Prefinished hardwood flooring is increasing in popularity – especially since it is considered better and less complicated than the unfinished hardwood type.
Of course, each type has its own benefits and downsides, but the prefinished type will make the process go faster and easier.
Of course, it would be better if you can understand the basic concept before doing any installation work.
The Facts of Hardwood Flooring
In general, hardwood flooring comes in unfinished type as well as the prefinished one. Back then in the days, homeowners used the unfinished hardwood flooring.
They would install the planks, and then staining them and applying the protective layer for the finish. But then, the prefinished hardwood flooring was introduced in the 40s.
The hardwood floor has been finished at the manufacturing plants, so homeowners or installers don’t have to apply the protective (surface) layer after the installation.
It is easier, faster, and more efficient. That’s why most homeowners (and also retailers) like this floor type better.
The advantages you can get from the prefinished floor also apply to other solid hardwood items or products. The engineered hardwood flooring has the same benefits.
Engineered hardwood floor is generally available in prefinished style. The floor has thin hardwood layer that is bonded with particleboard or plywood core layers.
In terms of installation, the engineered type also offers the same simplicity and easiness.
The standard and common cost for prefinished hardwood flooring is around $3 to $20 a square foot – and that’s only for the material.
You can find products in between those ranges, but you need to remember that this is an unusual type of hardwood, so pricy cost should be expected.
Because of the simple installation and the more efficient operation, the cost is around 30% to 50% higher than the unfinished type.
But then again, the extra price means that you won’t have to deal with finishing, staining, and sanding work.
What about the installation cost?
Well, you need to spend between $6 and $8 a square foot. Or if you know the standard labor cost for unfinished floor, then expect the installation cost (for the prefinished floor) to be lower.
After all, the workers don’t have to deal with the extra work for staining, sanding, and varnishing.
Care, Repair, and Maintenance
The factory-grade finish layer is better, stronger, and more powerful than those for the unfinished floor applied on-site.
Factories usually use the powerful and potent chemical sealers during the manufacturing process – that’s why the quality of the finish is generally better and stronger.
Factories use aluminum oxide (crystals) that are embedded within urethane coat with UV cured. On-site application usually comes with 3 years to 5 years of warranty, while factor-applied types have 5 years to 25 years of warranty.
Factory-grade seal is more durable and solid, resulting in easier maintenance and care. When compared to regular finish seal applied on the spot, the factory-grade is more resistant to moisture, discoloration, stain.
Not to mention that such factory-grade can deliver longer-lasting result that will save you from having to refinish the floor in a following few years. It doesn’t mean that the refinished floor will remain perfect until the end.
As time goes by, the floor will start to discolor, fade, and scratch eventually – that’s how the nature works, really.
When you want to maintain the condition of the floor, you only have two options: remove the broken areas and replace them or to sand off the entire finish of the floor. Your choice.
Remember that there are different types of prefinished hardwood floor, including the lousy or the premium one.
In general, the hardwood floor will affect the estate value. If you are looking forward to increasing the property’s value without having to do a complete renovation or remodeling work, then having the hardwood floor can be a great option.
Not to mention that there are countless and limitless types of modern prefinished products, giving you the freedom to choose whatever style that you like.
Basically, the installation process and method are similar to those to the unfinished flooring. You will need special tools and equipments, like pneumatic stapler or power (floor) nailer.
If you have never installed the prefinished hardwood flooring before, you should hire a pro to do it. Unlike the engineered floor with its glue-down installation method, the installation for prefinished floor is more complicated.
You will have to nail down the boards with finish nails, making sure that it would be connected to the subfloor properly. You can also use staples that are driven within a certain angle along the planks edges tongues.
Because of the complicated process and method, most homeowners have professional installers do the hard work.
But then again, you won’t have to varnish, stain, or sand the floor – making your work easier. Sanding is basically messy because you are about to fill out the room with the (wood) dust.
As if it weren’t enough, you will have to deal with the thorough and overall cleaning procedure – again.
And let’s not forget that the finish process will take days to dry – between coats. And you need another days (even weeks!) to let the odor dissipate.
You won’t find such issues with the prefinished hardwood flooring. Once you install them, they are good to go right away!
But then again, you need to make sure that the subfloor is flat so your hardwood floor will be smooth.
You see, when you use unfinished floor, you will have to sand it to remove imperfections and height irregularities – mostly caused by uneven subfloor.
Since prefinished floor won’t need sanding or whatsoever, the installation will show any hidden below-surface imperfections and flaws.
That’s why you need to make sure that the flat subfloor is in perfect condition.
Top Brands and Manufacturers
Since the prefinished flooring is getting liked and more popular, most of the well-known manufacturers have their prefinished solid flooring products.
However, some brands only dedicate themselves for certain products – like dedicating themselves for solid hardwood only or for engineered hardwood floor only.
That’s not an issue as long as you can find yourself a quality product that would fit perfectly at home.
Some of the top brands include:
- Lumber Liquidators. This brand surprisingly has a pretty impressive and wide collection of prefinished solid hardwood floor, up to 150 items. But not all of them are coming as premium quality. But with price range set around $2 for a square foot, it is pretty understandable if the quality may not be as you expect.
- Bruce. When compared to Lumber Liquidators, Bruce has more collections – up to 200 items. Not to mention that their products are easily found at most home improvement stores and retails so it won’t be difficult to find.
Convenience, Comfort, and Elegance
When you choose prefinished hardwood flooring, you can enjoy the benefits of having the already applied surface seal – without you having to do the work.
Let the factory do it for you, and you can immediately enjoy the feel, beauty, and look of the natural floor.
At the same time, the floor gives you the flexibility to choose. You can sand the floor down later so you can finally reveal the natural material.
You can also treat it with any finishing products or techniques later on.
But be advised about the application of the seal. Since the floor is made and prefinished at the manufacturing plants, don’t expect to find the sealing agent between the lines of the planks.
Because of it, it will create beveled grooves (between the boards) which are responsible for accumulating grime and dirt. Don’t forget about the seams too – they are prone to water penetration.
If water can penetrate the seams, it will cause mold or rot growing beneath the floor.
So, how to avoid it from happening?
It’s advisable to apply protective seal or layer after the installation, focusing on the seams and plank lines.
Even with the prefinished type, you still need to apply the seal so the seams would be covered too.
Engineered vs Prefinished Types
As it was mentioned before, engineered hardwood floor may come in different constructions and forms, but it has the same benefits as the prefinished hardwood flooring.
If you want easy installation, engineered flooring is super easy and simple. You can glue it down. Not to mention that it is generally cheaper than the prefinished type.
The only disadvantage is the fact that you can sand it and refinish it repeatedly. In terms of life expectancy, the engineered floor is shorter than the prefinished one.
But then again, it is up to you to decide whether you want the prefinished type or the engineered one.
Is It the Right One?
Prefinished (hardwood) floor may not be 100% perfect, but most homeowners find the positive outcomes exceed the downsides. Consider how the floor can bring tons of aesthetic benefits to your house.
Not many homeowners would find prefinished hardwood flooring to be appealing or beneficial for them – that’s why you need to understand the basic facts and make an educated decision from it.