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Prefinished Versus Unfinished Hardwood Floors

Deciding between prefinished or unfinished hardwood floors can be difficult. You should consider the pros and cons of each before making a decision.

Unfinished hardwood floors are delivered raw, then sanded, stained, and finished on site. It is available in wider widths and wood species than prefinished floors and can be combined with existing wood floors.

Prefinished hardwood floors were designed and finished at the factory, so they do not require any additional treatment once they have been installed.

Prefinished hardwood floors are relatively quick and easy to install. Since it has already been coated at the factory, it is also much more convenient as there is no need to sand or finish on site. This is a dusty and time-consuming process that you may want to avoid.

Multiple coats of finish applied at the factory give prefinished hardwood floors a very durable wear layer and the finish itself is under manufacturer’s warranty. You cannot achieve such a durable finish on finished floors in the workplace.

Prefinished hardwood floors are more versatile as they can be installed over a wider range of subfloors than unfinished hardwood floors. Because prefinished floors can float, that is, they do not bond to the subfloor, they can be installed over almost any type of subfloor, including concrete. In addition, the durable coating of prefinished floors and its technical design make it more resistant to moisture and humidity, which makes it suitable for climatic regions with high humidity or large temperature variations, or when the subfloor is below grade. from the ground and is more prone to moisture.

However, when repairing an engineered prefinished floor, much more wood needs to be removed to achieve a level floor, so you will lose more floor life on the first repaint than with a solid wood floor. Also, prefinished hardwood floors are more difficult to clean between the cracks since they are not sealed in the jobsite like unfinished hardwood floors.

A custom sanded hardwood floor looks perfectly flat, with a tabletop look that cannot be achieved with a prefinished hardwood floor. If the subfloor is uneven, then a prefinished floor will be uneven. Since unfinished flooring is sanded in place, it is more forgiving of minor unevenness in the subfloor.

If your pre-finished flooring is damaged, the entire section of the flooring will need to be removed and replaced, while in most cases, site-finished hardwood floors can be easily fixed with a quick sanding and finishing.

Over time, it’s easy to forget who the manufacturer of the prefinished hardwood floor is, making it difficult to get an exact match if part of the flooring needs to be replaced. There is also the possibility that your prefinished floor will be suspended in the future and therefore you will not be able to order replacement boards.

There are several factors to consider that should make your decision easier:

o Does your home have historical significance? Unfinished floors would be more appropriate – to capture old world charm and maintain the authentic look, or to match existing historic floors, manual aging and weathering techniques can be used.

o Are fumes and dust from finishing the floor at the site a concern, for example if children or pets will be present?

o Consider the location of your new hardwood floor – will it be in an area with high traffic or humidity, such as the kitchen or bathroom? If so, the prefinished floor is better as it has a more durable finish.

o Are you looking for a specific board width, wood species, or unusual color? Unfinished wood offers many more options.

o Are you installing hardwood floors throughout your home or just in isolated rooms? If throughout your home, unfinished wood may be the best option. Having your floors finished on site will help ensure a consistent color and finish.

o What type of technical installation is required? Only prefinished floors can float on a concrete subfloor. If the flooring is to be installed below grade, prefinished flooring is the recommended option.

o Does your new hardwood floor have to match an existing hardwood floor? If so, unfinished floors are easier to stain and blend.

o What is your budget? Unfinished floors are often the most expensive option.

o Do you live in an area with high humidity? If so, prefinished flooring is the best option, as it is more resistant to buckling and warping.

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