Ralph's Blog

The real value of experience

Posted on Sat, Oct 22, 2016 @ 09:10 AM


I was thinking about it the other day and realized Ralph's has over 500 years of hardwood floor experience. 500 years is a lot of time. The more I considered it though, the more I realized that "lots" isn't the most effective measure. You see not all experience is equal. A big box with hundreds of employees may also have a lot of experience.

Years of experience isn't good or bad, it's just, well...experience. I mean sometimes experience is measured by the amount of time someone has spent doing something but not everyone learns from their experience and not everyone knows how to share their experience to build "depth of experience". That only comes when you take what you have done, combine it with training and good people and use it to deliver at a higher level.

I have learned that in the hardwood floor business, and not always the easy way, that experience is really not worth much at all without the ability to transfer that experience into successful actions. This means not just learning from our mistakes but sharing and combining our different experiences to continuously improve our people and processes.

So I can say "We have over 500 years of experience" but what does that really mean?

It is our whole team, each and every one of us. It doesn't matter if it is an installer who started yesterday because we all bring experiences and the ability to share them with our team and contribute to our depth.

It includes my late father and founder who set the foundation for our entire culture. I tell stories about Ralph often because his stories remind us what works, how to deal with customers and how to solve challenges. Our collective experience combined with the legacy my father created makes up our experience and gives meaning to our 500 years of experience. 

If you find yourself considering a hardwood flooring project, here are some good experience questions to consider.

What is the company's experience with similar projects?

What can they tell you about other projects like yours that people might not ask?

What is the project team’s experience?  Not the most veteran group in the company but the actual project team who will work in your home. Who are they? Do they have similar project references that you can talk to about their work habits, customer service and expertise?

Do you also have architects and designers that have partnered with you that I can call? Many renovations require collaboration with architects, interior designers and builders. Speaking to those professionals can reveal a lot.

Ask about the business. How many projects are completed in a year? Do they have an office and warehouse? How long have they been in business? How many employees are there?

The Bottom Line

Experience is important when it comes to selecting a hardwood floor partner but depth of experience means a lot more.

Ralph's Idea Book

Photo courtesy of Cian Byrne

Tags: stories, about Ralph's

Two hardwood alternatives that keep the beautiful wood look we love.

Posted on Tue, Oct 11, 2016 @ 18:10 PM


Vinyl_Flooring.pngHardwood is what we do best at Ralph`s and most of the time it is the flooring we recommend. That being said there are areas of the home where the incorporation of natural wood is a no-go even when they support the natural timeless beauty of natural hardwood. In some below grade rooms or high-moisture areas and such as bathrooms or pool cabanas hardwood flooring is not the best fit.

Luckily we have some wood-look alternatives that we recommend that make it possible get the function required and to achieve the stylish appearance of hardwood. Our two current favorite faux-wood floors are luxury vinyl and porcelain tile. Both options provide durable surfaces against moisture and can look great when properly installed.

Luxury Vinyl

Recently improved printing and embossing techniques means we are seeing more vinyl with surfaces that look and feel more authentic than ever. Durable and low maintenance, luxury vinyl can be made to look like a variety of species and textures in several colors.

Vinyl comes in a variety of formats including sheets (6- or 12-foot-wide rolls), tiles and planks. Vinyl tiles are easy to install and can be laid in any orientation, from checkerboard to diagonal, replicating the look of ceramic or stone. Vinyl planks are designed to closely resemble hardwood and even come in the same size as wood planks, and feature the most realistic features such as texturing and beveled edges.

Porcelain Tile

Similar to vinyl planks, wood-look porcelain tiles come in the same sizes as hardwood planks and looks like wood right down to the grain and texture. We commonly hear that well-chosen porcelain tiles look so realistic guests are surprised to hear the floor is tile!

Not unlike Luxury Vinyl, specialized scanners, graphics, and printers are helping to produce many realistic and beautiful wood looks in a durable tile. The nuances in color and grain provide design flexibility because they mirror the color and patterns of real hardwood meaning you are likely to find one that fits your personal wants and needs and even to closely coordinate with natural hardwood in other parts of the home.

Wood-look alternatives can add a look of elegance, old-world charm, modern trendiness, or just about any other design aesthetic you may be trying to achieve in rooms that aren't ideal for real hardwood flooring. They can be versatile, easy to clean, and comes in a variety of colors and styles.

And they look like wood. We like that the best. In fact, we’ve dedicated a large section of our showroom to luxury vinyl. 

Tags: about hardwood floors, hardwood flooring trends

Thinking about our new showroom and favorite floors.

Posted on Sat, Oct 08, 2016 @ 09:10 AM

Favorite_things_2.pngWe are in the midst of renovating our showroom and I am really looking forward to our grand re-opening. The new showroom is going to feature the latest color and style trends in hardwood floors and will really make it easy for visitors to find the floor of their dreams.

The whole process has got me thinking a lot about the experience of coming to our showroom and in particular about when people ask me about my favorite floors. I love this question and it’s not because I want to share my favorites.

Read this post from our blog where I explain why my answer to the favorite floor question is irrelevant.



Tags: stories, hardwood floors & interior design, custom hardwood flooring

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