Ralph's Blog

Smooth Service Experience, Just Like A Well Greased Machine.

Posted on Sat, Aug 31, 2013 @ 08:08 AM

Greased BearingI recently needed to buy a grease gun for my lawnmower, which has five spots that need greasing. I didn’t want the bearing to tighten up, so I went to a big box store to buy a grease gun and grease.  

How complicated could that be?  

A lot more than I thought. One whole aisle was dedicated to grease and grease guns. I just wanted a section on the aisle labeled “for lawnmowers,” but it wasn’t that simple. And there was no one in sight to point me to what I needed.

I spent the next 30 minutes reading each of the tubes, trying to figure out what would work. All this for just five spots that only need to be greased a few times a year. 

Even after a half-hour of looking—with no offer of assistance—I couldn’t determine what I needed. So I tracked down a store employee for help. Guess what? He started looking at the tube labels, just as I had already done!

Finally, I guessed.  

That experience made me think about what we do at Ralph’s Hardwoods. There are more choices than ever when it comes to hardwood floors. Many homeowners who are considering buying hardwood flooring understandably feel like I did on the grease gun aisle—so many choices, but no good way to pick the right one.

But you don’t have to feel that way. When you come to Ralph’s for help with hardwood flooring, we don’t leave you “wandering the aisle.” We take the complication out of buying hardwood floors.

We will ask questions about your home and the appearance you’re looking for, so we can best help you get the floors you want. To ensure good performance from your floors, we’ll also ask important practical questions such as: “Do you have pets or small children?” and “What will the humidity conditions be like in the rooms where floors will be installed?”

We’ll understand your budget and use our expertise and creativity to help you find the floor you’re looking for within that budget.

Unlike I had to do in the big box store, at Ralph’s Hardwoods you won’t have to go looking for help, only to find that no one has any answers for you.

We’re eager to help—and all of our employees have the knowledge to help. Personalized service is the cornerstone of our business philosophy, and we hope you’ll let us demonstrate that to you.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard. Available under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.

Tags: custom hardwood flooring, about Ralph's

Just ask my Mom—timeless is good.

Posted on Sat, Aug 17, 2013 @ 07:08 AM

Back in 1970, my Mom got a new watch. When she saw it, she was in a good mood, shopping around town after a parade.

Timeless beautyShe liked how it looked, and the watch’s manufacturer, Wyler, had a reputation for quality, so on impulse she picked it up.

She still wears that watch to this day.

A couple of times, I gave her a new watch for Christmas, and the next time I’d see her, she would still have on the same old watch. She even had to have it repaired a few times—but she never wanted to replace it.

When I finally asked her, “Mom, why not wear a newer, more modern watch?” she told me the one she already has is just perfect for her. It fits her well and she likes how it feels. She also likes the fact that it’s a wind-up, so she doesn’t have to worry about batteries dying on her.

And the old Wyler has a timeless look, so she doesn’t feel out of style wearing it.

A lot of people—including me—feel the same way about hardwood floors. They last for decades—even centuries.  They have a “comfortable feel.” They don’t require much maintenance.  And they have a timeless beauty.

Hardwood flooring has been around for centuries, yet it’s still one of the trendiest flooring looks around—if not the trendiest.  In fact, “modern” types of flooring such as linoleum, laminate, and vinyl tile are often designed specifically to mimic the always-popular look of hardwood floors.

But these duplicate “hardwood floors” typically can’t match actual hardwood when it comes to durability, longevity, ease of maintenance, and long-term value for the money. And the duplicate that’s in style now may look dated in a few years, while actual hardwood flooring has long been proven not to fall out of favor.

The flooring of your home is a substantial investment, and it will go a long way toward creating your home’s character. Therefore, within your budget, your choice of flooring should be based on what appeals most to your personal style. But no matter what your taste, one thing to keep in mind—when it comes to money and appearance—is how well the flooring you choose will stand the test of time.

Just ask my Mom—timeless is good. 

Photo courtesy of jonboy mitchell. Available under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.

Tags: the value of hardwood floors, stories, why choose hardwood floors?

Domestic Species

Posted on Fri, Aug 09, 2013 @ 14:08 PM

Known for excellence, Wisconsin and the surrounding states produce some of the best hardwood flooring in the industry. This is the primary reason we choose to source our materials locally, because they are simply the best. Northern grown trees, in many cases, produce wood that is harder and more durable than those grown in the south. Beautiful hardwood floors can be achieved utilizing wood from forests in our own backyard.

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Red Oak


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White Oak


Stained Hickory



Stained Red Birch

Red Birch


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Natural Ash



Rustic Cherry


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

Exotic Hardwood Floors: Something Different for Every Taste

Posted on Wed, Aug 07, 2013 @ 11:08 AM

If you vision includes hardwood floors with a distinctive look, you may be interested in exotic species that come from places other than North America. At Ralph’s Hardwood Floors, we gladly source exotic hardwoods from across the globe for our clients who are looking for something with a little extra flare in their floors.












In some cases, exotic floors have that little something extra to complement a particular element of interior design, such as a distinctive piece of furniture or a windowed wall.

In addition to their unique character, some of the leading exotic woods are extremely hard compared to domestic species—making them more resistant to wear and tear.

Some of the best selling exotic species that we offer are:

  • Asian Walnut. Also known as Acacia, features a beautiful blend of colors and tones ranging from dark reddish brown to light creams. Beautiful and very durable.

  • Cumaru. Commonly known as Brazilian teak. Tough and dense wood with great color variation. Somewhat interlocked grain and a wavy coarse texture.

  • Spotted Gum. Varied colors...pale gray browns, soft creams, rich chocolate brown. Very durable with wavy grain, portraying an attractive fiddle-back effect.

  • Brazilian Walnut. Durable and pleasing to the eye. Heartwood ranges from light to dark olive brown, with contrasting cream, grey, and warm brown tones.

  • Bamboo. A renewable species, durable with a clean appearance. An alternative to traditional wood.

  • Santos Mahogany. Beautiful variations of deep reddish-browns, once aged, remain constant over time. Tight grain serves as an exquisite accent to the rich color with its fine, distinctive strokes.

  • Brazilian Cherry. Breathtaking reddish-brown heartwood lined by black bands. Floor darkens over time and is extremely durable.

  • Amendoim. Creamy-brown tones, beautiful luster, and wavy grain, combine to create visual warmth.

    View exotic gallery

Tags: hardwood floors & interior design, about hardwood floors, types of hardwood used in flooring

In business and golf - forget your opponents and play against par.

Posted on Sat, Aug 03, 2013 @ 08:08 AM

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.

golf holeThe 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.

Tags: stories, about Ralph's

Color Adds Personality to Hardwood Flooring

Posted on Fri, Aug 02, 2013 @ 09:08 AM

Color and personality seem to go together. A person’s favorite color often says a lot about them, and your choice of hardwood color will say a lot about the “feel” you want your home to have. 

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With custom hardwood floors, you can get about any color you want, so you can choose colors that appeal to you and convey your 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. Don't worry if you have a certain color in mind that you can’t find naturally, with our proven staining techniques your color choices are virtually unlimited.

At Ralph’s we use our exclusive staining and finishing process to help our clients achieve a wide range of looks, including beautiful deep dark colors on hard-to-stain woods like maple, hickory, and birch. If you prefer a lighter weathered look, no problem, that can also be done.

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

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