Hardwood floors: prefinished or unfinished?

I’m looking at having 220sf of hardwood flooring put into my home, and the issue has come up whether to go with pre-finished or unfinished slats. The prefinished can be done in a day, and is generally a lot less of a P-I-T-A (don’t have to cover everything for sanding, etc.) Unfinished would take 3-5 days including sanding and finishing. I’ve looked at the prefinished and have decided that the cambered edges are not that big of an issue. The price for unfinished is about 10% more.

Would there be any benefits to going with unfinished?



I’ve had my existing hardwood floors refinished and installed new pre-finished maple another part of the house. I’ve had no problems with my prefinished floors and have yet to hear anyone say a factory finish is less durable (quite the opposite in fact).

Are you comparing Apples & Apples? (i e made sure the pre-finished isn’t a veneer)
Have you found a finish color and species of wood that you like?
Have you looked into the differences between brands? (I’ve heard Bruce’s products are inferior)

BTW, if you opt to take the unfinished route; modern sanding machines don’t make much of a mess and the coats of poly cure quickly in you go with a latex (less durable) coating.

I’ve only done the unfinished, but my thought at the time would be that it depends a lot on the condition of your subfloor. If the subfloor is perfect so that the prefinished goes on nicely at the joints, there’s no reason not to do it. When I did mine, the subfloor was OK, but not absolutely flat, so there were places where the floor had some imperfections that the subsequent puttying and sanding minimized.

I think the prefinished coatings are harder and more durable (at least the manufacturers * claim * that they are harder and more durable), but I dunno what you do if you get a scratch anyways. With a conventional floor, you can just put on a bit of poly and Bob’s your uncle.

I’ve done both.

I 1980 I used a Bruce Random Plank Oak in my dining room and it was great. It is a veneer, but very thick. I installed it over a plywood subfloor and I glued and nailed. Came out great and 24 years later it has not been refinished and it is still beautiful and in good condition. (I saw it the fisrt weekend in Aug.) I have also used prefinished Bruce parquet. Installed it in EX-MIL’s living room in 1979 and according to my daughter, it is still there and in good condition. It hasn’t been refinished either.

The unfinished was installed in a house that I refurbed. We went with unfinished because the floor was so uneven we knew we were going to have to plane off some areas to get it flat. We used solid T&G planks, planed it smooth and used a two coat water based acrylic sealer/finish. I can’t remember the brand but it was easy to apply and looked very nice when completed. We did that in 1995 and, unfortunately, I haven’t seen it since 1997, so I can’t comment on the durability.

If I were going to do it again I would go with the prefinished unless there is an issue like I encountered. Also, the solid plank was much more expensive.

Thanks for all the input… prefinished sounds like a great idea. Lot less pain to beauty ratio. :slight_smile:

Any opinions on the quality of Somerset hardwood flooring? I’m considering tiger wood prefinished. The tiger wood the installer has in their showroom looks awesome, and the installer that i’m working with is telling me they are a premium supplier of this type of exotic wood, and they have the best stuff. I’m not convinced though, and after pouring over the internet, I got nothing on Somerset other then their own website.

Many MANY thanks for your insight…