Ralph's Blog

The Value in Hardwood Floors

Posted on Thu, Jan 07, 2016 @ 15:01 PM

Hardwood floors help homes sell easier and faster, and often for more.Do you like the way hardwood floors look and want them in your home, but you worry about the cost?

Maybe you’ve done some research and found carpeting that’s cheaper—and even vinyl made to look like hardwood, at a lower cost than the real thing.

Your dream for your home is genuine hardwood, but you know that you can’t always get what you want. You sometimes have to make the frugal choice.

This sort of hand-wringing over the cost of hardwood flooring is fairly common. Because of its timeless classiness, people often assume that hardwood flooring is a luxury, and this perception is backed up when they find cheaper flooring options based on square-foot costs for materials and installation.

But this perception is wrong. Any additional upfront cost of hardwood floors is offset by the future value they provide.

Greater longevity

Compared to “cheaper” options, hardwood flooring has much greater durability. With proper care, it can last decades without the need for further investment. Even then, relatively inexpensive refinishing (and possibly re-sanding) can restore a hardwood floor to good-as-new condition. When you buy a hardwood floor for your home, that’s the last floor you’ll have to buy.

Carpeting, as everyone knows, begins to look worn within a few years and must soon be replaced. Inexpensive vinyl, laminate, and tile options also wear quickly and will need to be replaced far sooner than hardwood floors. An accurate comparison of costs should take into account these replacement costs for the “less expensive” options.

Greater Resale Value

In a recent survey by the National Wood Floor Association (NWFA), 90 percent of real estate agents surveyed said that hardwood floors increase the resale value of a home. Of those agents, 12 percent said hardwood flooring increases the value of a home by more than 10 percent!

Many factors go into resale value—general economic conditions, the sale price of nearby homes, etc.—but it’s common sense that a home with hardwood floors will demand a higher price than one with carpeting or cheap “hardwood look-a-like” options.

Greater Marketability 

In the same survey by the NWFA, there was almost universal (99 percent) agreement that hardwood floors make a home easier to sell, while 82 percent said hardwood floors make a home sell faster.

Think about how you would act: If two similar homes were priced the same, but one had hardwood floors and the other carpet, which one would you want to buy? If you’re like most people, you’d go with the home with the hardwood floors, and the home with carpeting would remain on the market.

Of course, not all questions of value can be reduced to dollars and cents. Isn’t there value in waking up every day to hardwood floors that you love compared to flooring that always leaves you wishing for something else? The satisfaction you get from beautiful hardwood floors is intangible, but it’s real.

When you factor in that intangible value with the tangible values of greater longevity, resale values, and home marketability, it becomes clear that the perception of hardwood floors as expensive is based entirely on how you view it. If you look at the full picture, you’ll see that hardwood flooring is actually the best value you’ll find.

Time sums it up nicely in an online article on its Money page: “To get the most bang for your buck, stick with hardwood. Potential buyers will find it more desirable—and you get to enjoy its natural beauty for as long as you own your home.”

Tags: the value of hardwood floors, why choose hardwood floors?

New Hardwood Flooring Cost: The Future Matters

Posted on Tue, Jul 08, 2014 @ 14:07 PM

When you’re selecting the type of flooring you want in your home, you’ll of course consider the cost of materials and installation.

But as you tally up the expense of each option, you’ll also need to take into account the ongoing costs of owning the flooring.

How Long Do You Plan to Be in Your Home?

The first question to answer is how you long you plan to own your home. Your beautiful new floors not only have value to you, in that you get to enjoy them, but certain flooring can actually increase the value of your home. A highly sought after type of flooring, such as hardwood floors, can be a selling feature many home buyers expect to pay extra for. 

Maintenance Costs

Flooring maintenance costs vary greatly. Carpet needs cleaning at least annually. Tile grout will need some serious cleaning over the years and some need resealing. Laminate floors will eventually wear out and need to be replaced. Hardwood floors will need to be recoated on occasion, and possibly completely refinished. 

dirty carpet

Replacement Costs

If your floors are solid plank, you can generally expect them to last as long as you’ll be living in your home, even if you live there the rest of your life. If you tire of the color, they can be sanded to bare wood and refinished for a whole new look.

