Perhaps the most basic decision for a hardwood floor shopper is whether to choose prefinished hardwood flooring or to purchase it unfinished, then apply the stain and protective top coat after installation. Here's more on each approach and the benefits of each.
What is a hardwood flooring finish?
A finish is a top coat (or several) that seals a hardwood floor against damage from everyday wear and tear, moisture and stains. Even if you choose to purchase unfinished flooring, it must be finished on site by you or a professional in order to protect your investment.
What is the difference between prefinished hardwood flooring and floors that are unfinished?
Prefinished hardwood flooring is also called "factory finished flooring." The stain and finish are applied during manufacturing, so when the flooring arrives at your home, it just needs to be installed.
Unfinished hardwood flooring is also called "site finished flooring." It ships from the factory in its natural state. Sanding, staining and adding the protective finish are all done on site after the unfinished boards are installed.
Are prefinished hardwood floors more durable?
Hardwood flooring with a factory-applied finish is not only faster and easier to install, but it performs better over time. To produce the highest quality hardwood flooring, stains and finish coatings are applied and dried in a factory-controlled environment. High-performance aluminum oxide urethane coatings are subjected to as many as seven passes of ultraviolet light to cure the urethane to the wood and preserve its color, thus creating an extremely durable finish. By comparison, site-finished floors typically receive only two or three coats of polyurethane and then are allowed to cure by air drying.
Does Armstrong Flooring offer prefinished or unfinished floors?
Can you re-sand and stain prefinished hardwood floors?
Yes, hardwood flooring can be re-sanded and refinished multiple times, whether it came prefinished or was finished on site. Solid hardwood can be refinished more times than engineered wood can.
What are the benefits of prefinished hardwood floors?
Flooring that is factory finished has many advantages over flooring that is finished after it's installed.
- Less time to install — prefinished flooring arrives already sanded and finished
- No drying or curing time required — prefinished hardwood floors are ready to walk on immediately after installation
- No strong odors or dust from sanding during installation
- No need to relocate your family during finishing
- Comes with a manufacturer’s warranty against board defects
- Vast array of style and color options to choose from, making it less likely that you'd need to finish floors yourself to find the right one
- More style options for ends and edges (site-finished floors are typically limited to square due to sanding)
What are the benefits of unfinished hardwood floors?
When buyers choose unfinished flooring over prefinished, customization is often a reason.
- Can be easier to match to your existing hardwood flooring or other interior decor, if you need a very specific stain
- Custom color staining
- Allows for easier installation of customized elements, like inlays
- Some plank widths and exotic wood species are available only as unfinished hardwood flooring
- Less expensive than prefinished boards (but remember there will be additional expenses associated with finishing the floors on site)
What type of flooring is best for me: prefinished or unfinished?
Whether you choose prefinished or unfinished flooring depends on your needs and preferences, as well as your particular project.
For existing homes, prefinished floors install faster and easier than unfinished flooring — and there's no inconvenience to your family or dust and fumes.