Pre-Finished or Site Finished 

Which Hardwood Floor Finish Type is Best?

March 24, 2019


You want to install hardwood flooring in your home. Should you install wood and have it sanded and finished after installation? (site finished) Or, should you select hardwood flooring with a finish that was applied in a factory? (pre-finished)  If you already have hardwoods in your home, you should match the existing flooring. This usually means installation of unfinished hardwood and finishing both the new and existing flooring for a uniform look. You shouldn't have a patchwork appearance of flooring that was installed in stages. If you aren't matching existing flooring, you should consider "Pre-finished" flooring, or flooring that already has the color and protective finish applied.  Here are some advantages of purchasing pre-finished flooring:

Ease of Design: When you shop for pre-finished flooring, you are able to see exactly what the finished product looks like. This makes it easy for you to coordinate your flooring with your other interoir design features like cabinets and furnishings. 

Broad Range of Textures: Hardwood flooring is manufactured in a variety of textures not available with site finishing. The top selling feature in flooring with a factory finish is a "distressed" finish, with dings, scrapes and dents.  Kerfcut, hand scraped, and wire brushed finishes are also popular pre-finished options. 

Edges with Definition: Many people like the appearance of slightly beveled edges on flooring planks. For those looking for a more defined edge, there are wood floors with sculped or handscraped edges. You can even find flooring that has more color on the edges of the plank than the center in a style known as a "French Bleed".  Site finished flooring is perfectly smooth and level. The edges of the boards are flat. 

Durability: Invest in better quality flooring and it will last at least 25 years without requiring any maintenance. Quality pre-finished flooring is more resistant to staining and damage than site finished.  Premium hardwood flooring with a factory applied finish will outlast any finishes available to flooring contractors. 

Convenience: With a site finished floor, you need to remove all of your furnishings so that your floor can be sanded and finished after it has been installed. You will need to find a place to stay for a week during this process. With pre-finished flooring, furniture is moved from side to side during the installation. You are able to walk on the floors immediately after they have been installed. For builders and contractors, your projects wrap up sooner when you don't have to wait a week for sanding and finishing. 

Easy to Repair: You should always order an extra carton of pre-finished flooring. In the event you need a repair, it is relatively easy to replace damaged boards with new boards. For site finished flooring, you need to replace the boards and then sand and stain to try to match the surrounding flooring. 

Cost: The cost of pre-finished flooring is comparable, and sometimes lower than the cost of unfinished flooring that is sanded and finished on site.

More Options: Pre-finished flooring is available in a variety of species, sizes, colors and textures.  As with anything else, you get what you pay for. The big box stores, outlets and liquidators have loads of cheap flooring, that may or may not hold up to daily wear. The better quality flooring is going to cost more than the builder quality flooring, but it will hold up much longer.  

There are new flooring products with scratch resistant finishes that weren't available a few years ago. These are available in various price points.  At Daniels Floors, we are eager to help you navigate through the options for wood flooring.