Ralph's Blog

What Matters Most When Selecting Customized Hardwood Flooring?

Posted on Thu, Feb 21, 2019 @ 07:02 AM

Visiting a high-quality hardwood floor company's showroom is the way to find what you want.

New hardwood flooring is a thing of beauty, and even more so when it fits with the look and feel of your interior design and existing decor. For homeowners who understand the importance of matching hardwood floors to a particular style that fulfills their vision, customized hardwood flooring is often the best choice.

Appearance vs. Your Needs

Many homeowners stop looking when they find hardwood flooring that has the appearance they like. That decision is perfectly valid if the flooring also happens to be the right fit for their lifestyle.

However, there are cases when it isn’t the right fit. For example, even though you’ve fallen in love with the look of a certain wood species, if it’s a relatively soft wood, it might be a better option to try a harder, more durable type of wood that can be customized to create the look you want.

If you have children or pets (or both), there will likely be plenty of foot traffic that a softer hardwood floor might not be able to withstand very well.  A flooring professional will know what to recommend to you, based on the expected amount of activity the flooring will experience.

One option to conceal any future dents or scratches is a hand-scraped or wire-brushed floor. If you are not entrenched to a smooth finish, these rustically textured floors can be an excellent selection.

Customizing to Your Needs

Fortunately, you have many options when it comes to the appearance of your floor. Staining and finishing methods allow for a high level of customization. You can seamlessly match your floors to your interior design—getting both the look you want and a floor suitable to your lifestyle.

You can have a floor that you’ll be happy with for many years to come!

It’s our mission to provide only the best quality flooring for our customers, and we take great care in helping you pick what is right for you. We’re knowledgeable, experienced specialists who can walk you through the process of choosing customized flooring. Visit our showroom to see what we can offer.

Tags: hardwood floor options, hardwood floors and interior design, picking the right floor for your lifestyle, custom hardwood flooring

Do Hardwood Floors Make a Home More Valuable?

Posted on Sat, Feb 16, 2019 @ 08:02 AM

Most home buyers love to see hardwood floors in a home they're considering.

I’m often asked, “How much will hardwood flooring add to the value of my home?”

My answer is, “There are too many variables to know for sure.”

When home buyers are deciding how much they’re willing to pay, they’re considering so many things that it’s impossible to isolate the impact of the hardwood flooring. I’ve seen estimates that hardwood floors can increase the sales price by as much as 2.5%, but any estimate is just a guess.

However, I can say this with certainty: If you talk to Realtors, most of them will tell you that hardwood floors help a lot when selling a home.

Pushing up the sales price is just one aspect of that. From what I’ve seen, probably the biggest advantage is that hardwood floors help homes sell faster.

Home buyers have come to expect hardwood flooring in homes. Carpeting is a turn-off for many buyers, particularly younger ones. To be move-in ready, they want hardwood floors that don’t need refinishing.

Beautiful, immaculate hardwood floors also make prospective buyers say “Wow!” The floors set a positive tone for their whole impression of the home.

For these reasons, if a seller’s hardwood floors don’t look fresh, Realtors suggest refinishing (and re-sanding if necessary).

If there’s carpeting in a home, with hardwood flooring underneath, tearing out the carpet and restoring the floor is also a smart move. And even if there’s only sub-flooring underneath the carpeting, installing new hardwood floors might make sense in some markets and price ranges.

I’m proud to say that one piece of anecdotal evidence I have about the value of hardwood floors is the fact that a Realtor once included “Hardwood floors by Ralph’s” in a home’s description for the Multiple Listing Services (MLS).

So, while I can’t put an exact number on how much value hardwood floors add to a home when it’s sold, I can say that hardwood floors often increase the sales price and usually help a home sell faster, which typically is financially advantageous.

But I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that the greatest value of hardwood floors is the enjoyment they bring while you’re living in your home. If you’re ready to sell immediately, then it’s a non-issue, but if you’re looking at future financial benefits as a justification for the cost of hardwood floors, don’t forget to factor in their value to you now.

Image courtesy of American Advisors Group, Creative Commons

Tags: remodeling, why choose hardwood floors?, restoring hardwood floors

Why Choose Engineered Hardwood Flooring?

