Happily, I won’t have to look at the ugly subfloor for long: the new hardwood is already snapping into place.
I’m going with pre-finished oak. While one contractor warned me that pre-finished will never give you the perfect glassy sheen of wood that’s been finished in place, I just couldn’t face the thought of all that sanding and sealing, with the additional time, dust, and polyurethane fumes it would involve.
The pre-finished boards just snap neatly together – which means that, as of the end of the first week of work, we already have a nice, finished-looking section of floor.
I’m sneezing a lot, but I have to consider it short-term pain for long-term gain – at the end of all this, a carpet-free home should make it easier to keep my allergies under control.