Ralph's Blog

Popular Hardwood Floor Characteristics Embodied in DuChateau Flooring

Posted on Thu, Feb 19, 2015 @ 14:02 PM

Hardwood floors have a timeless appeal, and they never go out of style. Nonetheless, trends come and go.

The pre-finished, engineered hardwood floors in The Chateau Collection are high-quality and right in line with several current hardwood flooring trends.

Low-sheen finishes

In keeping with European trends, low-sheen floors have become increasingly popular in Wisconsin and across North America. The natural appearance of low-sheen flooring appeals to many, and lower-sheen floors also don’t show wear and tear as much as higher-sheen floors, making them a practical option for families with active lifestyles, children, and/or pets.

chateau-white-oiled_projectThe Chateau Collection has a matte finish, which is the lowest-gloss sheen available. The finish, a hard-wax oil, penetrates deeply into the wood pores to enhance the natural beauty of the wood’s grain and color, but the wax remains on the surface as a protective layer with minimal gloss.

White floors

White floors have become a popular choice among homeowners seeking a casual, open feel. The Chateau Collection offers a wide range of color choices, but two of the most sought-after are “Antique White,” and “White Oiled.”

Very wide boards

Within the past 20 years, tastes have been shifting to hardwood floor planks wider than the 2” boards that used to be the standard. Planks wider than 5” have become very popular, in large part because wider boards create a more relaxed feel than narrower planks.

Many homeowner are even going for planks wider than 7” for a super-casual feel, and The DuChateau Collection features wide-plank flooring that’s 7  7/16” wide!

Check Out How Great They Look

If the trends we discussed above are in line with your tastes, The Chateau Collection may be just the hardwood flooring for you. We encourage you to visit our showroom to view samples in person. They really look amazing!


Image courtesy of DuChateau Floors.

Tags: prefinished hardwood flooring, hardwood floors & interior design, hardwood flooring trends

The voting is in, and the ugliest floor in northeast Wisconsin is…

Posted on Sun, Feb 15, 2015 @ 08:02 AM

Sara_Dorn-McGuire_WinnerRalph’s Hardwoods Floors recently held a contest on Facebook to find the “Ugliest Floor” in northeast Wisconsin. The prize was a free refinishing of the floor!

The contest has ended, and after a heated race, the winner is Sara Dorn-McGuire, whose engineered oak floor’s finish was in really bad shape. She received 1,930 votes from Facebook users, outpacing the runner-up’s 1,780 votes.

We’ll be sanding and refinishing the floors in Sara’s kitchen, dining room, hallway, and foyer—338 square feet in all—at no cost to Sara.

Winner-Dinette_FloorWe recently visited Sara’s home to make sure there was enough wear layer (i.e., sandable wood) on the engineered flooring to sand. Some engineered floors don’t have enough, but fortunately Sara’s do.

It was clear, though, that Sara’s floors were in desperate need of new finish—the old finish was virtually gone.

“We built our home in 1997, and we’ve had dogs and our three kids grew up on them, so they are just beat,” Sara told us.

Sara_Dorn-McGuire_Winner_floor_closeupSara said she first started thinking about refinishing the floors about a year ago. Her husband is a handy guy and has done home projects before, so her original idea was that he would do it himself. But he never quite got around to it.

So when Sara heard about our contest, she figured, why not enter?

“I took pictures of the floor and put it on Facebook and just shared it with friends and family,” Sara said. “They supported me and shared it on their wall. People just began voting and sharing it with other people.”


In Sara’s case, winning the free refinishing isn’t about saving money.

“It saved my husband a lot of work,” she laughed.

We’ll be refinishing the floors in the few weeks, and Sara is eagerly awaiting the new look for her home.

 “I know Ralph’s has an excellent reputation, so I’m sure they’re going to be beautiful,” she said.

get inspired with ralph's hardwood floor idea book

Tags: restoring hardwood floors, Ralph's news & events

Show your hardwood floors some love this Valentine’s Day by restoring them

Posted on Sat, Feb 14, 2015 @ 08:02 AM


Today is Valentine’s Day—not exactly a day that makes most people think of their parents.

But as today approached, I found myself fondly recollecting a moment Mom and Dad shared together one Valentine’s Day about 15 years ago.

My wife—possibly trying to kindle the romantic side of me—had purchased tickets for us to attend a “chocolate festival” on Valentine’s night. Unfortunately, she ended up with a migraine, and instead of spending the night indulging in chocolate, we spent a few hours at a clinic.

The tickets were expensive, though, and we didn’t want to waste them. So we asked Mom and Dad if they wanted to go. The next day they were leaving on a driving vacation to Nashville, but they didn’t let that deter them, and they accepted the tickets.

When they got to the festival, they found—and ate—a lot of very rich chocolate, which put them in the mood for coffee, of which they had several cups. That night—jacked up on the chocolate and coffee—they stayed up late into the night talking, as if they were 20 years younger.

Even when they tried to go to bed, they couldn’t fall asleep. Finally, they figured, “why fight it?” and they got up at 4 am to get an early start on their trip.

Were they tired? Not at all, they told me later. They had pulled an all-nighter—like college kids—and they felt rejuvenated. That day, they drove all the way to Nashville and saw a show at the Grand Ole Opry.

I love rejuvenation, whether it’s a long-married husband and wife enjoying a Valentine’s Day like a young couple, or a hardwood floor Ralph’s Hardwoods Floors has restored.

