Prefinished Hardwood Flooring

Prefinished (also spelled pre-finished) hardwood flooring takes the muss and fuss out of installing hardwood floors. Depending on your situation, this can be your best option when choosing wood flooring. When choosing prefinished wood flooring, go with a solid or engineered hardwood floor and have a beautiful floor in as short a time as it takes to lay the boards.

Take the hassle and mundane work out of finishing your hardwood flooring with prefinshed hardwood flooring. What is prefinished hardwood flooring? As the name suggests prefinished hardwood flooring is hardwood flooring that has been finished in a factory before being sold to retail outlets.

The advantages of choosing prefinished hardwood flooring include:
* Installation is faster than unfinished flooring
* No toxic chemicals or off gassing
* Manufacturers warranty
The disadvantages of choosing prefinished hardwood flooring are very few but there are some:
* Limited finish options
* Harder to match your existing flooring
* Not an surface
When you buy unfinished hardwood flooring you are allowed to create any look you want, you can match the finish of already existing hardwood flooring, and you have a greater uniformity in finish because it’s sanded and sealed as one piece after installation.
Prefinished hardwood flooring is available as engineered and solid hardwood flooring. These flooring products are purchased already finished and ready to install and use immediately.
Engineered prefinished hardwood flooring is constructed in a fashion similar to that of common plywood with an actual hardwood veneer on the surface which is known as the wear layer. These wear layers can vary and the key to choosing quality prefinished hardwood flooring is to check the thickness of the wear layer. Many prefinished engineered hardwood flooring can also be refinished a number of times but this depends on the thickness of the wear layer.
For those looking for a flawless finish, floors may need to be refinished every five years but it is worth noting that minor scratches and dents add character to hardwood flooring. Engineered prefinished flooring can be refinished at least two or three times. It is more stable and cheaper than solid prefinished hardwood flooring as there is minimal expansion and contraction in this product.
Solid prefinished hardwood flooring is as the name suggests; solid hardwood that has been factory finished. Solid prefinished hardwood floors can be refinished as needed.
When it comes to any hardwood flooring, the wood and finish you choose will determine the amount of refinishing that will be required in the future. Wood is rated for hardness using the Janka hardness test. Brazilian ebony has a Janka rating of 3692 and is the hardest wood on the market, while Brazilian fir has a Janka rating of 0060 and is the softest. Oak, which is the most common flooring types, has a Janka rating of 1260 for red and 1360 for white. The higher the Janka rating the harder the wood will be to damage. So if you combine a hard-wearing finish with a hard wood, you will have less refinishing of your floors.
When it comes to installing hardwood flooring in your home, prefinished flooring will demand less time and energy. Unfinished flooring requires finishing on site and this can take on average up to a week of sanding and applying a polyurethane finish. Prefinished hardwood flooring has already been sanded and coated with polyurethane, so there is no health hazard involved as there is no dust or toxic fumes, and much of the off gassing has already happened. Finishing the wood in the factory also cuts down on labor costs during installation, making prefinished hardwood flooring more affordable. Another great advantage of prefinished hardwood flooring is of course, the manufacturers warranty on the finish; you don’t get this with unfinished hardwood flooring, though the installer may offer a warranty.
Unfinished flooring does however have its advantages too. With unfinished flooring, although it takes longer to install, you have the advantage of creating a unique look, and it is easier to match the finish of your existing wood flooring. There is also better uniformity when finishing hardwood flooring yourself especially if a large room is being floored. When prefinished flooring is purchased for large rooms, it can be very hard to match all the flooring pieces as color and texture can vary.
Aluminum oxide finishes are used quite frequently with prefinished floors and provide a tough finish. Note that no finish can withstand all wear and tear, so you have to care for any floor you install. High gloss finishes will show scratches and dust more than other finishes, especially on open grained hardwoods such as maple and oak, and on dark flooring materials such as ebony.
Why vacate your home for a week while your hardwood flooring is being installed. With prefinished hardwood flooring you don’t need to. You can reduce your hassles and use your new floor quickly when you select prefinished hardwood flooring.

54 thoughts on “Prefinished Hardwood Flooring

  1. With pre-finished Brazilian Cherry, if the floor does not darken as much as I would like after a year or so, can I stain it?

