Prefinished vs. Site Finished Hardwood FlooringPrefinished hardwood flooring sales have only recently overtaken unfinished or site finished hardwood flooring sales. This is partly due to the fact that prefinished hardwood flooring is less expensive to install because it requires less labor during installation. It is also due to the fact that prefinished wood flooring has a more durable finish that can’t be achieved on floors finished on the job site. However, unfinished wood flooring remains popular as well because it is available in more widths and wood species than prefinished and can be matched to existing wood floors.
Site Finished FlooringSite-finished hardwood flooring ships from the mill in its natural, raw state. Sanding, staining and finishing are all done in the home after the flooring is installed. This gives the floor a smooth, square edge, and even finish with endless possibilities of color.
Advantages of Site Finished Hardwood Flooring
- Can closely match existing hardwood flooring or other interior elements
- Custom color staining
- Some plank widths and exotic wood species are available only as raw hardwood flooring
When to choose unfinished or site finished hardwood flooring
- When trying to match to an existing floor or trim, unfinished wood is generally easier to stain to match.
- If you are having the floors installed throughout your entire home, having the floor finished on site will provide a more uniform color and finish.
- If you are looking for an unusual wood species or specific plank width, unfinished wood flooring offers the most options.
- Unfinished flooring would be most appropriate if your home has historical significance or if you are trying to maintain the architectural integrity of it.
- If your floor is not precisely level, you may opt for unfinished flooring because it doesn’t depend on a precisely level subfloor the way a pre-finished floor does.
Prefinished FlooringPrefinished wood floors have their color and protective coat applied at the factory under controlled conditions and in the ideal environment for proper drying and curing. With prefinished flooring, you have the additional option floors with texture; texture can be added to the floor’s surface through hand-scraping, wire brushing, and distressing to give the floor more character and uniqueness.
Advantages of Prefinished Hardwood Flooring
- Less time to install: flooring arrives already sanded and finished
- No drying or curing time required – floors are ready to walk on immediately after installation
- No toxic fumes or strong odors are produced during installation, nor dust from sanding
- Factory finishing produces a harder, more durable surface
- Furniture can be replaced immediately after installation
When to choose Prefinished Hardwood Flooring
- If you are installing the wood flooring in an existing home, prefinished flooring is generally easier to install and less messy.
- Prefinished wood works better in areas that receive high traffic and heavy wear and tear because it provides a more durable finish.
- If you are trying to avoid fumes and a big mess, pre-finished flooring is cleaner to install.
- If cost is a concern, prefinished flooring is typically less expensive.
- If you are installing the floor in a room with high humidity, prefinished flooring resists buckling and warping and is suitable for changes in climate.
- If you are looking for a fast and easy installation, prefinished flooring is the choice to make.
- If you are looking to use engineered wood, most come prefinished.