One subject that gets a lot of talk and opinion is whether Pre-finished hardwood is better or a worse choice than sand and finish on site. Now before I get into this, I must say that at the show room here on West Broadway, Vancouver we do offer pre-finished hardwood choices but we certainly have done many sand and finish projects for those who want that choice. So there is no bias at all simply because of what we can or cannot offer.
I know the group that leans towards sand and finish on site is very attached to their opinion and most will never consider the pre finished alternative. At the expense of getting a few people riled up, I would take an educated guess and say this group is in the much higher age bracket.
There is no question that both pre-finished hardwood and site finished hardwood methods have their own advantages and disadvantages. But these days with the technology that most of the better factories use for the finish layer, as well as the proprietary stain colours, the pre finished hardwood is far and away the better choice. The sales numbers of each category will also prove this point as the pre-finished hardwood out-sells the site finished by a factor of 4-1, depending on what source you go to.
Some of the main advantages of Pre-Finished hardwood include, a much better finish itself. Most factories use Aluminum Oxide, which is nearly impossible to wear through. Some will have their own proprietary additives that make the finish even harder or offer better UV protection.
In a site finish the choices are basically down to the major categories of water based finishes or oil based finishes. Water based finishes are a little more costly to apply but easier to work with but don’t last as long. And if you use an oil based finish, plan a vacation before hand since you will not be able to go back to your house for a few days after the install, and if you do, invest in a big bottle of Tylenol.
As touched on above another advantage of a pre-finished hardwood is that most of the major factories, such as Lauzon, Preverco etc, will have their own unique stain colours. These are stains you can just never get with a site finish option, unless of course you hire a chemist!
Of course one area that some may argue is pricing. If you want to get a quality finish with unique colours and contemporary looks then pre-finished will most likely cost a few dollars more. On the other hand if you do want that look, you basically cannot achieve it with a site finish anyways, so this pricing objection is irrelevant.
Another area is the square edge look of a site finished hardwood versus the bevel edge of a pre-finished hardwood. Although this is true for most manufacturers, there are many factories that do offer a square edge finish as a part of their pre-finished offerings. So even if you like the look of a square edge finish, it is still no reason to go with a site finish.
Even though it seems like I am bashing the site finish choice, I really have no preference one way or the other. It is a customer choice but from a looks and costs perspective, both sides can be argues ad nauseam depending on who you talk to.