Unfinished hardwood floors are an excellent addition to any home or room and can truly add a unique look to any home. Many people, including subcontractors and consumers, choose to use unfinished wood flooring as opposed to finished wood in their homes. These floors have their advantages, but require sanding and finishing on site after installation is complete.
Installation of unfinished hardwood floors typically involves fitting the wood together plank by plank, followed by sanding the wood and then applying a stain. The finish is added over the surface of the hardwood flooring as a whole after the boards have been installed. This detailed process allows for the small spaces between the planks to be filled with finish, an advantage of an unfinished floor which offers a more uniform finish regardless of board thickness, as well as a greater moisture-proof seal.
Choosing the Right Wood
An important decision to make when you decide to install unfinished wood floors is what kind of wood to choose. There are many different types of unfinished hardwood flooring options available, and you must consider what type of room the floor is for as well as what finish, if any, you wish to put on the wood. For example, light wood can be for a more casual style of room, while dark wood can be for a more formal style of room. Also, wood can vary depending on its durability and hardness.
Installing unfinished flooring allows for flexibility in finishing options. These Country Plank floors were finished with a tung oil product from WaterLox. (Photo from Dwyer Forestry Consulting)
Unfinished wood flooring typically makes use of premium domestic oak hardwood flooring. Floors that are made of red oak or white oak are known to have a bright color with a coarse grain pattern. Of course, other wood species such as Brazilian cherry can be used for an unfinished hardwood floor, depending on your needs and personal taste.
Disadvantages of Unfinished Hardwood Floors
There are some disadvantages to installing these floors. The first disadvantage is that unfinished floors require extra time to sand and finish the floor after installation, as opposed to installing a prefinished floor or engineered hardwood flooring, which is ready once installed. The second disadvantage over say, engineered flooring products is the copious amount of dust made when sanding an unfinished floor, which can get everywhere in a home and create dusty air for a while. The price of labor may also be higher.
You may choose to custom-finish your flooring with polyurethane-based sealers, or something more natural like a wax or tung oil. If you choose to leave your floors completely unfinished, there are some more precautions you will need to take – protecting them from scratches, scuffs, and stains is a little more difficult than with finished wood flooring if you choose to leave the wood in its unfinished state. By its very nature, unfinished wood floors come without the damage protection that a finish can provide, so you will need to take special care of your floor should you choose to leave it unfinished. They also require extra caution when cleaning them to avoid damaging the bare wood. Learning how to clean them safely and properly will help lessen the risk of causing damage that could be expensive and time-consuming to repair.
Despite these disadvantages, there are definite advantages to installing unfinished hardwood. First, the floor can be installed at any time during the process of construction or remodeling. Second, you can choose any kind of wood stain or combination of stains you wish to apply to your floor, and you can even choose to forgo the stain and leave the natural wood as it is, for a rustic, clean look. Third, if you are trying to match some existing wood flooring, unfinished planks are great because you can simply install the floor and then stain the floor to match your existing floor stain. Installing hardwood flooring throughout your home is usually best done with unfinished flooring to provide a uniform color and finish. Finally, unfinished hardwood floors will also give a greater range of overall options for your home décor, since specific plank widths or unusual wood types may not be available in prefinished wood.