Monthly Archives: October 2010

What Type of Hardwood Flooring is Right for Your Home?

This post is a continuation of our “Choose the Right Flooring for Your Home” informational blog series. And, in this entry I’ll cover some of the advantages and disadvantages of site finished, pre-finished and engineered hardwood floors PLUS I’ll give you some tips that your supplier might not even tell you. It’s everything you’ll need to know before you buy those lovely new hardwood floors for your home!

So, we’ll start with the questions you’ll need to consider before you set foot in a flooring store…

Are you installing above grade or below?

Do you want a pre-finished floor? Or would a site finished floor be a better option for you?

Here’s all the information you’ll need to make your decision:

Decorating with sand and stain on site hardwood floors
Site Finished Hardwood Floor

SITE FINISHED HARDWOOD FLOORS  (also referred to as sand and stain on site)

PRO – Endless color possibilities, changing stain colors is possible in most cases
CON – Messy to install and refinish, it’s difficult to repair without refinishing the entire floor
Site finished hardwood was the only option available until recently when pre-finished floors came on the market. The process to install a site finished floor includes laying the floor, sanding it to create a smooth surface, applying the stain, then applying the finish coats, and all of these steps take time. Each layer of stain and finish requires time to properly cure, so rushing the process will result in a lower quality finish that won’t last as long or be as strong. There are also environmental challenges to consider, dust particles in the air can land on a wet surface and be embedded forever creating an uneven surface. Additionally humidity levels can affect the curing time of the finish, if the finish coats are not given enough time to completely dry their integrity will be compromised. On the plus side though this method of installation is ideal if you are a “serial re-decorator” like me, as it is easier to re-stain a site finished floor than any of the other hardwood options!

Decorating with hardwood floors
Mirage Yellow Birch3/4" Solid Hardwood Floor


PRO – Considerably stronger finish than a site finished floor, faster installation, easier to repair
CON – Limited color selections
Pre-finished hardwoods are rapidly becoming the preferred choice for new homes and renovations projects because they are easier to install, have a stronger finish and are easier to repair. With pre-finished hardwoods the entire finishing and staining process is done in a controlled environment, producing a finish that is cured in optimal conditions with fewer contaminants. Installation is a single step process which means you will ultimately be less inconvenienced and be ready to move into your new room faster!  And, should you ever need to repair your floor the damaged boards can simply be replaced without refinishing the entire surface so be sure to keep a few extra planks on hand, just in case!

Decorating with Engineered Hardwood Floors
Armstrong Engineered Hardwood Floor - Cherry Amberwood


PRO – Dimensionally stable, Widest plank widths available, Can be installed below grade, Less affected by humidity levels, Wider selection of exotic woods
CON – Can’t be refinished as many times, Limited color selections
Engineered floors are relatively new to the marketplace and gaining popularity fast. Constructed by laminating plywood planks together with each layer perpendicular to the last, this process produces a floor that’s not as affected by humidity levels as solid plank floors. This method of production also produces less waste and promotes forrest sustainability. Because only the top layer is the finish wood you will often find a variety of rare or exotic woods are available, typically manufactured in wide width planks to showcase the woods’ unique textures. Only available as a pre-finished floor, engineered hardwood floors can either be installed as a floating floor over concrete or conventionally secured using glue and nails over a wood sub-floor.

Picking the best type of hardwood for your situation will ensure that you enjoy your new floor for years to come. So don’t miss the next blog post when I’ll give you designer tips for choosing hardwood plank width, the sheen of your finish and even hardwood accessories!