Ralph's Blog

Why Choose Engineered Hardwood Flooring?

Posted on Thu, Feb 14, 2019 @ 07:02 AM

The best engineered hardwood flooring looks beautiful and performs great.

Hardwood flooring is a popular choice among homeowners because of its longevity and unique, beautiful appearance. But in the past, homeowners who wanted hardwood floors in their homes had only one good option: solid plank flooring.

Solid plank was costly, yet there were no decent alternatives. Engineered hardwood flooring, in most cases, didn’t have the necessary quality, appearance, and longevity to replace it.

This is no longer the case. Engineered hardwood has become a viable alternative to solid planks.

What Is Engineered Flooring?

The difference between engineered and solid plank hardwood flooring is in the composition. As its name suggests, solid plank hardwood consists of a single piece of timber. Engineered hardwood flooring is made of less-expensive layers of wood topped with a layer of hardwood.

A main benefit of engineered hardwood flooring is stability in high-moisture conditions. The layers of wood below the surface layer run in opposing directions, which makes engineered hardwood more stable than solid planks. That’s why it’s ideal for installing over a concrete slab, in below-ground rooms, and over radiant heating systems.

Engineered hardwood flooring of the past had many disadvantages, however. The top layer was usually made too thin, so you could not sand it more than once, if even that. What’s more, if the veneer was rotary-peeled, it often didn’t have the appearance of solid plank hardwood.

The Quality Engineered Hardwood Flooring of Today

Engineered hardwood flooring isn’t only for high-moisture conditions anymore. With today’s quality products, the top layer is thick enough to be sanded and refinished, which significantly increases the longevity of the flooring.

The sawn-cut veneer used now can be much thicker than the 3 mm that sliced veneer and rotary-peeled veneer are typically limited to. Additionally, sawn-cut veneer is cut in the same way as solid plank flooring, so it looks as good as the solid plank hardwood flooring.

Is Engineered Hardwood Flooring Replacing Solid Plank Hardwood Flooring?

A wide variety of prefinished styles are available as engineered hardwood flooring, or you can have the engineered flooring site-finished. So you can create custom floors the same as you would with solid plank flooring. But this doesn’t mean that engineered flooring will replace solid plank flooring — it’s merely a matter of preference. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages.

Talk to a hardwood specialist to decide what would be the best option for your home and tastes. At Ralph’s, we’re proud to offer both solid plank and engineered hardwood flooring, and we’ll be happy to help you decide on the right choice for you. Visit our showroom to see what we can offer!

Photo Courtesy of Boa-Franc,Creative Commons.

Tags: hardwood floor options, engineered hardwood flooring

What Makes Handscraped Hardwood Flooring Unique?

Posted on Wed, Sep 05, 2018 @ 13:09 PM

 

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Hand-scraped hardwood floors have a unique look. Although they have gone in and out of style, it doesn’t change the fact that they are a beautifully unique floor. If you’re wondering what makes handscraped hardwood flooring so unique and popular, we’ve got the answers.

When it comes to choosing hardwood floors, people generally want something that will fit into their home well. Style can be significant, as well as the amount of maintenance the floor requires. As you probably know, all these factors influence the final decision. Therefore, it’s only logical that those types of flooring that fit more styles and require less maintenance are more popular. Here are some of the benefits and defining characteristics of handscraped hardwood flooring.

Warm and Classic Appearance

The effect of hand scraping used to be quite common in the old days of making floor planks. When woodworkers used the draw knife (a single blade with a handle at both ends) to scrape and smoothen the planks, it left marks on the wood. Those used to be typical for wooden flooring, and Hand-scraped hardwood floors have a similar look. It adds a certain charm and aesthetic appeal to both modern and older homes. Hand-scraped hardwood flooring perfectly matches antique furniture and provides a unique appearance to every room.

Scraped By Hand Vs. Machine

There’s a noticeable difference between floors that were handscraped and those that were done by machine if you know where to look. In genuinely handscraped floors, every plank will have a unique pattern. Placement is crucial and should have a bit of a flair for the artistic. However, with machine scraping, the designs will be more uniform, repetitive, and less pleasing to the eye.

Handscraped Or Distressed?

