For many years, unfinished hardwood flooring was the backbone of this particular niche of the flooring industry. But prefinished hardwood flooring has been rapidly becoming more popular among both residential and commercial customers in recent years. If you’re going to run a tally and go by popularity alone, prefinished selections would probably have the edge over unfinished flooring these days.
Of course, the ultimate decision about which unique type of hardwood flooring is right for your home or business will be determined by factors beyond contemporary consumer popularity. To help you make a well-informed choice, here’s a closer look at what you need to know about prefinished and unfinished hardwood flooring.
Unfinished Hardwood Flooring
“Unfinished” hardwood is flooring that is raw hardwood. You must install, sand, and refinish flooring on site. There are some notable pros and cons associated with this type of flooring to consider as you explore your flooring options.
The Pros of Unfinished Flooring
From various hues of oak and cherry to stunning shades of maple, pine, and mahogany, there are many different wood species and natural color variations available with unfinished hardwood flooring. Because wood floor installation requires on-site finishing, you can customize your floors any way you want. Add personalized touches to your inlays, borders, and other flooring features.
You can even choose your finish system, stain color, and sawn profile. These customization options can be especially appealing if you have a specific look you want to achieve for your kitchen, living room, hallway, entryway, or office. Some other significant pros associated with unfinished hardwood flooring include:
- There’s a more natural ability to resand and refinish your floor as desired.
- You will add inlays after you sand the floor, which makes them perfectly flush with the rest of the floor.
- You will “sealed” the entire floor since you will finish after installation.
The Cons of Unfinished Flooring
The most significant con associated with unfinished hardwood flooring is the time it takes to complete the installation process. However, the reason why this flooring takes more time to install is that it has to be sanded and finished manually. Often there’s a staining step in between these processes. Plus, you’ll have to give the finish time to cure fully.
Prefinished Hardwood Flooring
“Prefinished” hardwood floors are factory-finished. Each board is coated with polyurethane before it hits the shelf. There are also notable pros and cons associated with this particular type of flooring.
The Pros of Prefinished Flooring
The biggest pro associated with prefinished hardwood flooring is the ability to complete installation fairly quickly since the sanding and finishing process is complete. And, once the floor installed, you won’t have to worry about being overly-cautious to avoid scratching your new floor during the curing process. Instead, it’ll be ready to use and enjoy immediately. Prefinished flooring also has the following beneficial things going for it:
- It’s a more convenient option for some renovation or improvement projects.
- Pre-applied finish is exceptionally durable.*
- There are more uniformity and consistency with the coloring and staining in the boards.
*Some manufacturers also add an anti-scratch coating that makes the floor more resistant to minor surface damage.
The Cons of Prefinished Flooring
The main downside with prefinished hardwood flooring is the limitation of widths, lengths, colors, grain, and other common customer preferences. Also, the durability of the finish on prefinished flooring can make it difficult to remove these surface layers should you want to refinish or re-sand your floor in the future.
So, What’s the Final Verdict?
When it comes to the prefinished vs. unfinished debate, there’s no clear winner. Both options can have some pros and cons worth considering when you make your decision. Some people love the natural imperfections in unfinished flooring and the ability to conveniently refinish it. However, others appreciate the convenience of choosing perfectly prepared, flawless, ready-to-install flooring.
Whatever your preference, there’s no denying the fact that a top-quality hardwood floor will add beauty and value to any room, home, or business (for many years if you properly care for it). Let us help you choose the best hardwood flooring for your home.