Ralph's Blog

When to refinish your hardwood floor.

Posted on Mon, Jul 23, 2012 @ 10:07 AM

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! 

Before Repair and RefinishingAfter Hardwood Repair Refinishing

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 

Request an in-home consultation



Tags: restoring hardwood floors, dustless sanding, remodeling

5 Ways to Give Your Finished Wood Floors Extra Character

Posted on Wed, Jul 18, 2012 @ 13:07 PM

If you’re preparing to install or refinish hardwood floors, you’re already taking a major step to beautify your home.

Custom Ship Sea Serpeant and Mermaid Border Resized

But why stop there? When deciding on finished wood flooring for your home, why not make it really special? Think about some of these suggestions.

1.    Consider an exotic wood.

Increase the uniqueness of your floors by choosing a species that will leave a lasting impression. With a wide variety of color and grain, exotic woods create many decorating possibilities, such as complementing an heirloom piece of furniture or a special architectural element present in your home. 

2.    Explore hardwood floor collections designed to create an atmosphere that perfectly fits your home.

The best hardwood floor professionals povide hardwood floor collections developed through years of creating unique hardwood floors for their customers. Experience and ingenuity are what sets a great company apart from the rest. From rugged and rustic to sleek and contemporary, a variety of collections have been developed, and chances are there is one to suit to your taste. If not, a great custom look could be created just for you. 

3.    Add borders

Hardwood borders can be as simple as feature strips in doorways and archways, or extremely intricate custom designs framing an entire room. A vast array of hardwood border designs are available to complement your wood floors. Borders have even been used in conjunction with chair railings or as a backsplash to tie the room together and complete the look. 

4.    Add medallions

Adding a hardwood medallion to your wood floors is like putting your personal signature on it. It is the element that makes your floor uniquely yours. Companies such as Oshkosh Designs and Yarema Marquetry offer an extensive selection of designs. Some installation companies, such as Ralph's Hardwood Floors, also offer their own exclusive design accents. 

5.    Finish off with the “little touches.”

Giving your floors that perfectly finished look can be the difference between a good project and a great one. For example:

  • Custom staining shoe molding to match your existing trim can be used to cover that tiny gap between the floor and cabinets.
  • Flush mount wood vents, custom stained to match your floor, virtually “disappear”, creating an even and uninterrupted view of your beautiful floors.
  • Treads and risers perfectly matched to your floor create a beautiful touch. A quality hardwood floor company will offer this service. Tread covers are also available and can be custom stained to match your floor or prefinished. With this system you don’t have to disassemble your staircase.


Explore the many possibilities available to add that special touch to your finished hardwood floors. Use your imagination and let your hardwood floor professional help make your dream a reality.

Ralph's Essential Guide to Selecting the Perfect Hardwood Floor

Tags: hardwood floors & interior design, custom hardwood flooring

Take the Time to Get the Finished Wood Floors You Really Want

Posted on Wed, Jul 11, 2012 @ 11:07 AM

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.

Showroom for Website

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.

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

Flooring from Home: The Advantages of Wisconsin Hardwood

Posted on Sat, Jul 07, 2012 @ 11:07 AM

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.

DSC 0126

Less Transportation

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.

Local Character

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.

Tags: about hardwood floors, types of hardwood used in flooring, Wisconsin

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