Posted on Thu, Feb 14, 2019 @ 07:02 AM

The best engineered hardwood flooring looks beautiful and performs great.

Hardwood flooring is a popular choice among homeowners because of its longevity and unique, beautiful appearance. But in the past, homeowners who wanted hardwood floors in their homes had only one good option: solid plank flooring.

Solid plank was costly, yet there were no decent alternatives. Engineered hardwood flooring, in most cases, didn’t have the necessary quality, appearance, and longevity to replace it.

This is no longer the case. Engineered hardwood has become a viable alternative to solid planks.

What Is Engineered Flooring?

The difference between engineered and solid plank hardwood flooring is in the composition. As its name suggests, solid plank hardwood consists of a single piece of timber. Engineered hardwood flooring is made of less-expensive layers of wood topped with a layer of hardwood.

A main benefit of engineered hardwood flooring is stability in high-moisture conditions. The layers of wood below the surface layer run in opposing directions, which makes engineered hardwood more stable than solid planks. That’s why it’s ideal for installing over a concrete slab, in below-ground rooms, and over radiant heating systems.

Engineered hardwood flooring of the past had many disadvantages, however. The top layer was usually made too thin, so you could not sand it more than once, if even that. What’s more, if the veneer was rotary-peeled, it often didn’t have the appearance of solid plank hardwood.

The Quality Engineered Hardwood Flooring of Today

Engineered hardwood flooring isn’t only for high-moisture conditions anymore. With today’s quality products, the top layer is thick enough to be sanded and refinished, which significantly increases the longevity of the flooring.

The sawn-cut veneer used now can be much thicker than the 3 mm that sliced veneer and rotary-peeled veneer are typically limited to. Additionally, sawn-cut veneer is cut in the same way as solid plank flooring, so it looks as good as the solid plank hardwood flooring.

Is Engineered Hardwood Flooring Replacing Solid Plank Hardwood Flooring?

A wide variety of prefinished styles are available as engineered hardwood flooring, or you can have the engineered flooring site-finished. So you can create custom floors the same as you would with solid plank flooring. But this doesn’t mean that engineered flooring will replace solid plank flooring — it’s merely a matter of preference. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages.

Talk to a hardwood specialist to decide what would be the best option for your home and tastes. At Ralph’s, we’re proud to offer both solid plank and engineered hardwood flooring, and we’ll be happy to help you decide on the right choice for you. Visit our showroom to see what we can offer!

Photo Courtesy of Boa-Franc,Creative Commons.

Tags: hardwood floor options, engineered hardwood flooring

The Advantages of Site-Finished Hardwood Floors

Posted on Fri, Feb 08, 2019 @ 08:02 AM

Site-finished hardwood flooring is ideal for homeowners with homeowners looking for a specific look.

Choosing to install hardwood floors is only the beginning of the decision-making process when it comes to flooring. There’s a multitude of other decisions you have to make, regarding the type of hardwood, species, grain, color, and finish—all of which impact the final look of your new flooring.

One of the most important decisions is the one between site-finished and prefinished hardwood floors. Both have their advantages. Like any other decision, what you choose will depend on your budget and the factors that are most important to you. Let’s take a look at the advantages of site-finished hardwood floors.

More Options

If customization is significant to you, site-finished hardwood floor might be the better option. One of the main benefits of site-finished floors is that they can be made precisely to your preferences. When it comes to creating the right stain and sheen, a skilled artisan can do it on site. Site-finished flooring appeals to homeowners who have a specific design idea and feel that prefinished options would be too limiting.

Easier to Match With Existing Floors

If you’re looking to match your new flooring with existing floors or weave it into a room, you may have to invest in site-finished flooring, which can be matched with your existing floors on the spot.

With prefinished floors, you may not be able to find the exact type of stain and finish you want. Even with the same product that you purchased before, there could be slight variations in the color between different batches of prefinished flooring.

Ultimately, what you choose will depend on your preferences. Prefinished floors have improved in quality and can be the perfect choice for many homeowners. However, with site-finished floors coming from a high-quality installer like Ralph’s, you’ll be getting the benefits that prefinished floors don’t possess. Visit our showroom to see what we can do for you.