A really good engineered floor (with a nice thick wear layer) can also be a great option and can also remain in place for the life of your home. A word of caution when looking at a less expensive option, you will be replacing it if the wear layer is too thin to be resanded. 

According to a study by the National Association of Home Builders: Study of Life Expectancy of Home Components, the average life expectancy of flooring is as follows:

  • Hardwood ~ Lifetime
  • Carpet ~ 8 to 10 years
  • Laminate ~ 15-25 years
  • Linoleum ~ 25 years
  • Tile ~ 75-100 years



To make a truly informed decision about which type of floors to buy, you need to consider each option's initial costs, maintenance, and complete replacement that will need to be done while you still own the home. Increase in home value should also be factored in. 

Easy to Maintain Hardwood Floors

Tags: the value of hardwood floors

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

Go With Your Heart: The "Cheaper Choice" Is Usually a Mistake

Posted on Sat, Apr 19, 2014 @ 09:04 AM

It is human nature to wrestle with whether to buy what we really want as opposed to something less expensive. The question we need to ask ourselves is: Are we willing to live without what we really have our hearts set on?

If we aren’t honest with ourselves about the answer to that question and settle on flooring that’s not our first choice, we usually end up costing ourselves more in the long run.

The Pleasure Factor

Finished hardwood flooring is about more than simple functionality. Money isn’t being spent just to have a floor to walk on—it’s also being spent to bring pleasure. Loving the hardwood floors we see everyday adds to the quality of our lives, and that is valuable!

On the other hand, if our decision to purchase less expensive floors leave us unenthused, how well was our money spent?

White Oak Engineered One of a Kind3

Inevitable Replacement

Many times, we homeowners install flooring we're not happy with, so it’s just a matter of time before we're ready to replace the flooring with what we really want, even though the flooring we bought first still has a long life left.  

Now we're paying for two floors instead of one!

Obviously, if we have your eye on flooring that we won’t be able to afford any time in the foreseeable future, we shouldn’t consider that option in our decision making. But if the finished wood floors we want are within reason, it’s almost always best to figure out a way to buy them now, rather than installing another floor first.

Long-Term Value

If you’re worried that buying the finished wood floors you want rather than a less-expensive alternative isn’t frugal, we suggest that you figure out the lifetime total cost of ownership for both choices. If the alternative is carpeting, vinyl, or some other type of relatively short-lived flooring, you’ll see that hardwood floors aren’t nearly as expensive as you might think. Their longevity considerably reduces their lifetime cost compared to other options.

If your choice is between different types of wood floors, remember that higher-quality hardwood floors can result in greater home value and marketability. If you go with the hardwood floors you really want, not only will you get the pleasure value, you can consider the extra cost an investment.


Trying to save money on flooring now can backfire financially (and emotionally) if you’re not prepared to be content with the less-expensive flooring you choose.

Tags: the value of hardwood floors

Why People Love Hardwood Floors

Posted on Tue, Jan 21, 2014 @ 14:01 PM

Finished hardwood flooring keeps growing in popularity. An increasing number of homeowners are deciding that it provides more value and pleasure than other common flooring choices like carpeting and vinyl.

Ralph’s Hardwood Floors has been installing and restoring hardwood flooring for nearly 50 years, so we have a pretty good understanding why more and more people are choosing finished hardwood flooring. In our experience, it’s because of at least one—and many times all—of these four reasons.


Whether it’s elegant or rustic or somewhere in between, finished hardwood flooring exudes stylishness. It’s one of the classiest choices you can make, right up there with other high-end options like natural stone or marble tile.

describe the image

And the variety of finished hardwood flooring is so great that it provides a perfect opportunity to express your unique personal taste and set the tone for your interior design.

When selecting hardwood flooring to make a stylistic statement, you have a rich palette to choose from. The variables that go into the final appearance include:

  • Wood species.
  • Color.
  • Texture.
  • Grain.
  • Grade.
  • Milling method.
  • Stain.
  • Finish.
  • Length.
  • Width.

