Ralph's Blog

What’s in a good reputation? A lot of hard work.

Posted on Sat, Nov 28, 2015 @ 10:11 AM

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At Ralph’s Hardwood Floors, we’ve worked extremely hard to earn a reputation for outstanding craftsmanship and first-rate customerservice. But sometimes it’s difficult to know what people really think of you.

That’s why it was so gratifying to me when one of our salespeople told me about a couple moving into the area who had called us. They were on a tight schedule and wanted their floors done ASAP. They had looked around and found other hardwood flooring companies who weren’t as booked up as we were and could therefore promise completion sooner.

At Ralph’s Hardwood Floors, we’ve worked extremely hard to earn a reputation for outstanding craftsmanship and first-rate customer service. But sometimes it’s difficult to know what people really think of you.

That’s why it was so gratifying to me when one of our salespeople told me about a couple moving into the area who had called us. They were on a tight schedule and wanted their floors done ASAP. They had looked around and found other hardwood flooring companies who weren’t as booked up as we were and could therefore promise completion sooner.

But the couple had their hearts set on Ralph’s. They had talked to people in the area who knew of us, and they had heard we were the best. That’s what they wanted, and they decided not to settle for anything less. They told our salesperson, “It’s gotta be Ralph’s!”

That’s the kind of feedback that confirms to me that we’re doing things the right way, the same way my father did when he started the business 50 years ago.  We don’t want to just satisfy our customers; we want to “wow” them with the quality of our product and the efficiency and friendliness of our customer service. It pleases me greatly that we’ve become known for achieving that goal.

Fortunately, in this couple’s case, our team rose to the occasion and we had the floors in by the date they needed. We understand that when people are moving into new homes, all their plans are keyed to a particular move-in date, and we always bend over backwards to get the floors installed, finished, and looking beautiful before that date.

The couple was very grateful, calling us several times even as the job was going on to tell us how much they appreciated our determination to meet their schedule. It was a large job—covering more than 2,000 square feet—but they could see the progress.

And once they saw the finished floors, they were thrilled with how unique and gorgeous they looked. They had made a good choice in selecting Preverco EDGE prefinished flooring, which is designed to create an “aged” feel. It features a distinctive grain, because of how the planks are cut, and it has been “distressed,” with saw-blade marks and other irregularities purposefully added.

Because this rustic-textured flooring covered so much square footage, it set an undeniably casual, relaxed tone for the home. Not only were the homeowners happy, so was I. Their floors really looked awesome!

What I was most pleased about was that we had lived up to our reputation. We’ve worked long and hard over 50 years to develop that reputation, and I’m proud to stay we’re still earning it.

Tags: hardwood floors & interior design, about hardwood floors

Can I blend new hardwood floors with old hardwood floors?

Posted on Thu, Nov 26, 2015 @ 15:11 PM

Borders between rooms can blend hardwood floors together.It’s not at all unusual for homeowners to want to add new hardwood flooring adjacent to an existing hardwood floor. But we’ve found that many people hesitate because they presume there’s no way to blend the new with the old.

In most cases, that’s an incorrect assumption. Existing floors and old floors can be harmonized, and the transition between them can be virtually seamless.

Three factors should always be considered:

1. The species of wood used. Obviously, if you have two different species next to each other, the floors aren’t going to match. Even when we know the species, some woods, such as Red Oak, are easy to blend, whereas others, such as Maple, are more difficult.

2. The condition of the existing floor. Usually, it doesn’t matter if the existing floor is worn, because we can sand it at the same time we sand the new floor. However, some damage, such as large black spots caused by water, may not come out. And some homeowners don’t want us to sand the existing floor, making blending more difficult.

3. The age of the existing floor. Age can change the color of the wood. For example, Maple starts out blonde but over time becomes a light beige color—making it a challenge to blend new and old Maple floors. It can be done, however, by blending the two floors together using specialty cuts of Maple and using specialized staining/finishing processes that we have implemented over the past 50 years.

Matching isn’t always necessary

Now that we’ve talked about how nice it is to be able to blend old and new flooring, we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that floors next to each don’t have to exactly match to work together well.

