Ralph's Blog

You’re Under Arrest! … Say What?!

Posted on Fri, Mar 30, 2018 @ 23:03 PM



April Fool’s Day is a day you shouldn’t forget about. If you do, you might get got.

I found that out the hard way a few years ago when some co-workers at Ralph’s pulled a classic April Fool’s gag on me.

It wasn’t planned. It just came about because local Black Creek police officers made an innocent mistake.

Ralph’s was in the process of expanding and remodeling our facility in Black Creek , and an area that used to be a parking lot was now muddy ground waiting to become a pretty lawn. While turning around, the officers pulled into this area and quickly realized it wasn’t a parking lot anymore.

The next day they honorably returned to apologize for the ruts they left and to see if they needed to compensate Ralph’s for damages. But before they reached me, they were intercepted by some of my devious colleagues, who realized very well that it was April Fool’s Day.

When the officers did find me, I wasn’t at all prepared for what they had to say:

“Are you the son of Ralph Lorenz?”

“Yes.” (Is Dad alright? What has happened?)

“Well then, Mr. Lorenz, we have a warrant for your arrest.” (Warrant?)

“For what?” I stammered out. (Huh?)

They started explaining how this was a special warrant that didn’t require them to tell me the charge, which didn’t make sense to me. I kept asking questions, getting a bit upset. Then I noticed the giggles from Shirley and Tracy.

Oh, yeah, it’s April Fool’s Day!

It only lasted about a minute, but I was fooled. They got me!

And someday I will find a way to repay their “kindness.”

I love this kind of playfulness among the Ralph’s team. It reassures me that we are a real team.  We enjoy working together—and our customers see that. Genuine teamwork results in stress-free, better-than-expected experiences.

When sports teams play well together, they call it “chemistry.” The Ralph’s team has that.

Tags: Wisconsin, Ralph's news & events, about Ralph's, stories

What Is Hardwood Floor Stability and When Is It Important?

Posted on Wed, Mar 28, 2018 @ 10:03 AM


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“Stability” is a hardwood-flooring term that all buyers of hardwood flooring should understand. 

It refers to how hardwood flooring reacts to humidity fluctuations. The less a wood shrinks and expands due to fluctuations, the higher its stability. 

Stability is important to homeowners because when hardwood shrinks or expands, the edges of a plank can become higher than the plank’s center (cupping) or gaps can open up between planks (gapping). In a worst-case scenario, the planks can even buckle away from the subfloor. 

Homeowners need to consider the humidity conditions in their home when choosing a species of wood for their flooring—and when deciding whether to use solid-plank or engineered hardwood flooring. 

When properly manufactured, engineered hardwood has higher stability than solid planks. Engineered floors consist of a top layer of hardwood veneer, adhered to a backing of composite material constructed with layers of wood running in opposing directions. This “lattice” design of the backing creates a “pull” that reduces the growing and shrinking that can occur with humidity fluctuations.  

As for natural wood, popular species with high stability include Red Oak, White Oak, and Ash, while Maple, Hickory, and Cumaru are examples of popular species with relatively low stability.  

When Stability Really Matters 

In many cases, stability isn’t important because humidity levels in the rooms with the hardwood flooring are going to stay relatively constant. But in other situations, stability is a very relevant consideration. 

For example, bathrooms will of course experience frequent, wide humidity swings as people bath and groom every day—cold water, hot water, steam, no water at all, over and over. We recommend the stability of engineered hardwood, even if the home has solid-plank in other rooms. (Luxury vinyl tile is another option.) 

In below-ground rooms or rooms with concrete subfloors, such as finished basements, humidity and hardwood floors don’t mix well at all. In this situation, humidity fluctuations aren’t the problem—below-ground rooms are just so naturally humid (i.e., damp) that engineered flooring, with its higher stability, is the only viable hardwood option. Fluctuations are bad, but constant high humidity is even worse, and as a certified installer, we won’t install solid-plank floors below grade.  

Stability is also an important consideration if a home’s windows (or doors with screen doors) will be frequently opened, such as in a vacation home at the shore. The humidity will fluctuate based on whether air is being let in and how humid that air is, and hardwood with higher stability might be advisable. Vacation homes also require either hardwood flooring that’s  forgiving of humidity changes or a way to control excess humidity while the owner is away from the home. 

If you’re unsure about how important stability is for your project, or you want guidance on how to pick the most stable options, we’re glad to provide our expert advice. Stop by our showroom any time during business hours to consult with one of our hardwood flooring professionals. And while you’re here, you can see for yourself the many stunningly beautiful hardwood floors that are available! 