Whatever style you go for as you make these choices, the result will almost certainly be stylish.


There’s just something about quality hardwood flooring that seems more authentic than most other flooring choices. Maybe it’s because hardwood flooring has been around so much longer than manufactured carpeting and vinyl. Or maybe it’s just something about wood itself. Whatever the reason, hardwood floors unmistakably impart a feeling of naturalness, genuineness, and tradition.

Although many people who love the character of hardwood flooring prefer a rustic look, that’s by no means the only option. Even when the hardwood is selected, stained, and finished for a pristine, smooth, and formal look, it still keeps its time-honored character.



Buying finished hardwood flooring can pay dividends when selling your home. Generally speaking, hardwood floors add to the resale value of homes. At the very least, they make homes more marketable, resulting in less time on the market. Often, hardwood floors can be the factor that makes a buyer select a home over others.


Finished hardwood flooring, like other hard-surface flooring, lasts a lot longer than carpeting, which usually needs to be replaced about every five years or so. When properly cared for, a hardwood floor can go twice as long before it even needs refinishing.

Perhaps because the recession slowed the housing market and homeowners began thinking about living in their homes longer, there seems to be a move toward more-durable, hard-surface flooring—and because of the beauty, character, and value of finished hardwood flooring, it’s the hard-surface option of choice.

Tags: the value of hardwood floors, why choose hardwood floors?

Realtors Have No Doubt About It: Hardwood Floors Help Sell Homes

Posted on Tue, Oct 29, 2013 @ 17:10 PM

Ask anyone in the hardwood floor industry and they’ll tell you that hardwood flooring is good for home value.

But is that really true? If you’ve got a healthy dose of skepticism, you’ll want more than the word of people who make their living from hardwood floors.

No one knows more about real estate value than real estate agents. So what do they say?

The National Wood Flooring Association asked them, commissioning a national survey of real estate agents. Their answer: 99 percent of agents believe finished hardwood flooring makes a home easier to sell. In other words, according to the people selling homes every day, hardwood floors almost automatically make a home more desirable to buyers.

As far as the actual impact on sales, 90 percent of the real estate agents surveyed said hardwood floors cause homes to sell for more, while 82 percent said they make homes sell faster, which can of course have tremendous financial significance.

What this means is that the cost of the hardwood floors you’ve been dreaming about wouldn’t all be “sunk.” There’s a very good chance you’ll get at least some of the cost back when you sell your home—and possibly most or all of it.

The Enduring Value of Hardwood Floors

When you factor in the added value and marketability that hardwood floors bring to your home—not to mention their longevity— you might be surprised to learn that hardwood floors are actually less expensive in the long run than “cheaper” options such as carpeting or vinyl.

And hardwood floors won’t go out of style. They can always be refinished for a new look, but regardless of the current style, they have a timeless beauty. They’ll certainly never be a turn-off to buyers, like bad carpeting often is.

How Much Value?

Keep in mind that hardwood floors’ effect on home value is influenced by many factors, including:

  • General economic conditions.
  • The local real estate market.
  • The home’s price range.
  • The quality of the flooring materials.
  • The installation quality.
  • How well you take care of the floors (it’s not difficult!).

Nonetheless, you can be sure that if you work with a quality hardwood floor company and maintain your floors properly, your home will sell relatively better with hardwood floors than without—no matter what the market conditions at the time.

Yet as comforting as it is to know the money you spend on finished hardwood floors can add value to your home, don’t forget that the greatest value is intangible—the satisfaction and pleasure you get from the flooring every day you live there.

Tags: the value of hardwood floors, why choose hardwood floors?

Just ask my Mom—timeless is good.

Posted on Sat, Aug 17, 2013 @ 07:08 AM

Back in 1970, my Mom got a new watch. When she saw it, she was in a good mood, shopping around town after a parade.

Timeless beautyShe liked how it looked, and the watch’s manufacturer, Wyler, had a reputation for quality, so on impulse she picked it up.

She still wears that watch to this day.

