You’ll have choices to make – prefinished or site-finished? Grade? Color? Design features? Start here:

Prefinished vs. site-finished

The first step is to decide whether the flooring should be prefinished or site-finished. You can always contact us for more information, but for now, start here:

Prefinished flooring comes with a factory-applied finish. An advantage to prefinished flooring is ease of installation—there is no need for sanding or applying finish on site; you simply nail it down and it’s ready to go. However, because the finish is applied at the factory, you must accept the color(s) and the gloss level offered. Additionally, factory-applied finishes are much more difficult to sand and refinish, which means when the time comes you may need to replace the floor. Another consideration is that prefinished flooring has micro-bevels on the edges. These bevels are applied in order to smooth out the feel of the floor after it’s been installed. An unintended consequence is that the bevels form tiny grooves that can collect dust and grime and make it more difficult to keep your floors clean.

Site-finished flooring must be sanded and finished after installation. This normally is a three or four day process during which you may need to stay off the floor. Today’s sanding equipment has dust containment systems that work well and the fumes from the water-based finishes used today are easier to tolerate, but the process is still more involved than a simple prefinished installation.

That said, a site-finished floor will be smoother than a prefinished floor, You can choose the grade you want and your color options are unlimited, as are your finish sheen options (matte, satin, semi-gloss, gloss, etc. ). You can also generally expect a site-finished floor to be longer lasting—when the finish begins to wear out, it can be sanded and refinished as many as six times before the flooring itself will need to be replaced. This means the floor will likely last for several decades.

Regardless of whether you choose prefinished or site-finished, you’ve already made a sustainable and economic choice by using wood for your floor material. We’d be happy to answer any of your questions about which choice is best for you. Simply stop in, or contact us and we’ll get right back to you.

For a current list of products offered, click here.

Sizes and Species

Once you’ve determined the type of flooring, you’ll want to choose a species and a size. As for species, oak is the most common hardwood flooring, but you can also choose from virtually any American hardwood species, as well as pine and a wide range of exotic woods, each with its own unique character.

Different board widths will result in different looks for the finished floor. You can choose 1½ – inch, 2¼ inch, 3¼ inch, and plank flooring of 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 inches. See our photo gallery for examples.


The grade of flooring you choose will have a tremendous impact on the overall look of your floor once it’s in place. With prefinished flooring, grades are generally proprietary to the manufacturer and color choices are limited; often grade and stain color go hand-in-hand.

With a site-finished floor, you’ll need to select both a grade and a finish. Grade is determined primarily by the amount of “character” (knots, streaks, color variations, etc.) that is evident in the flooring. Generally speaking, unfinished flooring falls into one of four grade categories: Clear, Select, No.1 Common, and No. 2 Common. Of these, No. 2 Common contains the most character marks, while Clear has the most consistent look, with hardly any visible character marks other than the grain pattern. See photos of the different grades by clicking here.

Keep in mind that the finish you choose will also impact how your floor looks. Darker finishes will obscure more of the character marks, while lighter and clear finishes will allow the character marks to show through and may even enhance their visibility. View our photo gallery to see some examples, then consult your installing contractor and/or the professionals at Classic Wood Floors for help in deciding just the right combination of grade and finish for your taste.

Design Features

You might also decide to incorporate an accent strip, border, medallion or other design feature into your floor. See our photo gallery for some ideas and talk with your installing contractor for more.