Comparing Unfinished and Prefinished Wood Floors

Choosing between unfinished and prefinished wood flooring is not an easy decision. There are a lot of factors to consider for each installation option. While it is true that unfinished hardwood is the backbone of how the wood flooring industry started, prefinished hardwood is becoming more and more popular today. As a Maryland hardwood floor contractor, we believe that the choice between unfinished and prefinished wood flooring will depend on the homeowner’s priorities. Meaning, you need to identify what wood features you really like. Are you rooting for durability, flexibility, or natural luxuriousness? You may also consider the type of flooring material you prefer. Some wood flooring such as engineered wood or bamboo typically comes prefinished. There are so many things to factor in; however, it is important to understand the differences, pros, and cons of each option to make an informed decision before moving your flooring project into construction. 

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In your quest in deciding whether prefinished or unfinished wood is better suited for your surface floor, here’s a rundown of the features, advantages, and disadvantages of these two installation choices. 


Overview and Cost

Unfinished hardwood floors come from the factory with no type of finish on it. Simply put, they are raw floorboards. Sanding and staining happen on the project site after the installation of the boards. Since these are raw boards and less work is needed during production, you will spend less on unfinished than prefinished wood. However, installation may cost more. 


Prefinished hardwood flooring, on the other hand, is already finished in the factory before you even purchase them. With this type of hardwood flooring, you don’t need to stain, sand, or seal once they are installed. The average cost of prefinished hardwood flooring installation is ranging from $6 to $12 per square foot. This cost varies on the type of wood product you prefer. To help you out with an estimate or cost, you may want to consult a Maryland hardwood floor contractor. 


Unfinished Hardwood Floor: Advantages 

Design Options

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Unfinished hardwood flooring has unlimited options. It comes in a wide array of widths and wood species. Wood choices such as maple, cherry, pine, mahogany, and other wood species are available for installation. You can also pick any color of stains, not just offered by a Maryland hardwood floor contractor and manufacturer. With this, you won’t have any limitations to design ideas and styles that you want for your wood floor. This allows you to customize your flooring, so it will blend well with any décor inside your home. Choosing unfinished hardwood flooring is certainly beneficial to a homeowner who has a detailed and specific design in mind. 


Ability to Refinish or Resand

Since it is completely raw and installed with traditional stains and finishes, unfinished hardwood flooring is much easier to refinish and resand as compared to the prefinished option. This also means that the homeowners can change the hardwood floor’s appearance the way they like without so many restrictions.


Much Easier to Repair

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It is much easier to refinish and sand damaged spots with unfinished hardwood flooring. This is completely different from prefinished wood flooring which you need to replace the entire section of the flooring or even refinish the whole floor. 


Best Choice for Custom Elements

Not only you can personalize the stains and finishes, but you can also customize some elements such as medallions, borders, and inlays if you choose unfinished hardwood. As a Maryland hardwood floor contractor, we believe that choosing an unfinished wood floor makes it easier for homeowners to have the freedom to create a touch of their own style and designs. 


Flatter Surface

One great thing about unfinished hardwood flooring is that you will have a flatter surface flooring. With this type of wood flooring, you can sand the floor to construct a completely smooth and flat surface, even if you have uneven subfloors. 


Unfinished Hardwood Floor: Disadvantages 

Difficult to Install

Maryland hardwood floor contractor

Installation of unfinished hardwood flooring is time-consuming and a little bit messy. Because the floor needs finishing and sanding, it requires a longer time to install. Normally, it takes several days to complete the installation process. This is because the finish will also take time to fully cure. 


Less Durable

An at-home finish job may produce less durable wood flooring. There is really nothing more durable than factory-finished wood flooring. However, if you still prefer unfinished wood flooring, it is best to talk to a Maryland hardwood floor contractor for recommendations. 


Prefinished Hardwood Floor: Advantages 

Easy to Install

Maryland hardwood floor contractor

Unlike unfinished wood, prefinished wood flooring is much easier to install. The installation time is significantly reduced because the wood has been completely finished in the factory. This also means you need to skip the stages of sanding and finishing. All you need to do is to install the board over almost any subfloor types, including concrete floors. Also, once the installation of the floor completes, it is ready to use. Not to mention that you don’t need to worry about the curing process with this type of wood. 


Durable Wear Layer

A factory finish hardwood flooring has an exceptionally durable protective layer that cannot be matched by a site-finished wood. Most manufacturers apply an ultraviolet cured finish, making it extra durable. Prefinished hardwood flooring holds up so well in high-traffic areas too. Due to modern technology, some manufacturers incorporate the finish with 3M Scotchgard to preserve its beauty for years and prevent stains or any foreign objects from damaging the wood. Prefinished wood flooring comes in a warranty as well. 


Stands Up Well to Humidity 

Prefinished wood floors are better in moisture-prone areas. You can expect that these floors are less likely to buckle or warp in high-humid or -moisture areas. 


Uniformity of Boards 

Maryland hardwood floor contractor

Dealing with a lot of prefinished wood installation jobs as a Maryland hardwood floor contractor, we are certain that prefinished wood flooring is much more uniform in their staining and coloring than unfinished wood. This is because prefinished boards are finished and stained in a very controlled environment. 


Prefinished Hardwood Floor: Disadvantages

Difficult to Refinish and Resand

Prefinished wood flooring is so durable that it can be difficult to refinish or resand. You will end up sacrificing more layers of the hardwood floor if you try to sand it down until it becomes raw. Also, if the section of the hardwood floor needs a replacement, it can be challenging to look for an exact match. 


Lack of Design Options

As compared to unfinished wood, prefinished wood flooring offers fewer varieties or options. Despite its popularity, the selections of wood floors that the manufacturers want to sell become extremely limited. With this, there is a little opportunity to customize your design or style as you will depend solely on an existing inventory of wood products available in the market. 


Subfloor Flaws

If you decide to use prefinished wood floors, you may expect unevenness or irregularities in the subfloor that will show through. This is because, as part of the installation process, factory finish hardwood floors do not undergo the sanding process. 


Talk to a Maryland Hardwood Floor Contractor

Local flooring contractors are often untapped resources for many homeowners. Getting a consultation from a Maryland hardwood floor contractor can help you decide with confidence and ease. With a vast number of flooring options available in the market today, some advice from professional contractors will provide you more suggestions on what’s best for your home. This is even more beneficial if you don’t still know which one to pick. So, if you are still looking for a great inventory and samples of flooring products today, don’t hesitate to connect with Carpet Ready. We provide a no-obligation estimate, so you can make an informed decision.