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Pre-finished or Unfinished Hardwood Floors, What’s Right for You?

Hardwood floors are beautiful. But between pre-finished and unfinished wood flooring, the type that suits a person best goes beyond personal preference, and must factor in the practicalities of a person’s situation.

Thinking carefully about the options in advance and the qualities of pre- finished and unfinished hardwood floors can save a builder a lot of time, money and unnecessary headaches.

For the last few years, pre-finished floors have overtaken unfinished hardwood in terms of sales volume. This is because pre-finished wood is cheaper and less labor costs are involved in installation. Also, the finish is more durable.

But unfinished wood is still popular and has some advantages over pre- finished wood that make it a preferable option for many contractors and homeowners. For starters, there are more choices in terms of types of wood, and also more width selections.

Below are some tips on when pre-finished wooden floors are the better option:

  • For high traffic areas in a house, such as kitchens and family rooms, pre-finished wood preferable because of its durability.
  • Basements tend to attract a lot of moisture which is not good for wood. However, for a wooden basement floor pre-finished engineered wood is best. It is built to endure harsh conditions, and resists warping and buckling. Usually, laminate flooring fuses 4-plys of material together. The product is very strong and durable. Then, it is topped with a real wood layer.
  • For those who plan to install the wood themselves, pre-finished wood is much easier to work with. The process of installation is cleaner and produces no fumes that may affect children and pets.
  • Pre-finished floors are cheaper. Labor costs are less because the finish is done at the factory.

When is unfinished wooden flooring a better option? Here are some examples:

  • When all the floors in a home will be installed with wooden flooring, it is easier to have a uniform and matched finish by having the unfinished wood stained on site.
  • If the sub-floor is uneven and its level is imprecise, unfinished flooring will work better because it does not depend on a level sub- floor in the way that pre-finished flooring does.
  • If the objective is to match existing wood or trim, then it will be easier to use unfinished wood and stain it to the color that is needed.
  • If there is a need for a precise plank width, or rare and exotic species of wood, there are more choices among unfinished wood flooring options. This is especially important with a historically significant house, or with a house with architecture that may be so splendid, that the kind of wood flooring needed will contribute to its overall architectural integrity.

With this as a starting point, it is also a useful idea to consult an installation professional. Ask the professional to bring flooring samples and compare them to your house style, lighting and furniture.

An installation professional will can remove old floors, carpeting and tiles and dispose of them in a way that is legally required, and can install the new floors.

However, if a person chooses to DIY, that should work out fine with the right advance planning. What is important is what is practical, cost efficient and beneficial in the long-term.

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