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.
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.
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.
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.
Many people fall in love with dark hardwood colors. Rich, dark finished hardwood flooring can:
- Help create a classic, formal look.
- Make a room seem cozier.
- Be used to create a pleasing contrast with lighter colored furnishings, drapery, rugs, etc.
- Be paired with dark furnishings, drapery, rugs, etc. to unify a room.
If you’re considering dark finished hardwood flooring in your home, you can get it in three ways.
1. Natural color
Many woods are naturally dark, so you can simply select a dark-colored species, such as black walnut. A natural dark color is what many people are after when they install exotic wood floors, using woods such as Brazilian teak or Jarrah.
Stain allows you to choose from a wide variety of hardwood floors, and common hardwood choices such as oak flooring usually stains very easily.
There are some limitations based on the type of wood, but generally speaking you can stain floors as dark as you want, all the way up to practically black.
3. Stain accenting natural color
Working with a hardwood flooring specialists, you can enhance the color of natural woods with stain—not significantly altering the color, but adding warmth to its tone. Using stain to emphasize a natural color, many woods can be darkened in a way that brings out their natural beauty.
What About Dust, Dirt, and Scratches?
Dark hardwood flooring has a reputation for showing dust, dirt and scratches, and there’s truth in that perception. Compared to lighter colors, dark hardwood colors do contrast more with light-colored things that end up on the floor, making those things stand out, just as dirt is more obvious on a dark car than a light one.
With dust and dirt, there’s little that can be done other than to keep the floors swept or vacuumed regularly. You can minimize the look of scratching by choosing a grainier wood.
If you expect your floors to receive a lot of wear and tear—from children or pets, for example—you should be somewhat wary of dark hardwood colors.
Explore Your Options
If you think dark hardwood colors might be just the right fit for your taste and interior design goals, start investigating your choices by talking with a hardwood floor expert. You’ll learn what will work, how much it will cost, and what alternatives you have.
As a kid and a young man, I loved sports. I was on the basketball team in high school, and I played competitive softball for 25 years.
The competition was what drew me in. It was a thrill to have a game on the line. I loved to win, and I hated to lose—and that’s what drove me to always strive to become better.
As I got older, though, I started looking for a sport that was a little more relaxing. So, like many guys my age, I took up golf. Little did I know that while golf is definitely enjoyable, it’s not exactly “relaxing” for a competitive guy like me!
But it’s a different type of competition.
I’m no longer competing against somebody else. Now I’m playing against myself, always trying to better my score. That’s why golfing can be so frustrating—you can’t just say, “Well, the other team was better.” With recreational golf, you’ve got no one’s performance to consider except your own.
What I’ve discovered is that I like the pressure of competing against myself. It makes me focus on how I’m doing instead of how the other guy is doing. It’s no accident that top coaches will invariably say that it’s critical to keep their players focused on their own actions rather than being preoccupied with what the other team is doing.
It’s the Same in Business
When I took over Ralph’s Hardwood Flooring from my father, I was a pretty young man. I still had that love of “beating” somebody in a sport, and that carried over to how I thought about business. I wanted Ralph’s to “crush” the competition, and I always kept a very close eye on our competitors. I measured how well we were doing by how well they were doing.
But just as with sports, as I’ve matured my attitude toward business competition has changed. I’ve come to realize that measuring ourselves against the competition isn’t the best measurement.
Rather, we should measure ourselves against how well we’ve done in the past. The idea is to always get better because our “best before” is what we’re competing against now
What this means is continuous improvement. We’re never satisfied. We’re always doing all we possibly can to provide better products and services to our customers. In golf, the score is how many shots it takes to get the ball in the hole. For Ralph’s, the “score” is how satisfied our customers are.
Over the years, we’ve developed a reputation for high quality and have a long list of loyal customers, so constantly improving on what we do is a challenge. But it’s a challenge the competitor in me welcomes.
Photo courtesy of eMaringolo. Available under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.
You've done some researching on line and you have found all this discussion about wood grades and quite frankly you are now confused. Don't feel bad, the wood flooring industry has made it very confusing. Each manufacturer has come up with their own way to name the grades and in the mean time it has gotten confusing.
So, what is a grade?
In school, you get graded with A, B, C, D, and F's. Everyone knows that when you are graded in school, the higher the grade, the better you did. Is it logical to assume that the "higher" the grade of hardwood, the better the hardwood would be?
Actually, no. With hardwood flooring, grade is not a matter of quality—it’s a matter of uniformity. The higher the grade, the more uniform the floor will look and the less natural characteristics of the wood will appear.
So if you’re going for a formal, sleek appearance, a higher grade may be your best choice. But if you’re after a casual look—as many people are—then lower grades could work best for you.
First Grade or Clear Grade
The higher grade is cleaner and contemporary, without a lot of color variation and with longer boards than other grades. It has the occasional small black mineral streak.
Second Grade or Select Grade
This is the most popular grade because of its blend of color variation and mild character.
Third Grade or Common Grade
This grade allows color variation, smaller knots, mineral streaks, and shorter boards. It is a great value floors and creates a more-casual feel with the natural characteristics of wood coming through.
Character or Rustic
Milled for tight knots, mineral streaks, color variation, and longer boards, this grade is a perfect choice for lots of natural character.
Don't get confused or worried about the name of grade. Find a look that fits you and your lifestyle. The best way to see the different grades is a trip to our showroom where you can see large sections of floors in the different grades.
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 Hardwoods, we gladly source our materials locally, providing our customers with the wonderful hardwood that Wisconsin produces, at reasonable prices. 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 offers a beautiful blend of warm heartwood and creamy sapwood. Light stain tames the color variation, adding warmth to Maple’s overall appearance.
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.
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.
The abundant light tones of White Oak give a crisp, clean feel. It displays a combination of deep grayish-brown heartwood and creamy tones.
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 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.
Handpicked for its deep, rich auburn color and intriguing grain, Red Birch’s warm, cherry-like color creates a dramatic look.
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 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 that’s 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 seeking.
Finding a finish system that gives consistently beautiful results is a very valuable thing. Finding a company that can consistently apply that wonderful finish is priceless. Producing amazing results for nearly 50 years is a direct result of an outstanding finish system in the hands of highly-trained individuals.
As we evolved, we realized that one finish will never be right for everyone. The needs and desires of our clients are as varied as they can be. To some clients durability is most important, while vibrant color is what someone else is looking for. Let's not discount those desiring to leave a lighter carbon footprint. This is becoming increasingly important to many of our clients. Although one finish will never meet the needs of all of our clients, we feel confident we can help you choose the one that is just right for your home and family. Through thoughtful exploration, we can help you hone in on one that will fit your situation. A visit to our showroom is a great place to explore your options.
Did you know that simply living in a sandy area may be a significant factor in which finish you choose? Which finish works best on oak, stained maple, Brazilian cherry, or antique heart pine? Only years and years of experience can teach this.
The application of the right finish to achieve a specific look is very important, as is choosing a finish that will wear well. Other finishes we offer are polyurethane, water-base urethane, Moisture Cure, and a variety of oil finishes. We also offer many options for customers preferring low VOC finishes. Let us help you choose the right finish for your project and your family.