  2. Hi Celeste,
    Do you know what kind of flooring you used? (Manufacturer, product line, etc.)
    Without knowing what you’ve used I can only provide a somewhat ‘generic’ answer.
    Yes, you can strip the sealer, stain and reseal. Without knowing the specifics of your flooring, a phone call to the manufacturer might be in order and be sure to ask if stripping, staining, resealing will void your warranty. The manufacturer may have some tips to make your floor “age” faster (darken faster).

  3. We are planning on installing hardwood flooring in our kitchen – trying to match (Lauzon) prefinished yellow birch flooring in our dining room and living room. Do you recommend the same flooring for the kitchen? I’m concerned about wear and tear and the kitchen floor.

  4. You could use the birch in the kitchen, but I’d also suggest considering linoleum, really think it’ll hold up better. Heh – there’s even linoleum that is made to look like wood.
    What other colors do you have in your home? I’m referring to colors that you’d like to highlight and won’t go out of style if you change the colors you now have. A friend of mine loves her blue-green counter top, alder cabinets and bamboo floors. (We won’t talk about my kitchen, which needs some changes made!) Of course the wall and ceiling color come into play here as well. Do you have any special accent colors that you’re wanting to incorporate?
    Bet you didn’t know this was going to open such a can of worms! ;~)

  5. I installed pre finished oak floors
    and I am concerned that they are not sealed between the boards .can you use a cleer coat on it?

  6. My hardwood teak flooring always looks like it has a film. I have tried using just water, vinegar, and the swiffer hardwood floor cleaning solution. Do you have any suggestions?
    Meredith Barnes

  7. I’m really not familiar with the adverse effects of Swiffer’s Hardwood Cleaner, but, after looking around on the internet it would appear you’re not alone. I don’t know if regular cleaning (with vinegar & water) will remove it, or if the Swiffer solution leaves a heavy residue like Orange Glo. You can do a search in the upper right hand corner to read up on what a nightmare that stuff can be if you’re interested.
    Try cleaning it – and be sure to use microfiber cloths and a clean, dry one afterwards too – sort of *buff* your floor with it. There are also microfiber mops.
    The site is also going to start offering microfiber products shortly as well, it just hasn’t been added to the site. (Yes, a new direction here!). I’ll check to see if my product sales assistant can help out here. I’ll check back in no later than tomorrow night.

  8. I’ve just installed 3 1/4 prefinished Thomasville Jatoba flooring.
    When I can use the power nailer I drill and countersink a hole and then use a wood peg which is glued in and then milled flush. Then stained and hopefully polyurathaned.
    My question is this… how can I clean up the area around the wood peg.
    I feel I should be sanding it smooth but it doesn’t seem to blend in.

  9. I have a cherry prefinished hardwood floor, it is in the entrance
    hall kitchen and eating area. The wood is really soft and there
    are alot of scratches. A few dents from dropping things in the
    kitchen. I am thinking of selling a was wondering if I can resand
    and either stain and clear or what. i was told that I would loose the
    grooves. I am ok with that but don’t know if I can do it myself.
    I’m a painter by trade but i was told I could rent a machine to sand.
    Is this a thing I could do or is it much bigger than me?
    Yours gratefully

  10. Hi June,
    If it’s something that you have zero knowledge about, you may be better off hiring somebody to do it. You need to read up more about different types of sanders to decide which you want to use and learn how to operate them correctly. While the learning curve isn’t very steep, you do have to be very careful – the last thing you want to do is use a sander and suddenly go too deep which can easily happen.
    It can most definitely be a DIY project, but you must do your homework first. Do you have a friend or business associate that has done this? Friends can be valuable sources of information too.

  11. Hi flooring lady just finished fitting a pre finished oak floor looks great. Deep down i now i want it darker do i have to get the sander out. Please help, many thanks (edited by The Flooring Lady to remove email address)

  12. Hi Kris,
    It depends on what kind of a finish is on it. Call the manufacturer (or try to find the info on the internet) and ask them what your flooring is finished with and what you can use to remove it so that it can be stained and re-sealed. Good luck!

  13. Hi
    we have prefinished yellow birch hardwood floor, my friend suggesting me to wax it, but not sure if I can do that on pre-finished floor. What are the options to get the shining(did not lost much, but still to make good appearenace) for the floor.

  14. Hi PD,
    Don’t put anything on it yet. Do you recall who manufactured the floor? If so, give them a call to see what types of products they recommend – they know what works with their floors. Don’t use products such as mop ‘n’ glo, orange glo, swiffer, etc. on your floor either because they wind up giving your floor a dull finish in a short time and they’re difficult to remove.

