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

Friendly conversations lead to smart hardwood floor choices

Posted on Sat, Jul 02, 2016 @ 09:07 AM

Voster_Asian_Walnut_Stained_3_2_451100.jpgChoosing the right hardwood floors for your home is a very personal thing. That’s why when a young couple came to us with their heart set on an American walnut floor, we started asking them questions about themselves.

We had to get to know them—their tastes, color preferences, lifestyle, etc.—before we could give them meaningful advice based on our hardwood floor experience and knowledge.

Why did we do that? We could have just focused on selling an American walnut floor to them. That’s what they wanted, right? Why complicate things?

Because that’s not the way do things at Ralph’s. We want to have friendly conversations with our customers, so that we can help guide them to the best choice for them. We’re not looking for a quick sale. We’re looking to help our customers get the floors that will give them the most delight possible for many years to come.

In this case, I think that approach really paid off. During our time with the young husband and wife, we found out that they have little children. That immediately raised a red flag for us, because the American walnut they wanted is a relatively soft hardwood. In our experience, we’ve found that it doesn’t stand up as well as harder woods to the roughhousing of rambunctious kids.

When we explained this to them, they understood, but they still has strong desire for the look of American walnut.

That’s when what we do gets really gets fun—when someone needs a solution for their unique needs and we’re able to use our expertise to come up with one.

That’s exactly what we did for this couple. We felt Asian walnut, which is harder, would be a great alternative for them. And because the floor was going to be site-finished, we were able to choose a stain color that made it resemble its American counterpart.

Then we worked with their cabinet company to come up with just the right color combination to complete their vision.  They got just the look they wanted, but we helped them avoid a floor that wasn’t a good fit for their lifestyle.

I don’t think that would have been the outcome if they had simply visited a big-box store

Tags: about Ralph's, why choose hardwood floors?

Playing Matchmaker: Finding your one true love

Posted on Sat, Jun 18, 2016 @ 07:06 AM

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When customers come to us looking for new hardwood floors for their home, we always start with a simple but essential question: “What’s most important to you?”

It might be to have flooring that fits a certain interior design style, or has a specific color. Whatever it is, we know you’re not going to be happy if the hardwood flooring you select doesn’t give it to you. And so this question is where we start.

Once we narrow down your options to those that will give you the most important thing you want, we can begin to get more in-depth into which of the possible options will make you happiest, helping you select other hardwood floor characteristics that fit your tastes, lifestyle, and home layout.

Ideally, if the hardwood flooring is going into an existing home, we like to visit the home first, before you come to our showroom. That way, we can not only talk with you about what’s most important to you, we can see for ourselves what the technical considerations are (e.g., the condition of subflooring, moisture issues). We can also show you pictures on our tablets that will get you thinking about the possibilities. Then when you visit our showroom, we can hit the ground running.

But even if you’re building a new home or just stop by the showroom one day, we can still make a lot of progress based solely on your answer to the question about what’s most important to you.

This isn’t something we take lightly. We take pride in providing excellent customer service, and we believe that service includes freely sharing our expertise and experience with customers during their selection process—from the beginning of their considerations through their final choice.

We DON’T view helping customers select hardwood floors as an opportunity to steer them toward options that will increase our short-term margins. That’s not our business model.

Our business model is to focus on making customers as pleased as possible, so they’ll come back to us for future hardwood floor needs and spread the word about how happy they are with the floors we helped them get. That’s why we aren’t “selling” during the selection stage—we’re advising customers how to find the perfect hardwood flooring for their home.

We gladly play matchmaker, helping them find hardwood flooring that they’ll be in love with for many years to come. And it all starts with a simple question!

Image courtesy of Enri Endrian

Tags: about Ralph's, why choose hardwood floors?

Thinking Long-Term: Customer Service and Hardwood Floors

Posted on Sat, Jun 04, 2016 @ 01:06 AM

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There’s a tendency for customers to think of “customer service” as something that’s in addition to the product or service they’re paying for.

In this way of looking at it, customer service is a bonus. If customer service is lacking, customers will usually complain, but they also often separate that dissatisfaction from their opinion of the product or service itself.

