Prefinished vs. Unfinished Solid Hardwood Flooring: Know the Difference

Prefinished or unfinished? Learn the difference and make the right choice

Hardwood flooring is America’s favorite floor. It’s also one of the hardest to choose.

That’s because hardwood flooring has so many options to choose from. In addition to all of the different species, homeowners will need to choose between prefinished and unfinished solid hardwood flooring. The “finish” refers to the protective surface coat that protects and seals the floor. At Floor Coverings International, we know that having a lot of options can be overwhelming. That’s why we make it easy by breaking down the differences between prefinished and unfinished flooring so you can make the best decision for your home.

Prefinished Solid Hardwood Flooring

Also referred to as “factory finished,” prefinished hardwood flooring has the finish applied to it when it’s manufactured. Prefinished hardwood floors are also sanded ahead of time. All of this means the floor is already finished and ready to be installed before it ever gets to your home.

Advantages of Prefinished Wood Flooring

There are several advantages to having prefinished floors. While what you ultimately choose comes down to your preference, here are some of the benefits you can expect with prefinished solid hardwood flooring:

Cost EffectivenessPrefinished hardwood floors are the best bet for people who prioritize price.These types of hardwood floors are easier to install, meaning you will spend less time and money installing it yourself. If you hire professional floor installers like the experts at Floor Coverings International, they will save time, which in turn saves you money. While the species of hardwood you choose will have a significant impact on the final price, whether or not you choose prefinished flooring will also make a big difference.  
Durability Manufacturers use a specific process when they finish hardwood floors at the factory. This process does differ from on-site finishing that would occur if you bought unfinished flooring. The factory finish process leaves a more durable surface layer, adding a durability advantage over unfinished floors. This is especially good if you plan to install your solid hardwood flooring in high-traffic areas.
InstallationWhen you order unfinished solid hardwood flooring, your installer will have to sand and finish the floor on-site at your home. This adds a lot of time (and money) to the process. The installation process will be much faster with prefinished floors. This means less time waiting for the installation to be complete and more time in your home enjoying your new floor.

Unfinished Solid Hardwood Flooring

In contrast to finished hardwood flooring, unfinished hardwood flooring does not have the finish applied to it at the factory. Instead of the manufacturer, the installer will apply the finish to the floor on-site. This involves sanding down the wood and sealing the floor against the wall with a protective coat.

Advantages of Unfinished Wood Flooring

When homeowners hear about the advantages of prefinished solid hardwood flooring, they often assume it’s superior to the alternative. But unfinished flooring has some unique benefits of its own to offer, including:

Consistency Unfinished hardwood flooring is the best option if you want a truly uniform look throughout the home. Installing unfinished hardwood floors means the color and finish will be applied to the whole floor all at once. This gives you a consistency you won’t necessarily find with prefinished floors. Furthermore, unfinished hardwood floors are ideal if you are trying to match new flooring with the existing hardwood flooring in your home. Unfinished flooring can be finished to create the best possible match to what you already have.
Versatility For customers who want maximum versatility, unfinished hardwood flooring is an excellent choice. Because the floor hasn’t been finished prior to installation, unfinished hardwood flooring can be made to fit any style of home. This offers superior functionality and versatility that you won’t find with other floors.
Precision With unfinished solid hardwood flooring, you can get your floor exactly the way you want it. Certain plank sizes and shapes will not be available in prefinished wood flooring options. Unfinished hardwood floor gives you the ability to customize your floor in a way prefinished can’t. Homeowners with a unique and specific architectural style in mind often opt for the unfinished option because they want to have more control over what the final product will look like.

In the end, the right choice for you comes down to your needs and preferences. As one of the top solid wood flooring suppliers in the country, Floor Coverings International can help you make the right decision. Schedule a free consultation with us today to learn more about the floor that’s right for you.