Unfinished vs. Prefinished Hardwood Floors

No matter the species, all hardwood floors need a finish. Whether you choose unfinished or prefinished wood flooring often comes down to a matter of lifestyle.

By Kim Lefever
March 24, 2014

prefinished hardwood floorsNo matter the species, all hardwood floors need a finish. Finishing provides that protective top coat that seals your hardwood floor against damage from everyday wear and tear, moisture and stains. It also highlights the wood’s natural characteristics and beauty. When choosing your floor, you’ll have one more option to consider: prefinished or unfinished hardwood flooring.

Prefinished wood floors have their protective coat applied at the factory under controlled conditions and in the ideal environment for proper drying and curing. With prefinished flooring, you get the additional option of choosing boards with square edge and ends or those with slight beveling, which makes individual planks more noticeable. Unfinished hardwood flooring ships from the factory in its natural state. Sanding, staining and finishing are all done on site after the boards are installed. End and edge treatments are typically limited to “square”.

Both prefinished and unfinished hardwood flooring have distinct advantages.

Advantages of prefinished hardwood flooring

  • Less time to install: flooring arrives already sanded and finished
  • No drying or curing time required – floors are ready to walk on immediately after installation
  • No toxic fumes or strong odors are produced during installation, nor dust from sanding
  • No need to relocate family during finishing step
  • Factory finishing produces a harder, more durable surface, making prefinished floors a better choice for high traffic areas
  • Prefinished floors come with a manufacturer’s warranty against board defects

Advantages of unfinished hardwood flooring

  • Easier to match existing hardwood flooring or other interior elements
  • Custom color staining
  • Easier for installer to do customized elements, like inlays
  • Some plank widths and exotic wood species are available only as unfinished hardwood flooring

Both prefinished and unfinished hardwood flooring can be sanded and refinished multiple times, guaranteeing a floor that will last for generations. And while prefinished boards generally cost more than unfinished hardwood flooring, you avoid the additional expenses associated with finishing on site.

Armstrong floors are prefinished
All Armstrong hardwood flooring comes prefinished for a hassle-free installation and is warranted for up to 35 years for residential use. For a high durability hardwood product, consider Armstrong’s Performance Plus hardwood floors. These floors are made with a patented acrylic-infusion process that makes them 2.5x harder than untreated hardwood floors of the same species. Plus they have superior scratch and stain resistance.

Unfinished hardwood flooring is an option in certain situations, but for a faster and easier installation – and reduced stress on the family – your best option may be prefinished hardwood flooring.

Visit a knowledgeable Armstrong flooring retailer to get answers to all your questions.

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