Ralph's Blog

The Importance of Hardness in Hardwood Floors

Posted on Thu, Dec 27, 2018 @ 14:12 PM

Young, rowdy children are a good reason to pay attention to the hardwood floor hardness on the Janka scale.

Durability is one of the reasons many people choose hardwood flooring for their home. Hardwood floors are known for their ability to resist wear and tear.

But not all hardwood floors are the same. Some species of wood are harder than others, meaning they’re more durable (i.e. less likely to dent).

Hardness is determined by the density of the wood. This is measured using the Janka scale. A species’ Janka rating is determined by how much force is needed to embed a .444-inch steel ball in the wood to half the ball’s diameter. The denser the wood, the more force will be needed.

When choosing a species of wood for your hardwood flooring, hardness might be important, or it may not matter much to you.

Hardness is significant if you expect the floor to experience a lot of activity, such as entertaining or children playing. The more activity in the room, the more likely something will be dropped on it.

Hardness is also a relevant consideration if the floor is in a high-traffic area, such as a kitchen or hallway.

Hardness becomes relatively unimportant in rooms that won’t see a lot of activity or if you don’t mind dents. Some people are very bothered by dents, but some welcome them as a sign of character. Some people actually select “distressed” flooring with dents in it because they want a rustic look.

The hardness of the wood is not the only factor in a hardwood floor’s durability.  The way the wood is cut and the finish used are also factors. But when choosing a species, we suggest paying close attention to hardness if you expect your flooring to be heavily used or you are concerned about dents.

We’re glad to provide our expert advice on how important wood hardness is in your project. And we can help you select the flooring with the right hardness for you. Stop by our showroom any time during business hours to consult with one of our hardwood flooring professionals.

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

A Card From Christmas Past

Posted on Sat, Dec 22, 2018 @ 08:12 AM


Ralph's Hardwood Floors  Christmas

At our company Christmas party in 2000, a lot of babies and toddlers were around, and three women were pregnant.

All this new life made me happy.  Each child was a welcome and cherished member of the Ralph’s family. My own wonderful daughter, Kayla (born July 2000) was in the crowd, so I identified with every young family there. It felt good that Ralph’s was a part of our budding lives.

We got the idea at the party that the young ones and the pregnant mothers should grace the front of our company Christmas card (shown above). So that’s what we did, taking the photo on the spot. It’s now one of my favorites among our annual Christmas cards.

The young kids in this photo (and those soon to come) are now young adults or verging on it. But I have that “I knew you when you were a little itty-bitty thing” with them all.  It’s nice.

Seven of the 10 kids in this photo (including the soon-to-be born) have a parent who still works at Ralph’s, and several of these kids worked for us at one point or another. That’s another thing that makes me happy about this card. I’m not just paying lip service when I say, “the Ralph’s family.” I want Ralph’s to be a place where we don’t just work with each other; we care for each other. A place where we stick together. This card is  a great snapshot of that.

We have what, in sports, is known as team chemistry. That pays off for our customers because our team works hard together to get the win for you—a beautiful, artisan, fits-your-taste floor that is a showcase of your home.

This chemistry and comradery are also important to us because, well, who wants to work with people they don’t like or respect? Not me.

Merry Christmas to everyone in the picture and to everyone associated with it. Merry Christmas to anyone we’ve ever worked for or with. Merry Christmas to you!

May all your hardwood dreams be good.

Tags: stories, Christmas hardwood, Ralph's Hardwood, Ralph's Christmas, Christmas card stories

Raw Wood You Can Walk On

Posted on Mon, Dec 17, 2018 @ 15:12 PM

Invisible Stain Raw Wood Look-1

Sometimes, while in the middle of a project, a client will call and say, “Hey, Rod, you know, I absolutely love the way the floor looks right now. I really like that raw wood look. Is there any way we can keep the floors the way they are unfinished?"

That natural unfinished look and feel of raw wood just resonates with them. Although we empathize and often agree that there is immense beauty in the natural look, we know that unprotected wood flooring can’t stand the test of time.

For the past 50 years, our answer has always been that we just couldn’t do it. Putting down a sealer will make a floor look more amber. Even trying a white stain makes the grain of the wood look different. Thankfully, we no longer have to say "no" to our customers. Over the past few years, the flooring industry has come out with some new innovative coating technology like Loba’s 2K Invisible Protect A.T.

Everything about these products is what homeowners and business owners alike are looking for:

  • Extremely low sheen
  • Natural oil look
  • Anti-slip
  • Applied over any stain.

When working with interior designers, they love the low sheen that this coating provides. According to our design friends, “a low-sheen finish allows the wood to be the central focus. If you want to emphasize the color and warmth of the wood, a low-sheen finish is a great choice.Each type of wood has unique characteristics and grain patterns, and choosing a low-sheen finish allows these characteristics to become more apparent and truly showcase the beauty of the wood.

"If you are looking for modern hardwood floors that offers more character and a natural wood look, you have to use a low sheen finish.”

In addition, the low sheen on wood floors will show far fewer scratches and dings than high-gloss floors, so watching pet paws and soccer cleats scuttle across the room won't make you worry so much—or have to refinish so frequently.

We’ve even gone as far as applying this product to cherry wood to help reduce the amount of red that comes through with stains and sealers.

Every customer we have is unique and so are their needs. There are so many different styles of homes and ways to make your hardwood floors stand out. Our goal has always been and will always be to help bring a floor into your home that shows off the beauty and care you put it to it.

Let us help you create a stunning floor in your home that will be the envy of the neighborhood. Stop by our showroom today or give us a call to book your appointment.

Tags: hardwood floor trends, hardwood floors and interior design, finishes, stains & textures

There better be a piece of Gran-grammy’s pie left!

Posted on Sat, Dec 15, 2018 @ 07:12 AM

One of the many traditions I love about Christmas is the family food.

It’s not regular food. It’s not fancy food. It’s family food—made in a way that’s unique  to your family in a special way.20181120_111941_resized

I’m talking about the favorite cake from your grandma, an aunt’s perfect green bean casserole, cookies that only your mom can make.

In the picture above are three of my mother’s many family recipes. As you can see, they’ve been lovingly used. Food stains mix with her handwritten notes. You can see how she made her own adjustments to fit with the times and her cooking experience.

I’ve come to realize this is common—what earlier generations have done, the cooks of the day faithfully recreate, usually making small changes but never leaving any doubt about what favorite family recipe it is.

Hardwood floors are the same. We find that our customers often want a hardwood floor that reminds them of a grandparent’s house or a floor in the house they grew up in. In other cases, there’s no direct connection, but the customer has a vision in mind that fits a style they’ve seen somewhere—if not in person, then in pictures.

Whatever the reason for wanting a certain look, the process we go through with our customers to fulfill their wishes reminds me of holiday cooking and eating, of how a cook can be devoted to recreating a traditional taste while also making small modifications that make sense based on new techniques or trends

Some things that once were standard are now seen in a different light, like the lard in the chocolate chip cake recipe shown above. The flavor was great then, and we want it now, but we’ve figured out better ways to get that taste.

That’s the same thinking behind our mission to give you the classic hardwood floor look you want—with whatever small refinements are necessary. You can have a classic-style floor, without sacrificing your ability to reflect your taste.

We love to talk with visitors to our showroom about how we can recreate cherished looks in a personal, modern way. Or call us at 920.984.3383 or 800.354.9902 to begin the discussion.

P.S. You might want to use the recipes on Mom’s recipe cards. They rock

Tags: custom hardwood flooring, Wisconsin, about Ralph's, stories

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