Prefinished vs unfinished hardwood flooring

a finished hardwood floor showing closeup view

To make an informed decision between prefinished hardwood flooring and unfinished wood floors, take into account these key differences. Whatever option you choose, Creative Flooring Solutions can provide a flawless installation.

Which is Right for You?

Hardwood flooring is a beautiful and durable option for your home, but choosing between prefinished and unfinished hardwood can be overwhelming. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to weigh your options before making a decision. In this article, we’ll explore the differences between prefinished and unfinished hardwood flooring to help you decide which one is right for you.

Differences in look

Prefinished hardwood flooring has a beveled edge and refers to planks of prefinished hardwood flooring that have a slight V-shaped groove between each plank. This groove, also known as a bevel, creates a subtle indentation between the planks that helps to define each board and create a visual separation between them. Prefinished hardwood flooring with a beveled edge is a popular choice for those who want to add depth and texture to their flooring.

Take a look at the differences. In the photo below, you can see the edges of the boards whereas in the unfinished floor, there are no grooves between the planks. It is a matter of preference.

example of prefinished hardwood flooring
Pre-finished hardwood flooring
example of unfinished hardwood floors sanded and finished onsite
Sanded and finished onsite example

Prefinished hardwood flooring

Prefinished hardwood flooring is already sanded, stained, and sealed before it arrives at your home. This means that you don’t have to deal with the mess and inconvenience of sanding and finishing the floors on-site. Prefinished flooring is also available in a wide range of colors and finishes, so you can easily find the perfect match for your home’s decor.

Advantages of prefinished hardwood flooring:

  • Convenient installation: Prefinished hardwood flooring can be installed quickly and easily, as there’s no need for sanding or finishing on-site.
  • Durability: Prefinished flooring is sealed with multiple layers of protective coating, which makes it resistant to scratches, dents, and stains. Typically they are coated with 7 coats of aluminum oxide.
  • Low-maintenance: The protective coating on prefinished flooring makes it easy to clean and maintain.
  • Lower VOCs: Prefinished floors have fewer VOCs to affect your family’s health.
  • Factory finish: Prefinished hardwood flooring is finished in a controlled environment, resulting in a flawless finish that is more durable than what can be provided with an onsite, unfinished floor.

Read about the benefits of prefinished hardwood flooring.

Disadvantages of prefinished hardwood flooring:

  • Limited customization: Prefinished flooring is available in a set range of colors and finishes, so you may not be able to achieve the exact look you want.
  • Beveled edges: Prefinished floorboards usually have micro-bevels on all edges. Some homeowners prefer a smooth flat finish between boards.

Unfinished hardwood flooring

Unfinished hardwood flooring is delivered to your home in its raw form, without any sanding, staining, or finishing. This allows you to customize the color and finish of the floor to your exact specifications. Unfinished flooring is typically installed by a professional contractor who will sand and finish the floors on-site.

Advantages of unfinished hardwood flooring:

  • Customization: Unfinished flooring can be sanded and finished on-site, which means that you have complete control over the final color and finish of the floor.
  • Smooth, flat edges: Can be finished to a mirror-like surface.
  • Longevity: Unfinished flooring can be sanded and refinished multiple times, which makes it a great choice for high-traffic areas that may experience wear and tear. Prefinished can also be sanded so this is a wash in terms of advantages.
  • Perfect match: If you have existing hardwood floors in your home, unfinished flooring can be customized to match the color and finish of your existing floors. We specialize in refinishing hardwood floors and can match to existing floors.

Read about the benefits of unfinished or “onsite” finished hardwood flooring.

Disadvantages of unfinished hardwood flooring:

  • Messy installation: Sanding and finishing the floors on-site can be messy and time-consuming, which can be a nuisance if you’re trying to live in the home during the installation process. However, at Creative Flooring Solutions we use a dustless sanding method and take care to protect your home.
  • Higher installation costs: Unfinished flooring requires professional installation with specialized tools, which can be more expensive than prefinished flooring.
  • Longer installation time: Unfinished hardwood flooring typically takes longer to install than prefinished flooring because of the sanding and finishing process. This can be a disadvantage if you need to use the space or move into your home quickly.


Whether you choose prefinished or unfinished hardwood flooring depends on your personal preferences and priorities. If you value convenience and low-maintenance, prefinished flooring may be the better choice for you. However, if you want complete control over the color and finish of your floors and are willing to invest in professional installation, unfinished flooring may be the way to go. Ultimately, both options provide beautiful and durable flooring solutions that will add value and style to your home. Either of the options can be sanded and refinished down the road. Refinishing prefinished hardwood flooring will result in a smooth edge like unfinished.

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