When my kids were small, they had such a great time pulling out the “Where’s Waldo” books and searching each and every picture until were were able to find Waldo. Always distinctive and different, among the sea of others on a busy beach or in a shopping mall, we could always spot Waldo.
Over the next few weeks, seekers of beautiful hardwood floors will be given the opportunity to look for Ralph’s among the new construction and remodeling projects being showcased.
A comment we hear over and over again, “I can always tell when I walk into a house where Ralph’s has finshed the floors.” What an amazing compliment to our company to know that among the sea of our competition, we stand out so significantly.
So, I work here, but I still have to ask “What makes us so different?” All day long, I am surrounded by a show-stopping showroom. I walk on these beautiful floors day in and day out. And as beautiful as they are, I have to think about what made them this way. The answer is simply, from the bottom up, uncompromising quality. Starting with high quality suppliers, employing a caring sales staff that truly desire to turn a homeowner’s vision into reality, and hiring only the best craftsmen to carry out the plan. Also, in the unlikely event something needs to be fixed, a full-time customer service manager is available to take care of our customers after the project is complete.
September is a very busy month for us. Our crews have been busy with hardwood installation over the past couple of months to be ready for the upcoming Fall Showcase of New Homes in Green Bay. Our floors can also be seen at a Kitchen Remodel Open House being hosted by PortSide Builders on Saturday, September 15th from 11:00 to 4:00.
You will find our floors at the following Showcases:
- Van's Lumber & Custom Builders - 3342 Cottage Hill Drive in Green Bay (Wire Brushed Hickory)
- PortSide Builders - 327 N. 19th Place in Sturgeon Bay (3rd Grade Maple)
- Schmidt Brothers Custom Homes - 2160 Peso in De Pere (2nd Grade Maple with a Dark Stain)
- TCD Homes - 2845 Creekwood Circle in Green Bay (Rift & Quarter Sawn White Oak)
- C & C Custom Builders - 9235 Seagull Road (Tigerwood and Asian Walnut)
- Steven Kassner Construction - 4300 Windemer Lane in Hobart (3rd Grade Maple)
- Heritage Custom Homes - 3231 Haven Place in Green Bay (Maple, installed by other, sanded and finished by Ralph's)
- Hurrish Homes & Development - 1016 Aster Court in De Pere (Rustic Hickory)
Stopping by these homes is a great way to see for yourself the beautiful custom hardwood sanding and finishing workmanship on display. Let’s see if you can tell which floors are “Ralph’s” floors.
When selecting a wood floor, engineered floors may be a great option. Before you can make that determination though, it's important to define what “engineered” floors actually means and to make sure you aren't under any misconceptions.
Engineered refers to the floor's structure.
When we refer to the structure of a floor, we are talking about it's layers. For engineered floors this includes a hardwood layer that is adhered to a multi-layer plywood. Floors that are factory finished are referred to as “prefinished engineered floors.” This is important because engineered floors are available both prefinished and finished on site varieties.
A good quality engineered floor is designed to look and feel exactly like solid hardwood flooring. Because of its structure, it is designed to expand and contract less, making it a great choice in an unstable environment.
Hardwood Floor Misconceptions
When it comes to engineered hardwood versus solid wood hardwood, we hear a lot of misconceptions.
Hardwood cannot be installed below grade. You can certainly install below grade as long as you use engineered hardwood. For example check out this amazing floor.
Reclaimed Engineered Floor
You can't install hardwood over in-floor heat? You absolutely can as long as it is engineered.
Engineered wood floors are “fake” and “cheap” compared to solid wood floors. For some of the very inexpensive engineered floors this might be true however a quality engineered floor that will look and feel exactly like a high-quality solid hardwood floor.
Engineered wood won't cup or gap. The plywood layers of engineered flooring help keep the floor from moving too much, thus minimizing cupping and gapping.That being said though there is no way to prevent hardwood from expanding and contracting as temperature and humidity change, and this fluctuation can cause any hardwood flooring to cup from too much moisture, or gap from excessive dryness.
Wood floors can't be installed in existing homes because it is too thick. Engineered wood is usually thinner than solid flooring, so it can be installed in areas where a thicker wood simply will not work.
