Prefinished hardwood flooring can be likened to ready-to-wear clothes as opposed to hand scraped hardwood flooring which can be likened to custom made dresses. Pre-finished hardwood has already been sanded and sealed and just needs to be nailed to the floor. After installation, what is needed is to just sweep the floor clean. Prefinished hardwood flooring is coated with multiple layers of urethane which makes boards even. However, because of the multiple coatings of urethane, the natural color more often does not show. For one who wants to see the natural grain and color of wood, a lot of sanding should be done, so the use of pre-finished hardwood is not recommended.
When buying prefinished hardwood flooring, it is a must to inspect each and every board as damaged boards (one where the coating has chipped) are literally impossible to repair, ergo unusable.
Although prefinished hardwood flooring may not be as elegant and stylish as hand-scraped hardwood, there are a number of advantages why home owners choose the latter:
1. Ease of installation. One just has to know the floor area of the room to determine how many boards he has to buy. Unlike plank boards which may vary in size, pre-finished boards’ sizes are standardized. There are also DIY flooring projects that include instructions on how one may install these types of floors.
2. No health hazard. As coating of the wood is done in the factory, homeowners are spared of inhaling toxic fumes of coating materials in cases where coating is done onsite. Wood dust inhalation is also eliminated as sanding is done in the factory as well.
3. Finish. There is no better coating than factory coating. Thus your floor is not only leveled all throughout, you also have a uniform color.
4. Availability. Increased demand for prefinished hardwood flooring has resulted in economies of scale so that availability and price is not a problem. You can find these boards in hardware stores, DIY shops and builders’ centers. There are a variety of colors to choose from.
5. Turn around time. As there is not much work to be done except cutting and nailing boards, you can finish installation of flooring for a medium sized room even over the weekend.
Pre-finished hardwood flooring does not come without disadvantages though and one must take these into consideration as well:
1. Installation is delicate. Although we said earlier that installation would only take a few board cutting and nailing, care must be taken to ensure that the coating does not chip during installation. Otherwise, the whole board will have to be replaced. This is the reason why most floor installers of prefinished hardwood flooring lay out cardboards on the floor as materials used to install the boards are heavy and may cause damage which is irreparable.
2. Seams not sealed over. Seams of prefinished hardwood flooring are not sealed in contrast to boards scraped and installed on site. In addition, most seams of these boards are beveled to display a more manufactured look. Beveling also eliminates splinters that might skirt the seams. The problem with beveling is that dirt and dust might accumulate in between making floor cleaning harder.
3. Height. As there is no sanding done for pre-finished flooring, height irregularities of boards due to uneven sub-flooring may result.
4. Durability. Although pre-finished hardwood may retain its good appearance for a time, natural wear and tear may result to fading. Thus when you decide to refinish your floor, a lot of sanding should be done, way past the multiple coats of urethane to allow the new paint to seep in. In addition, as pre-finished flooring is not as thick as hardwood planks, profuse sanding will be limited due to thinning of boards, which may eventually require replacement.
5. Repairs. When prefinished hardwood floors are damaged, the only way to repair it is to replace the entire board or, if you do not have an exact replacement and the floor has chipped, sand the whole floor as described in number (4) above.
6. Cleaning. Cleaning your hardwood floors with a high quality hardwood floor vacuum or dust mop is considerably easier on smooth, even pre-finished hardwood flooring.
Prefinished hardwood flooring provides a cheaper and easier installation procedure for your flooring needs. There are advantages to choosing this type of floor but it doesn’t come with disadvantages as well. Before you choose your flooring type, think of your options and the advantages that you would put more priority on. There definitely is one to suit your taste, as well as your budget.