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Unfinished Hardwood vs Pre-finished Hardwood

by in Hardwood Materials
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This article will help you to determine if you want to install unfinished hardwood or pre-finished hardwood floors in your house.

 Prefinished Hardwood

 Prefinished hardwood is hardwood flooring which is finished by manufacturer. It goes in carton boxes, which prevent it from scratching during the transportation. Prefinished hardwood goes in different sizes and with different stain options. In general you will have limited amount of stains to choose from, but considering huge number of manufacturers, you will be able to pick the one you like. In general, prefinished hardwood has one or two options for the finish shine and in most of the cases it's semi-gloss. Only few manufacturers will be able to provide you with an option of gloss or satin finish you might like better. You're also limited with the finish type, because manufacturers of prefinished hardwood use some sort of mix of water and oil based finish. By adding oil-based finish they can add warmer color to the floor and then they apply couple more water-based coats to increase hardwood durability and add UV-protection to it. Some manufacturers use straight water-based finish. Nowadays different manufacturers try to create tons of different material options in order to eliminate these problems. Although they cannot do anything to remove tiny gaps which appear between boards whenever hardwood is installed.

Prefinished Board GapPrefinished Maple Floor
You can see those gaps because all the prefinished hardwood boards have tiny beveled edges which can be removed only by sanding. Prefinished wood in general has 3/4 of an inch in height of solid wood so it can be sanded or buffed once its layer of polyurethane will worn out or if you would like to stain it. Prefinished hardwood is the best option whenever somebody is looking to finish their project right away, because it takes way less time in order to install prefinished hardwood. Another positive side of it is that you won't need to leave the house during installation and/or wait before you can walk on the floor after it's installed. Also, since no sanding is involved with prefinished floor installation, there will be less dust, because the only dust makers(saws) might be taken outside to cut the wood.


 Unfinished Hardwood

 Unfinished hardwood also have its pros and cons. Basically it's 3/4 inch raw wood flooring material which have to be sanded(to make it smooth) and finished(to add better look to it and protect from any damages) on site. Unfinished wood also goes in different sizes and doesn't need fancy carton boxes to protect it from outside world. Unfinished hardwood is easier to install, since you don't have to be very careful to the boards finish. Once installed, all small natural gaps from the boards irregularity or from the knots can be filled with wood patch to create beautiful flat surface. Then, after all the boards are installed and small holes are patched, the entire floor can be sanded. Sanding involves some dust creation but makes the surface very flat. After that you can play with the stains to add perfect color to the floor.

Different stains on white oakFinished on site hardwood

Stains can be mixed in order to create any shade you can imagine. Once stained (or left with natural color) hardwood can be finished with layer of polyurethane or latex. There are couple differences about each one of them, please read our ARTICLE to find out more about difference in both of them. Also you can choose what shine you want to add to your floor. In general your options are: gloss, semi-gloss, satin and satin matte. Once finish is dry and cured you can walk on the floor, put all the furniture back and enjoy your new floor! As you can see unfinished hardwood involves more actions before you can walk on it, but it gives you more options to choose from. Some types of wood, like white pine, goes only in unfinished option.



Easy to install
Takes less time to install
Has limited amount of stains, finishes and wood species
Visible gap between each board

Unlimited number of stains
4 options of finish shine
Flat surface once finished
Hard to install, better to call professionals
Takes longer time to finish the project