What Is The Cost of Prefinished Hardwood Flooring vs. Unfinished Wood Flooring?

You know you’re looking to install hardwood flooring in your home or place of business. Now comes the question of installing prefinished hardwood flooring versus installing unfinished hardwood flooring. There are advantages and disadvantages to both types of flooring. Prefinished hardwood flooring is, generally, the more cost effective option of the two. How does that lesser cost factor into to quality and options for your flooring? We’ll discuss some points in this article that may help you decide the direction you want go.

Why is pre-finished wood flooring less expensive than unfinished wood flooring?

Prefinished hardwood flooring costs less than unfinished hardwood flooring as a general rule. This is true for two related reasons:

1. Assembly lines bring costs down - Prefinished wood flooring is shipped from the manufacturer with multiple coats of finished already on the floor boards. Flooring manufacturers create assembly lines where they apply multiple coats of finish to the wood at the factory. They have a fast, smooth running process that brings down the cost of the flooring.

2. Sanding and refinishing costs are eliminated – Without the prefinished option you would need to hire a floor sanding company to sand your hardwood flooring directly after it is installed. This will cost $1.75 to $3 per square foot to get your floors refinished. You will find yourself closer to the $1.75 per square foot price if you hire the same company to refinish your flooring that hired to install them. Still, if you have 800 square feet of wood flooring the cost will be $1,400 to $2,400 to finish them.

$1,400 to $2,400 is a hefty price to add onto an already expensive purchase! For instance, suppose you spent $4 per square foot on hardwood flooring and you paid another $2 per square for installation. That is $6 per square foot to install the flooring. Say we multiply by our hypothetical 800 square foot floor. The cost for that is $4,800. If you were to pay $1,400 to $2,400 for refinishing that could easily be 25% of the cost for entire job! Therefore, it is easy to see why installing pre-finished wood flooring has become such a popular option. It saves money!

Things to Consider

Dust- With prefinished wood flooring you need not concern yourself with dust getting all over your house. Even with sanding companies that claim to be dustless there is still going to be dust.

Subfloor - Is the subfloor level or are there height variations? Prefinished wood flooring needs to have a perfectly level subfloor. Otherwise, the floor is not going to be flat. When installing unfinished wood flooring on an unlevel subfloor minor height variations can be fixed during the sanding process.

Limited selection - Many types of hardwood flooring like wide plank flooring, scraped wood flooring, and antique wood flooring are not available as a prefinished option. You simply may not have the option of buying prefinished flooring in some styles.

Humidity levels – Prefinished hardwood flooring will not separate and buckle as much as unfinished wood flooring. Wood expands and contracts naturally when moisture levels change in the air. Prefinished wood flooring has a great advantage of not having all of the boards connected to each other with finish. Unfinished wood flooring is installed and finished and the boards contract and expand like all wood. After being finished however, the seal that formed during the sanding and refinishing process will be broken. It’s natural for this to happen but it may not look as clean as prefinished wood flooring that never had finish filling the space in between boards.

Looking to install prefinished hardwood flooring? Looking to install unfinished hardwood flooring? Get free quotes to install either type of flooring. Talk to local pros, compare advice and pricing. Start here!