When it comes to adding warmth, beauty, and value to your home, hardwood can't be beat. And thanks to the wide array of prefinished solid-wood flooring now on the market, it's never been easier to replace or find a match for your old floors. These wood strips and planks are typically coated with multiple layers of an aluminum-oxide-infused polyurethane and cured under UV lights; this process creates an exceptionally hard finish that will outlast once applied in your home on unfinished wood. Equally appealing: You can walk on the floor the day it's laid, since there's no messy sanding or long wait times for clear top coats to dry.
Since their appearance in the late 1940s, prefinished solid-wood floors have improved dramatically in look and performance. There's a species to suit every style, from traditional pine planks and heavily grained oak strips to exotic varieties featuring rich red and chocolate shades. You can even choose from a range of sheens and surface effects, such as a hand-scraped finish that delivers a distressed, old-world look.
Budget-conscious homeowners can install prefinished boards themselves, cutting out the cost of hiring a pro and getting gorgeous results in a weekend. Once it's in, the flooring is a breeze to maintain, requiring only basic cleaning and occasional touch-ups to the clear coat. And if the surface starts to look worn, it can easily be brought back to like-new condition without a lot of effort.