Unfinished Hardwood Flooring

As traditional flooring, unfinished hardwood comes in longer planks and offers more color possibilities for your home. Prefinished flooring, ideal for those who need a job done quickly, often has a limited amount of finishes for hardwood. With unfinished, however, you can install the floor and then experiment with different stains on the wood. After you find the one that looks best, sand away the test stains.

Following National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) guidelines, unfinished domestic hardwoods, such as white and red oak and hickory, are graded on appearance. Prefinished hardwood, on the other hand, is based on a manufacturer's descriptions, which are mostly for marketing. When you want to buy unfinished hardwood flooring, domestic species come in the following grades:

• Clear – Has a uniform appearance primarily composed of heartwood.
• Select – Almost as uniform as Clear but with some natural characteristics.
• #1 Common – Has more color variety, some mineral streaks, and knots.
• #2 Common – Greater color variation and natural marks.
• #3 Common – Value flooring with distinct natural marks.

Maple is an exception. If you want to add unfinished maple hardwood to your home or building, a similar range of quality is described by the following terms: First, Second, and Third. Contemporary terms Select #1 and Select #2 may be used instead.

Unfinished hardwood is not ideal for those needing new flooring fast. Unfinished hardwood flooring takes longer to install – maybe even weeks – and needs a fully clean environment. After the costs of prefinished and unfinished flooring, including labor, are calculated, however, both fall in a similar price range.