Tags: hardwood floor options, hardwood floors and interior design, finishes, stains & textures, custom hardwood flooring

Gray Hardwood Flooring Remains Popular

Posted on Thu, Jan 31, 2019 @ 15:01 PM

Gray hardwood flooring looks great with modern interior design styles.

Homeowners who look at interior design trends for inspiration when remodeling their home often end up choosing to follow a few.

Of course, no one wants to incorporate a trend that will be overused and fall from grace as soon as designers stop creating hype around it. When choosing, tread carefully and go with something you know you’ll like even years in the future.

When it comes to hardwood flooring trends, a popular option—gray hardwood flooring—isn’t showing any signs of slowing down, and lighter gray floors, almost tan in color, are now leading the way. Once you see how gray hardwood flooring looks and how versatile it is, you might fall in love with it, too. Let’s have a closer look at this trend to understand why it’s so popular.

It's a Neutral Tone

Even though a lot depends on the finish and type of hardwood, most hardwood options are warm-toned, which can limit the color palette you can use for each room. However, opting for gray hardwood flooring means you have a neutral tone to work with—opening up the possibilities and complementing multiple styles of design, including  both warm and cool color palettes.

For a gray color with a brown undertone, hickory is a great choice, as you can combine it with almost any style.

It Looks Great in Modern Homes

Gray is a favorite color in modern design and a staple of the color palette that’s used often in modern homes. Being able to pair the color of hardwood floors with other elements in a room can create a great design effect and truly tie everything together. Cool-toned modern designs benefit from gray hardwood floors, although it’s always possible to add some warmth to the design if that’s what you prefer.

It's Unexpected and Unique

Despite its popularity, gray hardwood floors are still a rare sight, in the sense that people don’t expect hardwood to be gray. What’s more, a gray finish enhances the grain of the wood and makes it more visible, providing a beautiful and unique effect that people will undoubtedly notice and compliment.

You Can Go Light or Dark

In the eternal debate of light vs. dark flooring, gray hardwood floors can join either side. With a light gray floor, you’ll benefit from making the room appear more prominent and brighter, as well as ensure that dust and pet hair are less visible. However, for a more dramatic effect, you could go with dark gray. It might take a little more upkeep to keep clean, but it certainly looks impressive.

Gray hardwood flooring isn’t going out of fashion any time soon considering its versatility and unique appeal. If you’re intrigued, visit our showroom. We might have the perfect gray hardwood floor for you!

Tags: hardwood floor options, hardwood floor trends, hardwood floors and interior design, hardwood floor colors

“If ... Then ... Else” Until the Hardwood Floors of Your Dreams

Posted on Sat, Jan 26, 2019 @ 08:01 AM

What does computer logic have to do with hardwood floors? More than you might think.

When I went to college, I decided to major in computer science. I had been working with my father at Ralph’s since I was a young boy, but I didn’t think hardwood flooring was the career for me. And I was pretty interested in computers.

It didn’t take me long to switch my major to business. But with an emphasis in management of information systems (MIS), I kept learning about computers.

Once I graduated, I was able to combine my business and computer knowledge to find computer-related jobs in business settings for a few years. But I soon felt the call of hardwood floors and went back to work with Ralph’s, full-time, taking it over from my Dad.

I’ve never stopped liking computers, though, and sometimes I think of providing customers with their ideal hardwood floors as similar to programming a computer.

I don’t mean it’s impersonal in the way a computer is. What I’m talking about is “conditional” programming, also known as “if, then, else” programming. It’s basic logic that says that if one thing is true (the “if’), then there are two options: to select the first possibility presented (“then”) or to look for other possibilities (“else.”)

If “then” happens, no other choices need to be made (the “end.”) But If it’s “else,” then the process of “if, then, else” starts over again and continues until all the necessary choices have been made.

That’s the way we work with our customers when they visit our showroom looking to find the hardwood floors of their dreams.

