Unfinished vs. Prefinished Hardwood Flooring
As you prepare to have new wood floors installed, you'll need to decide whether you want to use unfinished or prefinished wood flooring. Unfinished wood flooring is installed, sanded, stained, and finished on site. This process of “finishing in place” has the advantage of allowing for customization of stain coloring to match the decor of your home or office building. Prefinished hardwood flooring is sanded, stained, and finished in the manufacturer's own factory. Once prefinished flooring has been installed in your home or office, it's ready for immediate use.
At Gäte Hardwood Floors, we believe that finish is one of the most important decisions you will make when choosing a hardwood floor. ‘Finish' refers to the top coating which is applied after sanding and staining have been completed, and will determine a floor's overall look and long-term durability. A hardwood floor's finish seals the wood and protects it from discoloration, stains, everyday foot traffic, and moisture penetration. Available wood flooring finish options include urethane, oil-based, tung oil, and water-based.
To help you determine whether you should install an unfinished or prefinished floor, we've consolidated the primary pros and cons of each.
Prefinished Hardwood Flooring Pros
- Exclusive color options. Some color treatments, such as reactive stains and paints, can only be applied in a factory setting.
- Less mess. There's no sanding, staining, or finishing done on site, so you don't have to worry about dust or sticky coatings.
- No drying time. This means that you can move furniture in and begin using your floors as soon as they are installed.
- Odorless. The finish has been applied in a factory, so you don't need to wait for any odors to dissipate after your floors are installed.
Prefinished Hardwood Flooring Cons
- Fewer options. Approximately 99% of all prefinished hardwood floors are engineered, so if you're looking for a solid wood floor option you'll have a tough time finding one. Additionally, there is less opportunity for customization. With fewer options for wood species, grain patterns, textures, edge profiles, finishes, colors, and boards sizes to choose from, you may have to settle for less than what you wanted for your hardwood flooring.
- Matching material is virtually impossible. Because color batches in a factory can vary slightly or be discontinued, you won't be able to get exact-match replacement boards if you should need to repair or replace a portion of your wood floor months or years down the line.
- Scratches. Deep scratches to the floor's aluminum oxide factory finish will leave a white mark on boards that can only be covered up by a new coat of finish.
- No squared edged boards. Because of the high cost of precise milling, beveled edges are essentially the only option available for most prefinished hardwood floors.
- Can only be refinished once. Many of the prefinished engineered floors don't have a very thick wear layer, which means they can probably only be sanded and refinished once in their lifetime.
Unfinished Hardwood Flooring Pros
- Huge range of options. Consumers can choose between solid and engineered hardwood flooring in a large number of color, finish, sheen, texture, wood species, and edging options. It is also easier to find larger and longer planks, including extra-wide boards (7” wide and larger).
- Completely customizable. Once the floor is installed, consumers can consider their finish options using on-site sample tests.
- Matching wooden staircases. Because stains and finishes can be applied on site, a wood staircase can be given a custom color and seal to match the surrounding flooring.
- Seamless look. Square-edged milling is common in unfinished flooring. Square edges are able to create smoother floors than beveled edges.
- Better moisture protection. When floors are finished on-site, the finish seals the planks as well as the seams between the planks.
- Easier to repair and refinish. With fewer layers of finish than a factory-finished floor, unfinished wood floors are generally easier to sand, repair, and refinish. Additionally, because unfinished wood floors are generally thicker than prefinished floors, you have more opportunities to sand and refinish them.
Unfinished Hardwood Flooring Cons
- Installation requires more time and effort. Since all finishing is done on site, the room will need to be sealed off and all furniture covered. Additionally, sufficient drying time will be needed to ensure proper curing of the finish.
- Some stains and colors are not available. Reactive stains and paint options are not available for on-site finishing.
The Importance of Choosing the Right Finish for Your Natural Wood Flooring
At Gate Hardwood Floors, we believe that finish is one of the most important decisions you will make when choosing a hardwood floor. ‘Finish' refers to the top coating of a newly installed floor. It is applied after sanding and staining have been completed, and determines a natural wood floor's overall look and long-term durability. A hardwood floor's finish seals the wood and protects it from discoloration, stains, everyday foot traffic, and moisture penetration. Available wood flooring finish options include urethane, oil-based, tung oil, and water-based.
Call Today for Expert Advice & a Free On-Site Quote -- Available In & Near Boise, Idaho
Gate Hardwood Floors takes pride in educating our customers so they are empowered to make the right hardwood flooring choice for their individual needs. Call us today to learn more or schedule an appointment. We offer free on-site quotes for new hardwood floor installations throughout Boise, Sun Valley, Ketchum, Coeur d'Alene, McCall, Moscow, and surrounding areas.