Ralph's Blog

Getting Just the Look You Want

Posted on Sat, Mar 26, 2016 @ 08:03 AM

The “look” of hardwood flooring is something that’s hard to put a finger on. That’s because it depends on who’s doing the looking.

If you’re deciding on hardwood floors for your home, trust your personal taste. If you want a casual look, for example, rely on your judgment about what looks casual and relaxing to you—not on what a magazine or website calls “casual.”

Nonetheless, despite the personal nature of how a floor looks, there are certain “looks” that can be defined. While the exact color, grain, sheen, etc. can vary somewhat, these looks are created using a combination of characteristics known to produce a specific style.

In a recent blog series, we focused on some of the most popular of these looks.

English Pub. You can enjoy the cozy warmth of an English Pub without having to leave home. Many homeowners are choosing this look for their basements.

Urban. Aging industrial properties are being converted into homes, and the right hardwood floors help maintain the character of these urban spaces.

Victorian. If you want to recreate the refinement of the Victorian era in your own home, you need elegant hardwood floors. Parquet borders are often used to enhance this look.

Rustic Cabin. Because hardwood flooring is a natural product made from trees, it harmonizes beautifully with the natural surroundings around a home in the woods—particularly if the flooring looks like it belongs in an old cabin.

French Country. Light, naturally colored hardwood floors help create the open, airy look of a home in the French countryside.

Beach House. Many people with homes near water want flooring with an informal, care-free look that puts people at ease.

Ralph’s can help you create these styles, and many others—always keeping in mind that what really matters is how it looks to you.

I invite you to visit our showroom. We’ll help you get just the look you want!

Tags: about hardwood floors, hardwood flooring trends, picking the right floor for your lifestyle

Why It’s Important Who Installs Your Hardwood Floors

Posted on Thu, Mar 17, 2016 @ 15:03 PM

Quality hardwood floor installation requires knowledge, craftsmanship, and dedication.If you’re looking to install high-quality hardwood flooring in your home, the quality of the wood and the finish aren’t the only factors. It also matters who installs your new flooring. 

A high-quality installation is necessary for a high-quality project.

Expert Hardwood Floor Installation

Hardwood flooring installation requires skilled craftsmanship. It’s definitely not a DIY job, even for a good general handyman. Based on some of the hardwood flooring I’ve seen, it’s not even a job for a lot of so-called “professional installers.”

Many factors affect quality during installation. The wood must be properly acclimated to average temperature and humidity conditions. Subfloor variations must be accounted for. The planks must be properly installed to minimize gapping between the boards. The finish must be meticulously applied to avoid streaks, blisters, contamination, and other problems.  And the list goes on.

The reality is that in every stage of installation, an installer who doesn’t do it just right will lower the overall quality of the project.

You need installers with the expertise, and the motivation, to bring an artisan’s touch to your hardwood floor installation. You don’t want an inexperienced installation crew that’s taking shortcuts and working with a “counting the clock” attitude.  You want installers who take pride in their work and have the knowledge and experience to create hardwood floors that are as close to perfect as possible.

A Partner in Achieving Your Dream Floors

“High-quality” is of course a subjective term. It doesn’t matter if an installer thinks your floor is high-quality; if you don’t, then you haven’t gotten the “quality” you were looking for.

For that reason, quality is enhanced by choosing a hardwood floor installation company that can also provide coordination and expert guidance in all stages of your project.

For example, if you work with Ralph’s Hardwood Floors, we’ll help you discover what your dream hardwood floors are, and those floors will become our goal. With that dream in mind, we’ll give you our advice about durability, hardwood floor styles, and other considerations. 

Once you’ve chosen your flooring, we’ll handle the material purchasing, working with suppliers whose quality we trust. And our longtime relationships with builders and contractors will allow us avoid any installation problems related to coordination.

Even after the installation, we’ll still be committed to the quality of your flooring. If it’s anything less than high-quality in your eyes (or our eyes), we’ll fix it.

To get the highest possible quality in hardwood flooring, many levels of customer support are needed. 

Do you need a partner to help you with your hardwood floor installation project? If so, Ralph’s is the company for you. We’ve been helping homeowners in northeast Wisconsin with their hardwood floor needs since 1965! Please visit our showroom or call 920.984.3383 or 800.354.9902. We’d love to talk with you!

Tags: installation

When Less Sheen Is More

Posted on Thu, Mar 10, 2016 @ 15:03 PM

Low-sheen hardwood flooring looks casual and hides wear and tear.Most people like things that are shiny.

Shiny new cars. Shiny jewelry. Shiny smiles.

But what about shiny hardwood floors?

Well, many people do like shiny, glossy hardwood floors, or what we call “floors with high sheen.” But shiny isn’t for everyone, and there’s undeniably a trend toward low-sheen matte finishes.

The increasing popularity of floors finished with natural oils has something to do with that. A natural oil finish has a very warm, natural appearance, with no “shine.” 

But the use of natural oils isn’t the only reason that low-sheen finishes have become so stylish. The low-sheen appearance is in tune with the broad trend toward natural-looking flooring, and even people selecting traditional finishes are going low-sheen.

It’s all a matter of personal taste, but some people want hardwood floors that are more casual than formal, and the formality created by a glossy sheen just isn’t for them.

Practical concerns also play a role. High-gloss and even semi-gloss floors will show wear and tear more than low-sheen floors. That’s because high-sheen floors look so elegant and “shiny” that any little scrape, ding, or dent will draw the eye, similar to the first scratch on a new car.

That’s no problem for hardwood floors that see little traffic. But a high-sheen floor in a heavily trafficked area will begin to look worn in the areas that see the heavy traffic. You’ll be able to see where people walk the most, such as by the front or back door (or the path to the kitchen!).

For people with children and/or indoor pets, a low-sheen finish is particularly appealing because the wear and tear they cause blends in so much better than it does with high-sheen floors. That means they can enjoy their flooring longer without having to refinish it!

To compare the “shininess” of various finishes, stop by our showroom. We’re not going to push low-sheen over high-sheen—they both have their place, and high-sheen floors can be absolutely gorgeous. But you will be able to compare and see the possibilities.

Whether for stylistic or practical reasons, low-sheen hardwood floors might be exactly the look you’re after.

Tags: hardwood flooring trends, picking the right floor for your lifestyle, finishes, stains & textures, natural oils

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