What Is the Difference Between Prefinished and Unfinished Hardwood Flooring?

Are you trying to get to the bottom of prefinished versus unfinished hardwood flooring in anticipation of an upcoming home renovation? Nothing transforms a room like fresh floors. However, the choice you make now is one that you’ll potentially be living with for decades. It’s a lot of pressure. Luckily, you’ll have an easier time making your choice once you know the pros and cons of both prefinished and unfinished hardwood flooring. While both have plenty of good qualities, only one will be the best choice for your home!

What Is Prefinished Hardwood Flooring?

Considered the more convenient choice, prefinished hardwood flooring is flooring that has been finished by the factory. That means that this is a “ready to install” option. What you see in the packaging is exactly what the final result will look like!

What Is Unfinished Hardwood Flooring?

Unfinished hardwood flooring isn’t finished by the factory. That means you’re purchasing a “rawer” product that will require several extra steps during installation. It will be up to the homeowner or contractor to sand and finish the flooring.

What Makes Prefinished Hardwood Flooring a Good Choice?

For many homeowners who don’t want to get into a big “DIY” project, prefinished hardwood flooring is the perfect option. There are also some practical benefits to choosing this option for your home. Take a look:

  • Durability: Prefinished hardwood tends to have better scratch resistance due to the fact that the factory will add more coats than what can be accomplished when you’re finishing the wood at home. It’s not uncommon for factory-finished prefinished hardwood flooring to get seven coats of protection. Flooring brands often bake prefinished wood flooring in a special finishing oven using aluminum oxide.
  • A Faster Installation: If you’re feeling impatient over getting your new floors installed because you want to be able to enjoy them as quickly as possible, putting in prefinished wood floors usually takes about half the time of putting in unfinished wood floors.
  • You Can Use the Room Sooner: When you set up unfinished wood floors, you’ll need up to a week of drying time before you can even walk through the room! If you put down prefinished hardwood floors, you can move right into the room immediately.
  • A Cleaner Installation Process: Prefinished floors allow you to avoid the mess of sanding your floors during the installation process. That means no sawdust and debris floating around your home.
  • An Odor-Free Installation: One of the things that people really dislike about finishing their own floors is the chemical odor. You won’t be handling any chemicals during installation because all of the steps for sanding, staining and coating with polyurethane have been handled by the factory!

It’s easy to see why prefinished hardwood flooring is so popular. It’s an easy option that allows you to enjoy beautiful new flooring relatively quickly without extra steps related to preparation, ventilation, drying times and cleanup times. However, many people still prefer to choose unfinished hardwood flooring over prefinished floors. Next, discover why unfinished hardwood has such enduring appeal in a world where you might assume convenience gets the final say!

What Makes Unfinished Hardwood Flooring a Good Choice?

For people who want full control over the final look of their new floors, unfinished hardwood is hard to beat. While this option does require extra time and work, the results are more than worth the efforts for many people. Take a look at the pros of unfinished hardwood flooring:

  • Aesthetics: Unfinished hardwood has signature “bevel” edges that signify quality for many people. This look really brings out the “realness” of the wood.
  • The Ability to Customize the Finish: If you’re trying to match your new hardwood floors to existing wood floors, choosing unfinished hardwood is a good option because it allows you to choose your precise finish.
  • The Ability to Test Colors in Your Own Home: While the factory may be putting the finishing touches on flooring in a dark space, you may be displaying the floors in a sunny, airy space. That can impact what the true finish looks like in real life. When you stain your own floors, you can do color testing based on how each finish looks in your actual home.
  • Price: Unfinished hardwood flooring is often a little cheaper than finished options.

People who are trying to create a custom, artisan look in their homes often prefer hardwood. The task of taking on a big project is more than worth it because they don’t want to settle for the color options that are available from mainstream brands. However, there are some potential downsides to know about when selecting unfinished wood floors. The same goes if you’re eyeing prefinished floors. Next, take a glance at the cons of both prefinished and unfinished wood flooring.

The Pros and Cons of Prefinished and Unfinished Hardwood Floors

Both prefinished and unfinished hardwood floors come with some limitations. The biggest limitation with prefinished hardwood flooring is that you may have difficulty matching your new floors to existing flooring. Next, prefinished flooring tends to cost more than unfinished flooring. However, the cost difference evens out a bit when you consider that you’re spending less on labor if you’re having the floors installed by a professional. People living with prefinished hardwood flooring sometimes find that this option is a little hard to clean. Small debris can get caught between the boards more easily because you’re not creating a finish “over” the floor like you would be with unfinished flooring that’s being sealed after it has been laid down. Lastly, prefinished flooring can be more difficult to refinish in a few years if your boards begin looking dull, scratched or faded. It can be very hard to sand off the multiple coats that were applied by the factory.

Unfinished wood comes with its own drawbacks. First, the bevels that are common with unfinished designs can sometimes leave gaps where debris can creep in. Of course, the biggest obstacle to getting unfinished wood floors is simply how intense the installation process is for the average homeowner. If you don’t have the skill and experience needed to properly install and finish unfinished floors, the project can go on for months with no certainty about when you’ll be able to use the room again!

Designing Your Look: How to Decide Between Prefinished and Unfinished Wood Floors

Ultimately, choosing between prefinished and unfinished hardwood floors comes down to deciding which option meets your needs. If you truly want a custom floor, it’s hard to argue against the extra craftsmanship that’s offered by unfinished wood floors. You are truly building a floor that is customized to meet your personal taste and budget when you go with an unfinished option. However, not everyone needs to have one-of-a-kind floors to love their floors. This is where prefinished wood floors come into the picture. An easy option that allows you to potentially walk into the room to enjoy your new floors the same day that installation begins, prefinished wood flooring is durable and beautiful.

Deciding which type of new flooring is going to help you stay within your budget while also getting the project done in a timely manner can be difficult. Talking to a flooring professional can help. In fact, seeing the options that are available in person is often the only way to really make a decision. The large selection of prefinished and unfinished options available is sure to inspire you to get your flooring project started with a clear plan in mind!

Contact Atlas Floors

At Atlas Floors, we understand the importance of making the right choice when it comes to your home flooring. Our team is here to provide guidance, expertise, and a wide range of options for both prefinished and unfinished wood floors. We believe in a personalized approach, ensuring that every client receives individual attention and solutions that best fit their home and personal style. By contacting us, you’ll gain access to our wealth of knowledge, resources, and the high-quality service that we pride ourselves on. Contact us today for a consultation, where we can discuss your preferences, address any concerns, and help you make an informed decision that you will be satisfied with for years to come. Let us be your partner in transforming your space with beautiful, durable wood flooring that reflects your taste and enhances your home.

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