Hardwood Floors:
Prefinished or Unfinished?

prefinished hardwood floors

Perhaps you've made the choice to go with warm, beautiful hardwood floors for your next project.

Should you opt for prefinished or unfinished wood?

Here's what you'll want to consider:

Unfinished Wood Flooring

Unfinished hardwood is quite common in home construction today. Typically, the boards are installed, and then the workers sand and finish them on site.

If you consider this option, be certain you can tolerate the smell of the wood, as many types are quite odorous. Oak, for instance, though extremely popular, does have a strong scent. Get a piece of wood and coat it with clear polish to see how long it takes until it is tolerable for you.

You can always plan to move after the odor has dissipated.

Also, if you go with this option, be certain that all sawdust and debris is swept thoroughly, and not left underneath the boards or in cracks and crevices. Be sure your builder knows this is important to you. You will not want to stir up any allergic reactions when you move into your newly finished or remodeled home!

You may choose to stain the wood before sealing. There are numerous water-based or low VOC stains and sealers available. The stain will be covered with a clear finish, so be very sure you can tolerate the finish coat. AFM manufacturing carries low VOC sealers and you will probably also be able to locate something locally that is low-tox.

Prefinished Hardwood Floors

Prefinished hardwood flooring is finished at the factory and shipped ready for installation.

Some brands have a baked-on finish that penetrates throughout the entire piece of wood. Others are simply stained and sealed as an unfinished wood floor would be on site.

Check to see how thick the wood is, whether or not it can be refinished, what type of sealer was used (can you tolerate a sample?), and if it has any engineered components.

Engineered wood often uses a formaldehyde based glue, which will outgas toxic formaldehyde for years to come. Avoid this if possible, or at the very least, be certain it is sealed off from your living space.

You will do well to find a reputable manufacturer with a strong warranty and an attentive staff to answer any questions you may have.

Both unfinished and pre-finished floors come in various widths and styles. See

types of wood flooring for more information.

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