Ralph's Blog

Why People Love Hardwood Floors

Posted on Tue, Jan 21, 2014 @ 14:01 PM

Finished hardwood flooring keeps growing in popularity. An increasing number of homeowners are deciding that it provides more value and pleasure than other common flooring choices like carpeting and vinyl.

Ralph’s Hardwood Floors has been installing and restoring hardwood flooring for nearly 50 years, so we have a pretty good understanding why more and more people are choosing finished hardwood flooring. In our experience, it’s because of at least one—and many times all—of these four reasons.

Style

Whether it’s elegant or rustic or somewhere in between, finished hardwood flooring exudes stylishness. It’s one of the classiest choices you can make, right up there with other high-end options like natural stone or marble tile.

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And the variety of finished hardwood flooring is so great that it provides a perfect opportunity to express your unique personal taste and set the tone for your interior design.

When selecting hardwood flooring to make a stylistic statement, you have a rich palette to choose from. The variables that go into the final appearance include:

  • Wood species.
  • Color.
  • Texture.
  • Grain.
  • Grade.
  • Milling method.
  • Stain.
  • Finish.
  • Length.
  • Width.

Whatever style you go for as you make these choices, the result will almost certainly be stylish.

Character 

There’s just something about quality hardwood flooring that seems more authentic than most other flooring choices. Maybe it’s because hardwood flooring has been around so much longer than manufactured carpeting and vinyl. Or maybe it’s just something about wood itself. Whatever the reason, hardwood floors unmistakably impart a feeling of naturalness, genuineness, and tradition.

Although many people who love the character of hardwood flooring prefer a rustic look, that’s by no means the only option. Even when the hardwood is selected, stained, and finished for a pristine, smooth, and formal look, it still keeps its time-honored character.

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Value

Buying finished hardwood flooring can pay dividends when selling your home. Generally speaking, hardwood floors add to the resale value of homes. At the very least, they make homes more marketable, resulting in less time on the market. Often, hardwood floors can be the factor that makes a buyer select a home over others.

Durability

Finished hardwood flooring, like other hard-surface flooring, lasts a lot longer than carpeting, which usually needs to be replaced about every five years or so. When properly cared for, a hardwood floor can go twice as long before it even needs refinishing.

Perhaps because the recession slowed the housing market and homeowners began thinking about living in their homes longer, there seems to be a move toward more-durable, hard-surface flooring—and because of the beauty, character, and value of finished hardwood flooring, it’s the hard-surface option of choice.

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

When the weather outside is frightful…

Posted on Sat, Jan 18, 2014 @ 08:01 AM

Polar VortexI’ve lived in Wisconsin all my life, so cold, snowy weather is a normal part of my winters. I actually enjoy it, most of the time.

But there wasn’t much to like about the “polar vortex” week we went through at the beginning of January. There’s a nice, invigorating cold—and then there’s a cold that’ll make you miserable just going outside.

I didn’t need to check the Weather Channel to know this was a record-breaking cold snap—a real taste of what it would be like to live at the North Pole. It was a bit much, even for this seasoned Midwesterner!

Like most folks, my family and I were pretty much snowed in—who wanted to go out in that crazy arctic blast anyway?  So we did the only thing to do in a winter blizzard, we stayed warm and cozy at home.

Of course, it doesn’t take a record-breaking storm to drive people inside during the winter. Wisconsin winters are nothing to scoff at—our usual weather often makes it unpleasant and difficult to venture out. Maybe that’s why we always see an increase in the number of people visiting our showroom during the cold winter months of each new year.

Personally, I know when I’m going a bit stir crazy, I find myself paying more attention to our hardwood floors, which isn’t really surprising considering that hardwood floors are my business. But other people apparently do the same—and they decide it’s time for a change.

The holidays probably have something to do with it, as well. People may have traveled to other people’s homes and seen how lovely their floors looked, sparking the desire for beautiful floors of their own. Or they may have had guests in their home and felt self-conscious about the quality of their flooring, and so they decided it was time to replace or refinish it.

Whatever the reason they come, I welcome the opportunity to help visitors to our showroom achieve their vision.

The choices you make about new or refinished hardwood flooring will set the tone for the entire interior design of your home, so it’s important to get the right floors for the look you’re after—whether you’re trying to complement your existing décor or going for an entirely new style.

Fortunately, you can find hardwood floors to suit any taste. If you want to add formal elegance to your home, you can do it. If you want a rustic appearance, you can have it. Dark floors or light? Lots of grain or very little? A common domestic wood or an exotic wood from overseas? The choices are virtually endless.

If you’ve been stuck inside staring at the floor, get creative. Imagine your dream floors. We can help make them a reality and bring the warmth of hardwoods to your home.

We don’t know for certain when Old Man Winter might send another polar vortex our way, but the next time you and your family are snowed in, new hardwood floors will ease those winter blues.

Photo courtesy of GollyGforce - Living My Worst Nightmare. Available under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.

Tags: Wisconsin, remodeling

Buying New Floors? 6 Things to Look for in a Hardwood Floor Company

Posted on Wed, Jan 15, 2014 @ 09:01 AM

Having a great-looking hardwood floor installed involves two basic elements:

  • The materials used.
  • The skill of the installers.

Just like it takes a good cook to turn the ingredients in a recipe into a tasty meal, it takes expertise to turn hardwood flooring materials into a beautiful floor.

But how do you find the proficiency you need? Here are six things to look for.

