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These days, a lot of people raise the question when building a home or doing a remodeling project: “Should I choose solid hardwood or some type of prefinished flooring?” There are indeed a lot of options, but are they worth the convenience and the cost?

There’s no clear-cut answer here, but let’s compare some different types of prefinished flooring so you can make an informed decision.

Types of Prefinished Flooring

As if things weren’t confusing enough, prefinished flooring can actually refer to a number of different types of floors, all of which are made a bit differently. So let’s start by talking about the differences between them, and some pros and cons of each.

Engineered wood flooring

Engineered flooring is made of real wood, but unlike solid hardwood it consists of multiple thin layers of wood bonded with an adhesive under intense heat and pressure. The top layer is usually a hardware veneer prefinished to a certain color, stain and finish, and often coated with a protective layer.

  • The Pros: Engineered flooring is often stronger than hardwood, and it is often less susceptible to changes in temperature and humidity.
  • The Cons: Because of the thin hardwood top layer, engineered flooring cannot be sanded or refinished—it can only be replaced. It also can be a lower quality than solid wood, and when installed it often doesn’t resemble hardwood the way we wish.

Laminate wood flooring

Laminate flooring consists of composite pressed wood with a laminate finish made to resemble solid wood.

  • The Pros: Laminate flooring is considerably less expensive than solid wood or even engineered wood. It’s easy to install, easy to clean, moisture resistant and generally durable.
  • The Cons: Laminate flooring rarely fools the eye—it doesn’t look like hardwood flooring and generally looks “cheaper.” Also, it can’t be refinished or resurfaced, and it’s more difficult to repair if it gets damaged.

Prefinished hardwood flooring

Unlike the other options, this flooring consists of actual solid hardwood that has just been pre-stained and coated before installing. It often comes with beveled edges or grooves that allow the planks to interlock, making them easy to install.

  • The Pros: Prefinished hardwood installs quickly and easily with very little down-time. You can often walk on the floor the same day it’s installed, and it has a more authentic look and feel because it’s actual solid wood.
  • The Cons: Prefinished hardwood may be more expensive than unfinished wood planks, and occasionally the bevels leave unsightly gaps between the planks. Also, because the flooring is prefinished to a specific dye lot, it’s difficult or impossible to color match if planks need to be replaced.


Should You Choose Solid Hardwood or Prefinished Wood?

When it comes to overall quality, there is no true substitute for solid hardwood flooring. Although it can take time to install and generates some dust during the sanding and finishing process, solid wood adds sophistication and class to any space. You can repair and refinish it numerous times, and when properly cared for, it can last a lifetime. Prefinished wood can offer more convenience up front and may be less expensive, but the trade-off is that if the floor gets damaged, you’ll have to replace the entire floor because the planks can’t be refinished or color-matched.

To Sum Up…

Prefinished wood flooring may be a good option if you have limited time, a limited budget, are especially sensitive to dust or expect a lot of wear-and-tear on your floors. Solid wood flooring is a better option for overall appearance, durability and timelessness.

At Renaissance Hardwood Flooring, we are happy to install either solid hardwood or prefinished flooring depending on your needs, budget and preferences. To learn more about all your options, give us a call at 918-298-4477.