White oak flooring is a North American classic with exquisite oatmeal or nutty brown hues, exceptional strength and density, and alluring grain patterns. In fact, it’s one of the most versatile flooring choices for those wanting to complement just about any decor ranging from weathered rustic, to classic contemporary, to even more elegant traditional spaces. However, there’s still debate concerning which is the better choice: pre-finished white oak or site-finished? Here’s a quick comparison of these two options.

White Oak Hardwood East Bay

The Pros and Cons of Pre-Finished White Oak

  • You can walk around on these new floors right away.
  • White oak hardwood flooring installation can typically be accomplished in one day within moderately sized homes, while staining new floors can take several days.
  • Pre-finished planks eliminate the risks of inhaling the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are present in the vapors of oil-based polyurethane solvents.
  • Avoid the risk of having debris sealed into the flooring with a perfect factory finish that often comes with a lifetime warranty.

Keeping the benefits in mind, let’s explore what some may view as potential cons. If you’re looking to match hues with existing flooring, pre-finished may not be a good option as opposed to custom staining. Pre-finished white oak flooring also has bevels on the edges to hide measurement discrepancies, and they can cost a bit more initially than unfinished floors.

With that being said, there are still contractors and homeowners that still prefer unfinished installations for the following reasons.


Stain hardwood East BayThe Pros and Cons of Site-Finished White Oak Floors

  • During new constructions and major renovations, it may be best to stain and seal flooring last to prevent potential marring by worker’s boots, dropped tools or paint going askew.
  • Colors and hues for staining options are virtually unlimited for unfinished white oak flooring.
  • Unfinished flooring has no bevels, so there are no grooves upon these flush, site-sanded planks.
  • The cost of unfinished white oak may initially be cheaper than finished flooring planks.

The cons of site-finishing hardwood flooring are essentially are the polar opposite of the pros of finished floors. Finishing flooring on-site using oil-based polyurethane will be vulnerable to scraping until the waiting time has elapsed and the finish has fully cured. Be prepared to wait several weeks to move in and add furnishings—especially in high humidity—to allow the finish to dry. Lastly, you can expect a lot of dust during the sanding process and it can take several days to complete installation and finishing.


In order to make the best decision for your home, contact the experts at Floor Coverings International East Bay. We can provide a wide range of white oak flooring options for you to view at a free in-home design consultation. Call us today!


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Photo Credits: © Jo Ann Snover, © Anton Kossman