Choosing The Right Flooring For Your Kitchen

Kitchen flooring needs to be the toughest in the house! It has to stand up to constant foot traffic, inevitable spills and drops, and temperature fluctuations from heating and cooling appliances. There are plenty of durable and stylish options to give you a floor that looks beautiful and can take the heat.

While searching for the perfect flooring material for your kitchen, consider the key elements that need to be taken into account in order to select an option that works best for your needs.

Appearance: Does your interior style call for a sleek modern tile, warm traditional woods, or natural elements like stone?

Comfort: Very dense flooring materials can cause pain if you walk and stand on them barefoot for long periods. If this could be an issue, decide whether you want an overall softer flooring material or are willing to utilize cushioned mats and rugs at your kitchen work station.

Lifestyle: If you cook frequently and messes make a regular appearance in your kitchen, the flooring you choose should hold up to spills, drops, and regular cleaning. Busy households with lots of family members and pets also need durable options.

Maintenance: Some flooring materials require regular sealing, special care when cleaning, or refurbishing. How much maintenance are you willing to invest in your flooring for years to come?

Budget: The cost per square foot of your flooring selection can add up quickly! It’s important to determine which options work well within your budget. If you’re considering a DIY installation to save money, not all flooring materials are suitable for installation without a professional.


CORK

Pros:

  • Highly sustainable and eco-friendly
  • Very comfortable to stand on
  • Slip resistant
  • Easy to clean
  • Water resistant if properly sealed

Cons:

  • Must be sealed every 3-4 years
  • Sunlight can fade the color
  • Heavy furniture and sharp objects can cause indentations

 

Cork flooring has stepped into the spotlight as consumers have become more conscious of sustainability. Cork is made from the bark of trees, which can be harvested from the same trees every few years without cutting them down. If eco-friendliness is a top concern for you, cork is an excellent option!

Cork is also very soft compared to denser flooring materials, making it very comfortable to walk and stand on for long periods of time. Glass objects are less likely to break if dropped on cork. Additionally, it has a natural texture to it that makes it very slip-resistant.

Along with its softness comes the propensity for it to get indentations or scratches from heavy furniture, sharp objects, and pet nails. It also must be sealed every few years to protect it from moisture and damage. Cork can usually be refurbished to remove surface level imperfections.

Sunlight is also a concern, as it can fade the color over time. If your kitchen gets little to no sunlight, the color will last much longer. Remembering to keep drapes and/or blinds shut during the day will be important for kitchens that get sunlight.

Soft-bristled brooms and lightweight vacuums work well for cleaning debris off cork. A slightly damp mop is enough to remove most spills and your flooring salesman should inform you which cleaners are safe to use for tougher messes.


SOLID HARDWOOD

bench seating

Pros:

  • Durable for high traffic areas
  • Increases the value of your home more than most flooring options
  • Can be sanded and stained/sealed again to look like new
  • Wide variety of styles and colors
  • Timeless appearance
  • Transitions well in open-concept homes

Cons:

  • Prone to damage from moisture, spills must be cleaned quickly
  • Requires a lot of care to prevent and remove scratches
  • Expensive
  • Needs careful considerations for cleaning

Solid hardwood is second to none for flooring that increases the value of your home, making it worth the upfront investment. It has a beautiful, classic look that is considered timeless. The wood can be sanded and refinished to look like new as needed, meaning it can outlast many other flooring options if cared for appropriately.

Solid hardwood does not do well in high-moisture areas like bathrooms, and this has caused many to stay away from installing it in the kitchen where spills are frequent. In reality, properly sealed hardwood is unlikely to be affected by typical kitchen spills as long as they are cleaned promptly.

The larger concern comes in the form of an unnoticed leaking fridge, dishwasher, or sink leading to damage that may be irreparable. Check under and around your appliances occasionally, and use protective rugs or mats near sinks, dishwashers, and other places where water spray, dripping, and spills are frequent.

Hardwood is prone to becoming scratched and scuffed from drops, pet nails, and furniture. Felt pads under chair legs and furniture are recommended to prevent scratches and indents.

While there are general care tips for cleaning hardwood floors, it is important to look into the exact type of hardwood you have and what is safe to use for cleaning. Vacuuming will clear most debris, but ensure your vacuum is designed for use on hardwood or be prepared for scratches! Microfiber brooms (dust mops) work well for removing dust, and a lightly damp microfiber mop will take care of spills.


