Repair & Care
Site Finished Hardwood Flooring
Unlike prefinished hardwood floor installations, site finished refers to the actual installation of unfinished hardwood, then it is finished on site; hence the name site finished. This kind of procedure is more commonplace with higher end homes or those seeking a near flawless appearance on completion.
Flawless Appearance You Say?
Once the floor is sanded and coated with the preferred finish it may appear flawless. This type would be better described as being vertically and horizontally flush or flat without any separations in the form of gaps or bevels between the boards. Depending on the finishes used and number of coats, it can provide a smooth like surface feel or visual, unless one preferred a site finished beveled floor. Yes, unfinished beveled hardwood can be obtained.
Obtaining and maintaining a near flawless appearance requires skilled floor finishers, or ones that can smooth out an unfinished floor. On final inspection, better workmanship will offer a near table top appearance, without waves or other imperfections common with unskilled workmanship. Chances are good this kind of work may not be seen with guys offering bids too low to be true. The decision is yours. Over the most recent ten years alone, a large number of guys claiming they can do the work have come into this profession, offering at the same time very low prices.
More Options With Color
Unfinished flooring offers more possibilities with color schemes and not your standard stains in the likes of Gunstock and Saddle to name a few. Colors run the gambit and can be created by simply getting together with an experienced floor finisher. You can even invent your own custom stain and proudly tell others, “it’s the Smithey stain color.”
Get the stain color right instead of depending on small samples. Pictured on the right is Al Havner & Sons in Royal Oak, Michigan working with a customer trying to achieve the right stain color on their new unfinished Maple floor. Larger samples are better than small! Why stain on a new floor? This doesn’t look right you may say. Not to worry, the stain is sanded out before the final choice is applied.
Stable Relative Humidity Levels Within The Home
In order to maintain this appearance, conditions within the residence have to be kept constant. In other words, relative humidity must be monitored; not an easy task for some homeowners that open doors and windows during certain seasons, then depend on heating systems during colder periods. Constant or prolonged changes in relative humidity from one extreme to another will result in floors expanding and contracting. Gaps in hardwood floors may become a common problem.
Is It Messy? Odors?
For those that may be odor sensitive, some finishes may not be in the cards. More friendlier water based finishes could provide a better alternative, but you do lose the ambering effect oil based finishes provide.¹ Our suggestion is contacting a qualified professional in your area that can make up large samples you can choose from. Instead of smaller prefinished samples seen in many dealer showrooms, a custom site finished contractor can put together larger samples showing different finish types and gloss levels.
The single most important ingredient in a successful site finished job aside of the finishers skill, is what happens before, during, and after the installation. This includes topics covered at the related page links below. Site finished floors will take longer to complete due to drying times and the number of finish coats desired. Work areas must be free of those that could be raising dust during finishing periods. Generally most builders have little experience with these types of installations and will probably try to steer you into the prefinished selections.
For the most part, installation and finishing of unfinished hardwoods onsite will create a lot of dust, but is dependant on who you have chosen for the work. Some professionals take the utmost pride in leaving the premises the way it was before they started, others do not. The cutting of material should take place away from the installation area. Exceptions include new construction or major remodeling where final cleanup has yet to be performed.
Some floor finishers have containment systems that remove a large portion of the dust equation from the job. Expect these guys to be priced higher. Benefits will outweigh the costs if someone is allergic sensitive, and a preference for not discovering dust everywhere for weeks and months after the fact.
Costs: Will vary from one region to another. An average labor cost would be $6.00 per square foot for installation and finishing.
¹ By using an oil based sealer followed by water based finish coats an ambering effect can be achieved. Yet as time passes the continued ambering will be marginal compared to an all oil based finishing process.