Prefinished vs Unfinished Hardwood Flooring

In some areas of the country when it comes to choosing a hardwood floor there is a lot of confusion as to whether you should buy a prefinished wood floor or an unfinished wood floor. Although both types of wood floors will definitely add beauty and character to any room there are differences that might persuade you to go with one or the other for your decorating needs.

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Prefinished means the wood planks are stained and finished at the factory while unfinished means the planks are stained and finished at the job site. You will often hear unfinished referred to as "job-site finish". Engineered wood floors are most often prefinished and rarely available as unfinished planks. Many solid wood floors come in both prefinished and bundles of unfinished wood planks. Below are some of the common comparisons between unfinished and prefinished wood floors.

no custom staining floor yes, can custom stain floor
prefinished with 3-9 coats** must apply finish on job site
ultra-violet cured urethane finish no UV cured urethane finish
can complete job in 1-2 days usually takes several days or a week
walk on after installation must wait for finish coats to dry
minimal mess and smells very messy and can smell
trims won't match planks trims can be stained to match planks
can have "overwood" between planks planks are sanded smooth and flat
solid & engineered wood planks generally solid wood planks
costs less to install *** costs more to install ***
flooring more costly *** less costly for flooring ***

** Prefinished wood floors will have 3 to 9 coats of UV-cured urethane finished applied at the factory. To do the same thing on a job-site means 3 to 9 days just to apply and dry the finish coats.That doesn't count the time to install and sand the unfinished floor. Also, the factory applied UV-cured urethane finish is very hard and durable.

*** Prefinished wood floors should costs less per square foot to install because you don't have all the labor to sand, stain and apply the coats of finish which takes several extra days to finish the job. But unfinished boards should cost less per square foot than prefinished planks because unfinished planks do not have the added expense of applying the stain and finish at the factory.

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