Ralph's Blog

Cold ice, hardwood floors and the Mother's Day I will never forget.

Posted on Sun, Apr 30, 2017 @ 10:04 AM

I look forward to Mother’s Day every year. It’s a chance for me to express how much I love my mother, Roberta Lorenz.

With Mother’s Day coming up next week, I’m eager to make her feel as special as she is.

Family Photos 009.jpg

Rod, Roberta and Ralph.

But I’ve also found myself thinking about my father, Ralph, and his role in a Mother’s Day long ago.
I was a small boy, about 7 or 8, and snow still covered the spring ground. Dad thought it would be fun to take me out for a snowmobile ride. It wasn’t supposed to be a long excursion. He just wanted to give me a quick bit of excitement before we returned to celebrate the day with Mom.

And I did have fun, riding in front of Dad and driving  …. until we fell through ice.

We were flying across what appeared to be a snowy field when I saw a spot just ahead that didn’t quite look right. It was a small pond, and before I could react, we hit it and broke the ice.

We were stuck in the ice-cold water. Suddenly our lighthearted romp had become serious.

We eventually got the snowmobile back onto solid ground, but my feet had gone in the water and were freezing. I was pretty miserable, and Dad was worried that I would get frostbite.

That’s when his quick thinking saved the day. He had me strip off my boots and socks, and then he put the socks on the muffler of the running snowmobile to dry them off. Soon enough, my feet were relatively warm again in toasty socks.

Dad’s urgency and resourcefulness in that situation reminds me of the many times I saw him overcome the sudden problems that inevitably arise in hardwood floor work. When something wasn’t right, Dad jumped right on the problem, and he was a master of thinking of creative solutions.

Dad started Ralph’s Hardwood Floors in 1965, the same year I was born, and I learned the business from him. I took over in 1992, and, sadly, Dad passed away in 2014. But his fix-it-now, resourceful spirit still lives on in the work that we do.

Of course, our goal is to have no problems with jobs—a goal we typically achieve. But when we “fall through the ice” and a problem arises with installation or refinishing, we take immediate action to fix what needs fixing. Whether it’s our fault, or a manufacturer’s, or a contractor’s—or even the customer’s—we don’t rest until the problem is resolved to our satisfaction, and most importantly, to our customer’s satisfaction.

When we got home that Mother’s Day after the snowmobile incident—much later than planned—Mom just laughed. She realized that I had been in good hands because Dad was there.

That’s the feeling we continually strive to give our customers. When it comes to hardwood floors, we take all the worry away, always making sure our customers have “warm feet.”

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

“No Way That’s Not Real Wood”—Luxury Vinyl Tile Fools the Eye

Posted on Thu, Apr 20, 2017 @ 15:04 PM

Luxury vinyl tile is the new star in the flooring world.

Ralph’s has recently started offering this flooring option, and the interest among customers has been even stronger than we expected. There’s a reason for that—luxury vinyl tile is a great product.

The first reaction most people have when they see it for this first time is: “That’s not wood?! It surely can’t be tile.”

But it is. Vinyl tile has come a long way since the heyday of sheet laminate tile. Sheet vinyl made to look like wood was rare, and when you did see it, it had a distinct inauthenticity because the repetition of the sheets created an unnatural look. There wasn’t enough variation in grain, knotholes, color, and other natural wood characteristics.

Advances in the quality of vinyl printing—with ultra high-definition photography— are enabling manufacturers to now print tile that really looks like wood (or stone). People with untrained eyes have to get down close and touch the tile to distinguish it from the real thing.VGW85T_French-Oak_RS_Res_Living-Room_Image.jpg

Increased variety is also leading to vinyl tile’s surge in popularity. Companies such as Karndean offer luxury vinyl in individual board-plank-size tiles in a range of styles, colors, and sizes. You can choose tiles with fixed widths and lengths, or go with random widths and lengths, like real wood.

You can even get tiles for special design features, such as borders or medallions.

With more variety in vinyl tile than ever, homeowners can choose flooring that reflects their unique style and vision. And because small tiles are used instead of entire sheets, installers can use their experience to enhance the natural wood appearance.

But homeowners can get real hardwood floors for prices comparable to luxury vinyl tile. So why not go with real wood, even considering the greatly improved quality of vinyl tile?

The Benefits

Many homeowners choose to install luxury vinyl tile because, unlike wood, it’s waterproof and not affected by humidity. That means it is ideal for bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, bathhouses, or any other room or area that is likely to see a lot of humidity and moisture on the floor.

Vinyl tile’s humidity insensitivity is particularly appealing for vacation homes, which often experience wide humidity fluctuations related to seasonal changes and whether they’re being used. The owners don’t have to worry about vinyl tile cupping or gapping due to any humidity changes.

Generally speaking, when a customer is interested in installing hardwood floors in a space that will experience a lot of moisture and/or humidity swings, we’re advising against that and recommending luxury vinyl tile instead. That’s how happy and confident we are with the best luxury vinyl tile that’s now available, which is what we sell.

You may think it’s odd for a hardwood floor company to advocate the use of a type of flooring other than wood. Many visitors to our showroom don’t even realize we carry luxury vinyl tile. They come looking for wood, because after all, we are Ralph’s Hardwood Floors.

But we’re not just a hardwood company. “Floors” is also in our name. Besides, we think of ourselves above all as a customer-satisfaction company, and for many of our customers, luxury vinyl tile is the choice that will give them the greatest satisfaction. We’re pleased to offer that option.


Image courtesy of Karndean.

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

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