UNFINISHED HARDWOOD VS. PRE-FINISHED HARDWOOD FLOORING – WHICH ONE IS BETTER AND WHY

It may be difficult for someone who knows little about the hardwood to choose between prefinished hardwood and unfinished hardwood for flooring purposes. It is important to know all the basics of hardwood and also know the pros and cons of both prefinished and unfinished hardwood for flooring before deciding on which one is best for you. You cannot simply choose one by just knowing their names, there are a lot of things that you should consider while buying. This is important because it costs a lot of money and time, and if you choose the wrong type for yourself, you will not only lose your time but also a lot of money as well. In this article below, I have tried to explain all the basics of prefinished and unfinished hardwood for flooring.

What is Unfinished Hardwood?

Unfinished hardwood flooring means that hardwood has not been finished inside the factory but is to be finished on site. This is one of the oldest methods for building and renovating wooden floors. This method involves the use of unfinished hardwood and then slowly turning it into the hardwood floor. It is a little time-consuming process as compared to the use of prefinished hardwood for flooring but there are a lot of benefits of using this method in building and renovating your hardwood floors.

What is Prefinished Hardwood?

Prefinished hardwood flooring as the name suggests has been pre-finished inside a factory where it was turned into flooring planks. These floor planks are appropriately cut into appropriate sizes and are pre-sand, pre-polished with double layer coating of polyurethane. These are ready to install hardwood planks that can be used soon after buying and you do not need to work on polishing them or finishing them. There are some advantages of these types of hardwood floorings but there are some disadvantages as well, such as they are less messy but cost more as compared to the unfinished hardwood flooring.

Unfinished Hardwood – Pros and Cons

Bubba73, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

PROS (Unfinished):

  • Affordable

Using unfinished hardwood for flooring is more affordable as compared to prefinished hardwood flooring. The price of the prefinished hardwood is more than unfinished hardwood. This affordability factor makes the unfinished hardwood flooring one of the most suited choices if you do not want to spend a lot of money on your flooring. An unfinished hardwood floor costs less as compared to a prefinished hardwood floor. You can get similar results by the use of unfinished hardwood and you will also be able to save some of your money as well. But by doing this, you will have to pay more to the people who will install your floors.

  • No limitation

There are no limitations of colors, sizes, grain patterns, and wood types if you choose the unfinished hardwood flooring. This is because in unfinished hardwood there are a lot of options that you can choose from. You can choose any colors that you want, you can also choose any hardwood type that you like, you can choose any size for your hardwood floor planks.

Unfinished hardwood puts no limitations on you in terms of design, color, or grain pattern of the hardwood that you choose. You can simply choose the ones that you like and start working on them to install them on your floors. This no limiting factor in the unfinished hardwood makes it one of the most desired choices.

  • Smooth edges

If you choose the unfinished hardwood for your floor, you will be able to enjoy a smoothly edged floor. Manual sanding of the unfinished hardwood floors makes them leveled properly. This is important because if the edges of the floors are not properly leveled, there are chances of it accumulating dust and looking bad.

The smooth edges of the unfinished hardwood floor can also be felt while walking on them. The reason behind the smoothness of these unfinished hardwood floors is that they are installed on the site, and you can sand them and polish them, and you can also check every plank for smoothness and beveled edges.

  • Easy to Clean

The Unfinished hardwood planks for the floor are properly sanded, and they have no beveled or rough edges on these planks, this makes them easy to clean. They store no dust on their edges. They can easily be cleaned with the help of a mop, or duster, or vacuum cleaner. Apart from this, once they are cleaned, they remain clean for longer as compared to the roughly edged planks of the prefinished hardwood floors.

  • More options for customization

As you already know that there is no limitation for you when it comes to the unfinished hardwood planks for the flooring. You have a lot of options to customize and choose from different colors, grain patterns, hardwood species, and plank sizes. You can choose any hardwood type in any color and then can customize it. This customization option is also one of the reasons behind the popular use of this old trend.

  • Matching color of existing hardwood floor

If there is only a portion of your floor that requires renovation or change, the unfinished hardwood is one of the best ways to renovate it. The unfinished hardwood floors come in all colors and they can be matched with the existing colors of your hardwood floor. You can choose the hardwood that matches the color of your existing floor and then sand it properly and after that, you can polish it with the help of a polyurethane solution to give it a deeper look and smooth feel. Your existing floor and your new floor will almost look similar.

CONS (Unfinished)

  • Messy

As the unfinished hardwood planks are unfinished and they need to be finished on-site, they create a lot of mess on the place where they are being finished. This is one of the major disadvantages of unfinished hardwood floors. Even after you are done with your floor, you will have to clear up all this mess that was created during the process. There are a lot of wooden chips, dust, and other materials. Also, it requires you to work a lot more to finish the flooring.

  • Hard to install

Unfinished hardwood planks are raw, and they need more skills to work on them. You cannot simply install them on your floors as you can do with the prefinished hardwood floors. This is because they require more skills and more hard work. You need to cut the planks into the required size and then sand them properly and after that, you will have to apply polyurethane on them. All this process requires more skills and more labor. That is why these unfinished hardwood floors are hard to install and work with.

  • Hard to maintain

The unfinished hardwood floors are harder to maintain during the installation process and after installation. They need more care and require more maintenance. This is because they can get easily damaged and scratched as they are less resistant to scratches, water, and fire.

