Ralph's Blog

Make Hay While The Sun Shines

Posted on Mon, Apr 23, 2018 @ 12:04 PM

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Local home builders have been telling me lately that business is good. And as the saying goes, while the sun is shining, it’s time to make hay.

But no one wants to sacrifice their quality standards, and a challenge is finding reliable subcontractors to successfully complete the work that’s available.

This isn’t surprising—when a market is active, competition for the best subs naturally increases. Less-than-ideal subs can always be found, but home builders who’ve built reputations for high-quality hesitate to go that route.

Let’s face it. If you have built or remodeled homes for any length of time, you know that nothing is more painful than subcontractors who don’t show up when they are scheduled, do poor work, or don’t stand behind their work. It costs you time and money. Worse yet, it ruins your reputation.

Ralph’s gets it! We also feel like it’s a time to make hay, but we aren’t willing to lower our quality standards.

And we don’t need to. We are well-staffed with skilled floor installers, with crew leaders who average more than 15 years of experience. We can handle any work you have—providing you with the high level of craftsmanship, commitment to customer service, and on-schedule completion we’re known for.

Our goal is to develop long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with home builders. We like to work closely with our contractor partners to coordinate scheduling, resolve any issues that arise, and ensure that the customer has an excellent experience.

One of the ways in which we can help you please customers is by consulting with them as they select the flooring they want for their home. We happily share our expert knowledge with them, helping them choose flooring that’s just right for their lifestyle and personal tastes.

For builders, the wide selection of unique and stylish products we offer helps you separate yourself from the competition. Working with Ralph’s, you’ll be providing your customers with the best flooring around. For customers who aren’t sure what they want, we can help you wow them with the possibilities. For those who already know exactly what they want, we can give them exactly that.

Is it time to make hay? You bet it is. And we’re here to help you do it. A lack of a reliable, high-quality hardwood floor subcontractor doesn’t need to be a problem you have to face.

Tags: about Ralph's, custom hardwood flooring, installation

Preventing Damage to Your Hardwood Floors

Posted on Thu, Apr 19, 2018 @ 10:04 AM

 

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Hardwood floors are highly durable and can last for decades, but they do require some simple care beyond routine cleaning. 

It’s not difficult—all you need to do is follow a few basic steps. 

Protect heavy traffic areas. 

Place throw rugs on heavy traffic areas, such as in front of sinks, by doors that lead outside, and in hallways. The rugs will not only be decorative, they will prevent those areas from wearing faster than less-walked-upon areas.  

Use non-slip cushion pads under any rugs, but don’t use foam or carpet pads because they may leave a residue. (Wait two weeks after a floor is finished before putting down any rugs.) 

 Install floor protectors on chairs and couches. 

Chairs and couches will naturally slide across flooring as people sit and rise. To protect against scratching, use felt-tip glides that you tap into the bottom of the legs. If you need these protectors, you can order them here. (If your furniture has casters, we recommend using rugs underneath.) 

Limit direct sunlight. 

Intense sunlight will discolor hardwood floors, so do your best to protect your floors against direct sunlight—using area rugs in places that receive a lot of sunlight or keeping curtains closed as much as possible during heavy sun times 

If you have indoor dogs, keep their nails trimmed. 

Long nails can scratch the finish, so keep them groomed. (Your dog will also thank you!) 

Maintain a stable relative humidity in your home. 

Hardwood floors shrink and expand with changes in relative humidity (more so with solid-plank floors, but even engineered flooring experiences some shrinking and expanding). As humidity increases, the floor takes on moisture and expands, and excessive moisture can lead to cupping. As the humidity decreases, the wood loses moisture and shrinks, which can cause gapping between boards. 

To prevent cupping, an air conditioner and/or dehumidifier should be used in the summer, when the relative humidity outside is high. When it gets cold and the relative humidity outside drops, a humidifier should be used to prevent gapping. The ideal is to keep the relative humidity as close to 40 percent as possible, no higher than 50 percent in the summer and above 30 percent in the winter. 

If you have questions about how to keep your hardwood flooring looking its best for years to come, give us a call at 920.984.3383 or 800.354.9902, or stop by our showroom 

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

The Deadmans

Posted on Fri, Apr 13, 2018 @ 23:04 PM

technology-3216744_1920-611641-editedBruce Deadman first met my father, Ralph Lorenz, at a home show in 1984, where he could see firsthand what finished hardwood flooring from Ralph’s looks like. 

“I was impressed by Ralph’s product, and the way you did things,” Bruce said in a recent interview.  

