Ralph's Blog

Do Hardwood Floors Make a Home More Valuable?

Posted on Sat, Feb 16, 2019 @ 08:02 AM

Most home buyers love to see hardwood floors in a home they're considering.

I’m often asked, “How much will hardwood flooring add to the value of my home?”

My answer is, “There are too many variables to know for sure.”

When home buyers are deciding how much they’re willing to pay, they’re considering so many things that it’s impossible to isolate the impact of the hardwood flooring. I’ve seen estimates that hardwood floors can increase the sales price by as much as 2.5%, but any estimate is just a guess.

However, I can say this with certainty: If you talk to Realtors, most of them will tell you that hardwood floors help a lot when selling a home.

Pushing up the sales price is just one aspect of that. From what I’ve seen, probably the biggest advantage is that hardwood floors help homes sell faster.

Home buyers have come to expect hardwood flooring in homes. Carpeting is a turn-off for many buyers, particularly younger ones. To be move-in ready, they want hardwood floors that don’t need refinishing.

Beautiful, immaculate hardwood floors also make prospective buyers say “Wow!” The floors set a positive tone for their whole impression of the home.

For these reasons, if a seller’s hardwood floors don’t look fresh, Realtors suggest refinishing (and re-sanding if necessary).

If there’s carpeting in a home, with hardwood flooring underneath, tearing out the carpet and restoring the floor is also a smart move. And even if there’s only sub-flooring underneath the carpeting, installing new hardwood floors might make sense in some markets and price ranges.

I’m proud to say that one piece of anecdotal evidence I have about the value of hardwood floors is the fact that a Realtor once included “Hardwood floors by Ralph’s” in a home’s description for the Multiple Listing Services (MLS).

So, while I can’t put an exact number on how much value hardwood floors add to a home when it’s sold, I can say that hardwood floors often increase the sales price and usually help a home sell faster, which typically is financially advantageous.

But I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that the greatest value of hardwood floors is the enjoyment they bring while you’re living in your home. If you’re ready to sell immediately, then it’s a non-issue, but if you’re looking at future financial benefits as a justification for the cost of hardwood floors, don’t forget to factor in their value to you now.

Image courtesy of American Advisors Group, Creative Commons

Tags: remodeling, why choose hardwood floors?, restoring hardwood floors

Bringing Worn Hardwood Floors Back to Life: Before and After

Posted on Wed, May 02, 2018 @ 11:05 AM



If your hardwood floors are getting old, they don’t have to be replaced. They can look good as new again. 

On this project, the pine floor was very worn and covered with residue. The homeowner was afraid nothing could be done to restore it, but our salesperson, Paul, assured her that Ralph’s had the expertise. 

Our experienced, knowledgeable refinishers were able to repair, re-sand, and refinish that old pine floor to make it beautiful and fresh again.   

A particular challenge was that a large section of the floor wasn’t wood, and the homeowner wanted to install matching pine flooring there. Paul explained that the pine of today might not match the pine from years ago. But when I saw the existing flooring, I remembered some old pine we had stored away. I thought it would match well, and it did! 

The homeowner was so amazed with this project that she’s now having us do a dining room for her.  

Check out the before and after photos below:

Before #1After #1

Before #2After #2

Before #3After #3

Tags: custom hardwood flooring, remodeling, installation, restoring hardwood floors

The Wheelhouse Restaurant: Delicious Food and Yummy Hardwood Floors

Posted on Fri, Jun 16, 2017 @ 08:06 AM

In 1977, when Jeff Maiman bought the building he turned into The Wheelhouse Restaurant, he knew he had to do something about the hardwood floors. They were worn out and ugly, painted dark chocolate.

Maiman wanted to create a woodsy, nautical look in tune with the restaurant’s location—the Chain O’ Lakes in Waupaca County, Wisconsin, a popular area for boating, canoeing, and other outdoor recreation. And he knew hardwood floors would be a key element in creating that natural atmosphere.

Maiman called a company he had heard did high-quality hardwood floor work—Ralph’s Hardwoods. From the moment Ralph’s founder, Ralph Lorenz, and his wife, Roberta, showed up at his door to look over the job, Maiman has been glad he turned to Ralph’s.

He appreciates Ralph’s attentive customer service. And as avid woodworker himself, he has great respect for the skill of their work.

“We were really, really impressed with the job they did,” Maiman said about the refinishing of the old floors he had bought. “They do quality work, and if it ain’t right, they make it right.”

The relationship between The Wheelhouse and Ralph’s has stood the test of time and is now in its fifth decade.

