If you love the character and style of hardwood floors, why not have them in your kitchen?
In most homes, the kitchen is one of the busiest rooms, where people often gather. That’s why they’re a perfect place to show off gorgeous hardwood floors.
And because hardwood floors are durable and easy to maintain, they’re perfect for the heavy use most kitchens experience.
Why Hardwoods Look Great in Kitchens
A hardwood floor can make a kitchen feel more cozy, comfortable, and inviting. It brings warmth to the room.
Putting hardwood floors in the kitchen can also help pull together your interior design if you have hardwood floors in other parts of your home, creating a seamless appearance. Finished hardwood flooring can draw the kitchen into the “flow” of the rest of the home.
Because of the central role a kitchen has in most homes, hardwood floors can make it a showpiece room that gets plenty of “oohs and aahs.”
Hardwood floors are also easy to keep clean. Spills can easily be wiped up, and the floor is no problem to sweep.
In potentially high-moisture areas of the kitchen, such as around the sink and dishwasher, you might want to use rugs to protect the floor.
And because hardwood floors are so long-lasting, you won’t have to worry about replacing the floor any time soon due to the kitchen’s heavy use.
Once hardwood floors are installed in a kitchen, you’ve just got to enjoy them.
Whether you’re selecting flooring for a new home or planning a kitchen remodel, hardwood floors in a kitchen not only look gorgeous and classy, they perform wonderfully and are easy to care for. Come by our showroom or give us a call to discuss how you can make your kitchen look stunning with hardwood floors.
There’s nothing I enjoy more than settling in for Christmas at home with my family. It’s a time for good times with the people I love, gathered around the Christmas tree, sharing moments we’ll always cherish.
I remember one such moment with my wife’s side of the family—a moment we’re sure to talk about again this Christmas, like we do every year.
In addition to regular gifts, it’s a tradition in Rhonda’s family to have a $10 Secret Santa gift exchange every Christmas, just for fun. It’s a game where we pick gifts and “steal” them from each other, all trying to end up with a gift we want.
Some of the gifts are silly, meant to get laughs, which they do—but nobody wants them. Some of them are actually things worth having, but that gets laughs too as everyone angles to end up with one of those gifts.
When Rhonda’s Uncle Curt put a $10 lottery ticket into the pile one year, that was the gift everyone wanted. That lottery ticket changed hands many times, but Rhonda finally ended up with it, and we all watched as she scratched off the ticket with a big smile. Of course, she didn’t expect to win anything but…
It was a $10,000 winner!
Needless to say, everyone went bonkers—screaming, jumping up and down, running around the room.
Everyone, that is, except for Uncle Curt, who—looking back on it—was curiously quite in his chair. He waited for us all to settle down, then with a knowing grin, he quietly said, “Did you read the back of it?”
Turns out it was a joke ticket. First there was a stunned silence, then we all broke out in crazy laughter. Some of us were literally rolling on the floor. Uncle Curt sure enjoyed it! I can guarantee that prank will come up again this year as we continue the Secret Santa tradition.
I’m very happy that memories like that are now happening in my home. I take great pleasure in being able to host family and friends every Christmas. Everyone happy together in the same room, with all the presents around the tree, is a beautiful sight. It’s what Christmas is all about.
Being a hardwood floor guy, I pay a lot of attention to flooring, and Christmas just wouldn’t seem right on anything other than a beautiful hardwood floor. Christmas is a time for traditions, and hardwood flooring is as traditional as you can get.
One Christmas when I was a kid, my family put off buying a Christmas tree until the last minute and ended up with a scraggly looking tree whose needles fell all over the hardwood floor. We still laugh about that memory, too.
My family now puts a tree in early, so we can be sure to get a great tree and begin to enjoy it sooner. But one thing hasn’t changed—the floors our Christmases happen on are beautiful hardwoods.
If you’d like your home to be a place where Christmas memories are made, but you’re not happy with how it looks, installing hardwood floors (or refinishing existing ones) can make you proud to open your door to guests again. And like a Christmas tree, there’s no sense in putting it off—hardwood floors can last a lifetime, so why not go ahead and start enjoying them?
I know my family will be enjoying our hardwood floors this Christmas, as we make memories that we’ll still be telling our grandchildren years from now on the same floors. And we’ll be carefully watching Uncle Curt! No telling what he’ll pull.