Engineered floors always have that 'hollow' sound. By gluing or nailing it down, depending on the surface it is installed over, you can avoid that 'hollow' sound.
Engineered floors can't be sanded and refinished. Quality engineered floors are designed to last a very long time and include a generous wear layer. If you ever needed to refinish it is possible.
Solid hardwood is more expensive than engineered flooring.Despite the fact solid wood has more actual wood in it, it typically is less expensive than quality engineered flooring. This is because the manufacturing process involved in producing good quality engineered flooring is more labor intensive and therefore more expensive.
When it comes to engineered hardwood it really isn't a case of preferences but rather function and location. In order to make a fully informed choice about which option to select, solid or engineered, review the pros and cons of each and then contact a knowledgeable professional to assist you in making your decision.
Ralph's is proud to provide both solid hardwood and engineered floor options for our customers.
Years ago you installed hardwood floors. They were stunning and added visual appeal to your home. For years you have lived on them and loved them! The ease of cleaning left you with enough extra time to actually put your feet up once in a while and actually enjoy the beauty of the wood.
As a family lives on any flooring surface, that surface will begin to show wear. The beauty of hardwood is that when the time comes to do something about the wear, replacement is not necessary. Your floor may be worn, but it is far from worn out. Some floors may even begin to look dated, and the same is true with wood. Again, the beauty of wood is that through special techniques and stains, we can "update" an existing floor. Homeowners who cherish their finished wood floors should be prepared to restore them when it becomes necessary.
So, how do you know when it is time to refinish?
1. The floors have begun to look dull and worn and just don't have the "life" they once had.
As you live on your floors they will eventually become worn and scratched. You may not pay much attention to the wear, and as you see your floors every day, the change doesn’t seem dramatic. But then, one day you walk into a friend’s home with freshly finished wood flooring—or you move a rug or bed and see what your floors looked like when they were new—and the difference between what they were and what they have become becomes painfully obvious.
Refinishing your wood floors allows you to recapture their original brilliance, thereby renewing the appearance and atmosphere of your home. Take a good look at your floors and then visit a hardwood floor showroom—if your floors don’t measure up to the beauty of what you see there, refinishing can remedy that.
2. You are ready for a change.
One fact of life is that our tastes contiually change and our home tends to change with them. New furniture or a whole new decorating scheme may have you looking at your floors, wondering if there isn't something you could do to update their look as well. It could be something as simple as changing the color or implementing techniques designed to minimize the grain. Did you know a hickory floor could look like this? Smoldering Hickory Or an oak floor like this? The Black Creek
If your hardwood flooring professional tells you they can't stain hard-to-stain woods such as maple, cherry, birch, hickory, or pine, you’re dealing with the wrong company. Though these woods are difficult to stain, it can be done with a little scientific know-how and a lot of experience.
3. Your floor doesn’t just look faded—it’s an eyesore.
Accidents are a part of life and over time, water stains, deep scratches, gouges, and grooves can happen.
If your flooring has unsightly damage beyond mild scratching, not to worry, it does not have to be replaced. Sanding the floor down to bare wood and applying more finish may be all that is needed. If the damage is severe, or perhaps you have moved a wall or two and some patching needs to be done, the floor can still look great!
When considering a sanding project, insist on a company that uses the best dust evacuation system available and make sure the unit operates outside the home. Otherwise, you’re in for a mess!
Learn more about Refinishing Services from Ralph's
If you’re getting ready to build or renovate a home, you may have a “floor of your dreams” in mind. Chances are you’re envisioning beautiful hardwood floors.
There are wide choices available. From rustic to elegant, contemporary to exotic—whatever your taste. Chose from a multitude of species, sizes, grades, surfaces, colors, and finishes.
If you’re like most people, your dream may be a bit fuzzy. You have a sense of what you want, but you may need help honing in on that perfect floor.
Make Yourself at Home in the Showroom
It’s good to look at magazines, the internet, and other people’s floors to come up with an idea of the finished wood floors you want. But once you have arrived at a general preference, it’s time to visit the showroom of an experienced installer.
If you find that the flooring professional isn’t ready to work with you as a consultant, you’re in the wrong place. You should expect them to be as eager as you are to find just the right floor for you. They should be able and willing to go over the pros and cons of every choice. They should listen to your needs, and then show you options to fulfill those needs. They may have already designed a hardwood floor that perfectly fits your vision.