A Natural Match

The rustic charm of The Wheelhouse fits perfectly with the idyllic Chain O’ Lakes, and the hardwood floors set the dining area’s tone.

“This is really a knotty pine and wood interior,” Maiman said. “It’s kind of an ‘up-northy’ feel, and the hardwood floors really make it pop. I couldn’t see having any other type of floor.”

The Wheelhouse.png

Maiman painstakingly constructed the tables and booths for the restaurant with his own hands, so working with Ralph’s is more than just good business. It’s an assurance that the floors with live up to his personal quality standards.

Whether it’s the tables and booths he sweated over, or the pizza, sandwiches, and other menu items—which are known for being delicious, fresh, and scratch-made—Maiman insists on the best. So it’s only natural that he chooses to work with a hardwood floor company that shares in that insistence.

He fondly remembers how Ralph’s once voluntarily returned to refinish a floor free of charge because Ralph wasn’t satisfied with the quality of the first refinishing. That’s the dedication to quality he’s come to expect from Ralph’s.

As Maiman has expanded The Wheelhouse, Ralph’s has put in the hardwood floors. And Maiman calls on Ralph’s every year to recoat the floors—a frequency of recoating that isn’t needed in a home setting but that Maiman deemed necessary in a high-traffic commercial space like his popular restaurant.

“We wanted to stay on top of it,” Maiman said. “Ralph’s worked very well with me in doing so.”

New Hardwood Delights Customers

Three years ago, during the relatively slow winter season, Maiman had the hardwood floors completely replaced with new Ash flooring, including in areas that previously were carpeted. Now the restaurant, which has about 3,000 square feet of space in its dining area, is virtually all hardwood, coated with a moisture-cured urethane finish designed specifically for commercial spaces.

Maiman loves the new floors, and so do his customers. A compass rose inlay medallion, in particular, draws raves.

“Ralph’s blended it all so well,” he said. “I’ve had nothing but compliments from everyone who has come in. They look at our floors and say, ‘Wow! How can we get floors like that?’ And we send them to Ralph’s.”

Refinishing each year makes them look like they’re brand new, Maiman said, and he values the durability and easy maintenance of the moisture-cured urethane finish.

“It’s hard as rock, “he said. “It holds up so well, and it’s so easy to take care of. “

Let Ralph’s Do It

Maiman also owns an ice cream shop, Scoopers, across the street from The Wheelhouse. For years, Maiman refinished Scoopers’ pine plank floor himself, coating it with a polyurethane finish. But he was so pleased with the finish, and Ralph’s craftmanship in The Wheelhouse, that he eventually brought in Ralph’s to take care of the floors in Scoopers as well.

“Why not?” he figured.

“Hands-down, they are better than I am,” he said, laughing. “And they have proven themselves.”

Tags: about Ralph's, finishes, stains & textures, restoring hardwood floors

Can I blend new hardwood floors with old hardwood floors?

Posted on Thu, Nov 26, 2015 @ 15:11 PM

Borders between rooms can blend hardwood floors together.It’s not at all unusual for homeowners to want to add new hardwood flooring adjacent to an existing hardwood floor. But we’ve found that many people hesitate because they presume there’s no way to blend the new with the old.

In most cases, that’s an incorrect assumption. Existing floors and old floors can be harmonized, and the transition between them can be virtually seamless.

Three factors should always be considered:

1. The species of wood used. Obviously, if you have two different species next to each other, the floors aren’t going to match. Even when we know the species, some woods, such as Red Oak, are easy to blend, whereas others, such as Maple, are more difficult.

2. The condition of the existing floor. Usually, it doesn’t matter if the existing floor is worn, because we can sand it at the same time we sand the new floor. However, some damage, such as large black spots caused by water, may not come out. And some homeowners don’t want us to sand the existing floor, making blending more difficult.

3. The age of the existing floor. Age can change the color of the wood. For example, Maple starts out blonde but over time becomes a light beige color—making it a challenge to blend new and old Maple floors. It can be done, however, by blending the two floors together using specialty cuts of Maple and using specialized staining/finishing processes that we have implemented over the past 50 years.

Matching isn’t always necessary

Now that we’ve talked about how nice it is to be able to blend old and new flooring, we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that floors next to each don’t have to exactly match to work together well.

In some cases, a good match may not be possible, even with the most-skilled hardwood flooring experts working on the job. But don’t give up on new flooring! Contrasting floors can be beautiful and quite visually interesting.

In fact, some people seek out a contrast in order to differentiate rooms (e.g., between a living area and a kitchen) or just to mix things up.

To make the transition smooth between the contrasting flooring, you can use hardwood borders between the old and new flooring to make it clear that the contrast is intentional and to highlight the differing character of both floors.

