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Any benefits to one over the other? I am putting down new floors in a townhouse apartment, so want to somewhat keep the townhousey feel.
I know there are some posts on here about wood versus engineered, but also looking for the pros/cons of pretreated and treated on site.
When you say treated are you taking about the finish?
Personally for a townhouse i would go with regular 3/4" white oak and stain it any color you want.
Primer - When I say treated I mean the contractor will buy unfinished wood and sand/seal/poly onsite. Compared to buying prefinished wood.
I have prefinished, I prefer finished on site. You end up getting gaps in the prefinished eventually, and if water gets in... great that you can swap pieces in and out, but it isn't that easy, and if you got moisture on the padding below, not good.
The most "hearty" finishes I've seen are the ones finished on site.
Virtually all prefinished wood floors have beveled edges on the planks to mask imperfections in the floor thickness, which I at least find terribly unattractive.
If you want it to fit with your "townhouse-y" feel, i think you have to go with finished on site. Prefinished always screams "new construction" to me, but i may just be thinking of the medium brown beveled edge stuff... there may be different options.
Somewhereelse, wood finished onsite will get gaps too, depends on how good your floor guy is and how well aged the wood is. I had gaps big enough for a nickel to fit into my first winter with a new floor, when the boards contracted.
Prefinished, unless you go for uber-$$$ custom stuff has those afore-mentioned beveled edges. In a TH, I like the prewar parquet look with borders, or herringbone or strip plank. I like a little movement, with some quarter sawn mixed in.
I agree -- that little bevel ruins what otherwise might be something to consider.
My personal choice is close to Primer's suggestion: 3/4 thick, 2.25 (or something like that, a standard) wide white oak ... but with no stain, and with water-based non-yellowing "poly" (many many many coats, applied onsite at the recommended intervals and no closer.
Other things I like, though, are the "character" grades of white oak, and certain other woods with a lot of visual activity going on, like mesquite.
Be sure you get the exact grade and type of wood you've agreed to get, and make it clear to your contractor, vendor, etc. that you want what you want. White oak and red oak are completely different species, and both are graded into various categories by grain and imperfections/character like pinholes.
Lastly, if it's a townhouse apartment and there's another apartment below you, now is the time to learn what you can do to mitigate sound transfer from your place.
if you are matching the wood to another room (eg, i installed oak floors in my kitchen and wanted to color to match my pre war oak floors), then on site is better. note that they need to let the wood sit around the apartment or somewhere with a similar climate to acclimatize so it doesn't expand/contract too much after it's installed.
the pre-finished wood looks really modern - if your townhouse has a pre war feel, you should consider the mismatch if you went that route.
nyc411 has a very good point. It is very important to let the wood acclimate for at least 72 hours. If at all possible it doesn't hurt to let it sit longer. If the wood is installed soon after it is delivered without acclimating once the weather changes you will not be happy as you will have gaps in the floor.
Maybe I'm just old fashioned. I like the traditional way. I know it. It's withstood the test of time. All plusses and minuses are well known. It's "authentic." For a down and dirty reno of a studio I wouldn't get too hung up. But for a real reno, go with real wood finished on site the traditional way.
I also prefer onsite treated, it is harder to scratch, easier to refinish and I kind of prefer when the floor doesn't have uniform pattern.