Making memories is “Christmas Present.” In my next email, I’ll talk about “Christmas Future.” If you’d like to read about that scraggly Christmas tree in my “Christmas Past,” click here.
Photo courtesy of owenkohai. Available under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.
If you have new finished hardwood flooring in your home—congratulations! It’s impossible to beat the beauty and character of quality hardwood flooring.
Hardwood floors are easy! In fact, if you have hardwood floors, you have probably found them to be the easiest floors you have ever had to clean and maintain.
Here are six useful tips that we’ve picked up in our decades of installing and refurbishing hardwood floors.
1. Realize that rugs, mats, and furniture pads are your friends.
To collect dirt and grime, it’s a good idea to place rugs or mats by entryways—as long as the coverings aren’t backed by rubber or other material that will harm finished hardwood flooring.
Rugs or mats can also be placed where water is likely to be spilled, such as around sinks in kitchens or bathrooms. Throughout the home, rugs can be used to protect flooring in high-traffic areas. Rugs also work beautifully to integrate the hardwood flooring into your overall interior design.
Furniture that is moved on a regular basis should have felt glides on all legs to protect your hardwood floors. You won't have to worry about a fidgety guest scooting around your floor if all of your chairs are equiped with felt glides.
2. Consider leaving shoes at the door.
Shoes are one of the primary causes of wear and tear on finished hardwood flooring. Pebbles and grit can get lodged in the treads and can dent and scratch the floors. Spikey high heels can also dent almost any hardwood floor. Slippers and socks will be much more forgiving, but if you must wear shoes, make a habit of using a rough welcome mat or shoe brush/scraper outside the door before entering. Your hardwood floors are easy to live on, and with just a little precaution, you can have them looking great for years and years.
3. We love our pets, don't bannish them from your home.
It is no secret pet nails scratch or dent hardwood flooring. Dogs love to run and chase, it is all part of what makes us love them! Choosing the right floor is critical. A floor with a little grain or texture in the surface will be much easier to take care of if a dog is part of your family.
If your pet doesn't always make it outside to relieve himself, you may have problems with permanent damage. That being said, simply being mindful of their habits and watching out for accidents before they become a problem is the key. Hardwood floor finishes today are very tough and can hold up to the occasional accident as long as it is cleaned up quickly. When an accident is discovered, clean it up right away.
4. Follow instructions for using cleaning products.
Manufacturers of prefinished hardwood flooring will provide guidance about what cleaners work best with their finish. If your hardwood floors were sanded and finished on site, the provider of your floor can recommend the right cleaner for your new flooring.
5. Clean spills immediately.
Even with modern water-resistant finishes, spills left sitting on a hardwood floor can result in damage. Large spills can soak between planks, warping the wood. Remember to wipe up spills as soon as you find them. If you have a large spill, call your hardwood floor specialist. They can help guide you on how to deal with the spill and hopefully avoid a lot of unnecessary expense.
6. Routinely sweep or vacuum.
Even if you’re careful about what you track inside, finished hardwood flooring will inevitably collect some dirt and debris. Dusting, sweeping, or vacuuming regularly can help scratching and scuffing. If you choose to vacuum, remember to either use a non-rotating floor attachment or turn off the rotating beater bar on the unit.
Christmas is right around the corner, and like most people this time of year, my thoughts drift back to memories of when I was a kid. Getting our Christmas shopping done early, decorating the perfect Christmas tree, preparing food for days in anticipation of the big day. Okay, I’m not sure whose Christmas that was, but I know it wasn’t mine.
My family was a little unconventional when it came to Christmas. To say we procrastinated was putting it mildly. Nearly every year we would run out around noon on Christmas Eve to pick up a tree. We would run home, quickly decorate it, and get ready to head out for the church service that evening.
Have you ever been on a tree lot on the Eve of the biggest day of the year? Slim pickin’s doesn’t even begin to describe it. But we always had a tree, never mind how scrawny and dried up it may have been.
I laugh to myself when I think back on a particular Christmas party. It was our usual rush to get a tree, get it decorated, and get everything ready before company showed up.