The “if” is your vision—the true look, feel, and performance that will make you happy.  The “then” happens when we’re able to give you a first choice that matches what’s in your heart. If it’s “else” then we move past the first option and keep giving you choices until you’ve chosen, the hardwood floor characteristics that are just right for you.

There are many hardwood floor options—site-finished or prefinished, solid plank or engineered, type of species, color, texture, and more—and we’ll gladly and patiently repeat the “if, then, else” process for you until you’re more-than-satisfied with the selections you’ve made.

Of course, choosing among hardwood floor options is a much different proposition than choosing between 1’s and 0’s when writing computer code.  But the principle is the same—keep drilling down and making choices until the desired result is found.

To see what I mean, I invite you to give us a visit. We’ll learn your “if,” listen to your “then,” and continue with your “else” for as long as you need until your hardwood floor decision-making is at an end you’re thrilled about.

Tags: custom hardwood flooring, about Ralph's, stories, Ralph's Hardwood

Each Hardwood Floor Feels Different

Posted on Fri, Jan 25, 2019 @ 15:01 PM

Picking the right floor for your lifestyle and tastes is very important process a top hardwood floor company can help you navigate.

One of the best things about hardwood floors is their versatility. Whatever the look or feel you want to accomplish in your home design, the odds are that there’s a perfect hardwood floor option to complement it. Because many different factors affect the final look of the area, each hardwood floor feels different.

But why is it so important to choose the right flooring, from a design standpoint? As the base of each room, flooring is one of the design essentials that you can’t overlook. In most cases, you’ll fit it into your basic design idea and model everything else around it. To make the right choice for your design, you should be aware of the factors that affect the feel of each hardwood floor.

What Affects the Appearance of Hardwood Floors?

There’s a multitude of wood species, types of finish, and other factors that play a crucial role in determining what the final product looks and feels like.

Grain can be more or less prominent. Texture can be added by hand scraping, wire brushing, or hand distressing floors. The natural color and sheen of the hardwood can be further enhanced or changed by different stains and finishes. It’s possible to create any feel for a hardwood floor and the room it’s in.

How Different Floors Can Complement a Design

You can create a unique feel for each room design with different types of hardwood floors. A traditional, well-lived-in look will incorporate a hardwood floor with prominent grain and other “imperfections” that provide the necessary character and charm. On the other hand, in a modern design, you might want to go with a dark, smooth, and high-gloss hardwood floor instead.

While there are specific design rules to adhere to depending on the look you want to accomplish, the majority of the design will be up to your preferences. Having plenty of options will help you decide what kind of look is right for your home.

Ralph’s Floors

Here at Ralph’s, our extensive experience has taught us how to achieve the desired mood and feel for a room. We recommend visiting our showroom to find the floor that’s perfect for you.

Tags: hardwood floors and interior design, picking the right floor for your lifestyle, hardwood floor options

The Artist’s Eye of a Hardwood Floor Installer

Posted on Sat, Jan 05, 2019 @ 08:01 AM

artist's eye2

It was the end of the day for our crew, and it could have been the end of the entire hardwood floor installation. The floor seemed done.

But our installer in charge of the job looked at that floor like an artist combing over a painting before declaring it completed. When he discovered an imperfection, he told the homeowner that he and his crew would be back the very next day to fix it.

It wasn’t an obvious flaw, except to a trained eye. The homeowners might never have noticed it until we were long gone and paid—or never.

But our installer couldn’t live with it.

He was probably thinking about how it’s good business to give customers the best floor possible. But I know there was more to it than that. He also was unwilling to declare a job done until it totally fulfilled his vision of how a beautiful floor should look.

All our installers are like that. When a Ralph’s  installer works a job, the result is their responsibility. We give them the authority to run the job as they see fit. It’s their “baby,” and they look at it with an artist’s eye.

Good hardwood floor installers must be able to envision—and deeply care about—how a hardwood floor should look (always taking into account the customer’s tastes.) A good installer uses listening, judgment, skill, and an artist’s instinct to give customers what they want.

Our installers  meet with your salesperson before and during your project to understand everything that’s important to you in terms of appearance, and scheduling.

