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Prefinished vs Unfinished

Pre-finished Vs. Unfinished Wood Floors

Which Is Right For Me?

Most hardwood flooring is installed pre-finished, with several coats of protective surface finish already factory applied. Because sanding and finishing are not required, a pre-finished floor is completed relatively quickly without the dust, noise and fumes that can accompany the on-site finishing process.

Unfinished floors are delivered raw and finished on site. Unfinished floors give the homeowner an opportunity to choose from the greatest range of colors, stains and finishes, which contribute to the personalization of a solid floor. Unfinished wood flooring is available in more widths and wood species than pre-finished wood flooring. Unfinished wood flooring can also be matched most easily to existing wood floors.

Deciding between pre-finished or unfinished wood flooring can difficult for the first-time floor buyer. To help you decide which type of wood flooring is right for your home, it's helpful to ask yourself some basic questions.

  • Do you have a historical home? Unfinished flooring is the most appropriate and versatile match, and allows for hand-distressing and aging techniques to match existent historical flooring.
  • Will your new wood floor be in a high traffic or high-moisture area, such as a bathroom or kitchen? In such areas, a pre-finished wood floor is best.
  • Is the floor you are installing supposed to match with an existing wooden floor? If so, unfinished wood is generally easier to stain and match.
  • Are you installing wood floors in isolated rooms, or throughout your home? If it is throughout your home, unfinished wood floors might be your best bet. Having your floors finished on-site will help ensure a uniform color and finish.
  • What is your budget? Pre-finished flooring is typically the less-expensive option.
  • What sort of installation technique is required for your wood floor? Only pre-finished engineered wood floors can be 'floated' (installed above a vapor-retardant foam layer) above a concrete layer.
  • Will your new wooden floor be installed below grade — that is, on a floor below the ground level of your home? Pre-finished engineered wood flooring (or laminate flooring) is recommended for sub-grade and humid environments.
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