That’s why you might hear a comment like: “The clerks in that store are such jerks, but they have the best clothes in town.”

That’s not the way we look at it at Ralph’s. For us, “customer service” isn’t just a bonus. It’s how we make sure the products and services we provide are in fact the best around.

We pride ourselves on providing customers with the most-enjoyable and stress-free experience possible during installation or refinishing, and you won’t find any friendlier people to work with. But our commitment to serving customers isn’t just about earning short-term appreciation. It’s also about doing everything possible to keep customers delighted years down the road, still in love with their floors.

That means that we take the time to understand what customers are dreaming about. After all, “quality” in hardwood flooring is largely a matter of personal opinion. Of course, there are differences in the quality of materials, but the best materials don’t guarantee a floor that’s going to satisfy a customer. To truly provide a high-quality product, we have to care how our customers define “quality”—and that’s exactly what we do.

(Think about the clerk in the store with the great clothes. Are they just recommending what the store wants you to buy, or are they genuinely trying to learn your tastes and budget so you’ll make the purchase that will make you the happiest?)

Our approach to customer service also means that we take the time to get the installation or refinishing just right, even if the customer would never notice if we took shortcuts. “That looks great; you guys did a wonderful job” isn’t good enough for us if we know that we provided the customer with less than 100 percent of our skill and effort. For us, every job is not just an opportunity to please customers; it’s a chance to blow them away by putting in floors that are more beautiful than they ever imagined they could be.

There’s also the behind-the-scenes work we do on behalf of customers, such as helping them find the best value in material, or working with contractors to get floors in on time despite a tight schedule. We think of our customer’s flooring projects as if they were our own.

As you can see, there’s a lot more to our concept of customer service than simply being polite and personable. We are both of those things, but we believe that true customer service goes even deeper. Our view is that customer service, when done right, should result in a more valuable purchase for the customer.

Tags: about Ralph's, why choose hardwood floors?

Walk On The Wild Side - Our Showroom

Posted on Sat, May 07, 2016 @ 07:05 AM

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When it’s time for a new vehicle, I love going to the car lot to look at all the options. When I get into each model, that new-car small really reminds me of how cool cars can be.

I get the same sensation walking around the Ralph’s showroom. We’re in the process of upgrading it, and the new things we’re doing are making me even more excited than usual about all the beautiful hardwood flooring options we can offer customers.

I see a similar effect on visitors to the showroom. Being able to see, touch, and walk on the various options gets people pumped up about the possibilities for their home.

It’s one thing to decide that you want to purchase new hardwood floors for your home or refinish the floors that are already there. It’s an entirely different thing to decide the color, species, style, and so much more.  Our showroom helps you figure out exactly what you want—and that’s what gets homeowners excited!

You'll see samples of the high-quality materials we use and the fine craftsmanship done by our hardwood floor technicians. And you’ll have one-on-one time to sit and chat with one of our experienced staff so we can learn what you’re looking for.

We’ll walk you through the decision-making process and provide knowledgeable advice on which hardwood flooring options would be best for your tastes and lifestyle. You’ll leave with the peace of mind that Ralph’s not only has top-quality flooring but that your project will be handled by dedicated professionals.

We pride ourselves in providing the best-quality service and experience possible and are committed to exceeding your expectations! We want your shopping experience at Ralph’s to be as stress-free and educational as possible

Our customers always tell us they were glad they came in to experience all the options in person, no matter what their price range was. They’re just like me after I’ve visited a car lot—ready to get on with replacing the old with the new!

Our showroom is open from 8 am-5 pm Mondays and Fridays and 9 am-1 pm on Saturdays (except holidays). We are located at 404 W. State Street (Hwy 54) in Black Creek. You can simply stop by any time we’re open, or call 920.984.3383 or 800.354.9902 for an appointment.

Tags: about Ralph's, why choose hardwood floors?

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?

Hardwood Floors Guard Against the Wrath of Old Man Winter

Posted on Sat, Dec 06, 2014 @ 08:12 AM

15879522541_1d17ff3b5a_z-smI love living in Wisconsin, but I have to admit, I don’t look forward to the long winters. Last year Old Man Winter was in a particularly bad mood, and I expect more of the same this year.