My dad had a group of friends who always razzed him, and this year they were in prime form. When they walked across the floor and heard needles falling from our scrawny little tree, they couldn’t resist. Almost in unison, a clever idea came to them, and they all started jumping up and down trying to make as many needles fall as possible. Needless to say, by the time they were done jumping up and down (and then some of them rolling on the floor in laughter), there was nary a needle left on our pathetic little tree.
Dad thought this was incredibly funny, but I’m not sure my mom felt the same way. Looking back, I am sure she felt a little embarrassed.
My Christmas’s have changed quite a lot as I have grown and have a family of my own. Waiting to the last minute wasn’t a good idea then, and it isn’t a good idea now. I try to remember this in my business as well as my home life. When something causes my wife or myself embarrassment, we tend to take care of it sooner rather than later.
I think maybe there is a lesson here. Maybe you have a floor that is causing you embarrassment. The carpet is worn out and you can no longer get it clean, or you have a hardwood floor that no longer has any finish on it. The time to start is now. Feel proud of your home at your next party, rather than embarrassed. Start the process now by visiting our showroom or giving us a call. Remember, next Christmas will be here sooner than you think.
Rushing around to find a tree was my Christmas past. In next month’s email, I’ll discuss my Christmas present, in which my family buys a beautiful tree early so we can settle in and enjoy it—just like your family and visitors to your home can sit back, relax, and enjoy your new hardwood floors once they’re installed.
Photo courtesy of p u n t o. Available under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.
The Personality of Hardwood Floors and Their Owners
Do you like to express your personality?
Most people do, especially when it comes to creative undertakings like planning their home and its interior design. That’s why one of the great appeals of custom hardwood floors is that there’s literally a world of options, so you can always find a look that fits in with your personal design and decorating preferences.
Actually, custom hardwood floors can do more than “fit in.” They can be the foundation of your home’s personality and uniqueness.
When choosing the species of the wood for your finished hardwood flooring, you can widely expand your range of choices by looking beyond domestic species to the rest of the world. Asian Walnut, Brazilian Cherry, Brazilian Walnut, Santos Mahogany, and Spotted Gum are among the many exotic species available through quality hardwood flooring companies.
Your custom hardwood floors will definitely stand out if you have exotic wood flooring installed. And because of the huge range of exotic species available—each with a different color and grain pattern—you can be sure to make them stand out in a way that reflects your style.
Taking the Extra Step
Another way to give your custom hardwood floors a distinct personality is by adding finishing touches such as hardwood borders or medallions.
Hardwood borders range from feature stripes in doorways or passageways to elaborate, elegant borders that frame entire rooms.
Hardwood medallions can really let you make a personal statement, serving as your “signature.” Working with a hardwood flooring company, you can find a wide selection of quality hardwood medallions in countless designs.
Another nice finishing touch is to have wood vents that match the flooring—or risers and treads on staircases that match the floors.
Color and personality seem to go together. A person’s favorite color often says a lot about them, and your choice of hardwood colors will say a lot about the “feel” you want your floors to have. With custom hardwood floors, you can get about any color you want, so you can choose specific colors that appeal to you and convey your distinct personality and style.
Some people like a natural look and prefer not to stain, and there are many wood species that have remarkably beautiful natural color. But if you have a certain color in mind that you can’t find naturally—or if you just like stain—then your color choices are virtually unlimited.
Don’t underestimate the opportunity you have to express your personality when making decisions about custom hardwood floors. You have so many options of species, color, and special touches that you can be as creative and unique as you want.
Ask anyone in the hardwood floor industry and they’ll tell you that hardwood flooring is good for home value.
But is that really true? If you’ve got a healthy dose of skepticism, you’ll want more than the word of people who make their living from hardwood floors.
No one knows more about real estate value than real estate agents. So what do they say?
The National Wood Flooring Association asked them, commissioning a national survey of real estate agents. Their answer: 99 percent of agents believe finished hardwood flooring makes a home easier to sell. In other words, according to the people selling homes every day, hardwood floors almost automatically make a home more desirable to buyers.
As far as the actual impact on sales, 90 percent of the real estate agents surveyed said hardwood floors cause homes to sell for more, while 82 percent said they make homes sell faster, which can of course have tremendous financial significance.
