A Guide to Prefinished Hardwood Flooring

November 16, 2023 | By Bruce Product Expert

When choosing the perfect flooring for your home, the options can be overwhelming. Even with hardwood flooring, you have numerous options. You can select from various species, including red oak, white oak, hickory, maple, and others. Then, there’s solid hardwood flooring versus engineered hardwood.

Yet another option is prefinished hardwood versus site-finished floors. With prefinished wood floors, manufacturers take care of the sanding, staining, and finishing. So, the flooring is ready to install when you get it.

Prestained Wood Flooring vs. Site Applied Finishes

The primary distinction between prefinished and site-finished hardwood is when and where the finishing process occurs. As mentioned, the process occurs with prefinished hardwood at the manufacturing plant.
Manufacturers typically use an aluminum oxide finish that adds durability and scratch resistance to the flooring.

Prestained hardwood floors arrive ready to install (it’s still best to let them acclimate). As a homeowner, that means less waiting, less dust from sanding, and less smell from applying finishes inside.

Installing the flooring in a single day is not out of the question. Then, you can move your furniture back into the room and return to your routine.

On-Site Finished Hardwood Flooring

In contrast, site-finished hardwood requires sanding, staining, and applying finishes in your home. The installer starts by sanding the floor to ensure a smooth surface. Next, they apply the stain, which takes up to eight hours to dry.

Finally, the installer applies a finish, typically polyurethane. Oil-based polyurethane requires 24-48 hours of drying time. Moreover, it emits fumes, so you should stay out of your house until they dissipate, up to 72 hours.

As you can see, it will take some time before you can walk on your floors, several days. The upside is that on-site finishing gives you a tailored look for your hardwood floors.

Is One Hardwood Better Than the Other?

The decision between prestained wood flooring versus on-site finished wood flooring comes down to your priorities. If you’re after a unique, custom look and don’t mind waiting, on-site finishing may make sense.

However, prefinished flooring is better if you’re looking for something more immediate with less hassle. And you can still select various colors and finishes, even hand-scraped or engineered hardwood flooring.

Advantages of Prefinished Hardwood Flooring

There are many advantages to choosing hardwood flooring with a factory finish, including:

  • Convenience: You can enjoy your hardwood floors sooner without the mess. The flooring is pre-finished and ready for installation.

  • Easy Installation:  Flooring installation is less involved with prefinished hardwood. There are fewer steps, less work, and less mess. You can even tackle flooring installation yourself if you’re a DIY enthusiast.

  • Consistent Finish:  On-site finishing can produce some inconsistencies in the finish. Prefinished hardwood flooring goes through a controlled factory environment. So, you can expect a more consistent, flawless finish to the flooring.

  • Durability: As mentioned, manufacturers apply an aluminum oxide finish at the factory. That finish withstands heavy traffic and wear. 

  • Warranty:  Manufacturers like Bruce® offer a 50-year residential warranty on many prefinished hardwood floors. For example, Dundee™ oak flooring, among many others, carries that warranty.

Bruce® – A Recognized Leader in Prefinished Hardwood Flooring

Bruce offers an impressive selection of factory-finished, prestained wood flooring. You can select from engineered and solid hardwood varieties with hundreds of color selections.

You can select various plank widths and finishes, including wire-brushed, hand-scraped, and traditional looks.

Bruce’s prefinished hardwood flooring is available at home centers and retailers nationwide. Use our store locator to find a retailer nearest you.

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