Prefinished vs unfinished hardwood flooring

Which flooring is better prefinished or unfinished?

Prefinished and unfinished or site-finished hardwood flooring have their own advantages and disadvantage but they are both very popular flooring options in residential properties.


Prefinished hardwood flooring is ready product and installation should be done much more careful in order not to damage the surface of the floor. But it is much easier to complete the work because no sanding and finish application require and many homeowners are able to do it yourself. If the subfloor is not perfectly flat unfinished hardwood usually will hide all the acceptable imperfection because it will be sanded out, but for prefinished wood subfloor should be prepared much better.


With a professional sanding solid prefinished hardwood flooring can be refinished same way as unfinished hardwood flooring. The number of times refinishing can be performed will depend on the thickness of top wearing layer but normally if prefinished hardwood have beveled edges first time much more wood have to be sanded to make the wood surface even with no visible grooves. These will cause a significant reduction in thickness of the wearing layer resulting in decreasing in numbers of times refinishing can be performed.


While prefinished wood available in standard colors offered by manufacturers, unfinished hardwood can be colored in any color with no limitations. Different stain colors can be mixed and applied by installers at a job site to get a desire look. Also many prefinished wood flooring have beveled edges that might be not a desirable for some homeowners. Professionally finished flooring at a job site will look evenly smooth and more uniformed.


Hardwood flooring durability will depend on two factors: wood species and quality of a top protective layer. Whether it is prefinished or site finished wood the species will have their own quality no matter where finish applied. But the quality of a finish itself will play a big role because of different abilities to protect the wood from scratches and dents. Usually high quality prefinished hardwood will have a few coats of premium protective finish for maximum durability of wearing layer and it might be hard to achieve such quality while finishing the flooring on a job site.


Unfinished hardwood flooring might be easier to repair. One badly damaged strip might be replaced with the same type of a wood and, if necessary, stained to match color with the rest of a floor. Prefinished plank is much more time consuming process to replace. And for the best visual appearance it has to be not only exactly the same product, but the size of replacing strip has to match with a damaged one. Another problem might arise if no prefinished flooring left and manufacturers do not produce particular product any more you might not be able to perform such repair and the whole flooring has to be refinished or replaced.


Prices for prefinished hardwood flooring are higher, but labor will cost less if hire installer to perform the work. Handy homeowners might complete the installation of prefinished wood flooring by self cutting the labor expenses, but most will find a hard time to perform sanding and will consider hiring professionals while installing unfinished hardwood.