Are you considering having hardwood floors installed? Which is better for you – a factory finished floor or a site finished wooden floor? What are the pros and cons of site finished hardwood floors? What are the pros and cons of factory finished hardwood wooden floors?
Factory Finished Floors
Factory finished floors are also called pre-finished wood floors. They come from the factory already finished, hence the name.
One of the benefits of factory finished floors is faster and cleaner installation. Less dust from sanding, faster installation work because it doesn’t need to be stained, less downtime. Because the floors are almost plug and play, you don’t need as skilled a crew to install it, which may save you on the installation cost. Once installed, you can walk on them immediately.
The biggest downside for some is limited selection. Your choices are what the factories produce. You’re limited not just on color but size and grain. Conversely, you can see what you’ll get when it is installed.
The cheaper woods sometimes used in factory finished floors look good now but fade over time – you can minimize the risk of this by doing your research in advance.
With a factory finished floor, you take the risk that the wood floor you installed will get discontinued, making replacing a slat difficult without refinishing the whole floor to keep the same look.
The floors won’t smell after installation the way treated would produce an odor for days after the installation.
The quality control at the factory ensures you get a baseline standard quality for the product, something you can’t get if you hire fly by night operations to install your wood floor.
The floors may be under a manufacturer’s warranty that is stronger than what a craftsman could offer.
Pre-finished wooden floors come sealed from humidity and moisture, making it the best choice if you live in a hot and humid climate or want to put the wood floors below grade (in the basement) where water leaks are a concern.
Only prefinished wood flooring can be floated above a concrete sub floor; you can’t install site finished floors on a concrete subfloor without putting another “floor” above it.
Site Finished Floors
Site finished floors are also called unfinished wood floors. The unfinished floors are then finished on site – hence the name.
Pre-finished floors are cheaper, but this is offset by the finishing costs. Conversely, you can pick the colors and have higher quality hardwoods and finishing done than you’d get if you bought a mass produced product.
You have to have site finishing if you want a custom floor, whether a herring bone pattern, inlays or borders. When the floor is site finished, you also have more options like quarter sawn floors.
A site finished floor rarely has beveled edges that affect the look of your hardwood floors. And bevels create an opening that liquids and crumbs can fall into. This is why you only want site finished floors in your kitchen.
The site finished hardwood floor has a clear, solid and uninterrupted tabletop look that pre-finished wood floors can’t match.
When site finished floors are marred by scratches or stains, repairing it is easy. Just sand and refinish. In contrast, a pre-finished floor has to have all affected pieces removed and ideally replaced with the same type of wood panel.
If you have an older home, unfinished wood is appropriate to maintain the look. And only with on site finishing can you use aging techniques or artificial distressing techniques to keep it consistent.