Flooring Basics: Unfinished vs. Prefinished Engineered Hardwood Flooring


Due to its versatility, engineered flooring has gained a strong foothold in the hardwood floor industry. Prefinished engineered flooring is a more common product than unfinished engineered flooring. However, there are a few circumstances in which unfinished engineered flooring is more desirable than prefinished.

One of the drawbacks to prefinished engineered flooring is the lack of customized colors available. In a circumstance where engineered flooring is the best choice and you have a client who is headstrong about a certain color floor, then you may have to go with unfinished. Unfinished engineered floors can be sanded and finished similar to unfinished solid wood floors. There is the option to stain and finish or just apply a finish for a natural look on a special species. The ability to select unique colors with unfinished engineered is something that can make clients quite happy.

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Along with the color options, unfinished engineered flooring comes in a wider variety of wood species. This is great if you have a client who wants to match the custom stained Rift and Qtr’d White Oak floors in their kitchen with the matching color Rift and Quartered White Oak floors in their basement. In this scenario solid wood is not rated for below grade installation. Engineered floors are perfectly suited for below grade but you’ll be hard pressed to find that custom color RQ White Oak in a prefinished engineered floor.

Selecting unfinished engineered flooring can also be a case of species preference. A good majority of prefinished products are based off plain sawn oak. If a client wants another species of wood the best option might be unfinished engineered flooring.

While the drawbacks to unfinished engineered floors are similar to unfinished solid wood floors — namely, the added time for sanding and finishing — the advantage of color and species variety is great for clients who have specific requests.

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