Site-finished hardwood is the traditional method of installing hardwood floors. Prior to the advent of pre-finished, or engineered hardwood, site-finished is how every home received its hardwood. It’s classic, timeless, and what you would expect to see in Victorian or high-end custom homes. Pre-finished hardwood has come a long way in the recent decade, and may be the smartest choice when it comes to a renovation, but there is no substitute when site-finished hardwood is installed correctly.
Typically, and especially with new construction, site-finished hardwood is used in the main living areas. During construction, the raw material arrives unsanded, unstained, and without a protective layer. The homeowner and installer have a blank slate to choose water or oil polyurethane or natural oil finishes. It’s up to them to choose matte, semi-gloss, or high-gloss sheen levels, the stain colors, and any custom installation patterns, borders, inlays, or medallions. Customization is endless, and that’s why you typically find site-finished hardwood in higher-end homes and remodels.
With site-finished hardwood, trade-offs and compromises over pre-finished hardwood are to be expected. The most common concern of homeowners is time, and site-finished hardwood requires a lengthier installation process. A skilled and experienced tradesman is needed for the installation, and only these people can create a true custom pattern or inlay for your home. Beyond installing, site-finished hardwood requires a lengthy sanding process–days–and then each floor requires stain and top coats, at least 3-4, and time to dry between each application.
The obvious reason people choose site-finished hardwood is because it offers them the most choice of fit and finish. However, there’s several more important benefits to consider–mainly, durability. Site-finished hardwood will last for generations if maintained properly. It’s one of the perks of purchasing an old Victorian with original hardwood floors. To go along with maintaining your hardwood, should boards ever need to be replaced, matching the existing floor is much easier to do. Should a run of pre-finished hardwood stop being manufactured, or dye lots change, matching is nearly impossible.
A significant benefit to site-finished hardwood is your ability to refinish it. Daily traffic, kids, pets, moving, and arranging furniture can easily mare, scuff, and scratch hardwood. Site-finished hardwood can be re-sanded, stained, and sealed returning it to brand new, whereas pre-finished hardwood must be completely gutted and replaced by a new product.
Only you can decide what material is best for your home and which best suits your objectives. If you’re someone who is accustomed to replacing carpet regularly, likes trying different designs, doesn’t plan on living in your home for many years, needs an immediate turnaround, or are looking for the most affordable solutions–pre-finished, or engineered hardwood may be for you.
Conversely, if you plan on living in your home for many years, want the ability to easily replace boards and maintain your floor, have a vision of the perfect stain to match your cabinetry, and desire to add unique patterns, borders, or inlays: site-finished hardwood is for you.
As always, our project managers and design specialists are available to answer questions and assist you in choosing the perfect flooring for your home. Be sure to give us a call and we’ll be happy to provide a free quote for your project. Discover why Colorado Springs and the Gazette have named Alpine Contracting Best of the Springs: Contractor three years in a row.