Visit our showroom or give us a call to discuss how we can help you add new flooring next to old flooring in a way that you’ll love.

Tags: restoring hardwood floors, hardwood floors & interior design, remodeling, FAQs

A Ralph's Makeover

Posted on Thu, Apr 23, 2015 @ 07:04 AM



In February, Ralph’s Hardwood Floors announced the winner of our “Ugliest Floor” contest on Facebook.

Now the winner, Sara Dorn-McGuire, and her family are enjoying her prize—a free refinishing of her hardwood floors. More than 1,900 people chose her flooring as the most in need of refinishing among the many entries we received. We recently completed the job—338 square feet in her kitchen, dining room, hallway, and foyer.

Sara was aware of our reputation for quality, but as with most of our customers, she was delightfully surprised at how great her floors now look. After we refinished them with our experienced, craftsman’s touch, they went from being floors that bothered her to floors that give her pleasure every day and that she’s now proud to show off.

Dorn-McGuire_USE“They turned out better than I ever imagined,” she told us. “I’m very happy with them. People who have stopped by say, “Wow, they really look great!”

Sara was also happy to find that dust wasn’t a problem. Using our state-of-the-art Dust Containment System, we were able to extract the dust directly from our sanding machines outside Sara’s home.

“You left everything very clean,” Sara said. “You were great to work with.”

The Ugliest Floor contest was part of our year-long celebration of our 50th year in business. Since 1965, we’ve been providing homeowners across northeast Wisconsin with the same high level of satisfaction that Sara has with her beautiful new floors.

If you’d like to keep up with Ralph’s as we announce other exciting events and specials during our 50th anniversary celebration, please visit our Facebook page and give us a like.

If you’re ready to give your old, beat-up hardwood floors a makeover—or you want to install brand-new hardwood flooring—please get in touch with us. Even if you’re just thinking about it, we can provide you with useful advice.

Tags: restoring hardwood floors, dustless sanding, stories, Ralph's news & events, remodeling

The voting is in, and the ugliest floor in northeast Wisconsin is…

Posted on Sun, Feb 15, 2015 @ 08:02 AM

Sara_Dorn-McGuire_WinnerRalph’s Hardwoods Floors recently held a contest on Facebook to find the “Ugliest Floor” in northeast Wisconsin. The prize was a free refinishing of the floor!

The contest has ended, and after a heated race, the winner is Sara Dorn-McGuire, whose engineered oak floor’s finish was in really bad shape. She received 1,930 votes from Facebook users, outpacing the runner-up’s 1,780 votes.

We’ll be sanding and refinishing the floors in Sara’s kitchen, dining room, hallway, and foyer—338 square feet in all—at no cost to Sara.

Winner-Dinette_FloorWe recently visited Sara’s home to make sure there was enough wear layer (i.e., sandable wood) on the engineered flooring to sand. Some engineered floors don’t have enough, but fortunately Sara’s do.

It was clear, though, that Sara’s floors were in desperate need of new finish—the old finish was virtually gone.

“We built our home in 1997, and we’ve had dogs and our three kids grew up on them, so they are just beat,” Sara told us.

Sara_Dorn-McGuire_Winner_floor_closeupSara said she first started thinking about refinishing the floors about a year ago. Her husband is a handy guy and has done home projects before, so her original idea was that he would do it himself. But he never quite got around to it.

So when Sara heard about our contest, she figured, why not enter?

“I took pictures of the floor and put it on Facebook and just shared it with friends and family,” Sara said. “They supported me and shared it on their wall. People just began voting and sharing it with other people.”


In Sara’s case, winning the free refinishing isn’t about saving money.

“It saved my husband a lot of work,” she laughed.

We’ll be refinishing the floors in the few weeks, and Sara is eagerly awaiting the new look for her home.

 “I know Ralph’s has an excellent reputation, so I’m sure they’re going to be beautiful,” she said.

get inspired with ralph's hardwood floor idea book

Tags: restoring hardwood floors, Ralph's news & events

Show your hardwood floors some love this Valentine’s Day by restoring them

Posted on Sat, Feb 14, 2015 @ 08:02 AM


Today is Valentine’s Day—not exactly a day that makes most people think of their parents.

But as today approached, I found myself fondly recollecting a moment Mom and Dad shared together one Valentine’s Day about 15 years ago.

My wife—possibly trying to kindle the romantic side of me—had purchased tickets for us to attend a “chocolate festival” on Valentine’s night. Unfortunately, she ended up with a migraine, and instead of spending the night indulging in chocolate, we spent a few hours at a clinic.