A couple of times, I gave her a new watch for Christmas, and the next time I’d see her, she would still have on the same old watch. She even had to have it repaired a few times—but she never wanted to replace it.

When I finally asked her, “Mom, why not wear a newer, more modern watch?” she told me the one she already has is just perfect for her. It fits her well and she likes how it feels. She also likes the fact that it’s a wind-up, so she doesn’t have to worry about batteries dying on her.

And the old Wyler has a timeless look, so she doesn’t feel out of style wearing it.

A lot of people—including me—feel the same way about hardwood floors. They last for decades—even centuries.  They have a “comfortable feel.” They don’t require much maintenance.  And they have a timeless beauty.

Hardwood flooring has been around for centuries, yet it’s still one of the trendiest flooring looks around—if not the trendiest.  In fact, “modern” types of flooring such as linoleum, laminate, and vinyl tile are often designed specifically to mimic the always-popular look of hardwood floors.

But these duplicate “hardwood floors” typically can’t match actual hardwood when it comes to durability, longevity, ease of maintenance, and long-term value for the money. And the duplicate that’s in style now may look dated in a few years, while actual hardwood flooring has long been proven not to fall out of favor.

The flooring of your home is a substantial investment, and it will go a long way toward creating your home’s character. Therefore, within your budget, your choice of flooring should be based on what appeals most to your personal style. But no matter what your taste, one thing to keep in mind—when it comes to money and appearance—is how well the flooring you choose will stand the test of time.

Just ask my Mom—timeless is good. 

Photo courtesy of jonboy mitchell. Available under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.

Tags: the value of hardwood floors, stories, why choose hardwood floors?

Free Shipping From the North Pole

Posted on Tue, Mar 12, 2013 @ 10:03 AM

Not long before Christmas, my 7-year-old daughter was playing on the Internet, looking at the website of Build-a-Bear Workshop, which lets kids customize stuffed animals.

She looked up at me told me the site was “awesome” because she could pick exactly the teddy bear she wanted Santa to bring her.

“Oh, and it has free shipping,” she added.

free shipping I thought that was very cute. And also quite interesting. I wondered why a 7-year-old would care whether the shipping was free. Didn’t she expect to get it delivered for free by Santa anyway?

I decided it was simply the notion of “free” that caused her to comment on the shipping. Even little children know that free is good.

But in the world of commerce, is anything really ever free? Whatever’s “free” is always built into the price. If you can find a product cheaper with shipping included than the same product with “free” shipping, aren’t you’re going to decide that “free” isn’t free after all and buy the cheaper product?

Real Value Is in Quality Service

In the finished hardwood flooring industry, you may find hardwood floor companies that offer various “free” products or services along with a purchase, but don’t let those sway your decision more than they should. Your total cost is the bottom line, not how much “free” stuff you get.

Instead, look at the truly free things you should receive from a hardwood floor company—personal attention, commitment to customer satisfaction, and devotion to getting all the details right. At Ralph’s Hardwoods, we’ve been providing this free value for two generations, as we’ve installed more than 5 million square feet of finished hardwood flooring.

Our dedication to our customers and to quality craftsmanship won’t show up in the price, so they really are free. They’re also critical in getting the best value for the money you do spend.

The Personal Touch

My daughter’s remarks also got me thinking about how pleased she was that she could put together her own teddy bear. Not only will it look like she wants, there’s just something about being part of the creative process that makes people enjoy the finished product more.

Custom hardwood floors provide the same kind of thrill.  To get the look you want, you can chose every detail—species, color, grain, finish, texture, and more.  We can provide expert assistance and advice as you make your decisions, but they’re your decisions.

Takeaway Point

When selecting a hardwood flooring company, don’t be misled by promotional offers. The free value that matters is excellent customer service, hardwood floor expertise, and a wide range of custom options.

Tags: the value of hardwood floors, custom hardwood flooring, about Ralph's

How Hardwood Floors Are Used to Help Sell Homes

Posted on Fri, Mar 08, 2013 @ 18:03 PM

Point2Homes recently analyzed 300,000 real estate listings from 2012 to find out what words are most often used to describe homes for sale.

