Hardwood flooring is one of the most versatile flooring options available on the market and comes in two main variants: pre-finished and unfinished. Each of these variants, as their name would suggest, differs in the amount of finish that is applied on the floorboards, which in turn alters the benefits and drawbacks associated with choosing that particular type of hardwood flooring. Understanding what each type of hardwood flooring has to offer your home's floors can help you figure out which one is the best fit for your needs.

Pre-Finished Hardwood Flooring

Pre-finished hardwood flooring already has stain and a clear layer of sealant already applied onto it, which means that it only needs to be laid into place to finish the installation process. This helps reduce installation times and can also save you money on labor costs if you have a professional contractor installing your flooring. This also means that the risk of collateral damage to other surfaces, in the form of loose sawdust and spilled stain, is kept to a bare minimum, reducing the amount of cleanup that you'll have to do after your floors are installed.

However, pre-finished hardwood flooring necessarily costs more than its unfinished counterpart, since it has already been sanded, stained, and sealed. Further, since the boards are not sanded on site, they may not lie completely flat against one another, which can in some cases create a rougher and less uniform surface.

Unfinished Hardwood Flooring

Unfinished hardwood flooring has had no work done on it yet and consists of simple raw wood floorboards that need to be sanded and worked on after they've been laid in place to protect them against wear and moisture damage. The plain nature of unfinished hardwood flooring means that they are more affordable than their pre-finished counterparts. Further, you have much more choice in developing the appearance of your floors directly, since you aren't picking from a predetermined color or texture, and can instead base your choice of stain and sealant off of how your floorboards look when they're actually put into place within your home.

However, it should be noted that the lower price of unfinished hardwood flooring carries more installation work with it, plus the cost of stain and sealant, which can negate the difference when comparing to pre-finished boards. Further, way more time has to be spent cleaning up the area around where unfinished hardwood flooring has been installed, which can further add to labor costs if you have a professional contractor.