Hardwood flooring can be a major investment in your home. You want to make the decision for hardwood floors that’s right for you. One of the biggest decisions when selecting hardwood is whether to go with pre-finished hardwood flooring or finish in place hardwood flooring. With hardwood flooring, you have the option to have your floors pre-finished, meaning they come to you in a box already finished from the factory or they are finished in place, meaning the stain and finish are applied in your home once the floors have been installed.
Time – You save more time by selecting pre-finished floors because once they arrive they are ready to be installed. With finish in place floors, several sandings and coats of stain and finish have to be applied over several applications.
Warranty – Pre-finished floors come with factory warranties. These warranties can be as much as 25 years. Finish in place floors come with the warranty provided by the installer that applies the finish and typically only cover one to a few years.
Stains – With finish in place floors you can create any stain color your mind can imagine. You can use a ready made stain or you can mix stains to create a custom color that is unique to you. Pre-finished floors come only in the colors that the manufacturer has created. Since the protective finish is applied on top of the stain, there is no changing the color without removing the factory finish.
Finish – The finish on a pre-finished floor is harder and more consistent than a finish in place floor. The manufacturer can control the variables in the stain and finish environment where as they cannot be controlled as well in the field. The biggest problem with finish in place floors is dust and pet hair getting trapped in the finish. One benefit to finish in place floors is that you can perform a task called re-screening where you lightly sand the finish of the floors rather than completely refinish them. This gives you the opportunity to remove light scratches from high traffic areas. You can re-screen some pre-finished floors, but you void the warranty in the process.
Re-finish – You are a lot more likely to refinish a finish in place floor rather than a pre-finished floor. With a pre-finished floor, you paid for the warranty you receive with that floor already being finished. Disrupting that finish by sanding it off would be a waste of the warranty you’ve invested in. Because of the quality of finishes for both pre-finished floors and finish in place floors, most people never find the need to refinish their floors. However, if you do, it makes more sense to refinish a finish in place floor.
Maintenance – Because pre-finished floors have cracks in between the boards that are not sealed at the time of installation, these can be harder to clean. Floors that are finished in place have the edges or cracks between the boards sealed at the time of installation.
As you can see, there are advantages to both pre-finished floors and finish in place floors. The right floor for you depends on your taste, needs and lifestyle. Hopefully, these points will help you make a more informed hardwood flooring purchase!