Tags: custom hardwood flooring, caring for your hardwood floors, engineered hardwood flooring

4 Tips For Cleaning Hardwood Floors

Posted on Wed, Mar 14, 2018 @ 09:03 AM


floor cleaning

One of the many cool things about hardwood floors is that they’re extremely easy to clean.  

If they’re surface-sealed (finished with urethane or polyurethane), as most modern hardwood floors are, then you can keep your floors tidy, well-maintained, and beautiful with these four simple tips: 

1.  Sweep or vacuum regularly 

Dirt or debris can scratch your finish, but it’s easy to remove. Simply sweep it up with a broom or use a vacuum. If you vacuum, be sure to use a vacuum cleaner with a soft-bristled brush that doesn’t rotate. 

Another option for removing dirt and debris is a dust mop with a microfiber pad. 

2. Mop floors using an approved hardwood floor cleaner. 

When your floors need mopping, it’s very important that the hardwood floor cleaner you use is approved by the manufacturer of your finish or pre-finished flooring. We recommend Glitsa Clean. 

Prepare the cleaning solution according to the directions or use a pre-prepared solution, and simply spray the cleaner on the floor and wipe it with a microfiber mop. 

3. Don’t let liquids stand. 

Surface-sealed finishes protect against liquid spills, but if the spill remains too long, it could cause the finish to whiten. This whitening can be cleaned off, but you can avoid the problem altogether by wiping up spills as soon as you’re aware of them, using anything that’s non-abrasive (e.g., cloth rag, paper towel, or hardwood floor mop). 

4. Never use a steam cleaner on hardwood floors. 

Manufacturers of certain steam cleaners (e.g., steam mops) claim that their products can sanitize, deodorize, and clean surface-sealed hardwood floors. But flooring and finish manufacturers continue to recommend that their customers don’t use steam cleaners. 

These steam products may appear to work wonderfully at first, but over time they cause finish to wear down faster. 

Who These Tips Aren’t For 

These tips aren’t meant for hardwood floors finished with natural oils or other penetrating seals. And everyone should remember to wait a month after a floor has been finished to use any cleaning products on the new finish. They’ll be fine until you can start cleaning them! 

To learn more about how to care for your hardwood floors, click here. To order cleaning products, click here. Or stop by our showroom. We’re glad to advise you on how to best care for your hardwood floors.

Tags: custom hardwood flooring, caring for your hardwood floors, engineered hardwood flooring

Treating Your Customers Like Our Own

Posted on Fri, Mar 09, 2018 @ 23:03 PM


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Portside Builders has been using Ralph’s as its hardwood flooring subcontractor for more than 30 years—in large part because we make their customers happy. 

Ralph’s works well with our customers and treats them really well,” said Portside’s president, Paul Shefchik, who directly manages sales and marketing. “And if there are any issues, Ralph’s will come back and fix it.” 

Portside—a custom-home builder and remodeler based in Door County—has a reputation for high customer satisfaction, and Ralph’s helps them meet their customers expectations.  

When Ralph’s does floors for Portside, “It’s going to be done right and on schedule,” Shefchik said. 

Staying on schedule is crucial for contractors. Delays not only cost them money, they can seriously upset customers. Contractors need subcontractors like Ralph’s that are dedicated to getting work completed on time, and at Ralph’s we love having a go-to Portside coordinator for each job that helps us do just that. Portside’s coordinators know their projects inside-out, and when we need an answer, they get us an answer quickly. They make coordinating scheduling easy. 

Portside’s customers also benefit from Ralph’s recently remodeled showroom, Shefchik said.  

Ralph’s has a really nice showroom,” he said. “They can really show Portside’s customers a lot of the options available. 

Portside’s customers can walk on, touch, and see in person the choices they’re considering (or haven’t yet considered because they were unaware of them). And Ralph’s experienced staff is glad to consult with them to ensure they’re getting hardwood floors that are right for their lifestyle, home environment, and personal taste.  

Shefchik also appreciates the high quality of the work Ralph’s does, installing and finishing floors that look great and perform well. 

Ralph’s is as good as anybody I’ve seen,” he said. 

Shefchik foresees working with Ralph’s for many years to come because of our help with customer selection, expertise at installing and refinishing, ease to work with, and commitment to pleasing Portside’s customers. 

“In all aspects of what they do, Ralph’s is an excellent partner,” Shefchik said.  

We also think Portside is a great partner, and we frequently recommend them to our customers. Portside is an expert custom-home builder, and it’s reassuring that many of the same faces there in the early days of the Ralph’s/Portside partnership are still there. We trust and respect Portside. We enjoy working with them. 

That’s exactly the type of relationship Ralph’s wants to have with contractors. 

Tags: custom hardwood flooring, stories

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