We are asked when selecting a floor if it’s best to be finished in our facility or onsite at the home. Prefinished and unfinished flooring both have their advantages and it all comes down to personal preference. Some factors when considering which option is how readily available to walk on after installation, smooth edges, the least amount of mess during installation process, or having unlimited stain and finish options. Hardwood flooring is an investment within a home and something that will be seen and used every day so understanding the selections is very important.
Advantages of Prefinished
After installing a prefinished floor there is no sanding process needed, which leaves the jobsite dust free. As for installing an unfinished floor, the sanding process creates dust and debris. Dustless systems do cut down the amount of debris but not nearly as much as a prefinished flooring that requires no sanding at all. Also, factory finishes have a very durable protective layer that can’t be matched with onsite finishing.
During an unfinished flooring application process, there are fumes and odors that can come from the stain and finish products that are being used. Oil-based polyurethane has harsh chemicals with a strong odor that no one can be in the house for days to possibly weeks. There are some less harsh applications with low VOCs that are low odor and more environmentally friendly. However, prefinished flooring is completed in the factory, so there are no fumes or odors roaming through the room or house. This allows the factory to take care of the curing within their facility, not your home.
Prefinished flooring may be more expensive than unfinished for the material itself but after the overall installation, prefinished is typically less expensive. There are no long hours of onsite labor costs for prefinished flooring since there is no sanding and application process involved. Sometimes labor costs with unfinished flooring can almost be triple the price of the flooring itself.
The surface may feel dry after the application process onsite but some finishes may take longer and can be easily susceptible to scratching if not given proper drying time. To allow enough drying time and airing of fumes could take up to days or weeks depending upon the finish. Once a prefinished floor is installed it is ready to be walked on and furniture moved in. No waiting time means no time being wasted in the process.
Note: Make sure contractors are taking care of their tools, machines, and footwear to not damage the prefinished floor.
Advantages of Unfinished
An onsite finished flooring has a look that is hard to match with unlimited custom staining option capabilities. Very few companies offer custom color staining in their factory, which limits species, treatments, stains and finish options. Unfinished flooring has squared edges so the floor is flush once sanded leaving it nice and smooth. Some homeowners prefer this over beveled edges since it is noted to be easier to clean. Also, the treatments for unfinished are done onsite and show the true authentic craftsmanship. At Peachey we strive to keep the original work of the craftsmen by hand scraping actually by hand with a special tool like they do out on the field, not machine.
Matching Existing Floor
The hardwood professionals finishing the floor onsite can work with stains onsite to match to existing floor in the house. For prefinished, the factory will need a piece of your existing floor for the finishing team to match directly if the facility offers these capabilities.
Uniform Stain Color
Unfinished flooring has no bevels; therefore, the edges of the boards don’t look lighter or darker than the surface as they can appear with prefinished flooring. They are smooth and uniform, which allows the stain to be applied evenly in all areas. Prefinished flooring has beveled edges so sometimes they may look darker or lighter than the surface of the floor.
Homeowners love a quick easy clean-up process and since unfinished flooring have no bevels, it satisfies their wants. Sometimes bevels can collect dust, dirt and grime making it hard for a quick clean. If you still want a prefinished floor and worry about cleaning, go with micro-beveled edges since the bevels are minor and easier to clean than some factory’s standard bevels.
For more information on prefinished and unfinished flooring, give our experts at Peachey Hardwood Flooring a call 717-667-9373. We will be glad to help with any questions.