Unfinished Hardwood Flooring: For Complete Control Over Your Floor Appearance

Unfinished hardwood flooring is also referred to as site-finished hardwood floors. They have been around for many centuries since the invention of hardwood floors. It is only recently that flooring manufacturers came up with pre-finished hardwood floors.


What is an Unfinished Hardwood Floor?

As the name suggests, the floor is not factory finished. As such, you finish and sand it on-site after installation. You should choose finishing treatments and finishing options, including natural finishes, staining, or painting.

Unfinished floors are also preferred when repairing or adding more wood to an adjoining room in a house or property, and you want to match the existing floor.

When buying an unfinished hardwood floor, you should first choose between unfinished engineered and solid wood flooring. Secondly, you should choose the length, width, and thickness of the plank.

Moreover, it is possible to get a plank size that is not common and unavailable in pre-finished woods when buying unfinished wood.

Pre-finished vs. Site Finished Hardwood Floors

When installing a hardwood floor, you can choose pre-finished or unfinished flooring.

Pre-finished and unfinished floors have unique advantages and disadvantages. A pre-finished floor is factory-finished, sanded, sprayed with coats, and at times stained. A pre-finished floor is convenient because it comes ready. Therefore, you can move in immediately after installation. It is a good floor option for DIY installers who want convenience.

Although on-site finishing is a tedious process, you can customize your floor. On-site installations are messy and produce a lot of dust. The installation process also takes a longer time.

Unfinished Hardwood Flooring for Control Over the Room Appearance

An unfinished flooring option helps you control the finishing process and customize the floor to the unique style, color, and interior decor of your home.

Smooth Surfaces

A pre-finished floor comes with beveled edges that break the flow on the room’s surface from one plank of wood to the next. Beveled edges mean the floor has high and low points. The beveled edges usually end up trapping and keeping dust and dirt. For unfinished flooring, the floor is sanded on-site after installation. The installers can sand the surfaces smoothly without any grooves and bevels. This makes cleaning site-finished hardwood flooring easier because there are no beveled edges.


The primary advantage of unfinished over pre-finished hardwood floors is the freedom to customize. Pre-finished floors have a natural look or are factory-stained.

On the other hand, when installing a site-finished floor, you can go for whatever look that most appeals to your interior decor theme and style. You have a choice between a natural finish, staining, or painting. You can choose between different finish treatments. The best way to get a unique floor is to hire a floor installer to work on your unfinished hardwood floor for a custom finish. You can settle on other unique features, including borders, inlays, and different edge profiles.

Refinishing Hardwood Floor Options

Most homeowners love hardwood flooring because of the warm and natural look of wood. Exotic woods are a timeless piece and classic. The wood treatment enhances the wood grain without changing its color. You have a choice between different sheen and finishes.

Staining an Unfinished Hardwood Floor

If you don’t like the natural color of a hardwood floor, you can choose to stain it. When you stain hardwood floors, the natural color is changed to achieve a more exotic or trending style. There is a wide range of options when it comes to staining colors. They range from cherry-red, golden hues, dark brown to grey.

Painting an Unfinished Hardwood Floor

You can also paint your hardwood flooring, especially if you want extreme colors that stains cannot provide. Painting hides the wood and replaces it with the color of your choice.

Creative Designs on an Unfinished Hardwood Floor

You can ask a craftsman to mix various floor stain colors and create a unique flooring design for you. You can also choose colors that are in sync with other interior design elements in your home. Additionally, a wood artist can add inlays, stone, or metal to your hardwood flooring or add ornate medallions and special borders.

Buying Unfinished Hardwood Flooring

When shopping for unfinished hardwood, you can select between unfinished engineered or solid hardwood flooring. You should also select either domestic or exotic hardwood flooring tree species. Typically, exotic hardwood species have a contemporary look and are usually left in their natural color. On the other hand, domestic hardwood species have a traditional look, and its grains color variations are less dramatic. As such, they are usually stained by homeowners who desire dramatic looks.

Popular site-finished hardwood species include red oak, white oak, walnut, maple, and pine. Other unfinished flooring options are hickory, beech, birch, cherry, ash, pecan, and teak flooring.

Cost of Unfinished Hardwood Floors

The factory costs of unfinished hardwood floors are cheaper in comparison to pre-finished hardwood floors. However, unfinished hardwood floors usually end up being more expensive because you have to factor in the cost of installation and buying treatments and stains. Therefore, the cost to install hardwood floors finished on-site is high because of the after-purchase costs.


Anytime you are pre-finishing your hardwood, you have an opportunity to customize the floor. Whether you install pre-finished or unfinished hardwood, you should refinish the floor in the future after a period of 10, 15, or 20 years from the initial installation.