What this means is that the cost of the hardwood floors you’ve been dreaming about wouldn’t all be “sunk.” There’s a very good chance you’ll get at least some of the cost back when you sell your home—and possibly most or all of it.
The Enduring Value of Hardwood Floors
When you factor in the added value and marketability that hardwood floors bring to your home—not to mention their longevity— you might be surprised to learn that hardwood floors are actually less expensive in the long run than “cheaper” options such as carpeting or vinyl.
And hardwood floors won’t go out of style. They can always be refinished for a new look, but regardless of the current style, they have a timeless beauty. They’ll certainly never be a turn-off to buyers, like bad carpeting often is.
How Much Value?
Keep in mind that hardwood floors’ effect on home value is influenced by many factors, including:
- General economic conditions.
- The local real estate market.
- The home’s price range.
- The quality of the flooring materials.
- The installation quality.
- How well you take care of the floors (it’s not difficult!).
Nonetheless, you can be sure that if you work with a quality hardwood floor company and maintain your floors properly, your home will sell relatively better with hardwood floors than without—no matter what the market conditions at the time.
Yet as comforting as it is to know the money you spend on finished hardwood floors can add value to your home, don’t forget that the greatest value is intangible—the satisfaction and pleasure you get from the flooring every day you live there.
If you love hardwood floors and live in North America, you’re in the right place. This continent is home to some of the best trees for hardwood flooring in the world.
And the farther north you live, the better off you are. Domestic species from Canada and northern states—such as Wisconsin hardwood—are known for being harder and more durable than the same types of hardwood farther south.
You can see it in many northern trees’ tighter growth rings, which in addition to generally being a sign of superior hardness also create an appearance that appeals to many homeowners.
The great thing about being able to get excellent hardwood in your own backyard is that the abundant supply and lower transportation costs result in a great deal! At Ralph’s Hardwood Floors, we gladly source our materials locally, which provides our customers with a wonderful product at a reasonable price and stimulates the local economy. A win-win for everyone! When the best is right here, why go anywhere else?
Some of the most beautiful and most popular species anywhere in the world are readily available from Ralph’s, including:
Maple. Maple offers a beautiful blend of warm heartwood and creamy sapwood. Light stain tames the color variation, adding warmth to maple’s overall appearance.
Walnut. Walnut provides dark rich browns with just a touch of creamy sapwood. It can be steamed to bring out a richness sometimes lacking in walnut floors.
Red Oak. A relatively consistent open grain is present in Red Oak. It’s very hard, with a mild texture in the surface that may help your floor look great longer.
White Oak. The abundant light tones of White Oak give a crisp, clean feel. It displays a combination of deep grayish-brown heartwood and creamy tones.
American Cherry. This hardwood has a reddish-brown, satiny look with a fine grain that will age to a rich patina. American Cherry is one of the most sought-after of the northern hardwoods.
Yellow Birch. Yellow Birch is a closed-grained, even-textured hardwood with warm undertones. It’s similar to maple in grain but with more reflective-light properties.
Peshtigo River Cherry. Taken from the heart of the maple tree where the warmest colors are present, Peshtigo River Cherry has a softer, warmer look than traditional maple.
Red Birch. Handpicked for its deep, rich auburn color and intriguing grain, Red Birch’s warm, cherry-like color creates a dramatic look.
Ash. Ash displays pronounced grain and moderate golden tones. It’s a highly stable wood that performs terrific in environments where humidity is difficult to control.
Hickory. Hickory is the hardest domestic wood. It has rich color variation, with tones ranging from creams to deep browns. Hickory is available in rustic, select, and heart, which is more-subtle with mostly medium to dark-brown tones.
If you’re looking for gorgeous hardwood floors, there’s no need to look any further than the hardwood available in this region. Please visit us at our showroom to see samples and discuss which locally sourced domestic species will provide just the look and performance you’re looking for.
It seems to me the world would be a much better place if we could all love each other like good dog owners love their dogs, and vice versa. When I see a dog lover coming along with a loyal dog, the dog’s tail wagging happily, it makes me feel good.
That’s why when a couple recently visited our showroom and told me they had two large dogs that were like children to them, I was happy I could keep them from making a costly mistake.
They already had a floor in mind—a fir floor with saw marks on it, like they had seen at their friends’ house. But I explained that with their dogs, Katie and Vinnie, they were going to need a harder, more-durable floor. The fir floor would scratch and dent too easily.
