site finished or pre finished wood floors

snuffycuts99April 14, 2014

What did you do? Which do you prefer? We're leaning towards site finished...would love some feedback...thanks!

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We build custom home in Maine throughout the state. We love the pre-finished flooring. The main reason behind our choice is at the factories they use chemical sealers in a commercial setting. This sealant usual consists of aluminum oxide crystals embedded in a ultraviolet cured urethane coat this allows for the companies that produce the product to offer a warranty on there product some do up to even a 25 year. Also when they install the product it is done no sanding no time waiting for the stain to dry. One thing we do recommend is make sure the type of hardwood you have fits your life style if you have pets you will want a harder wood so it does not scratch that easy. We always recommend on new construction home once the hardwood is completed the hardwood installers or your general contractor cover the floors to make sure your finish is persevered till you move in.

Here is a link that might be useful: Homes with Prefinished floors

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 3:08PM
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We've done prefinished (with bevels) on our last two homes. Haven't done site finished yet, but plan to in this build. While the prefinished are okay, I hate the little cracks that form between the bevels.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 3:09PM
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Also could decide that, so am doing site finished on 1st floor & prefinished (wirebrushed) on 2nd floor.

My concern with prefinished is when the finish is scratched it looks whitish (apparently due to the aluminum oxide). I scratched a lot of samples in the store; all had a whitish look to the scratch.

It was far more noticeable than when I scratched the site finished samples, scratched but no white.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 6:53PM
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We bought a 50 year old home and were concerned about prefinished floors not fitting well in a house that was (of course) not completely square any more. We bought site finished, which turned out to be pricier than prefinished, but are very happy we did.

This is a ranch style house with the typical center support beam lengthwise through the house. Since the largest area we intended to put a wood floor in is the living/dining room, which crosses the center beam, we wanted to be sure the new floor didn't highlight the beam.

We had an EXCELLENT installer who did a great job. He sanded it 3 times and applied 3 coats of polyurethane. We had to sleep out on the screened in porch during the polyurethane stage, though, because of the smell.

The cost was over $10 a square foot. We live in the rural Midwest.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 8:09PM
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Site finished for sure! I hate the bevel that prefinished flooring has. All the dust goes there and the only way to get it out is to vacuum the floor. Site finished is nice and flat.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 8:19PM
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We have pre-finished in our current house, but I'd like to do site finished in the new house.

The pre-finished stuff is supposed to be stronger because the factory can use products you would never use in a house. However, we had a 150lb Newfoundland dog. He gouged the maple floors (ripped the finish right off, and took chunks out of the wood) within hours after coming into the house after the floors were done. We're now looking to have them refinished because we're selling once our build is done. And finishers are doubling or tripling their price when they find out we have prefinished floors. Apparently the only thing those tough finishes do is make refinishing a PITA. And it's not just the old dog who damaged it, I've done my fair share, too.

Plus, pre-finished floors only come in gloss or semi-gloss. If you don't want scratches to show up, you need satin or matte finish.

However, we're getting quotes of $15-18/sq' for site finished, vs $8-10 for prefinished. So, it's going to come down to what the budget looks like when we get to that point.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 8:54PM
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Site finished!

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 9:22PM
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Pre finished for us, but site finished is pretty much unheard of here (Alberta).

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 9:39PM
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I've done mostly prefinished for clients, but I prefer site finished myself.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 10:53PM
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A site finished floor is a "Lifetime" floor. If it gets damaged, or even just worn/scratched it can be rescreened or fully refinished.

I love the smoothness of a site finished floor (ie no bevels for grime or spills to catch in) I had a prefinished solid maple floor....and after a few years of regular cleaning one day I noticed that the grime build up in between the bevels was horrifying. I had to scrape it out with a butter knife. Regular cleaning (even on my hands and knees with soft microfiber cloth) was NOT getting that grime out. And it was more than dust- it was kitchen grease, milk/juice spills from the kids, etc.

We are getting site finished for our new build for this reason. I just didn't trust that a prefinished product would meet my expectations. Although there are some higher end ones (Mirage, Monogram XL) that looked like good quality. Those would cost the same as a site finished floor though.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 7:25AM
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I refinished a site finished floor once. If this is your main argument for a site finished floor, be aware that refinishing is a MAJOR project, not just a more elaborate mopping.

For me, the best argument for a site finished floor is the lack of bevel if you don't like the look or cleaning issues.

The best argument for a factory finished floor is the superior top coat (the site applied varnishes are not as advanced and can't possibly be applied as flawlessly).

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 8:27AM
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Site finished doesn't prevent voids between boards. That's just part of wood flooring expanding and contracting with the changing seasons humidity. Nor does it "seal" the floor from moisture. Not past the first winter. Again, the culprit is the normal expansion and contraction of wood. No site finish can stand that without cracking, even if you don't "see" the cracks.

The only real bonuses to site finished is the ability to create a truly custom color for the floor, and the lack of microbevels between the boards. That's it. The finish isn't as durable. The specialty colored finishes aren't as readily available in site finished. It takes longer to do site finished, with a longer wait time post install for the finish to cure, and that impacts overall scheduling negatively.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 9:51AM
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I think that site finished, like other sorts of "traditional" things, ages more gracefully than prefinished.

Since they *arent as durable finish wise, they take on wear as more of a patina, rather than looking beat up.

I've lived in some pretty old places with floors that haven't been refinished in decades, if ever, and when I look at some of those, compared to one client's prefinished floors, which she has been very hard on, I feel like some of mine have looked "worn" or "aged" whereas hers look "damaged" "worn Out" in some areas.

It's a point of view I suppose, but it's something that I take into consideration when deciding for a particular project.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 11:56AM
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Wow I didn't realize that site finished costs that much more. That will certainly play a major part in our decision.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 3:25PM
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I really dislike the bevels in the pre-finished floors. I knew that from my previous house, but I didn't realize the site-finished can be so much nicer until I moved into my current house, which has gorgeous 30-year old site-finished white oak floor throughout.

So given the choice, I'd definitely do site-finished, even if that means I need to use a cheaper wood instead, but white oak is not that expensive to begin with.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 4:39PM
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dreamer16, site finished is not necessarily that much more than pre-finished. We are using a site-finished 4" white oak in part because it ends up being cheaper than the pre-finished 5" white oak option. Good luck with your decision.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 4:47PM
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We did site finished 4" red oak, with Jacobean stain. Satin finish. Love it. Wood was $2.10/sq ft. I know factory finish is tougher, but I wanted the forever, and I'm willing to screen/poly or full resand/poly. This is my forever house. I too do not like the beveled edge look.


    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 7:56PM
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Those are beautiful floors! That's why we're leaning towards site finished....we dislike the bevels on prefinished. I also noticed that scratches appear pretty white. I'm hoping that won't be the case with site finished.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 9:03PM
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My preference would be for site finished. That's what I have (guess pre-finished wasn't an option when my house was built!) A cousin recently ripped out all the carpet in their home because of allergies and installed prefinished. Site finished wouldn't have been an option anyway because of the allergies. The floors look very nice, but I don't care for the bevels.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 9:20PM
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Site finished with shellac.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 10:43PM
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I have site finished on the first floor of my current home and prefinished on the second floor (that we installed a few years ago). Site finished wins hands down, because no bevels! I don't care for the bevels.

Doing prefinished in a home you are living in is understandable- no mess! Build for my new build, we are going site finished. I haven't gotten any hard and fast quotes, but word is that pricing is about the same.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 10:46PM
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