1. Experience and a history of customer satisfaction.

Research the hardwood floor companies you’re considering. How long have they been in business? What’s their background? Do they have strong customer testimonials? Do they complete projects on time? Look at their social media pages. Enter their names into a search engine and see what turns up. You might find praise or disparagement, and you shouldn’t immediately jump to conclusions, but you can learn from the comments you find on the Web.

And don’t forget good-old word-of-mouth. If someone you trust strongly recommends a particular hardwood floor company, what better indication of quality can you get?

2. All your needs in one place.

Getting a new hardwood floor requires the selection of flooring, procuring materials, installation, and finishing. You can buy the flooring from one company and have another put it in, and a quality hardwood flooring company will be able to work with another company to provide you with the floors you want. But it’s smoother and usually more cost-effective to buy your flooring from the same company that will install it. Also, keep in mind that your installer cannot stand behind material he didn't provide. 

3. Adherence to professional standards.

The installation team of the hardwood floor company you choose should be led by a National Wood Flooring Association Certified (NWFA) Installer. Also, make sure the company stringently follows NWFA guidelines.

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4. Moisture control.

Insist on a company that understands the impact of temperature and humidity changes on wood. You should expect an inspection of your home to assess temperature and humidity levels so that installation can be adjusted accordingly. And in homes under construction, you want a hardwood flooring company that is able to provide a commercial-grade dehumidifier, if needed, to keep moisture levels from getting too high.

5. Dust containment.

If the installation is being done in a home that’s already being lived in, a state-of-the-art dust containment system is critical to avoid a huge mess.

6. Customer service.

Go visit the hardwood floor companies you’re considering. Are they friendly? Do they appear organized? How helpful are they? Are they just trying to sell, or are they treating you as a consultant would a client? That’s what you’re looking for—a company that won’t be satisfied until you’re satisfied.

Tags: dustless sanding, about hardwood floors

Don’t These Hardwood Floors Look Amazing?

Posted on Sat, Jan 11, 2014 @ 08:01 AM

Trembly Kitchen After Vertical

We love seeing the delighted looks on the faces of our customers after they see how their new hardwood floors have transformed their home.

“They make it look like a new home!” is a typical response we get after we’ve installed a floor. 

New hardwood floors immediately add character, style, and beauty to a home. And they can be designed to perfectly complement your décor.

The installation is delicate work that requires a combination of talent, knowledge, experience, and dedication to customer satisfaction—and that’s what you get from Ralph’s.

Take a look at the photos below. See how we breathed new life into this beautiful kitchen!

 

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Before 

 

 After

The warm color of the floors make the room more visually interesting.

 

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Before 

 

After 

The new flooring ties the kitchenette to the kitchen by complementing the kitchen cabinetry.

 

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Before 

 

After

Staining the maple floors dark helped create an elegant atmosphere in the living room.

  

Conclusion

New hardwood floors can became the pride of your home. There’s no reason you should live with floors that you’re not thrilled with.       

Ralph's Essential Guide to Selecting the Perfect Hardwood Floor                           

Tags: remodeling

7 Ways to Keep Your Hardwood Floors Looking Great

Posted on Thu, Jan 09, 2014 @ 11:01 AM

Hardwood floors are so durable that they can easily last the lifetime of a home. Even better, their appearance is easy to maintain. With some basic, common-sense care, your floors can last for many, many years—and look gorgeous the entire time!

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Here are 7 tips for keeping hardwood floors looking good as new:

1.     Liberally decorate with rugs.

Not only are rugs a wonderful way to accent the tone and character of your floors, they help prevent wear and scratching. Particularly in high-traffic areas such as entryways, rugs can complement the floor while also protecting it.

2.     Put pads under chairs.

As people are taking a seat, getting up, or just fidgeting in chairs, they can move them enough to cause scratching. Small, out-of-sight pads on the bottom of the chair legs can greatly minimize this. Similarly, pads are a good idea on any furniture that’s light enough to move if inadvertently bumped.

3.     Be careful moving furniture or appliances. 

Never slide anything on your floors. And for heavy items on wheels—such as refrigerators or pianos—be aware that the small wheels are narrowly focusing all the weight. Without putting down some sort of protection for the wheels to roll on, you could end up with dents in the floor. Call your hardwood floor expert if you need suggestions on how to protect your floors in this situation.

4.     Avoid rough use.

Be practical about how you use your floors. Not even the best hardwood floors will resist scratching if your dogs are wrestling on them! Along with pet nails, child’s toys also are a common cause of scratching or denting. Even some shoes (e.g., high heels, work boots) can be rough on a floor.

5.     Keep an eye on excessive sunlight.

If one part of a room consistently receives more sunlight than the rest of the room, that part could begin to discolor in comparison. If you don’t want to adjust the sunlight in the room, you can block it from the area you’re concerned about by using a rug, rearranging furniture, etc.  (You may need to make adjustments as the sun moves its position throughout the year.

6.     Clean up spills promptly.

Today’s finishes will keep liquids from getting into the wood if it’s cleaned up in a reasonable amount of time. But if the liquid is allowed to seep into the cracks between boards and remain there, it can cause warping, mold, and mildew.

7.     Use the right cleaning products.

Many products that claim to be for cleaning hardwood floors can actually harm them, and there’s a lot of misinformation about cleaning on the Web. With prefinished hardwood flooring, the flooring manufacturer will provide guidance about what products will work well without harming your floor. If you had your floors sanded and finished on site, the hardwood flooring company that did the job can tell you what to use on your new flooring.

Conclusion

Starting with a high-quality hardwood floor is the first and  most important step when looking for a beautiful yet durable floor that will last a lifetime. You can see the most beautiful floors in the area with a short drive to our showroom in Black Creek. 

Tags: caring for your hardwood floors

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