The tickets were expensive, though, and we didn’t want to waste them. So we asked Mom and Dad if they wanted to go. The next day they were leaving on a driving vacation to Nashville, but they didn’t let that deter them, and they accepted the tickets.

When they got to the festival, they found—and ate—a lot of very rich chocolate, which put them in the mood for coffee, of which they had several cups. That night—jacked up on the chocolate and coffee—they stayed up late into the night talking, as if they were 20 years younger.

Even when they tried to go to bed, they couldn’t fall asleep. Finally, they figured, “why fight it?” and they got up at 4 am to get an early start on their trip.

Were they tired? Not at all, they told me later. They had pulled an all-nighter—like college kids—and they felt rejuvenated. That day, they drove all the way to Nashville and saw a show at the Grand Ole Opry.

I love rejuvenation, whether it’s a long-married husband and wife enjoying a Valentine’s Day like a young couple, or a hardwood floor Ralph’s Hardwoods Floors has restored.

Chocolate and coffee worked on Mom and Dad; sanding and refinishing work on hardwood floors. Nothing can match the look on my parents’ face when they got back from Nashville, but rejuvenated floors provide me with a similar good feeling. It never fails to amaze me how hardwood floors can be re-sanded and/or refinished to look more beautiful than ever.

This Valentine’s Day, I urge you to spend a loving day with that special someone in your life, and I hope you find it as enjoyable and invigorating as Mom and Dad did on that memorable Valentine’s Day when they had too much caffeine and sugar.


Ralph's 50th Anniversary Flooring Specials


Photo courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/photos/16297216@N03/

Tags: restoring hardwood floors, stories, remodeling

Taking the “haunted” out of haunted houses

Posted on Sat, Oct 25, 2014 @ 09:10 AM


One year for Halloween, I took my daughters to one of those “haunted houses” you walk through while stuff meant to scare the kids pops up in front of you. I got a kick out of seeing how scared my girls got as each new fright suddenly appeared.

I think the most afraid they got was when we came upon three little girls who looked just like those two girls who haunted the hotel in The Shining and helped drive Jack Nicholson’s character crazy.

These “ghosts” came up to me and ordered me to come with them. It was all part of the time-honored tradition of giving kids a little scare on Halloween, so I went along with it and started to act like I was walking away with The Shining girls.


You should have seen the look on my daughters’ faces! They thought I was really leaving them! For just a moment, they got really upset—until I reassured them that I wasn’t going anywhere. On the way home, I explained to them that houses can’t really be haunted.

That said, I know I’ve been in a few that have seemed haunted. That’s because they were falling apart. Mildew covered the outside, the paint was peeling off the walls, cobwebs covered cracked windows, the old hardwood floors sagged and creaked—just like a haunted house.

But the only thing haunting those houses was a lack of attention. They were potentially beautiful homes, but they had been allowed to slide into disrepair.

One of the many satisfactions I get from running Ralph’s Hardwoods is that we often get to help people who have taken it on themselves to rescue these old “haunted houses” and restore their grandeur.

Not surprisingly, considering the timeless character and charm of hardwood floors, most people who want to renovate an old home want to keep hardwood flooring in it. That’s where we come in, and it’s a pleasure to assist.

Sometimes we can sand down the floor that’s there and refinish it, perhaps having to fix some trouble spots but essentially keeping the original floor. Other times, we have to install new floors, but we can use our skill and experience to recreate the original look as closely as possible. There are also homeowners who aren’t concerned with the original look, and we help them choose a floor that suits their tastes. They usually select floors that fit the house very well.  

However we help them, it’s always fun to be involved in reclaiming an old, neglected house from the land of the “ghouls and goblins” and turning it into a 21st century home. I guess you could call us the hardwood floor ghostbusters!

Ralph's 2014 Idea Book

Photo courtesy of checkbrazil, Ashley Charlotte, Kwan Cheung

Tags: restoring hardwood floors, stories, remodeling

Is your floor a diamond in the rough?

Posted on Sat, Jun 14, 2014 @ 09:06 AM

City Center Before     City Center After

Before                         After

*Although these are not photos of the floor discussed here, this was another floor that had a similar tranformation after re-sanding and refinishing.

Scratches, gouges, dents, and discolorations in worn hardwood floors can leave homeowners very ready for a change.

But I advise homeowners to slow down before they decide to rip out those old floors. Underneath the wear and tear, they may already have the flooring they’re dreaming about.

I remember early in my career at Ralph’s Hardwoods Floors. I was a sander, and I arrived at a project to find a floor with an ugly orange tint—a sure sign of a floor surface that’s very old, long in need of re-sanding.

