go on his web pages Skyro Floors Instagram or Facebook to see the dedication and excitement this craftsman brings to his jobs.

In 2018 he won the Residential Installation of the Year award from a trade magazine for his work on the marble shower in a home in Loveladies. It included inlaid fish and stone embellishments so the shower appears to be in a secluded koi pond. The Floor Covering Installer magazine award is voted on every year by other installers.

“I was voted on by a board of my peers, and that’s extra special,” said Ballin.

He commented on his Facebook page, “My drive is only fueled by my passion for the industry and helping others. This (the award) is for everyone of you who make the commitment to better our trade every day by encouraging others.”

Ballin lives in West Creek. He works all over Long Beach Island, and from Seaside to Cape May and all points in between.

“I was working in retail for about 10 years before I switched to becoming an installer and started my own company in 2008. I do flooring, custom showers and extensive tile work.” He is a CFI certified floor covering installer and a CTEF certified tile installer. Also a member of the National Tile Contractors’ Association.

Attention to detail and to his customers’ wants is the hallmark of his work. He explains how he used a technique called scribing to enhance the way a mosaic of waves was installed within a canvas of white shower tiles so the waves are “wavy,” not cut straight across.

“The customer was stoked on the results,” he said.

These types of custom shower installs are becoming more popular.

“I have a job coming up where I will scribe handmade, paper-faced glass mosaics into the field tile,” said Ballin. “Customers want a splash of color in their bathrooms.”

Another popular feature is pebbles inset into the shower pan. The shower pan is what you stand on in the shower.

“There are two types: rounded ones that you can feel on your feet, like a massage, or flat-cut pebbles that you don’t feel so much.”

Flooring is a big part of Ballin’s work. He finds modern customers are leaning toward porcelain plank floors. These can be rather large rectangles, up to 20-by-60 inches.

Vinyl plank flooring is also popular. Like the porcelain tiles, it is waterproof, pet-proof and low maintenance – perfect for vacation homes, where the last thing on anyone’s mind is house cleaning.

A few years ago, Ballin was selected to do a demonstration during “Surfaces,” the biggest flooring show in the country and held in Las Vegas. “What happened is I submitted my work for the installation competition, a competition that takes submissions from across the country. And I was chosen, among some others, to install a shower and a floor during the convention. I didn’t win the installation prize, but what I won was the chance to compete and a whole week in Las Vegas.”.

Another opportunity for Ballin to shine came when “Restaurant Impossible” with Robert Irvine, a show on the Food Network, came to Long Beach Island for a holiday special after Superstorm Sandy ravaged the coast. The show chose to renovate the kitchens of the Ship Bottom firehouse and a pancake house nearby.

“I did the floors with my friend and mentor Roland Thompson, the guy that actually did my certification, and we worked it together. From that, I did five more projects for the show in New Jersey.”

Ballin volunteered for these jobs. “You do it for the connections, and to help somebody out,” he said.

“Aside from customer satisfaction, I want to help others in the business to raise the level of craftsmanship across the board in tile and floor installation.”

Go to Ballin’s Instagram and Facebook websites to watch him explain techniques and new products. He posts videos, shots of completed jobs and chats with other installers. Contact him through his email, ken@skyrofloors.com, or call him at 609-276-9299.

— Pat Johnson

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