If you're installing hardwood flooring in your home, you'll have the choice between prefinished hardwood or unfinished hardwood. Prefinished hardwood boards have a stain and finish applied to them while they're being manufactured, whereas unfinished hardwood will be sanded, stained, and finished on-site—because of this, it's usually referred to as site-finished hardwood flooring.
Installing either prefinished hardwood flooring or site-finished hardwood flooring will add a beautiful, natural hardwood floor to your home. However, they're not the same—there are some differences between the two that you should be aware of. Read on for the practical differences between installing prefinished hardwood flooring versus installing site-finished hardwood flooring.
Prefinished Hardwood Flooring Can Be Installed More Quickly Than Site-Finished Flooring
The biggest benefit of installing prefinished hardwood flooring instead of site-finished hardwood is that the installation process is much faster. Site-finished hardwood flooring can take quite a bit of time to install. The process of sanding the floor, staining it, and then applying multiple coats of finish can take up to a week. Some specialty finishes with lengthy cure times can extend that process even further.
Installing prefinished hardwood flooring, on the other hand, is similar to installing laminate flooring—the boards are simply attached to the subfloor. If you need your hardwood floor installed quickly and don't want to lose access to a room in your home for an extended period of time, then you should consider installing prefinished hardwood flooring instead of site-finished flooring.
Site-Finished Hardwood Flooring Offers Much More Customization Options
With site-finished hardwood flooring, you have full control over the flooring that's installed in your home. You can select the wood that it's made of, the stain that's used to color it and the finish that's used to protect it. With prefinished hardwood flooring, you're limited to what manufacturers are producing. If you wanted a gray, weathered stain on your hardwood flooring, for example, it may be difficult to find this option among prefinished flooring manufacturers.
Prefinished Hardwood Flooring Is Typically Manufactured With Beveled Edges, Which Can Cause a Maintenance Headache
Natural variations in hardwood make it difficult for manufacturers to mill all of their boards to the same thickness. If two hardwood floor boards with different thickness levels are installed next to each other, one will be noticeably raised compared to the other. With site-finished hardwood, this isn't a problem—the entire hardwood floor is sanded down to a level plane after installation in order to create an even surface.
However, the sanding step is skipped when installing prefinished hardwood flooring. In order to compensate for boards with varying thickness, the majority of prefinished hardwood is manufactured with slightly beveled edges. These beveled edges create a smooth transition between adjacent boards, creating an even appearance even though the boards themselves may have varying levels of thickness.
Unfortunately, the beveled edges themselves are visible—they create noticeable valleys between adjacent boards. The valleys between boards will also collect dirt and dust, so you'll need to periodically vacuum a prefinished hardwood floor in order to clean the valleys between boards. The worst thing about beveled edges, however, is that liquid can seep through the valleys and become nearly impossible to remove—this can damage your hardwood floor.
Some prefinished hardwood flooring manufacturers produce boards with square edges instead of beveled ones, which avoids the problems presented by beveled edges. These boards need to be installed by an experienced hardwood flooring installation service, as the boards need to be carefully lined up so that there is little variance in thickness between adjacent boards.
In terms of cost, quality prefinished hardwood flooring and site-finished hardwood flooring are fairly similar. Overall, prefinished hardwood flooring can be a good choice if you want a rapid installation process and don't mind the visible beveled edges. No matter which type of hardwood flooring you choose, have it installed by professional hardwood flooring installation services—a natural hardwood floor is a major investment into your home, and you need to ensure that the installation is done correctly.
For more information, contact companies like Blair & Sons Floor Co.