What to Know About Pre-Finished Hardwood Flooring

If you have decided on hardwood flooring for your flooring needs, you still have one major decision left to make: unfinished or pre-finished hardwood flooring.  This is an important decision because it impacts the type of design options you have, the warranties you will receive, the kind of cleaning products you can use, and the overall appearance of your finished flooring project.  It can also have some cost implications that need to be considered.  Here are some of the top things you should know about pre-finished hardwood flooring. 

Pre-finished hardwood flooring is a natural wood product.  There are so many different flooring surfaces available that can give you a wood-look and it is easy to confuse them. .  Traditional unfinished hardwood flooring looks different than pre-finished wood products, which leads to some people confusing them with laminates or luxury vinyl planks.  They are not; pre-finished wood flooring is a natural wood product; it just comes with several layers of sealant already on it.  This means that it will have the natural beauty you expect from a wood floor, but also the same type of care requirements. 

Pre-finished wood floors may come with factory finishes, but they still come in a wide variety of different colors and a wide variety of different types of wood.  The finishes generally have warranties on them, which can be helpful, especially in high-use areas.  They also have enough variety to offer some customization.  However, the fact that they are already finished does limit the ability to customize through staining, which is not limited with unfinished products. 

Pre-finished wood floors can be ready immediately after installation.  For unfinished hardwood flooring, installation is simply the first step; the floor then needs to be stained and sealed.  This not only means additional labor costs, but also additional down-time for the project.  In addition, in occupied homes, especially those with pets and children, the risk of dust and debris entering the work area can complicate installations or lead to imperfect finishes.  

Of course, pre-finished wood floors are more expensive per square foot than finished boards.  Prices vary for both types of products, but your materials costs for the flooring will run about $2/square foot more for pre-finished boards.  However, when you factor in additional labor costs, you may find that the price differential becomes negligible or that your unfinished flooring project will actually cost you more. 

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