Should I Choose Site-Finished or Pre-Finished Flooring?

When shopping for solid hardwood and sometimes for engineered wood flooring, you may have the option of site-finished flooring (unfinished flooring that requires finishing on site) or pre-finished flooring (stained and sealed in the factory).  Which to choose?


Choose pre-finished flooring over site-finished flooring.


While I hate jumping on the corporate shilling bandwagon, I do have to admit that–all factors considered–pre-finished flooring will be better for most homeowners than site-finished flooring.

Can you sense all of the qualifiers in that previous statement?  We’ll get to that in a minute.

Pre-finished flooring makes for a faster installation.  As soon as the flooring is down, you can walk on it.  The reason is because someone else (a manufacturer) has already laid down the finish elsewhere (a factory) so you don’t have to do it at your house.

With site-finished flooring, there is a gap between the end of installation and the day you can begin walking on it.

Also, the finish on pre-finished flooring is a tough multi-layer urethane that is difficult to duplicate at home.


  • Site-finished flooring gives you an enormously wide range of style options that pre-finished can never hope to match.
  • Factory finished flooring tends to have a plastic appearance.
  • One benefit of site-finished flooring is that the finish can fill in the seams between the floor boards, making the flooring more water-tight.


Bob Vila

“…when it comes to installing solid or engineered wood flooring, prefinished is my choice.”


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