Prefinished engineered hardwood flooring sales have overtaken unfinished or site finished hardwood floor sales partly due to prefinished wood floors have a more durable finish that can’t be achieved on floors finished on the job site. However, unfinished wood floors remain popular because it is available in more widths and wood species than prefinished and can be matched to existing wood floors. Here are the main differences.

Unfinished hardwood floors (Custom finish, Most Expensive)

Unfinished hardwood floors are installed bare then sanded, stained and finished on site. It is available in more widths and wood species than prefinished floors and can be matched to existing wood floors.  A custom sanded hardwood floor is perfectly flat looking, with an appearance that can’t be achieved with a prefinished hardwood floor. Since unfinished floors are sanded flat on site, it is more forgiving of irregularities.

Engineered hardwood flooring(Many choices, Least expensive)

Engineered hardwood floors are more versatile as they can be installed over a wider range of subfloors than unfinished hardwood. Also, the durable coating on engineered flooring makes it more resistant to moisture and humidity, making it suitable for climatic regions with high humidity or large variations in temperature.

When to choose Prefinished Hardwood Flooring

  • If you are installing the wood flooring in an existing home, prefinished flooring is generally easier to install and less messy.
  • Prefinished wood works better in areas that receive high traffic and heavy wear and tear because it provides a more durable finish.
  • If you are trying to avoid fumes or a big mess, pre-finished flooring is cleaner to install.
  • If cost is a concern, prefinished flooring is typically less expensive.
  • If you are looking for a fast and easy installation, then prefinished or engineered hardwood flooring would be the best choice.

When to choose unfinished or site finished hardwood flooring

  • When trying to match to the existing floor, unfinished woods are easier to stain to match.
  • If you are having the floors installed throughout your entire home, having the floor finished on site will provide a more uniform color and finish.
  • If you are looking for a rare wood species or plank width, unfinished offers the most options.
  • Unfinished floors would be most appropriate if your home has historical significance or if you are trying to maintain the architectural integrity of it.