But that didn’t mean they had to give up on their dream floor!
We recommended a skip-sawn hickory floor instead, and we put together some samples. Our salesperson, Tom, and I took the couple out back and stained up boards for them, so we could get just the perfect color. They liked what they saw—it fit their vision for a floor with a lot of character—but they still didn’t like the even, consistent look of that flooring’s machined bevels. So we hand-scraped the edges for them.
That’s the type of commitment we bring to our customers—what matters to them, matters to us. The couple ended up with floors that they loved—and which put a smile on Katie’s and Vinnie’s faces.
And that made me smile, too.
Maybe it's because of the emergence of do-it-yourself websites and countless DIY television shows, but more people than ever seem to be thinking about refinishing their hardwood flooring themselves.
But before you make the decision to try it yourself, consider these six reasons why it’s usually better for professionals to do the job.
1. You might be very skilled at home-improvement projects, but that doesn’t mean you’re as skilled at refinishing as someone who’s been doing that specific job for years.
Ask yourself, even if you get the job done, will it look as good as it could? Remember, you might save some money, but if you’re dissatisfied with the results, did you really spend your money wisely? It takes experience to get it just right.
2. You can damage the hardwood flooring.
If you don’t have experience with refinishing, there’s the real possibility that you’ll make mistakes while sanding, staining, or applying the finish—mistakes that harm the flooring and can’t be simply (or inexpensively) undone. Without experience with hardwood floor refinishing, this is easy to do, even if you’re good with DIY jobs.
3. The savings probably aren't as much as you think.
You may save a little in a upfront cost because you're not paying for labor, but when you compare the cost of a professional job to what you'll spend on equipment and materials to do it yourself—and then add in your valuable time—you may very well find that you're not really saving much, if anything at all.
4. You will probably take longer to do the job than a pro.
The length of the job will depend on whether sanding and staining are involved, as well as other factors, but however long it takes an experienced hardwood flooring company to do the job, it will certainly take you longer doing it on your own.
And if your time for the project is interrupted by your normal daily life (work, children, etc.) then you could easily find yourself with a drawn-out project, while the rooms being refinished are unusable and the furniture and other stuff you’ve moved out are taking up space in the rest of your home.
5. If you need to sand, you won’t have access to the same equipment as a hardwood flooring company does.
The sanders you can rent are smaller machines that operate on 110 electricity. The professional machines are heavier and operate on 220 electricity. The smaller, less-efficient rental sanders can get the job done however they are harder to use and and will take much longer to complete the project.
Traditional sanding produces a lot of dust. We are not aware of any rental machines that have satisfactory dust containment. So, if you plan on doing the floor sanding process on your own, you will need to plan a few extra days of cleaning. Professional companies that have dust containment trailers will control about 98% of the dust. A simple household dusting will be all that is needed after a professional sanding job.
One very effective way of adding personality to your custom hardwood floors is by adjusting the dimensions of the boards used.
Hardwood floor width typically varies from 1 ½ inches to a foot, while length generally ranges from one foot to seven feet. You can choose the dimensions within those ranges that please you, and your choices will play a key role in creating the character of your hardwood flooring.
The trends in hardwood flooring widths are constantly shifting. Currently, wider planks are extremely popular. Wider boards allow more of the grain characteristics to show, and they are ideal for wide, open spaces. Wider boards generally create a casual feel, while narrow boards fit great in a formal room—which is one reason they continue to be the choice of many. We have also seen a rise in demand for random-width flooring.
A random width offers great performance, an interesting look, and excellent value for the cost. One consideration to keep in mind when choosing width is that the wider the boards, the shorter the room will look, while thinner boards will make a room look larger. It’s also important to talk with your hardwood floor company about the best width—based on the humidity conditions in a room—to prevent cupping, crowing, or gapping.
The most common choice regarding length is to use random-length boards. Not only is this less-expensive, it creates visual interest. Generally speaking, longer boards tend to create a formal, elegant feel, while shorter boards are more casual.
When selecting hardwood floors, choosing the dimensions of the boards is an important aspect of achieving the feel you want. We’ll be happy to work with you to help you decide on the best dimensions for your interior design goals.