Sometimes the terms “handscraped” and “distressed” are used interchangeably, but they’re in fact two very different types of flooring. Distressed flooring is when dings and dents appear in the floor making it looked aged and well used. Unlike handscraping, a distressed look is often done with a machine. Although we have done several distressed looks manually, it's not a very popular look today. Its general aim is to make it look like the floor has gone through a lot more wear and tear, especially with features such as artificial wormholes. As opposed to that, handscraped floors only have subtle markings left by the artisan, which makes them ideal for many homeowners.

Pros and Cons of Handscraped Flooring

One of the more apparent advantages of Hand-scraped hardwood floors is durability. In households with children, prone to floor-damaging accidents, an extra dent or a blemish on a Hand-scraped floor won’t hurt the overall appearance. However, the installation process can be challenging, which is why hiring a professional is a must. Also, since there’s a considerable amount of effort put into producing hand scraped planks, they’re often more expensive. Many homeowners find the price is worth it, once you consider the uniqueness of Hand-scraped flooring, as well as its durability.

 

These are the main reasons why Hand-scraped hardwood flooring has gotten so popular. If you feel like it might be the right thing for you, we’d love to consult with you about any of your hardwood flooring needs. Visit our showroom to take a look at what we offer!

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: custom hardwood flooring, engineered hardwood flooring, finishing touches, finishes, stains & textures, remodeling, installation

Floor Protectors for Furniture

Posted on Wed, Aug 22, 2018 @ 12:08 PM

 

floor protectors

New hardwood flooring is a beautiful investment that can give your home a completely fresh look. Of course, making sure that your new floors are protected is the next logical step. There’s a variety of floor protectors for furniture to choose from, starting with felt pads to mountable rolling casters and entrance mats. Whichever protectors you want, you should be aware that you still have to install them correctly. Let’s have a look at some floor protector options and how to use them.

Felt Pads

Felt pads come in a few varieties and different sizes: self-adhesive, tap-in felt glides, etc. Once installed on your furniture, they enable you to move it across your hardwood floor without damaging it. We recommend tap-in floor glides  They should go on anything that is going to moved frequently such as dining room chairs and tables.    Stick on glides can go under items that may be moved less frequence such as a sofa table or hutch.   If you do not have a wood base, you should use the stick on glides but check them often as there is a tendency for those to come off.  Make sure to check the felt pads often and clean them if they’re dirty. If you notice they’ve gotten damaged, replace them before the damage causes scuffs on the flooring.

Entrance Mats

While entrance mats aren’t usually for furniture, they’re still essential floor protectors. A large percentage of all the dirt and debris gets into your home on the soles of your shoes. An entrance mat works non-stop on preventing dirt from entering your home and scratching your floors. That will minimize tracking of dust and water, so you won’t have to clean your floors so often. They’re the first line of defense of your hardwood floors.

Cup-Shaped Protectors

Cup-shaped protectors are usually plastic or rubber. They’re similar to rubber grippers in the sense that they’re also not used for furniture that’s frequently moved. They’re better for heavy stationary objects. You can install them by placing them on the floor and resting the furniture legs on top. Cup-shaped protectors provide excellent weight distribution which decreases the likelihood that heavy furniture will damage the flooring.

Cloth Gliders

Your hardwood floors are supposed to last for a long time, but they won’t if you don’t take care of them. Furniture protectors can help you with that — and here at Ralph’s Hardwood Floors, we can help you with flooring. Come to visit our showroom for more information.

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

Area Rugs and Hardwood Floor Care

Posted on Wed, Aug 08, 2018 @ 08:08 AM

 

area rugs and hardwood floor care

After installing hardwood floors, taking proper care of them is imperative if you want them to last long. There are different ways to protect hardwood floors from traffic damage and the everyday wear and tear. One of those ways is using area rugs where needed. Let’s take a look at some things you need to pay attention to when shopping for an area rug, as well as why area rugs and hardwood floor care go hand in hand.

Hardwood Floor Protection with Area Rugs

In theory, area rugs protect your hardwood floors by taking the brunt of the daily traffic, furniture shuffling and the like. That’s all true — area rugs prevent sunlight damage, furniture scratches, debris, dust and water from outdoors, etc. You can choose runner rugs for the high-traffic areas such as hallways and entryways, oversized area rugs that would cover a larger area. However, there are a few things to consider other than size and color when shopping for an area rug.