And while you don’t need to be in your home if you don’t want to be, our installers will gladly speak with you about anything on your mind if you are. They’ll ask the right questions to help them understand what you desire, and they’ll use their experience and knowledge to answer your questions.

They welcome the opportunity to make you happy. And it makes them happy to install a gorgeous floor that meets their high standards.

They’re ready to put their talents to work for you.

To begin a discussion with us about your hardwood floor project and how our team will go the extra mile for you, visit our showroom or give us a call at 920.984.3383 or 800.354.9902.

Image courtesy of Neil Tackaberry, Creative Commons.

Tags: custom hardwood flooring, about Ralph's, installation, Ralph's Hardwood

The Importance of Hardness in Hardwood Floors

Posted on Thu, Dec 27, 2018 @ 14:12 PM

Young, rowdy children are a good reason to pay attention to the hardwood floor hardness on the Janka scale.

Durability is one of the reasons many people choose hardwood flooring for their home. Hardwood floors are known for their ability to resist wear and tear.

But not all hardwood floors are the same. Some species of wood are harder than others, meaning they’re more durable (i.e. less likely to dent).

Hardness is determined by the density of the wood. This is measured using the Janka scale. A species’ Janka rating is determined by how much force is needed to embed a .444-inch steel ball in the wood to half the ball’s diameter. The denser the wood, the more force will be needed.

When choosing a species of wood for your hardwood flooring, hardness might be important, or it may not matter much to you.

Hardness is significant if you expect the floor to experience a lot of activity, such as entertaining or children playing. The more activity in the room, the more likely something will be dropped on it.

Hardness is also a relevant consideration if the floor is in a high-traffic area, such as a kitchen or hallway.

Hardness becomes relatively unimportant in rooms that won’t see a lot of activity or if you don’t mind dents. Some people are very bothered by dents, but some welcome them as a sign of character. Some people actually select “distressed” flooring with dents in it because they want a rustic look.

The hardness of the wood is not the only factor in a hardwood floor’s durability.  The way the wood is cut and the finish used are also factors. But when choosing a species, we suggest paying close attention to hardness if you expect your flooring to be heavily used or you are concerned about dents.

We’re glad to provide our expert advice on how important wood hardness is in your project. And we can help you select the flooring with the right hardness for you. Stop by our showroom any time during business hours to consult with one of our hardwood flooring professionals.

Tags: picking the right floor for your lifestyle, caring for your hardwood floors, about hardwood floors

A Card From Christmas Past

Posted on Sat, Dec 22, 2018 @ 08:12 AM

 

Ralph's Hardwood Floors  Christmas

At our company Christmas party in 2000, a lot of babies and toddlers were around, and three women were pregnant.

All this new life made me happy.  Each child was a welcome and cherished member of the Ralph’s family. My own wonderful daughter, Kayla (born July 2000) was in the crowd, so I identified with every young family there. It felt good that Ralph’s was a part of our budding lives.

We got the idea at the party that the young ones and the pregnant mothers should grace the front of our company Christmas card (shown above). So that’s what we did, taking the photo on the spot. It’s now one of my favorites among our annual Christmas cards.

The young kids in this photo (and those soon to come) are now young adults or verging on it. But I have that “I knew you when you were a little itty-bitty thing” with them all.  It’s nice.

Seven of the 10 kids in this photo (including the soon-to-be born) have a parent who still works at Ralph’s, and several of these kids worked for us at one point or another. That’s another thing that makes me happy about this card. I’m not just paying lip service when I say, “the Ralph’s family.” I want Ralph’s to be a place where we don’t just work with each other; we care for each other. A place where we stick together. This card is  a great snapshot of that.

We have what, in sports, is known as team chemistry. That pays off for our customers because our team works hard together to get the win for you—a beautiful, artisan, fits-your-taste floor that is a showcase of your home.

This chemistry and comradery are also important to us because, well, who wants to work with people they don’t like or respect? Not me.

Merry Christmas to everyone in the picture and to everyone associated with it. Merry Christmas to anyone we’ve ever worked for or with. Merry Christmas to you!

May all your hardwood dreams be good.

Tags: stories, Christmas hardwood, Ralph's Hardwood, Ralph's Christmas, Christmas card stories

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