You can buy your hardwood floor or one of two ways: you can buy it unfinished or prefinished. Prefinished floors are made from planks that are stained and sealed in a factory. They’re then brought to your house and installed. Typically, they have beveled edges or tongue and groove joints. They’re nailed into place or even allowed to float on a subfloor. They’re quick to install but you have limited options. You also will have a difficult time matching a replacement plank should you need to replace one or more of them.
Installing an Unfinished Floor
An unfinished floor is also known as a site-finished floor. These are pieces of wood that are delivered as bare stock. They have been sanded to be workable but still need a final sanding. Also, they do not have stain or finish on them. So, why would you choose that?
You would choose an unfinished floor if you want to see what the stain might look like in your house. With prefinished wood, it might look different in the store lights than it does under your living room lights. You’ll be able to test the stain on a spare piece to make sure you like it if you choose unfinished flooring. Also, the subfloor is not always completely level. So, an unfinished floor gives you the option of installing the floor and then sanding it so that it’s perfectly level.
Finally, an unfinished floor is more easily repaired since you can replace the damaged plank with an unfinished plank. Then you can sand, stain, and seal it in place to match.
There are limited options with a prefinished floor. They’re basically stained and sealed in a way that is most likely to sell. So, if you want something outside the box like a blue floor, you’ll need unfinished hardwood and a lot of blue stain. Alternately, if you want to mix and match your flooring, you’ll have that option. Many people are choosing to make their floors look rustic and cabin-grade by mixing and matching different stains and finishes. Mixing gray stained planks with greige planks, for example, can give you the appearance of an antique patina. That’s not as easy to do with prefinished wood.
The major caveat is that finishing your flooring on site is a big job. It is messy and smelly, and you’ll have to stay off the floor for several days.