Pre-Finished Vs. Unfinished Hardwood

Jim Williams
Posted in:
Buying Guides

Choosing between prefinished hardwood and unfinished hardwood can be tough for any homeowner, especially if you have little or no knowledge about hardwood floors. If you're having trouble choosing between these two types of hardwood floors, we're here to help!

The main difference between the two types of hardwood floors is the finishing process and where it takes place. Prefinished hardwood is done in the factory, and it is already finished when it is installed in your home. Unfinished hardwood is hardwood that you buy "raw" and the finishing process is done after it is installed in your home.

If this were the only difference, the choice wouldn't be so hard, right? We'll be outlining some of the more common factors that may affect your decision - and we'll include a recommendation on which type is best in each situation.

Which one is cheaper? Prefinished hardwood is cheaper, since unfinished hardwood requires you to pay more in labor and finishing materials. Also, prefinished hardwood will save you from other "costs" such as time and effort.

Am I in a hurry? If you're in a hurry, prefinished hardwood is the one to choose. Unfinished hardwood requires that you wait at least a week for the finishing process to be done. Also, finishing a hardwood floor can become a dusty experience, unless dust containment systems are used.

Is this a new installation or an upgrade? For new installations, prefinished hardwood may be the best choice. For upgrades, since you may need to match the color of the existing hardwood floor, unfinished hardwood is the better choice.

Where do I want the hardwood floor? In heavy-traffic areas such as the kitchen or the family room, prefinished hardwood may be a better choice because it is more durable and requires less maintenance. For the dining room, living room, home office or bedroom, where it is important that the furnishings match the floor, unfinished hardwood is better since it will give you more choices for matching color.

Is this a room with high humidity? Very humid rooms require engineered prefinished hardwood floors, since these have finishes that can withstand humidity changes better.

Am I looking for something specific? When you're looking for something specific like a particular size or a particular cut, unfinished hardwood will give you more choices. It is also easier to point out the particular color or type of finish that you need with unfinished hardwood.

Which one is more durable? Prefinished hardwood is generally more suitable if a low-maintenance type of hardwood floor is what you're looking for. Prefinished hardwood has a tough factory finish that can withstand abuse better than a custom-made finish.

It is important to remember that whether you choose unfinished hardwood or prefinished hardwood, this type of flooring needs special care and attention to remain beautiful. If a hardwood floor is given proper maintenance & care, it can potentially outlast the occupants!