Ralph's Blog

Go With Your Heart: The "Cheaper Choice" Is Usually a Mistake

Posted on Sat, Apr 19, 2014 @ 09:04 AM

It is human nature to wrestle with whether to buy what we really want as opposed to something less expensive. The question we need to ask ourselves is: Are we willing to live without what we really have our hearts set on?

If we aren’t honest with ourselves about the answer to that question and settle on flooring that’s not our first choice, we usually end up costing ourselves more in the long run.

The Pleasure Factor

Finished hardwood flooring is about more than simple functionality. Money isn’t being spent just to have a floor to walk on—it’s also being spent to bring pleasure. Loving the hardwood floors we see everyday adds to the quality of our lives, and that is valuable!

On the other hand, if our decision to purchase less expensive floors leave us unenthused, how well was our money spent?

White Oak Engineered One of a Kind3

Inevitable Replacement

Many times, we homeowners install flooring we're not happy with, so it’s just a matter of time before we're ready to replace the flooring with what we really want, even though the flooring we bought first still has a long life left.  

Now we're paying for two floors instead of one!

Obviously, if we have your eye on flooring that we won’t be able to afford any time in the foreseeable future, we shouldn’t consider that option in our decision making. But if the finished wood floors we want are within reason, it’s almost always best to figure out a way to buy them now, rather than installing another floor first.

Long-Term Value

If you’re worried that buying the finished wood floors you want rather than a less-expensive alternative isn’t frugal, we suggest that you figure out the lifetime total cost of ownership for both choices. If the alternative is carpeting, vinyl, or some other type of relatively short-lived flooring, you’ll see that hardwood floors aren’t nearly as expensive as you might think. Their longevity considerably reduces their lifetime cost compared to other options.

If your choice is between different types of wood floors, remember that higher-quality hardwood floors can result in greater home value and marketability. If you go with the hardwood floors you really want, not only will you get the pleasure value, you can consider the extra cost an investment.


Trying to save money on flooring now can backfire financially (and emotionally) if you’re not prepared to be content with the less-expensive flooring you choose.

Tags: the value of hardwood floors

5 Tips for Using Rugs on Hardwood Floors

Posted on Thu, Apr 10, 2014 @ 13:04 PM

Rugs are far from an afterthought when it comes to finished hardwood flooring and interior design. Whether they’re simple throw rugs or lavish hand-woven Oriental rugs, they can play a major role in getting the look you’re after.

Area Rug on Hardwood Floor

As you think about how rugs accentuate your finished wood floors, keep these five tips in mind.

1. Carefully coordinate colors.

A rug may look great in a showroom or a photo, but when paired with your finished hardwood flooring and the rest of the room, it may not have the color needed to pull the interior design together. This is more than just avoiding colors that obviously clash—it’s about using color to full advantage.

2. Choose the right size.

If you want your finished wood floors to be a central design element of a room, then putting down large rugs that cover up most of the flooring may be a mistake. On the other hand, you may want to feature rugs in particular rooms.

The important thing is to decide what you want and then measure to make sure the rug is covering the appropriate amount of floor.

When considering size, also think about functionality. For example, if you use a rug underneath a dining room table, you need to make the rug large enough for chair legs to still be on the rug when people sit at the table.

3. Think about wear.

For most of our budgets, it’s not practical to put an expensive rug with delicate fibers in a place where the rug will be walked on a lot. Even if the fibers are relatively durable, such as wool, they will still wear with heavy traffic, so be cautious about where you place valuable rugs.

4. Use good backing.

Some backings can damage finished wood floors. For example, popular olefin rugs often have woven backings that will scratch hardwood floors. If you’re not sure whether a backing will damage your floors, talk to the manufacturer or installer of your finished hardwood flooring.  

In almost all cases, rug pads are a good idea, especially when the rug isn't being anchored down by a heavy piece of furniture.

5. Move your rugs.

To avoid the most heavily trafficked areas of a rug from wearing sooner than the rest of the rug, rotate the rug on a regular schedule.

Also be aware that if you place a rug in a sunny place in the home and don’t move it for a long time, when you eventually do move it, the flooring under your rug will look a lot different than the part that has been exposed to light. If possible, storing your rugs in the summer and bringing them back out in the winter helps minimize this change. 