  15. Hi
    We just had prefinished hardwood installed in our basement and I absolutely hate the color. It is far more red than the sample. I would like to change the color to more of a brown tone. Is this possible? If so can I do it right away?

  16. Yes, you can change the color, but it would involve stripping it, staining it and refinishing it. I’d call the manufacturer to see what products they recommend for chemically stripping the floor, what stripper you use will depend on what kind of finish is on the prefinished hardwood. You might have to sand it to get beneath the layer of stain.

  17. Hi , My girlfriend and I are installing a floating engineered wood floor by Meritage. The planks are five inches in width, they are tongue and groove,(glued) and run parallel to the longest wall. However, my hallway runs perpindicular to the room. Is it ok to lay the wood in the hallway widthwise instead of lengthwise ? The builder that came to help get us started said that it was ok to do that for two reasons. No transition strip is needed and since my friend and I are doing it , it is easier for us to cut the wood widthwise instead of having to rip the pieces lengthwise. I like the idea of no transition strip and of course, cutting the pieces widthwise is much easier. My girlfriend thinks there is a rule that all hallways should be done lenghtwise. Is there a rule and what do you think?
    Thanks, Carol

  18. I recently installed natural kempas prefinished solid hardwood flooring in my kitchen. While moving the refrig I put 2 dents not scratches
    in the floor how can this be repaired?
    Also should I put some sealer or wax on the floor? the finish is an aluninum oxide. Product brand is Woods of Distinction if that matters.

  19. Hello
    Last week I had solid red oak pre finished flooring installed in my living room, hallways and two bedrooms. Last night workers put a “sealer” on the flooring (told to do so by the contractor. He even said to lightly sand which the worker did not). I thought it sounded odd. This afternoon my beautiful floor looks horrible! It’s streaked, has dull areas, tiny pits and globs of goo.
    After doing some research, I found he used Minwax floor reviver on the floor. Also, I learned that nothing was suppose to be put on the floor (no sealer). I called my contractor and he verified that the worker used the wrong product (he still insists that it needed to be sealed which I don’t think it did. And he is not admitting that he said it needed sanding).
    Tomorrow he is sending out the original worker who installed the floor to see if he can clean it off. According to Miniwax and several floor professionals I contacted, the only way to get it off is to sand it off. Needless to say I am very upset.

  20. Hi Jack,
    You really can’t repair the dent, except maybe by filling in with wood putty, staining the putty and finishing the puttied area.
    You need to check your warranty to see if putting additional finishes voids the warranty – it probably does. If you don’t care whether or not you void the warranty, give the manufacturer a call and see what they recommend using. Chances are, you’ll have to strip the manufacturerd coating off first.

  21. Hi there Calicobox!
    I’m so sorry to hear you’re having such problems with your contractor’s worker. Take heart though – it sounds like he’s more than willing to make everything right by you, his customer, whom he must care about doing a good job for and keeping happy! While it’s already been a muck-up, he’s trying to do the right thing, so please be patient and let him fix it – just make sure that it does wind up being to your satisfaction in the end.

  22. Hi
    Thank you for the response and the support.
    Two workers came to check the floor. They tried lacquer thinner and then paint thinner to try to clean the floor. Boy did it make the problem worse! They said there was nothing they could do to correct the problem and left.
    My contractor came out today and checked the floor. He mentioned over the phone that he could sand and re-stain the floors.
    After he checked the floor he asked, what do you want? What will make you happy? I said a new floor. He said no problem, he would replace it. Thank goodness! I agonized all weekend if I should accept it sanded and re-stained or ask for a new floor. I knew I wouldn’t be happy going the sanded way.
    I hired this company because of their reputation. I didn’t want a fly by night company that I couldn’t trust (I had a horrible experience with a roofer).
    It looks like I made the right decision to hire this company. He said no problem, I will get you a new floor! I really expected some resistance. The contractor said I told you I wouldn’t leave the job until you were completely satisfied with everything.
    It’s been raining for several days. We will have a few clear days at the end of the week then more rain. The floor is on hold for a week or so. That is OK. I know I am getting it replaced. It is such a relief! You can bet I will watch every step they make with installing the new floor.
    BTW the product the first worker used on the floor was Minwax High Gloss Floor Reviver. Never ever use it on your new flooring (I’m sure it must be a good product if used correctly). I Googled information on this product and found several people have made the mistake of using it on new flooring. The only way to remove this product is by sanding.

