Choosing Kitchen Flooring
In most homes the kitchen is an extremely active area that not only gets a lot of foot traffic it is also an area where spills and moisture are always probable. So flooring in this room must be able to take a beating and still look good. With more homes today featuring open concepts where kitchens and family rooms blend into one, kitchen flooring must also provide a seamless decorating flow from one room to another.
Today’s manufacturing advances in flooring and finishes has made it easier than ever to choose kitchen flooring that truly marries function and style. Here are just a few flooring options to consider for your next kitchen remodel.
Hardwood Flooring is available in both solid and engineered wood construction. Of the two, solid wood is more susceptible to damage from excessive moisture and humidity. Engineered wood floors are a more practical choice for kitchens, as these floors are more dimensionally stable and better able to withstand moisture.
All wood flooring is susceptible to water damage – so you'll need to stay on top of spills and use absorbent mats in areas where moisture is common. Mats with rubber backings are not recommended, as rubber prevents the floor from breathing. The hardwood floors with the most durable finishes will cost a lot more but will also hold up much better.
Laminate flooring is a great alternative to real wood, especially in kitchens, where durability and easy maintenance are a priority. High-end laminates offer tremendous realism in both texture and visual appearance – and will have much better moisture protection. Planks include beveled edges, textured graining, and come in various lengths. Finishes are extremely resistant to fading, scratching, and scuffing. But like hardwoods, laminate can be susceptible to moisture, although in higher-grade laminate flooring, edges are sealed better for added moisture protection. These floors can be floated over a variety of subfloors, and many products include easy snap-and-lock technology for DIYers. When walked on, laminate floors tend to be noisy. Installing a thin padding underneath helps reduce this noise, but adds to the overall cost.
With a large selection of colors, sizes, shapes, and decorative borders and design patterns, ceramic tile can fit most any decorating style – and budget. Ceramic tile stands up well to high traffic, and tiles are relatively easy to clean – although, grout may need periodic sealing and special cleaning to maintain its original color. If your house is very old, it's probably a good idea to replace your subfloor before installing tiles. Tiles can also feel colder and harder underfoot than other flooring options, and they tend to be slippery, especially when wet. So you’ll need to place absorbent mats or rugs near entry doors and in other areas where the floor is more likely to get wet.
Natural stones, such as slate, travertine, limestone, marble, and granite, offer unique, elegant beauty that’s hard to replicate with man-made materials. Much like natural woods, no two pieces of stone have exactly the same color, pattern, or texture. Tiles are available in varying sizes and neutral tones that coordinate well with most any kitchen décor. Luxurious stones like limestone or travertine can add Old World charm to kitchens, and granite scores high marks for retaining its shine and repelling water.
Some things to keep in mind: Real stone can be expensive, and installation by a professional is typically recommended. Porous stone must be sealed upon installation and resealed at regular intervals – generally every two years. Softer stones, such as travertine, may be more susceptible to chips and dents from falling objects in a kitchen.
Luxury Vinyl Tile
Like the look of natural stone or wood but want more durability and easier maintenance? Luxury vinyl tile just may be your choice. Increasingly popular among homeowners today, luxury vinyl tile (also called LVT) uses advanced 3D imaging technology to replicate the look and textures of high-end flooring such as ceramic tile, limestone, marble, slate, and hardwood – often with amazing realism. But while this flooring may look like the natural stones and woods it replicates, a specialized wear layer makes it far more resistant to scratches, scuffs, indentations, and stains. It’s also easier to maintain, warmer underfoot – and often less expensive than many natural flooring materials. LVT is typically thinner than hardwood planks, stone, or ceramic tiles, so it can be installed over most existing flooring – a great advantage for kitchen remodels. The luxury vinyl tile surface is water resistant and won’t swell or buckle from moisture.
A popular flooring option among environmentally conscious homeowners, cork flooring’s spongy feel make it extremely resilient in high-traffic areas and comfortable underfoot. Cork also absorbs noise and provides good thermal insulation. And it’s fire resistant and resistant to mold, mildew, and moisture.
Some things to consider: Cork can fade over time, especially if exposed to direct sunlight. Cork can also scratch and puncture. While resistant to moisture, cork is not impervious to standing water.