Hardwood floors are a beautiful addition to any home, and unfinished hardwood flooring is a popular option for many. It looks great, and the many available types of wood and finish options means you can match your flooring to almost any type of decor. It is easy to clean and maintain if properly installed and finished, and is very durable and long-lasting.
Prefinished vs. Unfinished Hardwood Flooring
Once you have decided to install hardwood floors, your next choice is whether to use pre-finished or unfinished flooring. Many people find an unfinished hardwood floor to be a better choice for their specific situation.
Prefinished hardwood flooring and engineered hardwood flooring is factory milled, coated with several layers of finish, and then heat-sealed. The finished product is durable and can look great, but the beveling necessary for installation can give slightly uneven feel to the floor, and repairs become more difficult.
With unfinished hardwood, you can bring the raw flooring planks into a room and any natural expansion or contraction from heat and humidity can take place before the floor is sealed and finished. Unfinished flooring is milled with a straight edge and sanded after installation. This ensures that with proper installation, sanding, and finishing, you should have a perfectly flat floor.
A main advantage of unfinished wood floors is the variety of finishes you can achieve if you have the floor custom finished. Once the flooring has been allowed to adjust to the conditions of the room, then installed and sanded, you can apply the finish. In addition, you can take an extra sanded plank or two and try a few stain and finish combinations in the room until you find the look you are going for.
Unfinished hardwood flooring is available in many varieties and types of wood. Some of the most popular and economical are domestic hardwoods such as red oak, white oak, hickory, walnut, or ash. These types have an affordable price and can be finished with a number of stains for a light or dark wood finish. Some of the more rich looking hardwood floor products are exotic imported varieties such as Brazilian cherry, mahogany, Manchurian walnut, bamboo, and Australian cypress. Again, these woods can be stained to a light or dark finish, but are generally more expensive than domestic species such as oak flooring.
Custom finishing unfinished wood flooring can also allow you to make spot repairs if it ever becomes necessary. Repairing damage to prefinished hardwood floors or engineered flooring usually means replacing a plank, which can be tricky depending on your skill level, or refinishing the entire floor, because the heat-sealed coating process does not lend itself to spot repairs. With most custom finished floors, however, you use a store bought repair kit to repair and refinish a small area. Properly and carefully repaired spots on an unfinished hardwood floor should be nearly unnoticeable.
Although any hardwood floors can be a beautiful addition to home decor, installing planks that have not been prefinished has several advantages. Unfinished floors allow for smoother feel after proper installation and sanding. Their thickness allows for many refinishings over the lifetime of the floor. They allow for more customization when choosing stain and finishes – oak hardwood flooring, for example, can take on a variety of looks depending on the finish. In addition, scratches or gouges can be easily repaired without having to refinish an entire floor. These advantages make unfinished hardwood flooring a great choice for anyone looking for a beautiful, convenient, and long-lasting flooring choice.