The Old Farmer's Almanac is calling for less snow this year than average, which is good. But it’s also predicting lower than normal temperatures, which isn’t at all what I want to hear.

I’ve lived in Wisconsin all my life, and I can put up with the cold with the best of them, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it when the cold gets extreme! A nice, bracing cold is one thing; a bitter cold that leaves you wanting only one thing—to get inside—is another story.

However, there is an upside to being chased indoors by the cold—you get that great snug feeling that comes with being warm and safe inside while the cold wind and snow is howling outside. You know what I’m talking about; you come in the door and the heat snuggles you like a toasty blanket. It’s a feeling that really makes you thankful for the home you have!

Hardwood floors can play a big role in creating that warm look.

Interior design also has a lot to do with that comfy feeling. Some homes just look warm, and that makes you feel warm. When I talk to people about what they like in hardwood floors, I often hear “warmth.” There’s nothing cold and sterile about the look of hardwood floors; their natural tones innately create an inviting, cozy atmosphere. 

Think about the idyllic image of a family sitting around the Christmas tree on a cold December night with a fire roaring in the fireplace and the dog lounging in front of it. If you’re like me, that image includes hardwood floors. Of all types of flooring, they have the best character to complement such a cheerfully warm scene.

Dark-colored hardwood floors tend to create more cozy feels than light-colored floors—and sheen, texture, board size, and other hardwood floor characteristic can be selected to create a warmer look. But all types of hardwood flooring will contribute to a sense of coziness in the cold winter months. That’s just what hardwood floors do.

If you’re dreading the short winter days, the biting cold, and cabin fever, you can take some of that dread away with hardwood floors that add a little warmth to the winter.

Ralph's 2014 Idea Book

Photo courtesy of Lana Tomaszewski, Don McCullough. Available under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.

Tags: hardwood floors & interior design, why choose hardwood floors?, Wisconsin

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.

Style

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.

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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.

Character 

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.

Sold!

Value

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.

Durability

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?

Sleds, Xbox….Jetpacks?

Posted on Sat, Dec 21, 2013 @ 08:12 AM

Christmas gift, Fantastic sledChristmas gifts for kids sure have changed—nowadays it seems they all need batteries or power cords.

It wasn’t like that when I was growing up. We powered our own toys! 

I love to remember one of my all-time favorite Christmas presents, which needed absolutely no electricity to enjoy.

In the days leading up to Christmas, I had an inkling something special was coming because my Dad kept disappearing into his workshop, and he wouldn’t let me follow him as he usually did. “What was he up to?” I kept wondering, hoping and hoping it had something to do with a present for me.

On Christmas morning, I finally got my answer. Dad had in fact been working on something for me—a really fantastic sled!

I was thrilled. Dad had built the sled entirely himself, and as usual he had done an excellent job with the craftsmanship. And a sled was just what I wanted.  There was a hill behind the barn on the farm where I grew up, and every time I saw it, it made me want a sled. This present was perfect.

My family, friends, and I took turns sliding my new sled down that hill all Christmas Day. It’s a great time I’ll always remember.

Sometimes I feel nostalgic for the way toys used to be. They seemed to require more creativity and effort to enjoy, and I think that made them special. It’s hard for me to imagine a video game being more fun than my sled was.

When I start feeling that way, I remind myself that it’s not the gifts that matter at Christmas—it’s togetherness with family. Whether it’s Dad and me trying out my new sled or my kids and me playing Xbox, the important thing is that we’re doing it together.

I bet my kids will feel the same way years from now when they’re giving gifts to their children—although who knows what they’ll be asking Santa Claus for 20 years from now!

I can’t picture the futuristic toys my grandchildren will be opening, but one thing I can clearly envision about future Christmases is all generations of our family gathered together in a cozy room—with hardwood floors.

Why do I see hardwood floors in that scene? For one thing, hardwood floors are the best flooring for bringing out the beauty of a Christmas tree and other holiday decorations. Hardwood floors have a time-honored charm that sets the perfect mood for the season.

