When buying kitchen flooring, do you pick flooring that looks great with your cabinets? One of my handyman customers asked for help picking their new kitchen floor. She wanted cork as she spends hours a day cooking and baking. Her husband wanted black and white tile — they were stuck!
These flooring choices are so different — one is about looks, the other about function and which one is right? The challenge and why I wanted to write this article, was finding the right compromise. My first idea was a resilient vinyl product I had used for basements, i.e. to soften the feel over concrete.
What's important is picking flooring for the right reason. Home owners who don't spend much time in the kitchen or entertain a lot, might prioritize “how the floor looks”. Those who love cooking/baking and spend hours on their feet in the kitchen, want a floor with good support (resilient and tile isn't) that's easy to clean up.
Flooring Choices for Any Room
When picking flooring there's a lot to consider and it's getting harder as houses become more open with one room flowing into another. It's important to research how different types of flooring feel when you have shoes on, when you're barefoot and is it comfortable to walk on? You also want to consider the type of wear and tear each room will get because children, pets, water and food spills and heavy foot traffic will all affect the way a floor wears — will it withstand this use? and is it easy to maintain?
So let's explore the various flooring choices with a focus on kitchen floor choices and how they compare for comfort, durability and maintenance. Other considerations not addressed here are cost, ease of installation by home owners and color choices, i.e. to coordinate with your kitchen cabinets, counter top, etc.
|Flooring Products||Comfort||Durability & Maintenance|
|Hardwood – wide range of wood choices; goes with any decor.||Warm underfoot, easy on the legs and quiet.||Should last a lifetime although durability depends on type of wood & finish; can be sanded & refinished.|
|Engineered Wood –||Warm like hardwood; more resilient than hardwood,||Susceptible to scratches, dents and water stains.|
|Laminate – made from photos with tough, plastic layer on top.||Doesn't have warm of wood; some people consider it noisy.||Durable when installed properly (preparing subfloor key); look for high density plastic that is dent and scratch resistant.|
|Vinyl (Vinyl Composition Tile or VCT) – is made primarily from limestone.||Comfortable underfoot; easy to stand on for long periods of time.||Scratch & water resistant; durability depends on product quality (3 types of finishes); may fade in direct sunlight.|
|Linoleum – more popular again because it's environmentally friendly.||Comfortable, warm and quiet; cork backing helps with sound absorption.||Very durable, easy to clean, no waxing needed.|
|Ceramic Tile – larger tiles have fewer grout lines.||Cold; hard on the legs; slippery when wet; dishes break when dropped.||Tiles easy to clean but grout difficult to maintain|
|Porcelain Tile – denser than ceramic tiles as materials more refined.||Cold; hard on the legs; slippery when wet; dishes break when dropped.||Durable, more resistant to staining than ceramic tiles; absorb less moisture so they withstand cold temperatures (outside) better.|
|Concrete – no longer boring.||Cool unless you have radiant underfloor heat.||Easy to maintain & once stained, you seal for a great finish.|
|Bamboo – from bamboo grass, a renewable resource; for eco-friendly you'll want formaldehyde-free finish.||Comfortable for people spending a lot of time on their feet.||Lasts a long time, can take heavy wear & tear; easy to clean.|
|Cork – from bark of cork oak trees, a renewable resource;||Soft and warm underfoot; very quiet; generally things dropped don't break.||When sealed properly, can withstand moisture and be damp mopped. Minor dents pop out but it can scratch & dent, excess moisture may cause buckling.|
|Rubber –||Very easy for people standing.||Will last a long time, hold up to heavy wear & tear; easy to clean.|
|Other flooring mentioned when researching this article on kitchen flooring: slate, granite, marble and travertine.|
Photo credit goes to Armstrong for their vinyl, ebony and white kitchen floor.