Prefinished wood floors or unfinished?

Does anyone have any experience with finishing hardwood floors? I am trying to figure out whether I should buy prefinished at about $5.00 Canadian per square foot or the much cheaper unfinished strips and try finishing it myself. I was told the prefinished has something like seven baked on coats, does anyone know if this is true?
Blair
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I am about to put down 800 sq ft of hardwood flooring in my home remodel job along with the new kitchen I am building. I have looked at many alternative products. Here in Florida with a poured concrete floor, I would have to lay a plywood underlayment making the floor too thick to use a solid wood product finished or unfinished. So it is going to be an engineered solid wood product and these all come prefinished. But price dictates the durability of the finish for the most part.
I have decided on a Mohawk Floor product that is a very stable and well engineered product. But back to your point, these prefinished commercial products have a 25-50 year wear warranty. They use a ceramic aluminum oxide type finish that wears like nails. The only drawback that I see, is it does tend to look a bit "Plastic" . I remember my brother coming home from vacation and walking into the foyer and thinking some plumbing had leaked and the floor was all wet because it looked so shinny!
Good luck on your selection,
--
Dennis Slabaugh, Hobbyist Woodworker
www.woodworkinghhobby.com
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Prefinished is good to the extent that you put it down and you're done. I did 3 rooms with 3/8 Bruce prefinished oak. There are a few downsides to prefinished. If the machining of the tongue and grooves is not good, you will have a mismatch that would normally be removed when a raw floor is sanded. Also, there is very little wiggle room for errors. With a raw wood floor you can use filler to tweak any gaps that may occur. I did an inlaid border with miter cuts which was very difficult to get dead on with no gaps. But one of the downsides is there is less sanding life on an engineered prefin floor. If you go that route, find out how thick the top layer is, the cheaper the flooring, the less it can be sanded. There's my .02 cents (US)
Blair wrote:

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I used pre-finished because I had to. It was going over a concrete slab and engineered wood is the only product that works easily. It does have a multi-coat oxide finish that has an umpteen year warranty. Mine is Mannington
If I was doing it in the rest of my house, I'd go with unfinished. In the long run, you get a better looking floor with no imperfections as they would be sanded out. Ed
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Just one more reason to go pre-finished. You'l have to move out of your house for a few days due to fumes if you finish yourself. Then there's the sanding dust. I can't think of any other downsides to the unfinished. Wath out for crappy looking boards.
Kevin
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