  • Less resistant

The unfinished hardwood floors are not made in the factories, like the prefinished hardwood floors. They are made on-site, and that is why they are not as hard as the prefinished hardwood planks and that is why they are less resistant to scratches, water, and other issues. This is why they do not last longer as compared to the prefinished hardwood floors.

  • Takes more time

Work with the unfinished hardwood floors takes more time as compared to the prefinished hardwood floors. This is because the prefinished hardwood floors just need installation, while the unfinished hardwood planks need more labor and more work. That is why it takes more time to work with the unfinished hardwood floors.

Prefinished Hardwood – Pros and Cons

Jcwalker3rd, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

PROS (Prefinished):

  • Last longer

One of the advantages of prefinished hardwood floors is that they last longer as compared to unfinished hardwood floors. This is because they are cut, shaped, and finished in the factories that specialize in this work. These factories work and research on making these hardwood planks stronger and last longer. They make them as strong as possible and that is why these planks last more as compared to the unfinished hardwood floor planks. This long-lasting ability of these floors makes them an attractive choice to the people who are looking forward to having a long-lasting solution for their floors. This long life of prefinished hardwood floors makes them a suitable choice for all parts of the house and also in all types of environments as well.

  • Easy to Install

The prefinished hardwood floors are already finished, you do not need to work on them. They are just ready to install. You can directly buy them and install them in your homes. They do not require manual labor, cutting, edging, shaping, and polishing. They are already polished and ready to use. This easy to install nature of these prefinished hardwood floors makes them one of the most desirable and suitable choices in many cases.

  • Less messy

The process of installing these floors is less messy, this is because they are already finished, and you do not need that much labor work. You just need to cut them according to your desired size and install them. This process is a lot less messy as compared to the process of installing the unfinished hardwood planks. That is why a lot of people prefer installing these over the unfinished hardwood planks for the flooring.

  • More resistant

The prefinished hardwood floors are prepared in the factories and are made to last longer and be more resistant to scratches and other factors that mostly destroy the hardwood floors. The prefinished hardwood floors are not only resistant to scratches, but they are also more resistant to fire, water, and molds. This more resistant nature of these prefinished hardwood floors helps them last longer and be easy to maintain.

  • Easy maintenance

These prefinished hardwood floors are easy to maintain as compared to the unfinished hardwood floors. This is because they have more resistance to scratches, water spills, and fire. This more resistance simply means they need less maintenance. More resistance from the scratches means you will not have to worry about them and will not have to get your floors recoating of the polyurethane soon after installing. More resistance from water means that your floor will not require that much hardwood in the cleaning process. Also, more resistance from the water means that your floor will not get destroyed sooner because the floor will not absorb the water.

  • Can be used within days

Floors that are made or renovated with the prefinished hardwood planks, can be used within two or three days after the installation of the hardwood floor. This is possible because they are already finished products and after installation, they take no time in drying as the unfinished hardwood floors take.

  • The best option for whole-house renovation

If you want to renovate the floor of your entire house, or you are installing the new floor in your newly built house, the prefinished hardwood flooring is the best. This is because your hardwood floors will take less time to install, and your whole house will look the same as you want. This is also easy and will last longer so this is best for your house as well.

CONS (Prefinished):

  • Costs more

There is a chance that your prefinished hardwood floors can cost you more as compared to the unfinished hardwood floors. This is one of the major disadvantages of prefinished hardwood floors. The initial cost of the planks is more in prefinished hardwood floors are compared to the unfinished, so they cost more but the installation charges of the unfinished hardwood floors are more as compared to the installation charges of the prefinished hardwood floors. This is not always correct, but it happens in most of the cases of prefinished hardwood floors.

  • Beveled Planks

The prefinished hardwood floor planks are cut and made within the factories, and there are chances that they are beveled when you install them on your floor. This is something that commonly happens with prefinished hardwood floors. The edges of the prefinished planks are not smooth, and they feel rough and also trap dust in them, this makes them hard to clean as well. This is one of the major disadvantages of prefinished hardwood floors.

  • Colors matching is an issue

If you have a floor already installed and you need only a portion to be renovated, you cannot choose any prefinished hardwood floor planks, this is because of the color matching issue. The prefinished hardwood floors only come in selective colors and they mostly do not match with the already installed floors. That is why you cannot use them in partial renovations.

  • More limitations

There are many limitations of color, grain, and size of the planks if you decide to use the prefinished hardwood floors. The prefinished hardwood floors do not give you the free hand customization as the unfinished hardwood floors give. This is because they are already finished and do not need customizations, you can choose the one that you like but you cannot create the ones that you want to create. This is something a lot of people do not want, as they want a fully customized hardwood floor in their places.

Which one is best for you?

As you know the pros and cons of both, prefinished and unfinished hardwood floors, you can now decide better about which one do you want? You must decide according to your needs and preferences. If you want a fully customized, smooth, and colorful floor, you can choose the unfinished hardwood and then finish it on-site. This requires a little extra hardwood, but the results are worth it.

If you want an easy to work with and easy to install floor, or looking forward to having ready to install floors, you can choose the prefinished hardwood floors. Whatever you choose, it should fit your needs and preferences.