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A Brief Guide to Hardwood Floor Finishes

Hardwood floor finishes add more beauty and sophistication on each floor surface. The finishes help in making the floor and home have a natural feel. Those hardwood floor finishes also help in making the floors last a lifetime.

That’s why you need to be careful of what you choose. It’s critical. Aside from helping the floors last a lifetime, the right finish can also help reduce the need for replacements or repairs. As a result, the proper choice of a finish can actually help you save money in the long run.

So how do you choose among the different hardwood floor finishes? To help you answer this question, first we need to recap the difference between pre-finished and unfinished hardwood floors. Then we’ll also discuss the different hardwood floor finishes.

Pre-finished vs Unfinished Hardwood Floors

What is pre-finished hardwood? It means that the finishing of the hardwood was already done at the factory. It means you or your contractor just has to install the hardwood. One clear advantage is it’s easier to work with. The result is you can save money on labor and installation costs.

Contrast that with unfinished hardwood floors. You or your contractor will do the finishing on-site. As a result, you will need to set aside a greater budget for labor and installation. Why should you choose unfinished hardwood floors? If you’re installing hardwood on all the floors of your home, consistency is important. Installing unfinished hardwood floors helps achieve that consistency.

Hardwood Floor Finishes

Those are a few of the tradeoffs of using either pre-finished or unfinished hardwood floors. Let’s now discuss a few things about the finishes. Remember that the finishes could be as important as the wood materials themselves.

With unfinished floors, you can choose virtually any type of finish. When it comes to pre-finished hardwood, you can also choose the type of finish used (but you may have fewer options). At this point, it helps if you’re familiar with the different types of finishes. Here are they:

  • Polyurethane
  • Varnish
  • Lacquer
  • Shellacs
  • Oil


Among the floor finishes mentioned above, the oil finish is becoming popular for several reasons. One reason is that it’s relatively low maintenance. It’s easy to clean and repair. Another reason is that oil finishes penetrate the wood fibers. They add strength to the wood floors. As a result, the wood floors can last many more years without the need for replacement anytime soon.

Aside from oil, you can also choose other hardwood floor finishes such as polyurethane and varnish. But you have to know what are their advantages and disadvantages before choosing one. This way you’ll be able to choose the best type of finish for your floors.

How to Make the Right Choice

To ensure that you’re making the right decision, a consultation with the experts would greatly help. That is why we offer a risk-free consultation to anyone who needs help with their hardwood floor installation project. Let us help you choose the right hardwood floor and finish for your home. You can contact us by calling at (310) 839-9663 or by filling out this form.

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