"Beautiful Hardwood Floors"

Not surprisingly, “beautiful” topped the list, but in the second spot was “hardwood floors.” That’s not surprising either—people love finished hardwood flooring, and it’s a great selling point. The fact that “hardwood floors” ranked second in Point2Homes’ list clearly shows that real estate agents have seen how much value home buyers place on hardwood flooring.

But hardwood floors’ contribution to a home’s value has many variables. Here are four to consider.

1. A lot of the value depends on where you live. For example, in areas where finished hardwood flooring is common, not having it could lower resale value. But in places where hardwood flooring isn’t expected, it might not add much value because home buyers looking in that area won’t (or can’t) pay extra for them.

2. A primary attraction of custom hardwood floors is that you can express your personality and taste. But if you chose an uncommon hardwood floor, you should realize that not all home buyers will share your taste, possibly increasing time on the market as you wait for just the right buyer to come along. On the other hand, a distinct floor can really pay off if you find a buyer who falls in love with that particular look and is willing to pay for it.

3. The value you get from your floors can’t always be quantified in the sales price. In many cases, finished hardwood flooring doesn’t make a home sell for more—but it does make it sell faster, which can have immense value.

4. Make sure you buy quality hardwood floors. Low-quality floors can go downhill to the point that the best option before a sale is complete replacement—and there goes your “investment.”


In some cases, the primary advantage of finished hardwood flooring in terms of home sales may be that you can sell your home faster, which is nothing to scoff at. But, although it’s not a given, you can most likely also offset some of the cost of hardwood floors when you sell your home. 

Tags: the value of hardwood floors

Hardwood Floors and Resale Value: Four Factors To Consider

Posted on Mon, Nov 12, 2012 @ 16:11 PM

Is the cost of installing or restoring hardwood floors matched by a corresponding increase in a home’s resale value?

That’s obviously a vital question for homeowners who are considering new hardwood floors, especially in anticipation of putting their home on the market. If the existing flooring isn’t hardwood, then wooden floors installation to replace the old flooring stands a great chance of elevating resale value.

Hardwood Increase Resale












Unfortunately, there’s no definitive answer. A multitude of variables can influence how hardwood flooring affects resale value, including these four common factors:

1.    The type and condition of the existing floor (in cases of restoration).

If the floor is hardwood and in pretty good shape, but you re-sand and change the color to achieve a new look, the resale value gained will depend on the buyer.

If an existing hardwood floor is looks dull and worn, and you recoat or resand and finish it, then you’re adding some real value beyond aesthetic taste. An appraiser may recognize this value by rating the overall condition of the home as very good versus fair. A potential buyer, on the other hand, almost certainly will see the value of a new-looking floor versus one that will take significant resources (time and money) to rennovate. 

2.    The location of the home.

If you live or are building in an area where hardwood floors are common and expected, to not have them—or to have them in poor condition—could lower resale value. Therefore, installing, re-sanding, or simply refinishing can have a significant positive effect on a home's sales price.

On the other hand, wood floor installation or restoration in a neighborhood or region in which hardwood floors aren’t common isn't likely to result in a higher resale price because of the low demand for them.

3.    The type of home.

If you install or restore hardwood floors in a low-price home, buyers probably aren’t going to pay extra for them because they can’t afford to.

Likewise, if you install expensive custom hardwood flooring in a mid-priced home, potential buyers may want hardwood floors but won’t be willing to pay extra for high-end or exotic hardwood.

In general, the most-positive effects on resale value occur when the level of extravagance is matched to that of the home.

4.    Where the floors are in the home.

Because so many people suffer from allergies, hardwood floors in bedrooms can be a huge selling feature. Hardwood floors in the kitchen, because they are so easy to clean, are also highly desireable. 

Value Beyond Resale

Keep in mind that resale value is by no means the only potential benefit of wood floor installation or restoration. There’s the likelihood that you’ll sell your home faster, even if it’s not for more. And of course—if you’re not selling right away—there’s the value of the sheer enjoyment you’ll get from having the hardwood floors you've always wanted. 


Tags: the value of hardwood floors

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