  23. Hello again
    What do you think of the iRobot Roomba Vacuum Cleaner Robot Cleaning sytem for a pre finished hardwood floor?
    Several friends use them and they love them.
    Thank you.

  24. Hi Calicobox,
    Sorry so long to reply, my computer crashed! *sigh* I have a couple friends who have this product and they love them too. They don’t have prefinished hardwood floors though. So long as it’s made to NOT scratch up a hardwood floor (and I would think it is designed this way!), it should be fine.

  25. Hi Flooring Lady!
    Almost 2 years ago, I had prefinished hardwoods installed throughout my living, kitchen and formal dining room. About 3 weeks ago, I was walking through the formal dining room and kitchen, in high heeled boots (that had a nail in the heel that I was unaware). Ordinarily, walking in heeled boots would not do anything to the flooring. However, because the nail was there, I have about 100 little indentions in the prefinished hardwood wood. Is there anything I can do to repair this problem? Thanks,

  26. Hi TJ,
    Unfortunately, there’s not much that can be done. Sometime down the road, you’ll probably want to refinish your flooring (strip, sand, etc.) and then you can fill in the little dents with wood putty before you stain and/or finish your floor.

  27. oh man.. the same thing just happened to me last Saturday. I have a whole bunch of those little holes! ARGH… Now I want to varnish or seal my engineered wood laminate! Any ideas?

  28. Hi Kris, You really can’t repair the little dents, except maybe by filling in with wood putty, staining the putty and finishing the puttied area.
    You need to check your warranty to see if putting additional finishes voids the warranty – it probably does. If you don’t care whether or not you void the warranty, give the manufacturer a call and see what they recommend using. Chances are, you’ll have to strip the manufacturerd coating off first.

  29. My daddy built my house after he retired. It’s beautiful and well designed for retirees in mind. Upon his death, I moved in. I have what I call the “real hardwood floors” in my foyer, dining room and hallway. They are still beautiful and in great shape. I do not want to change them in anyway, for sentimental reasons. I would like to add hardwoods in the family room and living room, but can’t handle the dust and odors for health reasons. Is it possible to use hardwood flooring that was sanded and stained in place, along with “prefinished hardwoods”? Is there a way to match and make it not look like an after thought?

  30. Hi Linda,
    Yes, you can used the prefinished hardwoods though it will be next to impossible to get a perfect match. One word of caution though – many people have not been happy with prefinished hardwoods due to the coating that is applied in the finishing process. Many users are unhappy with the choices available to them for cleaning their flooring without voiding the warranty and complain that the floors get smudgy. Many would like to use additional polyurethane, but because of what it is already finished with when new, poly won’t work and will also void the warranty. I would suggest you do some additional research – the internet is a great place to find such information. I’m not knocking this kind of product, it’s just that there can be drawbacks.
    I can understand the health concerns – many of floor finishing products available today are much lower VOC than they used to be – manufacturers care about customer health too and are also striving to be more environmentally friendly. Unfortunately, there’s not much help for the dust.

  31. Thanks flooring lady!
    What company/brand of prefinished hardwood floors that you know of are the closest or best match to hardwood floors that are laid, sanded and varnished in place? Everywhere I go, that company says they have the best (naturally), yet I’m not sure which company/brand is the best match for my preexisting hardwood floors. I am looking for the nicest, natural looking prefinished hardwood floors I can find.
    The floor finishing products are a concern, but my greatest health problem is the dust. My allergies won’t allow any kind of dust. It would be nice if I could move out for a week, and come home to new floors and everything all cleaned and back in place, but that won’t happen.
    I have been searching the internet, and that’s how I came up with your name and suggestions. I would appreciate any help you can give me.

  32. Hi Linda,
    I’m not sure which company would be best for you. Only you can make that determination by comparing samples and keep in mind the warranty too. Usually, the more years it’s warrantied for, the better the product.

  33. Hi there,
    Need some help! We have hardwood installed in our living room/dining room, and family room area. Currently the kitchen and entrance have white ceramic, however we want to replace with hardwood to continue the look throughout the rest of the main floor.
    We do realize that to get a better match we should have them installed unfinished and stained on site, however we do not want to go through that renovation inconvenience (we have 2 young children).
    Do you think if we found something pre-finshed to match closely it would look ok? Has anyone ever did this before? The rooms do flow from one to another so it has to look close.
    Thanks in advance for your reply.