But it’s also because, unlike today’s most-popular toys, hardwood floors are here to stay. They last a lifetime and don’t go out of style. On the same hardwood floors where iPads are now waiting wrapped under the Christmas tree, toy jetpacks (or whatever) will lie wrapped for the next generation.

It’s reassuring to me to know that some things about Christmas never change, and the traditional character of hardwood floors remind me of that. This year as my kids are opening toys that didn’t even exist when I was a kid, I’ll take comfort in the floor beneath my feet. Unlike those toys, I know it will last.

I completely expect hardwood floors to be part of my “Christmas Future." To read about their role in my “Christmas Past” click here. To get my thoughts on hardwoods and "Christmas Present," click here.

Photo courtesy of Eric Kilby. Available under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.

Tags: stories, why choose hardwood floors?

Winning The Christmas Lottery!

Posted on Sat, Nov 30, 2013 @ 09:11 AM

Winning The Christmas Lottery!There’s nothing I enjoy more than settling in for Christmas at home with my family. It’s a time for good times with the people I love, gathered around the Christmas tree, sharing moments we’ll always cherish.

I remember one such moment with my wife’s side of the family—a moment we’re sure to talk about again this Christmas, like we do every year.

In addition to regular gifts, it’s a tradition in Rhonda’s family to have a $10 Secret Santa gift exchange every Christmas, just for fun. It’s a game where we pick gifts and “steal” them from each other, all trying to end up with a gift we want.

Some of the gifts are silly, meant to get laughs, which they do—but nobody wants them. Some of them are actually things worth having, but that gets laughs too as everyone angles to end up with one of those gifts. 

When Rhonda’s Uncle Curt put a $10 lottery ticket into the pile one year, that was the gift everyone wanted. That lottery ticket changed hands many times, but Rhonda finally ended up with it, and we all watched as she scratched off the ticket with a big smile. Of course, she didn’t expect to win anything but…

It was a $10,000 winner!

Needless to say, everyone went bonkers—screaming, jumping up and down, running around the room.

Everyone, that is, except for Uncle Curt, who—looking back on it—was curiously quite in his chair. He waited for us all to settle down, then with a knowing grin, he quietly said, “Did you read the back of it?”

Turns out it was a joke ticket. First there was a stunned silence, then we all broke out in crazy laughter. Some of us were literally rolling on the floor. Uncle Curt sure enjoyed it! I can guarantee that prank will come up again this year as we continue the Secret Santa tradition.

I’m very happy that memories like that are now happening in my home. I take great pleasure in being able to host family and friends every Christmas. Everyone happy together in the same room, with all the presents around the tree, is a beautiful sight. It’s what Christmas is all about.

Being a hardwood floor guy, I pay a lot of attention to flooring, and Christmas just wouldn’t seem right on anything other than a beautiful hardwood floor. Christmas is a time for traditions, and hardwood flooring is as traditional as you can get.

One Christmas when I was a kid, my family put off buying a Christmas tree until the last minute and ended up with a scraggly looking tree whose needles fell all over the hardwood floor. We still laugh about that memory, too.

My family now puts a tree in early, so we can be sure to get a great tree and begin to enjoy it sooner. But one thing hasn’t changed—the floors our Christmases happen on are beautiful hardwoods.

If you’d like your home to be a place where Christmas memories are made, but you’re not happy with how it looks, installing hardwood floors (or refinishing existing ones) can make you proud to open your door to guests again.  And like a Christmas tree, there’s no sense in putting it off—hardwood floors can last a lifetime, so why not go ahead and start enjoying them?

I know my family will be enjoying our hardwood floors this Christmas, as we make memories that we’ll still be telling our grandchildren years from now on the same floors. And we’ll be carefully watching Uncle Curt! No telling what he’ll pull.

Making memories is “Christmas Present.” In my next email, I’ll talk about “Christmas Future.” If you’d like to read about that scraggly Christmas tree in my “Christmas Past,” click here.

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

Ralph's Essential Guide to Selecting the Perfect Hardwood Floor

Tags: stories, why choose hardwood floors?

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