I figured it was an approximately 100-year–old maple floor. I was glad the homeowner had decided to re-sand it, because I knew we could make it look great.

But then I started noticing something unusual. Once I began sanding down into the wood, every other board was darker than the other. Eagerly, I kept sanding, filled with excitement. Each stroke revealed more, and I soon realized that I was dealing with a highly distinctive floor of alternating maple and cherry planks.

There was a hidden treasure beneath all that dirt and grime—a diamond in the rough! I felt like an archaeologist uncovering a historic site.

After sanding, we finished the floor with a natural color. When we were done: Wow!

It wasn’t just a great-looking hardwood floor. It was one of the most beautiful floors I’ve ever seen.

Needless to say, the homeowners were ecstatic. They loved the look as much as I did, and they were elated to have a floor that wasn’t commonplace.

Of course, that was an extreme example, which is why it still sticks in my mind. Nonetheless, that “wow” moment happens all the time when we re-sand floors.

Homeowners are usually astonished when they see the valuable flooring that’s been under the surface, just waiting to be brought to life. By removing the surface damage, an old, worn floor can suddenly look new and fresh, with the natural beauty of the wood drawing the eye as intended.

You can even change to a completely new look, which we can easily accomplish during the finishing of the sanded floors. You don’t have to get new flooring to change a certain color, sheen, etc., that you no longer like. We love nothing more than revitalizing a worn floor to make it look just like the picture in a customer’s head.

In almost all cases, when we’re done with a re-sanding/refinishing project, we hear the comment: “I can’t believe it’s the same floor.”

Considering the relatively low cost of re-sanding and refinishing compared to new flooring and installation, homeowners are especially pleased. They certainly act as if they’ve discovered a hidden treasure!

Tags: restoring hardwood floors, the value of hardwood floors, stories, remodeling

Different Finishes for Different Folks

Posted on Tue, May 06, 2014 @ 13:05 PM

If you’re getting ready to install hardwood floors in your home—or to refinish existing floors—don’t underestimate the importance of the type of finish you choose. You need the right finish to complete the look you’re after. Your choice of finish will also determine how durable and scratch-resistant your floors are. Make sure you read all the way to the end. We have something new to share with you. 

Basic finishing options are:


This is the most common choice due to its price and easy application. It typically has a glossier sheen. Some people feel it looks “plastic”; others love its shine.


Unlike polyurethane finishes—which form a layer on top of the wood—Swedish finishes bond to the floor. This creates a natural look with great color and makes the finish extremely durable. Swedish finish is a very popular choice, and we have established our reputation over 40 years by offering our favorite Swedish finish system, Glitsa.


This type of finish is a very hard finish. It also has the advantage of drying faster than most other finishes and a relatively lower odor level. 

Moisture Care Urethane

This is the hardest common finish and is highly water-resistant. It is ideal for high-traffic businesses, such as restaurants or bars.


This was the finish of choice for generations. It has lost much of its popularity—in part because of constantly having to re-wax but also because it doesn’t offer great protection against scratching. But there’s no denying the uniquely beautiful sheen that wax can bring to hardwood floors.

Natural Oil

A mixture of plant oils, waxes, and stain, this type of finish appeals to people concerned about carbon emissions, because it has no volatile organic compounds. Although the yearly maintenance is a drawback, it is a relatively simple process that can be performed by the homeowner. 

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Tung Oil

This finish gives wood a deep glow that enhances the natural color and grain. It is the most water-resistant of pure-oil finishes, but as with any pure-oil finish, it scratches relatively easy and requires frequent reapplication. Many people love its hand-rubbed look.

UV Cured

As promised, introducing the newest technology available in site-finished hardwood floors!!! A floor that can be lived on the day the last coat of finish is applied. Once the finish is dry to the touch (about two hours after application) a UV light is passed over the surface, curing it instantly. You can walk on it, move your furniture and appliances back on it, and even let the dog back on it immediately. We are very excited about this new addition to our line of finishes!

Choosing Your Finish

It helps to decide on the relative importance of appearance, durability, ease of maintenance, and cost to you. For example, many of the less-durable finishes are nonetheless popular because of their distinctive looks, which are just what some people are searching for. For others, a hard finish is a must. To make the best decision, know your priorities.

We’re glad to talk to you about the different finishing options, including your choice of gloss (high-gloss, semi-gloss, satin, or matte). From what we’ve seen in our years of service, we can tell you about how different finishes, glosses, stains, and woods work together. And we can answer questions about how each option fits your goals.


Tags: restoring hardwood floors, remodeling

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