Your hardwood floor professional should be very conscious of what you can afford, helping you find creative ways to get the finished wood flooring you want within your budget. The entire process should be a collaborative—not a pushy sales job. There should be no rush; you shouldn’t even consider buying until you find the ideal floor that fits your taste and budget.
Choose The Right Floor
One caveat regarding budgeting: When considering cost, think about whether your budget is driving your choice in hardwood flooring to the point where you really aren't getting what you want. Will you become unhappy with them and want to replace them? If so, consider that cost when figuring your budget now. Looking down the road may lead you to realize that your most cost-effective decision is to invest a little more now and get the floors you really want.
This decision, like all the others regarding your finished wood floors, should be made in consultation with a hardwood floor professional you trust.
We have the good fortune at Ralph’s Hardwoods to be located in Wisconsin. Nowhere else in the country will you find better material for finished wood flooring than Wisconsin hardwood. There are several reasons why this is so:
Wisconsin hardwood, as well as hardwood from other upper Midwestern states, is harder and more stable than hardwood from regions to the south. For example, northern oak is about 20 percent harder and 30 percent more stable than southern oak. This means less dending, gapping, and buckling and a floor that generally requires less maintenance. All things being equal, northern harwood will require resanding much further down the road, saving you money in the long run.
Wisconsin hardwoods also have a significantly different appearance from southern oak. Preferred wood characteristics are a matter of individual taste, but for many of our customers, Wisconsin hardwoods have just the look they’re after.
Obviously, wood from Wisconsin doesn’t have to be transported far to get to us, thereby reducing shipping costs and the impact on our environment. Wisconsin hardwood is not only a highly durable and strikingly attractive choice, it’s also a great value.
There’s also the appeal of choosing wood floors that reflect the natural beauty of the region where you live. Many Wisconsin homeowners take pride in having finished wood flooring produced from their own state’s forests. At Ralph’s, we understand and share that pride, so we’re always delighted when a customer selects Wisconsin hardwoods for their custom wood flooring.
If you’re shopping for wood floors, strongly consider Wisconsin hardwood—its reputation for satisfying homeowners is well deserved.
Last week I had the pleasure of visiting the home of Pat and Rhonda, who are recent customers of Ralph’s Hardwood Floors. I stopped by to shoot a few photos of their beautiful new hardwood floors and talk to them about their experience with our company. I was also happy to be able to meet "the boys," a pair of friendly, energetic Labradors.
I worked with Pat and Rhonda in the showroom, on and off, for over a year. Like most of our customers, they came in with a general idea of how they wanted their finished wood flooring to look but needed some suggestions. They were looking for "just the right floor" but hadn’t discovered it yet.
Rhonda saw a large sample of Asian walnut and fell in love. This was not surprising—that species gets a lot of ooohs and ahhhs in our home show booth.
After a year of deliberating between a less-expensive floor and the floor they loved, Pat and Rhonda decided to move forward with their dream floor. Knowing they were planning on being in their current home for a long time, I was extremely glad they chose this floor and didn't settle for something less than what they really wanted. All too often, I see customers make the mistake of settling for wood floors that they don't truly love. Not only do they deprive themselves of enjoying the floor of their dreams, they usually end up spending more in the long run when they finally upgrade to what they’ve desired all along.
While at their home, Rhonda and I talked about the installation and sanding crews. She was so impressed with Mike and how meticulous he was about every little detail. We aren’t satisfied unless our customers are satisfied, so I was delighted to hear this.
Isn't this a stunning floor?
Gary the good nephew.
Recently a customer of ours, Gary, stopped by Ralph's with his elderly aunt Marian, a sweet and very spry woman. They were looking for a hardwood floor for her condominium and although Marian had been shopping around she had not been able to find something she liked that fit her budget. When Gary heard that Marian was looking for a hardwood floor, he suggested he bring her to our showroom.
Getting to know Marian.
We spent quite a bit of time talking with them about her lifestyle, which was very quiet, and the style of her home, her likes, dislikes, etc. It was decided that before we proceeded, a visit to her home would be in order. With a site visit we could determine all of the details that would need attention and better determine what flooring material would best fit her style and budget.
