Ralph's Blog

An American, Englishman & Scotsman go into a bar...

Posted on Thu, Mar 29, 2012 @ 16:03 PM

...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. Reclaimed Hardwood Floors

Tags: stories, custom hardwood flooring, picking the right floor for your lifestyle

High traffic hardwood floors can be beautiful too.

Posted on Tue, Mar 20, 2012 @ 11:03 AM

You finally have made the decision to replace that old floor. The thing is the whole reason you are replacing it is because it looks so worn out from all the traffic it gets.

heavy traffic

Spills, dirty boots, the dog, the list just goes on and on.  Is there any way to get the beauty of hardwood but still be resistant to stains and scratches? The good news is that the answer is yes. Hardwood floors made with dense species and treated with the right finish will resist denting and still make a beautiful floor. 

The Janka Scale

When choosing a type of wood for your high traffic floor, it is important to choose one that matches your lifestyle. For some, dents in a floor give it personality.  However if you aren't a fan of character marks and have small children or pets, you may want to consider a harder wood. The harder the wood, the less chance of it being damaged from scratches, dents and nicks. The hardness of wood is measured by the Janka Scale. We won't spend too much time explaining it but generally it is a measure of species of wood's resistance to dings and dents.

The higher a species' Janka Hardness rates the more of a beating it can take. White pine for instance is a very soft wood with a Janka Hardness rating of 420 while Brazilian Teak is a very hard wood with a Hardness rating of 3540. Most of the exotic species are harder woods and hickory is the hardest domestic woods.  These woods will fit more active lifestyles.

Finish considerations - Durability and Appearance

Finish provides a protective coating against time and wear for your floor. Essentially floor finishes are mixes of different chemicals that affect your floor in various ways. For instance commercial grade finishes have more polymers (plastic) in the them to provide a high gloss. This makes floors very durable but will reduce the natural feel of the hardwood. 

In other finishes the chemical make-up may cause your floors color to change. This is great if you are planning for it but less desirable when you don't. Be sure to make sure you (or your professional floor re-finisher) knows how the finish will react with your floor. Some will amber over time and others will bleach the wood.

The bottom line is you don't need to sacrifice the beauty of hardwood just because you have a high traffic floor. Instead you can make a few easy choices that will ensure your new floor is as beautiful all the other floors in your home.

Picture courtesy of Chris Brown. Available under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.

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

Green Bay Spring Showcase and Valley Parade of Remodeled Homes

Posted on Fri, Mar 02, 2012 @ 14:03 PM

We have had a very busy couple of weeks here at Ralph's. Our crews have been busy with hardwood installation over the past couple of months to be ready for the upcoming Spring Showcase of Homes in Green Bay, as well as the Parade of Remodeled Homes in the Fox Valley. Stopping by these homes is a great way to see for yourself the beautiful custom hardwood sanding and finishing workmanship on display. It is also a great opportunity to meet with area builders and see the quality homes they have to offer. 

This weekend, in the Green Bay Spring Showcase of Homes you will find our floors in the Gmack (Kuyper Ln), C & C Custom Builders (Chase Trail), and Smart Custom Homes (Sunshine Road) entries.

Next weekend, in the Valley Parade of Remodeled Homes our workmanship can be viewed at all three PortSide entries (Silentwood Way, Valleywood Lane, and County Road O), and O’Brien Builders (Knollwood Lane). Also, stop by our booth at the Valley Home Builders Home Expo and say “hi.”Color Brilliance Dark Birch High Shot2 resized 600

Tags: Ralph's news & events

Wood is good according to renowned environmentalist - and we agree.

Posted on Fri, Mar 02, 2012 @ 11:03 AM

In this article in Hardwood Floors Magazine, internationally renowned ecologist and environmentalist Patrick Moore says we should embrace using wood instead of non-renewable materials such as steel, concrete and plastic.

eco friendly hardwood resized 600

As wood is a natural product, using it should be a common sense ecological choice but it isn't. Whether it is the reputation of the foresty industry or concerns over clear cutting, we regularly meet people who love the look and quality of hardwood floors but worry it is a non-ecological choice.

We don't want to suggest that all forestry practices are perfect or that using products other than wood is bad. Rather we just want to help educate people to the idea that hardwood is as eco-friendly, and potentially more so, than other floor options.

Solar factories have no carbon footprint

As Moore points out in his article, every substitute for wood products must be produced in factories but wood comes from forests which are effectively 'solar factories' that require no fossil fuels, only time, to produce. When you consider this, installing anything other than a wood floor means using a product that is almost is guaranteed to cause an increase in carbon dioxide emissions.

Trees can and do grow back

We don't support non-sustainable logging practices but as Moore suggests a lot of rhetoric is used to give the impression that logging is somehow different from other forms of forest disturbance such as fire, ice or volcanos. Moore even goes as far as to say, "Forests are just as capable of recovering from destruction by logging as they are from any other form of disturbance."

Natural, beautiful and eco-friendly

Hardwood floors come in a wide array of eco-specific options such as reclaimed timbers or specialty bamboo but all hardwood, whether it is Wisconsin Maple or American Cherry, are eco-friendly by definition. So embrace the natural beauty of hardwood and rest easy you are also being good to the earth.


Tags: why choose hardwood floors?, about hardwood floors

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