Unfinished hardwood floors installation

Unfinished hardwood floors are an incredibly versatile and customizable wood flooring option. Although it takes a bit of extra time and effort to install and finish unfinished hardwood floors on-site, the results can be highly rewarding.

The main reasons finishes are applied to hardwood flooring are to protect the wood from stains, moisture damage, mechanical wear, and to highlight the wood’s natural color and beauty. Finishing your own floors enables a greater range of options with a wide range of colors, stains, finishes, and styles to choose from.

Unfinished hardwood floors are made from bare wood stock that’s sanded and finished in place in the home.

They differ from prefinished wood floors in that the wood used for prefinished floors is sanded, prepped and receives it’s stain color and top coat at the manufacturing facility. There’s no in-home sanding or finishing work.

With unfinished hardwood floors you buy the wood stock, anything from narrow strip to wide plank, and either install it yourself or have it installed by a professional. The wood is bare and is nailed down, sanded, stained (if desired) and sealed in place.

You can purchase wide-plank reclaimed flooring for a rustic look with natural patinas that you can’t really achieve with wide-plank prefinished floors.

Site-sanded unfinished solid flooring can also have multiple edge profiles for a truly custom look, as opposed to the standard micro-beveled edges of prefinished floors. Some people find beveled edges unattractive. Beveled edges are also more difficult to keep clean because they trap more dirt than the uniform and smooth, site-sanded floors.

The ability to have a minimalistic finish system (European Hardening Oil) showing the natural beauty and grain of wood is easily achieved on an unfinished wood install. Most pre-finished systems apply multiple coats of UV cured finish that can leave the wood with a “plastic” appearance.

Northern hardwoods:

  • Red Oak
  • White Oak
  • Maple
  • American Cherry
  • Hickory
  • Ash
  • Locust
  • American Walnut
  • Heart Pine
  •   Exotic hardwoods such as:

    • Brazilian Cherry
    • Rosewood
    • Bamboo
    • Mahogany
    • Australian Cypress

    Most hardwoods are available in Four grades:


    Select & Better (less than 5% mineral streaks & knots, more even-toned – a formal look)

    #1 Common (more mineral streaks & knots with a lot of color variation – an informal / rustic look)

    #2 Common (lots of mineral streaks, knots & holes with a considerable amount of color variation – an extremely rustic look).

    In addition to the different Species of woods, hardwood flooring also comes in different “Grades” of wood.