Window to the Wall

If you’re deciding between prefinished hardwood flooring or unfinished wood floors, consider these nine key differences to make an informed choice.

The to-do lists are long in a home renovation—and that’s before you account for unexpected tasks like running to the store to pick up a new size of fasteners or redoing a splotchy paint job. So, when it comes to installing solid or engineered wood planks for new floors, I choose prefinished hardwood floors to simplify the installation, color application, and sealing into one step among numerous other reasons. Some pros may disagree. To decide what will work best in your home, first get to know what separates the two options with these key points in the case of prefinished vs. unfinished hardwood flooring.

You can walk on your new prefinished floor immediately.

With flooring that is finished on-site using oil-based polyurethane, the homeowner must wait days, sometimes even weeks, before moving furniture back into the room. Even though the floor may be dry to the touch, it will be vulnerable to scraping until the waiting time has elapsed and the finish has fully cured. I once had to shuffle around in socks and remain furniture-less for four weeks after applying three coats of poly to a floor. (Waterborne polyurethane finishes dry to touch quickly but can have varying cure times—some quite long.)

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