In some cases, a good match may not be possible, even with the most-skilled hardwood flooring experts working on the job. But don’t give up on new flooring! Contrasting floors can be beautiful and quite visually interesting.

In fact, some people seek out a contrast in order to differentiate rooms (e.g., between a living area and a kitchen) or just to mix things up.

To make the transition smooth between the contrasting flooring, you can use hardwood borders between the old and new flooring to make it clear that the contrast is intentional and to highlight the differing character of both floors.

Visit our showroom or give us a call to discuss how we can help you add new flooring next to old flooring in a way that you’ll love.

Tags: restoring hardwood floors, hardwood floors & interior design, remodeling, FAQs

Ralph's Review of 2015

Posted on Sat, Nov 14, 2015 @ 10:11 AM

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As 2015 draws to close, we’ve been reflecting on the many exciting jobs Ralph’s has done during this year. As with any year, we’ve eagerly taken on work that requires us to be on top of the latest products and styles in hardwood flooring.

Preverco Edge

Prefinished flooring has come a long way from the day when it couldn’t come close to comparing with site-finished flooring. This year, we’ve been proudly installing Preverco’s new Edge series of prefinished Maple and Red Oak hardwood floors, currently available in seven colors. In keeping with the trend toward rustic looks, the texture of this flooring looks like a floor with a long history. It purposely has irregularities, such as sawblade marks.

Preverco PreOil

Preverco’s PreOil floors have also been popular with our customers this year. Rather than being prefinished with a urethane finish, these floors are finished with natural oil, which is an increasingly fashionable finishing option.

Natural oil finishes fit with the trend toward naturalness in hardwood flooring because they highlight the innate beauty of wood. They are also easily maintained. Unlike urethane finishes, which require professional refinishing, homeowners can easily maintain natural oil floors themselves to repair any damage.

Site-finished Pre-Oiled Flooring

We love Preverco’s PreOil product, but many of our customers want us to bring Ralph’s expertise to applying natural oil finishes. All year long, we’ve been applying natural oil finishes to beautiful flooring, giving homeowners who want natural-oil finishes the benefit of our skilled craftsmanship.

11-Inch Wide Hickory

One of our favorite jobs this year was installing 11-inch Hickory floor planks for a customer. Wide boards are now fashionable, and they have great stability, resisting cupping and gapping better than narrower boards.

Hardwood walls

Another project that sticks in our mind involved hardwood flooring on the wall. We installed DuChateau hardwood flooring, and then the builder installed a very rough-textured type of DuChateau flooring on the walls. It really looked cool!

Reactive stains 

We’ve been doing a lot of jobs this year using reactive stains, which work to give the hardwood flooring a worn, weathered look. The grey tones that reactive stains create give the wood a very natural appearance.

What a year it’s been. Just like all of our 50 years of serving the northeast Wisconsin area, we’ve been on the cutting edge of hardwood flooring trends. That’s where we plan to stay!

 

Ralph's 50th Anniversary Flooring Specials

 

Tags: about Ralph's, about hardwood floors

Radiant Heating Under Hardwood

Posted on Tue, Nov 03, 2015 @ 11:11 AM

We get a lot of questions about whether radiant heat can be used with hardwood floors. The simple answer is, yes, heated hardwood floors not only add luxurious comfort, they can be easily installed and are completely safe. Radiant heating can be used as the sole heat source, but it can also be used as a supplement in conjunction with other heating.

Radiant heat and hardwood can work well together if you follow these simple steps:

1. Use a high quality engineered hardwood floor as they are more dimensionally stable than solid wood floors.

2. Make sure that you still have a way of adding humidity during the winter. All wood products need some humidity added.

3. Make sure that you work with a professional hardwood floor company during the planning of an in-floor heat system. There are many types, and we can help with the designing and zoning of the heat system.

We recommend that a heated wood floor temperature be maintained below 80 degrees. This provides a warmer surface than an unheated floor, even in a well-heated house, but it's not so warm that it would feel hot to the touch.

All of these factors should be considered in choosing heated hardwood floors for your home.

Let us help you turn any room in your home into a cozy, inviting space to spend time. Stop by our showroom to talk to one of our knowledgeable flooring representatives.

Tags: hardwood floors & interior design, about hardwood floors

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