And he liked my dad, who founded Ralph’s. So, Bruce—who is an attorney for Davis and Kuelthau in Green Bay—hired us to install oak hardwood floors in the first home he ever built, in the Bay Highlands neighborhood in Green Bay. 

Since then, whenever Bruce has moved and needed hardwood floor work, we don’t even call anybody else,” he said. “Ralph’s is cordial, professional, and you have a great product.” 

In 1994, the Deadmans built another new home, in Hobart. They again chose us to install oak floors, but with a little lighter color. It was also our first time working with that contractor, who liked our work enough to give us continued work over the years. 

And when Bruce’s mother was building a home on Green Bay in Dyckesville, he recommended us to her, and we installed maple hardwood flooring in the kitchen and family room.  

She lived there for almost 20 years, until she had to go to an assisted living facility and has since passed away. The Deadmans have lived in that house for several years now, but for awhile, it wasn’t permanently occupied.  

Deadman remembers one weekend during that time when he and his wife were hoping to attend the 2012 Super Bowl in Indianapolis. They had won the Green Bay season ticket holders lottery to be able to get tickets if Green Bay made the Super Bowl, and Green Bay was favored to do just that. But then New York beat them in the playoffs, and the disappointed Deadmans decided to spend the weekend instead at their mother’s former home on the Bay. 

Now Bruce is very glad that it worked out that way, because when they arrived, they quickly heard water running. The icemaker had malfunctioned and had been running water all week. 

“It had basically wrecked all the hardwood floors,” Deadman said, so he called us to fix the damage. 

“All I had to do was call you,” he said. “You had all the plans. Your team didn’t even have to come take measurements. They just came out and got the job done. In a very stressful situation, they were outstanding.” 

While the Deadmans were living in Hobart, we also refinished their floors for them, using the Swedish finish that they love.  

“We were very happy with that, and I would certainly recommend using the dustless option,” Bruce said. 

Bruce, who used to do some legal work for me and so knows me that way as well, said it’s comforting that we’ve continued the customer-focused philosophy that Dad created. 

“I don’t have any plans to ever call anyone else,” Bruce said, adding that it might not be long from now, as the Deadmans are seriously considering replacing some carpeting with hardwood flooring. 

One thing’s for sure: When they call, we’ll be ready!  

Thanks, Bruce and Sandy, for being such great and loyal customers. You’re the type of customers that make it a pleasure to be in the hardwood floor business.  

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

Caring For Newly Finished Hardwood Flooring

Posted on Wed, Apr 11, 2018 @ 09:04 AM

 

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Made of strong wood with finishes that are more protective than ever, hardwood floors are extremely durable 

But when the finish is fresh, it’s much more sensitive than it will be after it fully cures.  

During this brief time, we recommend that homeowners follow these guidelines: 

Maintain a warm room temperature 

Once the floor is finished, the room temperature needs to remain between 68-75 degrees for one week. The floor must be warm for the finish to cure properly. 

(For new sand-on-site floors or refinish jobs that involve re-sanding, the room temperature should also be between 68-75 degrees for at least one day prior to the sanding.) 

Help your floors dry 

Ventilation helps finish dry. It also helps get rid of the strong finish smell. So, six hours after the last coat of finish has been applied, go by your home and open any doors or windows you can without entering the homecreating as much cross-ventilation as possible. Let the air flow for 15-30 minutes before closing up again. 

The next day, you can return home and begin walking on the floor Open all the windows and doors for a half-hour to an hour, turning on any fans to help with the ventilation, and then close up again. Heat also helps the finish dry. 

Wait to move in furniture 

Don’t put furniture (or appliances) in the room for at least 24 hours after the final application of finish. And when you move it in, set it in place rather than dragging it across the floor. If it’s too heavy to lift, use plywood over blankets or some other method of protecting the floor while you move the heavy load. 

Wait to cover the floors 

Rugs on hardwood floors are a great way to protect floors and add to their beauty. But for the first two weeks after finishing, the finish is still curing. So, for two weeks, don’t cover the floor(s) with rugs, or anything else (such as cardboard boxes during a move).  

An exception is when construction is still going on. In that case, cover the flooring with soft rugs, sheets, blankets, etc., during the day but take them up at night. 

Don’t mop for a month 

Until the finish is sufficiently cured, which can take up to a month, using any liquid to clean (including hardwood flooring cleaners) can weaken the finish.   

If you spill something on the floor, use a damp cloth on that spot only.  

Get ready to enjoy 

Hardwood floors with modern finishes will look wonderful and resist damage for many yearsoften decades—without any need for refurbishment.  

So, be patient as you follow these guidelines. A month of pampering your new finish is a small price to pay for the lasting enjoyment you’ll gain.  

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

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