One of the most common question we receive is if new wood floors are better prefinished or finished on site. The answer is – It depends on your project.
What to consider when finishing your hardwood floors on site
Finishing a wood floor on site allows you to pick a custom stain with your floor finisher that may require mixing or matching in order to get the look you like. This is often necessary if you have spent countless hours looking at prefinished options and cant find the right look. Your flooring finisher should be accustomed to this process and will have helpful suggestions about how to create the color you are looking for. Always keep in mind wood is a natural material so some planks will look different than other planks using the same stain. Its always a good idea to try the stain on several pieces of wood to get an idea of the natural variation between planks.
Prefinished hardwood floors can simplify things
A prefinished floor is often a great option for several reasons. Not having to move everything out of the home in order to sand the floors and then apply stain is a huge time saver. Prefinished wood floors can be installed and enjoyed almost immediately. This makes a big difference if you have been waiting for your home to be built or its been a long remodel process. Working with a high quality prefinished wood floor is important for several reasons. A poor quality prefinished floor may scratch too easily and become an eyesore. When the time does come to refinish the wood floors a cheaply constructed floor may not have enough of a wear layer to allow for refinishing. We will discuss this more in another article.
Can anyone tell the difference between prefinished and site finished hardwood floors?
Usually the only real difference you will see right away is the bevels between the planks. Most prefinished floors will have a small bevel between the planks. This is to soften the edges in case your sub floor is not completely level. With a 90 degree angle and a sub floor slightly raised you may have a sharp edge on a floor with no bevel. Having bevels between the planks helps keep that from happening. A site finished floor is lightly sanded on site after installation. That sanding will remove any square edges that may appear from an uneven sub floor.
Is a factory wood floor finish better than a site applied wood floor finish?
This is a common question. A factory finish can have a higher level of consistency, especially if you live in a part of the country with fewer high quality site flooring finishers available. There are many types of very high quality water based polyurethane now that will give an extremely high level of durability. These can be applied on site and will protect your floors for many years to come. Homeowners no longer have to look for just a factory applied wood flooring finish to find high durability.