Hardwood flooring never seems to go out of fashion. Trends with floor coverings come and go but the timeless appeal of hardwood is indisputable. There are two installation choices, however: prefinished and unfinished hardwood flooring, and there are advantages and disadvantages to both. Generally, you can save money on purchasing unfinished hardwood flooring but the costs will add up onsite when a more labor intensive process is required to finish the materials to the customers desired specifications.
Wood that has been factory finished with a number of layers of UV-cured polyurethane means installation can be done quickly and with fewer steps. However, in the case of unfinished hardwood flooring, this work has to be done onsite, causing heavy fumes, extra labor costs and longer time before anyone can walk on the floor; and if the floor is not useable, other tradesmen will have to wait before they can perform their jobs. Delays cost money and inconvenience.
One of the most significant advantages to using unfinished hardwood flooring is if there is already woodwork in the vicinity, such as adjacent flooring or wood panelling. Staining is best done onsite where it is possible to match colors more precisely, in the same environment using the same available lighting.
It is possible to distinguish prefinished from unfinished hardwood flooring because the latter appears more hand-worked rather than factory processed. This endears it to consumers who are discerning in their choices and who prefer to use products that highlight the natural elements of the materials instead of having them look like they have rolled off an assembly line. Finishing the surface onsite results in less uniformity which is desirable for the same reasons.
Unfinished hardwood flooring is manufactured today the way it has been since the late 19th century. The standard species of wood used are red or white oak and the product is graded according to its cut and appearance. More exotic species such as maple, walnut, cherry, ash and yellow pine are making their way into the unfinished market and some are imported from plantations across the globe. Unfinished wood offers a warranty that is not as long as those for the prefinished variety so the longevity and quality of the work depends upon choosing skilled tradesmen who are experienced in the field.