Ralph's Blog

Gray Hardwood Flooring Remains Popular

Posted on Thu, Jan 31, 2019 @ 15:01 PM

Gray hardwood flooring looks great with modern interior design styles.

Homeowners who look at interior design trends for inspiration when remodeling their home often end up choosing to follow a few.

Of course, no one wants to incorporate a trend that will be overused and fall from grace as soon as designers stop creating hype around it. When choosing, tread carefully and go with something you know you’ll like even years in the future.

When it comes to hardwood flooring trends, a popular option—gray hardwood flooring—isn’t showing any signs of slowing down, and lighter gray floors, almost tan in color, are now leading the way. Once you see how gray hardwood flooring looks and how versatile it is, you might fall in love with it, too. Let’s have a closer look at this trend to understand why it’s so popular.

It's a Neutral Tone

Even though a lot depends on the finish and type of hardwood, most hardwood options are warm-toned, which can limit the color palette you can use for each room. However, opting for gray hardwood flooring means you have a neutral tone to work with—opening up the possibilities and complementing multiple styles of design, including  both warm and cool color palettes.

For a gray color with a brown undertone, hickory is a great choice, as you can combine it with almost any style.

It Looks Great in Modern Homes

Gray is a favorite color in modern design and a staple of the color palette that’s used often in modern homes. Being able to pair the color of hardwood floors with other elements in a room can create a great design effect and truly tie everything together. Cool-toned modern designs benefit from gray hardwood floors, although it’s always possible to add some warmth to the design if that’s what you prefer.

It's Unexpected and Unique

Despite its popularity, gray hardwood floors are still a rare sight, in the sense that people don’t expect hardwood to be gray. What’s more, a gray finish enhances the grain of the wood and makes it more visible, providing a beautiful and unique effect that people will undoubtedly notice and compliment.

You Can Go Light or Dark

In the eternal debate of light vs. dark flooring, gray hardwood floors can join either side. With a light gray floor, you’ll benefit from making the room appear more prominent and brighter, as well as ensure that dust and pet hair are less visible. However, for a more dramatic effect, you could go with dark gray. It might take a little more upkeep to keep clean, but it certainly looks impressive.

Gray hardwood flooring isn’t going out of fashion any time soon considering its versatility and unique appeal. If you’re intrigued, visit our showroom. We might have the perfect gray hardwood floor for you!

Tags: hardwood floor options, hardwood floor trends, hardwood floors and interior design, hardwood floor colors

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

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

Deck the Halls

Posted on Fri, Dec 23, 2016 @ 12:12 PM

It is said a picture is worth a thousand words and so here are several thousand for you for the holidays. Merry Christmas and enjoy the hallways.







Tags: hardwood floor trends, hardwood floor colors

Hardwood Flooring Trends: The Distinctive Look of Old-World Oak

Posted on Thu, Jul 28, 2016 @ 15:07 PM

European oak hardwood flooring has a different look than American red oak and American white oak.For as long as I can remember, American red oak and American white oak have been among the most popular tree species for hardwood flooring.

They still are, but European oak is closing the gap in popularity. Generally sourced from France, Germany, and England, this type of oak is usually older and slower growing than the oak trees sourced from North America, with more natural tannins.

Compared to American oak, this different growing environment causes European Oak to have:

  • tighter growth rings, which make the grain patterns more pronounced
  • greater hardness and durability than its American counterpart
  • a darker color  (light- to dark-brown) than the relatively light-colored American oak
  • less color variation
  • less susceptibility to expanding and contracting
  • thinner sap wood, which gives longer and wider boards a better appearance in many customers’ eyes.

Another attraction is that European Oak can look wonderful with a natural oil finish, which has a beautifully natural patina that fits the taste of many our customers. The fact that homeowners can easily apply a natural finish when the flooring begins to look worn is just one more selling point.

European oak is often site-finished, but there is no shortage of high-quality prefinished European oak available for those who prefer that option.

American red and white oak aren’t going anywhere because they continue to look great, as they have for years. But it’s not hard to understand why more and more people these days are attracted to European oak. It has a uniquely beautiful look that is just right for many—a look that’s difficult to achieve with American oak.

To see for yourself how stunningly good-looking European Oak can be, please visit our showroom. We can help you decide if it’s the right hardwood flooring option for you.

Tags: hardwood floor trends, types of hardwood used in flooring

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