Understanding the Advantages of Pre-Finished vs. Site-Finished Floors

Sep 30, 2023

Pre-Finished vs. Site-Finished Floors: Which is Best for Your Home?

Flooring is one of the most significant decisions a homeowner can make. It can impact the look, feel, and functionality of a home. Hardwood flooring, in particular, is a popular choice due to its longevity and classic appeal. When selecting hardwood flooring, one of the main decisions is whether to opt for pre-finished or site-finished planks. In this post, we’ll delve deep into the advantages of both types of finishes, enabling you to make a more informed decision.

Introduction: The Basics of Pre-Finished and Site-Finished Floors

Pre-Finished Floors:

These are hardwood planks that have been stained and sealed at a factory before they reach your home. They are ready to be installed without the need for any further Wood Floor finishing.


Pre-Finished vs. Site-Finished Floors

Site-Finished Floors:

As the name suggests, these floors are finished on-site, after the raw or unfinished hardwood planks have been installed in your home.

With these basics covered, let’s dive into the advantages of each.

Pre-Finished vs. Site-Finished Floors

Advantages of Pre-Finished Floors

1. Consistent Finish

Factory-controlled conditions ensure a consistent finish across all planks. This can be harder to achieve on-site due to varying conditions like humidity, which can affect the drying and curing processes.

2. Durability

Pre-finished floors often come with a tough, factory-applied polyurethane finish, sometimes fortified with aluminium oxide. This makes them more resistant to scratches, dents, and general wear and tear.

3. Quick Installation

Since there’s no need to sand or apply a finish, installation is faster. This means less disruption to your home and daily routine.

4. Less mess and fumes

Without on-site sanding or finishing, you won’t have to deal with the dust or fumes associated with these processes. It’s a cleaner, healthier choice, especially for households with allergy sufferers.

5. Immediate Use

Once pre-finished flooring is installed, you can walk on it immediately. There’s no waiting period with site-finished floors.

Pre-Finished vs. Site-Finished Floors

Advantages of Site-Finished Floors

1. Customization

The biggest advantage of site-finished flooring is the ability to customise the finish. You have a wider range of stain colours and finish types at your disposal, and you can see how they look in your home’s specific lighting before committing.

2. Smooth and seamless appearance

Since the floors are sanded on-site after installation, they tend to have a smoother, more uniform appearance. This can help create a seamless transition between boards, giving the floor a more cohesive look.

3. Easier to Match Existing Flooring

If you’re trying to match new flooring to existing floors or architectural elements in your home, site-finishing provides more flexibility to get that perfect match.

4. Potential for a Stronger Seal

When the finish is applied on-site, it seals the seams between boards, which can offer a slight protection against moisture and spills.

5. Refinishing in the Future

With site-finished floors, you have a clearer idea of what to expect when it’s time to refinish them. There’s no guesswork about how deep the stain goes or the type of sealant used, which can simplify future refurbishing projects.

Pre-Finished vs. Site-Finished Floors

Deciding which is best for you

While both pre-finished and site-finished floors have their merits, the best choice depends on your specific needs and circumstances.

  • Consider Your Timeline: If you want quick installation without the hassle of fumes and a waiting period, pre-finished is the way to go.
  • Evaluate Your Aesthetic Preferences: If customization and a seamless appearance are top priorities, site-finished floors might be more to your liking.
  • Budget Constraints: Generally, pre-finished floors might have a higher upfront cost due to factory processes. However, the total cost can sometimes be lower when you factor in the savings from not needing on-site sanding and finishing.
  • Think About Maintenance: If you’re looking for a more durable, low-maintenance option, pre-finished floors, with their tough factory-applied finishes, are a strong contender.

The Environmental Perspective

1. Eco-Friendly Production

Pre-Finished Floors: Some manufacturers emphasise sustainable practices and use eco-friendly sealants and finishes that release fewer volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air.

Site-Finished Floors: On-site finishing may offer more control over the products used, allowing homeowners to select low-VOC or natural-based finishes, benefiting indoor air quality.

2. Waste reduction

Pre-Finished Floors: The factory finishing process can be more efficient, producing less waste. Planks are often milled to precise standards, reducing discrepancies and the number of rejected or unused boards.

Site-Finished Floors: While there’s potential for more waste due to discrepancies in on-site cuts and rejected boards, skilled installers can often repurpose or minimise this waste.

Pre-Finished vs. Site-Finished Floors

Longevity and lifetime value

1. Warranty Considerations

Pre-Finished Floors: These often come with extended warranties that cover the finish and plank integrity, providing homeowners with some peace of mind regarding potential defects or wear issues.

Site-Finished Floors: While the wood itself might have a warranty, the finish typically does not. Durability largely depends on the skill of the installer and the quality of the products used.

2. Resale value

Both pre-finished and site-finished hardwood floors can enhance the resale value of a home. Hardwood floors are a sought-after feature for many homebuyers. However, a well-maintained, site-finished floor with a unique and attractive stain might hold a slight edge in terms of customization and aesthetic appeal.

Adaptability to Changing Decor and Styles

Pre-finished floors: Given their durability, they might be less susceptible to superficial scratches and dings. However, changing the colour or style might require a complete reflooring or refinishing, which can be more challenging due to the factory-applied coatings.

Site-Finished Floors: These floors offer more flexibility for refinishing in the future. If you decide to change your home’s decor or want a fresh look, it might be easier to sand down and refinish site-finished floors compared to pre-finished ones.

By considering environmental implications, thinking long-term about warranties and value, and pondering the adaptability of your choice, you further refine your decision-making process. These insights, combined with the earlier discussed advantages, should guide you towards a flooring choice that suits your home and lifestyle perfectly.

Pre-Finished vs. Site-Finished Floors


Both pre-finished and site-finished hardwood floors can add beauty and value to your home. Your decision will likely hinge on factors like budget, timeline, design preferences, and maintenance considerations. Take the time to weigh the advantages of each, consult with flooring professionals, and ultimately choose what aligns best with your vision and practical needs for your home.


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