Area Rug Materials for Hardwood Floors

You’ll want to focus on breathable materials such as wool, which is always a good choice. It’s durable and will absorb most of the damage that would otherwise be inflicted on your floors. The surface material is essential, but the backing of the rug will determine whether it’s a good fit or not. Since the backing will be the part that touches the floor, make sure you avoid rugs with a latex backing. The backing can trap moisture and residue can make the floor slippery underneath.

Non-Staining Area Rugs

Another thing to look out for is whether the area rug you chose is non-staining. If it isn’t, the first rainy day and dampness from outside could ruin your floors. By opting for non-staining area rugs, you ensure that the colors and dyes from the carpet won’t seep into your floors when the carpet gets wet or damp. Always read the label, because the manufacturer will usually put a warning if the color may run through the rug.

Area Rug Pads

Rug pads are used to keep area rugs in place and to protect hardwood flooring. Unfortunately, not all rug pads get the job done. A poor choice could cause serious harm to your hardwood floor finishes. Plastic pads can move and cause scratches when dirt gets under the pad Natural rubber and felt are better options, as they can keep your rugs in place without sticking to the floors.

 

With these tips, you’ll be able to keep your hardwood floors in great shape for a long time. If your hardwood floors need refinishing or renovation, come visit our showroom for a closer look at our offer!

Tags: custom hardwood flooring, engineered hardwood flooring, finishes, stains & textures, natural oils, caring for your hardwood floors

Can't make it to our showroom? Here's the next best thing

Posted on Fri, Jun 22, 2018 @ 13:06 PM

Are you thinking about a hardwood floor project? Magazines and websites will only get you so far. What you really need is the full experience--walking on a floor you're considering; touching it; seeing it as it will really look.

You need to come to our <showroom> to do that, but this is the next best thing.

Come out and visit our showroom!

Tags: custom hardwood flooring, engineered hardwood flooring, finishing touches, finishes, stains & textures, remodeling, hardwood floors & interior design

Ralph's is on TV!

Posted on Wed, May 23, 2018 @ 14:05 PM

Have you seen our latest commercial? If not, take a look now. You’ll see how beautiful a hardwood floor from Ralph’s can look.

It all starts with you. You have a vision. We can make it happen. Uniquely yours.

Come out and visit our showroom!

Tags: custom hardwood flooring, engineered hardwood flooring, finishing touches, finishes, stains & textures, remodeling, hardwood floors & interior design

Finishing Your Hardwood Floors to Get Just the Look You Want

Posted on Wed, May 16, 2018 @ 11:05 AM

 

Floor finish

Hardwood floor finishes protect the flooring, but they do much more than that. They play a major role in how hardwood floors look.

Some homeowners want finishes that don’t shine. Some want finishes that do. Some want the colors in the wood to “pop.”

Whatever look you desire, you can get a finish that helps achieve it. The important thing is to be aware of how the finish you choose will affect the appearance.

One of the most significant visual characteristics of a finish is its sheen, which refers to how shiny the finish is. High-gloss has the most sheen, followed in order of shininess by semi-gloss, satin, and matte.

Low-sheen matte floors are popular right now, but trends come and go. What you should focus on is what you like. At Ralph’s, we can create a finish with whatever level of sheen you want, so there’s no need to settle for a finish that doesn’t exactly fit your personal taste.

Color is another major choice for homeowners that affects appearance. Some people prefer clear finishes, which let the natural color of the wood stand out. But for those who want a different color, stains can be used to create virtually any color you want. As with sheen, when you have Ralph’s do the finishing, we can give you the color you want.

Finish types include polyurethane, water-based, moisture-cured urethane, Swedish finishes, and natural oils. Each type has advantages and disadvantages.   

The most popular finish over the years has been the Swedish finish, which brings out a very rich color. The new popular finish is a water-based finish called Invisible. It makes the floor look “raw”—a floor without finish.  

Whichever type of finish you prefer, and no matter what look you’re after, Ralph’s can provide it. If you visit our showroom, we will gladly talk with you about the look you want and give our expert advice on the right finish for your vision. We’ll also explain the pros and cons of each finishing option in terms of durability, ease of maintenance, and cost.

What’s important to you is important to us!

Tags: custom hardwood flooring, engineered hardwood flooring, finishing touches, finishes, stains & textures, remodeling, hardwood floors & interior design

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

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

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

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