Chocolate and coffee worked on Mom and Dad; sanding and refinishing work on hardwood floors. Nothing can match the look on my parents’ face when they got back from Nashville, but rejuvenated floors provide me with a similar good feeling. It never fails to amaze me how hardwood floors can be re-sanded and/or refinished to look more beautiful than ever.

This Valentine’s Day, I urge you to spend a loving day with that special someone in your life, and I hope you find it as enjoyable and invigorating as Mom and Dad did on that memorable Valentine’s Day when they had too much caffeine and sugar.


Ralph's 50th Anniversary Flooring Specials


Photo courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/photos/16297216@N03/

Tags: restoring hardwood floors, stories, remodeling

Little Pads; Big Protection

Posted on Wed, Feb 11, 2015 @ 11:02 AM

In our 50 years of installing and restoring hardwood floors in northeast Wisconsin, we’ve learned a lot about how they can be damaged.

Don’t get me wrong—hardwood floors are extremely durable and easy to maintain. It doesn’t take a lot of work or money to keep them looking beautiful and unblemished for many years.

Unfortunately, our experience has been that some homeowners make easily avoidable mistakes that damage their floors. A prime example is failing to put furniture pads under the feet of chairs (or stools, sofas, etc.)

Furniture pads are inexpensive and take little effort to install, and they can save a floor from getting scuffed up. Using them is a simple step that we strongly encourage all our customers to take.

Glides Are Great; Nails Aren’t

Chair glides are the best pad option for chairs with wooden feet. Glides are a base with a built-in felt bottom that allows the chair to slide across the floor rather than scratching the wood’s finish.Safeglides tap-in felt pads help protect finished hardwood floors from damage.

Traditionally, glides have been connected to the leg bottom with a nail that comes attached on the top side of the base. However, we don’t recommend that style. The bases sometimes crack, or come lose from the nail, and when that happens, the nail can easily scratch the floor.

A better choice is to use tap-in glides. Rather than a nail, on top of their base is a hollow cylinder made of thin but sturdy metal that’s sharp enough to be tapped into the wood of the leg bottom with a hammer. These cylinders are less likely to crack the wood than a nail, attach more firmly, and provide more support to the base.

Adhesive Pads Get the Job Done

Adhesive felt pads can also be used for chairs, and they are far better than no protection at all. The problem is that—unlike the felt pads of glides—they tend to come unglued if the chairs are used a lot.

If you have chairs with metal feet, you have no other option than adhesive pads. Don’t worry! They will give you all the protection you need. You might get tired of replacing them, but it’s a minor annoyance at worst—easily worth protecting your floors.

And if you have chairs with wooden feet but are using adhesive pads rather than glides, rest assured that your floors are protected just fine. Glides are nice, but you can get by with adhesive pads as long as you look out for ones that come lose and keep the pads clean. (Whether using glides or adhesive pads, it’s important to routinely clean them if they’re in areas where they might pick up grit, such as a kitchen.)


Hardwood floors are an investment that can last a lifetime—and look beautiful doing it. Just remember: Any chairs that will come in contact with your hardwood floors need some padding!

Tags: caring for your hardwood floors

Hardwood Flooring Trends in 2015

Posted on Wed, Feb 04, 2015 @ 09:02 AM

Dark_floorAs we get into 2015, we’re seeing the continued momentum of several hardwood floor trends that have become evident over the past several years.

Very dark hardwood floors

Really dark floors are an increasingly popular choice among homeowners who want a formal feel. Some people are even choosing black floors created using naturally black species such as Wenge. While not black, other species (e.g., American Black Walnut) have a natural dark color. And species that aren’t dark enough can be stained dark. Some species will never be ideal for a very dark look, but we can stain any wood (but not bamboo) as dark as desired.

Greyish colors

While many homeowners desire the striking appearance of dark hardwood floors, many others are going in the opposite direction—selecting grey, off-grey, or even white floors. As with the dark floors, this coloring can be achieved with the natural color of certain species (e.g., European White Oak) or through staining. The lighter coloring appeals to homeowners who want an open, breezy, casual ambiance.

Wider boards

Twenty years ago, the standard width of hardwood floor planks was just over 2” wide. Now, boards wider than 5” are common, and we’re seeing more and more homeowners go very wide with planks that are greater than 7”. These wider boards create a more casual feel than narrower planks.

Lower sheen levels

High-sheen floors have come to be seen as “plastic looking” in many people’s eyes, and so they’re selecting low-sheen floors that don’t have much reflection. Lower-sheen floors also don’t show wear and tear as much as high-sheen floors—an additional advantage that attracts active families with children and/or pets.

Floors that look timeworn

Hickory_Hand_Scraped_3_ResizedSeeking an authentic, character-filled appearance, a growing number of homeowners are choosing to have their floors wire-brushed, hand-scraped, or distressed to add texture that creates a “lived-in” look. The amount of texture can vary from just a little all the way up to deep scrapes and purposeful “damage” (e.g., nail holes).  The goal in all cases is to make the floors look as if they’ve stood the test of time—like an antique piece of furniture.


The trends largely point toward a more casual look with hardwood flooring, but as the recent popularity of very dark flooring shows, not all trends move in lock step. Sheen is another example of mixed trends—while here in Wisconsin we’re seeing great interest in low-sheen flooring, along the East Coast high-sheen, blonde flooring is growing in popularity.

One thing that’s certain is that while hardwood floor trends will come and go, hardwood floors aren’t at all trendy. Hardwood floor preferences may change, but hardwood flooring has proven over centuries that it will always be in style.


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

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