Why are Prefinished Hardwood Floors Superior to Unfinished wood floors?
When choosing a hardwood floor, there is a host of different options to consider. When you have decided on a prefinished wood floor, whether solid or engineered, your job is not yet done. Within prefinished flooring there remain several important decisions to make. Different finishes vary both aesthetically and structurally. The way your floor will look once it is installed will be based on the decisions you make as far as surface, gloss, and type of finish.
To begin, let’s discuss the recent trend of purchasing prefinished flooring.
Not too long ago, all wood flooring was installed unfinished, and finished on site. A major advantage of a site-finished floor is that the finished floor will have a uniform finish with square edges, meaning no beveling or gaps between boards. At least we hope this to be true, but it largely depends on the experience of the installer. Finding a suitable installer is just another added step to the tedious process of installing and site-finishing wood flooring. The actual installation required nailing unfinished planks to a plywood subfloor, sanding the surface down, then staining the wood, and finally finishing it with the correct number of coats of finish, depending on the application. If using a oil-based polyurethane finish, which is the most popular finish type, you will need to use 1 coat of sealer and at least 2 coats of poly, and sanding or screening in between each coat. You have to deal with the smell of the finish, the dust from the sanding, and the dry times, which can be up to 24 hours for each coat.A factory finished floor eliminates all these nuisances, and gives you peace of mind that what you see is what you get, and your floor will not depend on an installer’s temperament on the installation day.
New technology has drastically changed the wood flooring industry. Today, prefinished or factory finished floors are of much higher quality than in years past. The same uniform appearance of a site-finished floor is now achievable with prefinished planks. The introduction of new technologies and competition has reduced prices and spawned a huge selection of finish choices.
Whether solid or engineered, prefinished floors provide a multitude of options for the prospective buyer. The differences range from different surfaces and textures, to different gloss levels and different colors. Check out our engineered vs solid hardwood blog.
First, machinery and automation allows companies to create finishes and colors which would be near impossible to do by hand on site. This is why the selection of color options can be nearly overwhelming. Your floor can be prefinished with just about any color you can imagine, including the natural color of the wood, or multiple colors, or a cerused look. Nowadays you can easily request custom colors from many factories, so the possibilities are endless. This will allow you to perfectly match and style the décor of your furnishings.
The different types of finishing materials and textures also provide for tremendous options. Planks can have a smooth finish, a wire brushed finish or a handscraped finish. The difference is the texture of the wood. Smooth will be very smooth. Wire brushed will expose the grain of the wood, and hand scraped will have grooves running the length of the boards, as shown in these pictures. These are purely aesthetic differences, and have no real effect on the structural capacity of the wood.
The types of actual finish products used to seal and finish the wood also vary. The most common are polyurethane finishes. Whether oil based or water based, polyurethane will harden into a thick layer on top of the wood and leave a smooth surface, which will protect the wood from scratches and moisture. A variation of this would be an aluminum oxide finish which adds particles to the polyurethane to make the surface more resistant to scratches and abrasion. Oil and wax finishes are also popular. These will penetrate into the wood to protect it, while maintaining the wood’s natural grain and texture.
Some information on the differences between engineered vs. solid hardwood.
Some information on installing and finishing hardwood flooring.
Some information on how to choose wood flooring.
Some information on hardwood floor experts.
Some information on wood floor underlayments.
Some information on getting wood floors online.
Some information on European hardwood floors.