Pros and Cons of Prefinished Hardwood Flooring
is installed as unfinished planks that are then stained and finished with a protective surface layer on-site. More recently, many manufacturers have begun to offer prefinished hardwood flooring products that arrive with very good finishing treatments already applied to hardwood materials. There are certain advantages to purchasing and installing this prefinished hardwood flooring, as well as several drawbacks.
- Powerful chemical sealers, not available to onsite installers, are applied in the factory. While site-applied finishes are normally warranted for 3 to 5 years, factory-applied treatments may have warranties of 5 to 25 years or more.
- Installing prefinished hardwood is much easier and neater than installing traditional hardwood. Prefinished hardwood floors are ready to go as soon as they are installed. No sanding, no mess, no odors.
Ease of maintenance
- Prefinished hardwood floors tend to be slightly more impervious to stains, moisture, and other discolorations than floors that are finished on site.
Refinishing is possible
- You always have the option later on of sanding down past the factory-applied coat to reveal the natural wood. It can then be treated with any of the basic on-site finishing techniques.
Seams aren't sealed
- Because the material is finished at the factory, a sealing agent is not applied to the lines between the planks when they are installed. This can lead to dirt and grime getting caught in these seams. The seams also may be susceptible to water penetration, which can cause rot or mold to grow beneath the surface of the floor.
Beveled plank style
- This isn’t necessarily a drawback, but more of a style choice. Often, factory prefinished wood planks will have beveled, slightly rounded edges. This gives the wood plank a more finished and slightly manufactured look.
Subfloor flaws may be evident
- With a site-finished floor you install the material and then sand it flat. This allows you to remove any height irregularities which may exist due to an uneven subfloor. But with prefinished materials, there is no sanding process, so the actual surface of the installation will reflect any below-surface flaws that may be present. A perfectly flat subfloor is essential to ensure a smooth surface.
Refinishing requires heavy sanding
- While prefinished floors do not need to be refinished for a very long time, eventually the surface seal will start to fade, scratch, and discolor slightly. Because of the prefinished topcoat, refinishing requires extensive sanding to reach the natural hardwood again. This cuts down on the thickness of the floor planks and limits how many times you can then refinish the floor in the future.