Shortly after, Paul visited her home and took an immediate liking to her. They shared some stories and Paul got a real sense of not only how Marian lived but who she was.
The right floor is one you love...and can afford.
When Marian made her next visit to the showroom, we were able to show her some custom samples that we felt were a good fit for her. Marian agreed they looked good and so we went out to her house to take a look at the samples right in her home. After much deliberation, Marian decided on her favorite and expressed how happy she was that she didn’t have to settle for something less than what she really wanted.
We got to work installing her new floor and after the project was finished, Marian called to thank me for helping her select the floor. She was so pleased with how beautiful it made her home but that there were a couple of dull spots that were bothering her and wondered if we could send someone out to take a look. We inspected the areas she was concerned about and had them fixed up for her.
Here is a picture of Marian's floor.
Working at Ralph's is more than just a job.
Working with customers like Marian is one of the reasons I love working for this company. To be part of a project that means so much to someone makes my job very fulfilling. She even called me a few weeks ago to tell me she was the proud great grandmother of a new set of twin babies, and I couldn’t have been more thrilled for her. I would like to thank Marian for her business, and for all the kind words she has said about everyone in this company. It means the world to all of us.
Here is a picture of Marian and me. (Doesn't her floor look great!)
While driving home the other day, I saw the marquis at Today's Furniture Advantage and was amazed and thrilled to see it was congratulating Jamie Valeri as Mrs. Wisconsin. We are proud to have the Valeri family as customers and I wondered if it could be the same. Sure enough it was and on April 6th Jamie was crowned Mrs. Wisconsin.
The Mrs. Wisconsin United States Pageant recognizes married women for their ability to integrate intellect and beauty.
Picture from Mrs Wisconsin Pageant
I had the pleasure of meeting Jamie in our showroom recently and she is as beautiful in person as she is in her photos. Warmest congratulations goes out to Jamie Valeri and her family and we wish her the best of luck as she heads to Las Vegas in July to compete in the finals!
See Jamie and Her Family Here
Congratulations to Susan Beaver, winner of our recent iPad promotion. Susan visited our booth at the Green Bay BCHBA Expo in January and received an entry form for our draw. We are so pleased Susan visited our website and entered.
As a hardwood floor company, we meet people everyday who are very excited about getting a hardwood floor but Susan was especially excited. In fact, she was so excited that within minutes of receiving her winner notification email she call us to arrange pick up.
I really enjoy our contests and it always feels great to give someone a great prize. The best part is I am going to do it again. Our next promotion is coming up in May and so be sure to keep your eyes open for it.
If you received an entry form for our Kindle Fire contest, make sure you enter it soon. You won't want to miss the chance to be just like Susan - a winner.
Thanks again to Susan for participating in our contest.
...in a home in Wisconsin? Ok so maybe it isn't the best start for a joke but the real story is worth hearing.
A few years ago a couple came to our showroom looking for a specific hardwood floor for their new home. They were working with an interior designer who was helping them create a look, that while very unique, was perfectly suited to this couple.
Now in most cases this wouldn't be unusual as many customers come to us looking for a specific or unique floor. In this case however, the couple was looking to create lower level entertaining area that looked and felt like an old English pub. They loved the atmosphere of pubs and their favorite restaurant also had a very authentic “old” feel to it.
Now I have never been to England or in a real English pub and so off I went to do a little research. I visited the the National Wood Flooring Convention and I saw a lot of really cool floors but realized what I really needed to do was visit one of the sources of the original inspiration for the look the homeowners dreamed about.
As I descended the stairs into the restaurant's cellar-like main room, I began to understand the effect the homeowner and designer wanted to re-create - charming, lived in but not worn out and above all else, comfortable. The customer’s vision was starting to implant itself in my mind and I knew how the right hardwood floor would be essential.
We eventually settled on a reclaimed hardwood floor that achieved the level of comfort, hospitality and enjoyment they were seeking. Looking back on the overall experience and seeing the finished product, I realize how we grow as a hardwood floor company each time we get the opportunity to help a homeowner find that perfect look. In the end projects like this are as much a journey for us as they are for the homeowner.
Here is the finished product, let me know what you think.