  34. Hi Deana,
    I don’t know if there’s a product that will closely match your current flooring since I can’t see what you have. The best thing you can do is go shopping and collect samples to see if you can find a product that can suit you. Keep in mind too that many people aren’t satisfied with the finish on their pre-finished flooring. It’s usually aluminim oxide and people complain that it shows barefoot footprints, etc.

  35. We are putting hardwood floors on our upper level and each company who has come to give an estimate is stongly recommending prefinished floors.
    Do you have a list of manufacturers. We are told that the prefinished have bevels. Do they show? Would they be a problem in the bedroom areas (I could see where they could be in a kitchen).

  36. Hi Lori,
    There are many manufacturers for prefinished flooring. Do your research first to see if this is what you really, really want. While the finishes are durable, many people complain about smudges, streaking, etc when cleaning and just aren’t happy with the finish in general. You must be careful how you clean them so that you don’t void the warranty. You will usually void the warranty if you decide you don’t like the finish and try to use some other finishing product over it (sealers, waxes). Yes, the bevels show. It’s not really a problem, but you do have to be a bit more diligent in removing dirt where the bevels are.

  37. We just installed pre-finished hardwood flooring and it looks great. I know it may void the warranty, but should we put of coat of polyurethane over the whole floor to protect it from spills that may seep through? Basically, what is your opinion on putting polyurethane over new pre-finished hardwood flooring? Thanks much, Lori

  38. Hi Lori,
    You should call the manufacturer to see what type of finish your new flooring has. This is really important because you need to use the proper type of poly so that it won’t react with the finish that’s already on there.

  39. I started building a house in 2003. I done alll of the inside myself as well as installed all of the flooring. I went with one of the pre-finished engineering wood flooring products. The floor is beautiful.
    My question is this: Can I safely put a polyurethane finish on the floor? I want to put a thin coat just to fill in the cracks between the boards to make it even easier to keep clean. I have 2 young boys which is why I chose to goo with the wood flooring in the first place.
    Thanks for any advice.

  40. Hi Marcia,
    It would be best to call the manufacturer and ask them if poly would adhere to the product or if you have some of the flooring left over, you could try it yourself. Keep in mind though, that if you do this you have voided your warranty.

  41. We just had some .75″ X 2.25″ Brazilian Cherry hardwood flooring installed in our living and dining room that we purchased at a builders wharehouse auction. The boxes stated “MB4”, UV Ceramic, Sheen 40%. What does this mean as far as any additional polyurethane we might was to add to protect against two dogs that sometime forget that “indoor plumbing” isn’t what they should be counting on on the cold, damp, rainy days when the dining room looks so much more inviting?.. I’ve seen where we shouldn’t add additional coats now, as there are already 7 coats on the pre-finished wood. thanks.

  42. We have prefinished floors and I have always used Bona cleaner (for 2 years) recently I used it and noticed it was leaving a milk finish on the floors. I called the manufactorer and they sugested trying mineral spirits but I am a little scared to tey that to get the milky look off. I have tried vinegar and water, plain water, soap and water – nothing is cleaning them. Please help, do you have a suggestion and should I try the mineral spirits? thanks Brandi

  43. Silly question. My prefinished engineered hardwood floors were just put in today. To
    clean up all the sawdust, would you damp mop
    with my Bellawood hardwood floor cleaner, or just
    dust mop it?

  44. Tonya,
    How exciting,Congratulations! I personally would use a microfiber dry mop and dust. I would then clean up anything left over with a damp mop using StainSolver. To finish the floor I would use a clean, dry microfiber cloth afterward too – sort of *buff* your floor with it. Enjoy your floor!

  45. we just installed brazilian cherry engineered wood in 2 rooms. In one room the finish is shiney and rich, in the the other room, the finish appears dull. We noticed quite a bit of adhesive residue on the “dull floored room” and observed the contractor slathering mineral spirit saturated clothes all over the floor to mop up the dried adhesive. We were wondering if this method of clean up could have resulted in dulling the surface.

  46. You made the comment above with regard to prefinished flooring: “…much of the off gassing has already happened.” My retailer claims that there is no off gassing with prefinished floors. Is there? Is one type of prefinish better than another, as far as off gassing goes? Thank you.

  47. Nancy,
    Prefinished hardwood flooring has already been sanded and coated with polyurethane, so there is no health hazard involved as there is no dust or toxic fumes, and much of the off gassing has already happened.
    I do believe there is a limited amount of off-gassing that can occur with any treated product. However, as stated, the prefinished does not present a health hazard like the actual finishing process would.
    I am not familar with any of the brands being any better or worse than another.

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