Tags: hardwood floors & interior design, caring for your hardwood floors

Kids and Dogs Don't Mind Mud, and Neither Do Hardwood Floors

Posted on Sun, Apr 06, 2014 @ 09:04 AM

Kids and Dogs Don't Mind Mud, and Neither Do Hardwood Floors

My wife and I are friends with a young couple, the Johnsons, who have three little boys and two lively dogs. They have a good-sized yard for them all to play in, and woods nearby where the boys love to romp, often with the dogs at their heels.

It’s a great set-up, and they feel blessed to have it, particularly when the weather warms in the spring and everybody can get outdoors. No more cabin fever!

 But as the snow melts and the land thaws, all that space for outside fun has a downside—a whole bunch of mud.

Just ask the Johnsons. They’ll tell you with a knowing shake of the head that kids, dogs, and mud always seem to find each other this time of the year.

Fortunately, they have hardwood flooring, which—unlike carpeting—doesn’t mind mud at all. The Johnsons complain a little about the mud, but it’s a small irritant to them. It’s nothing compared to being forced to rent a steam cleaner or have carpeting professionally cleaned.

When they see muddy footprints (or paw prints), they simply wipe them up! It’s a super-easy cleaning job.

Mud isn’t the only type of mess that’s difficult to clean from carpeting but can easily be cleaned off hardwood floors. Grape juice, wine, coffee, cooking oil, pet urine, and many other common causes of carpet stains or smells are a breeze to get off hardwood floors with no damage at all.

Hardwood floors offer many wonderful benefits, such as beauty, timeless stylishness, durability, and value for the money. Ease of cleaning certainly belongs on that list.

So if you have hardwood floors, when you see that some mud has been tracked in this spring, don’t get upset about it. Be thankful that you have hardwood floors that make it no big deal!

If you don’t have hardwood floors, but you’re thinking about it—or if you’re thinking about redoing your floors— you might want to check out our new Essential Guide to Selecting a Hardwood Floor. It’s a great place to start considering the right hardwood flooring for your décor and lifestyle. 

Photo courtesy of Pedro fait de la Photo. Available under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.

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

Choosing Hardwood Colors in 5 Steps

Posted on Thu, Apr 03, 2014 @ 12:04 PM

Natural hardwood colors vary tremendously between species, and you also have the option of staining to get virtually any color you want.

With such a wide range of options, choosing a hardwood color can be a bit overwhelming. But there’s no need to stress—by following each of the following five steps you can be sure to get the right color for your floor.

1. Decide on the feel you’re after.

You need to be sure of the mood you’re trying to achieve with your hardwood flooring. Your decision about hardwood colors should be made with this overriding goal at the top of your mind.

Of course it’s all in the eye of the beholder, but darker colors generally create a cozier mood while lighter colors produce a roomier feel.

Another key choice is whether you want a natural feel. If you do, heavy stain color probably isn’t for you, although a light stain may be just fine.

Wire brushed hickory

2. Coordinate hardwood colors to your furnishings and to other rooms.

Choosing colors to complement your existing furniture as well as trim and cabinets is key. Achieving a nice contrast from the floor to the trim and cabinets that surround it is a great way to add interest. If you have dark furniture, you may want light flooring so that the floor and the furniture don’t blend together too much. As a rule of thumb, try to keep the floor and trim/cabinets off by at least two shades, either darker or lighter.  

3. Consider the maintenance.

Darker woods tend to show scratches and dust more than lighter colors—a fact that could be important to you, particularly if you expect the floors to see rough usage (pets, small children, etc.).

4. Choose a color you love!

Ultimately, choosing hardwood colors comes down to what you like. Even if a color makes interior-design sense, if may not be the right choice. You’re the one who will live with the floor, so make sure the color you choose is one that excites you.

Fortunately, hardwood colors are much more varied than simply “dark,” “light,” or “medium.” You can decide you want a color within one of those ranges, but still have plenty of choices, because each species has a distinct color tone. For example, a lot of oak flooring has a warm yellowish tone that many people fall in love with.

5. Work with an established hardwood floor company.

Working with a hardwood floor company that’s dedicated to customer service (like us!), you can review all your color choices, get expert advice, and ask any questions you have. This step will help you complete all the other steps.

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

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