Hardwood Flooring SiteThe two main types of hardwood flooring available are: installed and finished on site, or pre-finished hardwood flooring. Site finished means that the actual hardwood flooring pieces/planks are nailed or glued, then the surface is sanded, stained, and finished with three coats of polyurethane. This can result in a beautiful finish, and is not so much of an issue when done in new construction when there are no inhabitants in the house.

However, if you have this type of floor and you need to get it refinished or change the color and you are living in the house, it can be quite an ordeal. No matter how much a company boasts of a dustless system, there is dust from the sanding.

I have had both types of hardwood in my personal home, and installed many types in the homes of clients over the years. The advancements in the manufacturing processes of pre-finished flooring has made it a superior choice for many reasons:

1) The amount of dirt and dust in the air from the installation is minimized. If you have persons with allergies or asthma in the home adding hardwoods can be a great option to alleviate dirt and fibers held in carpet. By going a step further and installing pre-finished hardwoods eliminates much of the dust, and keeps the amount of VOCs and fumes very low.

2) The factory finished, aluminum oxide coated pre-finished hardwoods are equal to 8+ coats of traditional polyurethanes used finished on site. Dust, dirt and other contaminates usually dry into the finish and stay there during the sanding and application of polyurethanes in the site finishing. These factory finishes have a much longer warranty on the finish, can be up to 50 years.

Hardwood3) The installation process for pre-finished is minimal usually 1-2 days, and you can move furniture back in immediately. Whereas site finished requires a week or more, with multiple steps. You often have to be out of the home for several days, during the staining process, and off the floor for several more days while it cures. All of the furniture has to be moved out into a garage or to another floor you can’t move it from room to room during finishing.

4) When adding a room of hardwood, it is often easier with the pre-finished material to match, and the entire floor does not have to be sanded and re-stained. Custom stain colors with site finished may not match again when adding or refinishing.

5) With engineered pre-finished flooring, expansion and contraction of wood is virtually non-existent. Solid hardwood needs to acclimate to the space for 5-7 days before installation to adjust to the homes environment. And with our extreme humidity in Georgia, you can be taking a risk by installing solid and wider (5″-8″) planked hardwood. The wider and solid wood planks can have a tendency to start “cupping”. This is where the hardwood planks expand and contract curling up on the sides making intentions in the individual planks. This cannot necessarily be sanded down to fix the problem as it will then leave gaps when it moves again.

With the changes in our lifestyles over the last 10 years, along with our time constraints, desire to minimize stress and concern over chemicals in our environment, pre-finished hardwood is one of the ways to make the remodeling process easier.


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