ENGINEERED HARDWOOD

Pros:

  • Durable for high traffic areas
  • Moisture resistant
  • Increases your home value
  • Extremely durable
  • Transitions well in open-concept homes
  • Uses less milled lumber than solid hardwood
  • Has the appearance of traditional hardwood
  • Easier to install than solid hardwood

Cons:

  • Can be expensive
  • Replacing a damaged plank is difficult

Engineered hardwood is the tougher, more moisture-resistant cousin of traditional solid hardwood. It has a veneer of hardwood that provides the same visual appeal as solid hardwood, but is manufactured with multiple layers of wood and resins, each positioned in a different direction, making it more dimensionally stable. No warping!

Engineered hardwood planks come in a wide variety of styles and colors, and can be installed in multiple configuration options to customize the look of your flooring.

The main drawback of engineered hardwood when compared against solid hardwood is that it cannot be sanded and refurbished continually. Thicker variations may be able to be sanded 1-3 times. If thin variations become damaged, whole planks may have to be removed and replaced. It still increases the value of your home, but not to the same extent as solid hardwood could.

Similarly to solid hardwood, care should be taken to clean the floor with tools that will not scratch the wood.


LUXURY AND RESILIENT VINYL

bench seating

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Highly moisture resistant or waterproof depending on material and style
  • Vast assortment of colors and styles
  • Can last for a long time
  • Easy installation
  • Very easy to clean and maintain

Cons

  • Susceptible to scratches, gouges, and dents
  • Does not generally increase home value
  • Less eco-friendly than other options

 

The style options of luxury and resilient vinyl flooring are nearly endless! If you are looking for a very specific color or style, chances are it exists. Vinyl can mimic the look of real wood and natural stone for less money per square foot. Resilient sheet vinyl can also be found in stone, wood, and other styles.

Vinyl flooring comes in both sheet and tile form. While sheet vinyl is more moisture resistant, many people prefer tile because it can mimic the appearance of ceramic tile.

In general, vinyl flooring is easy to install and maintain. It is stain and moisture resistant and holds up well to foot traffic. A proper installation on an even surface is important to make it comfortable to walk on.

Sheet vinyl that is well taken care of can last up to 20 years. Cleaning with mild detergent and a wet mop (without needlessly saturating the floor), works well for general cleaning.
Sharp objects can damage vinyl flooring, and the color can fade over time if exposed to too much sunlight. Putting felt under chair legs and heavy furniture is recommended to minimize indents and scraping.


LAMINATE

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Less prone to fading than vinyl
  • Vast assortment of colors and styles
  • Easy installation
  • Easy to maintain
  • Can last for a long time
  • Holds up well to foot traffic

Cons:

  • Susceptible to scratches, gouges, and dents
  • More susceptible to moisture damage than vinyl
  • Must use special laminate-safe cleaners
  • Less eco-friendly than other options

Laminate stacks up comparably to vinyl flooring in affordability, color options, and durability. It is less prone to fading from sunlight than vinyl, but is susceptible to puncture and indents from sharp objects and heavy furniture. Laminate is more durable and less likely to experience this type of damage than vinyl.

However, laminate is less water resistant than vinyl and can buckle, gape, or separate if moisture isn’t removed promptly. A wet mop should not be used to clean laminate. Messes can be sprayed with a laminate-safe cleaner and wiped up promptly with a dry mop or cloth.

Because laminate is manufactured using actual wood, it can come a bit closer to replicating the look of real hardwood than vinyl, which is made from plastics. Laminate is also thicker, leading to a more cushioned feeling for standing.


PORCELAIN TILE

bench seating

Pros:

  • Extremely hard and durable
  • Doesn’t scratch or indent
  • Very stain resistant
  • Waterproof
  • Can be styled to look like natural stone while costing less
  • More shapes and styles than ceramic
  • Can last for an extremely long time

 

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Can be easier to slip and fall on
  • Could be uncomfortable to stand on for long periods of time
  • Bad option for a DIY installation
  • May be too heavy for upper floors

Porcelain tile can handle any spill your kitchen deals out! During the manufacturing process, it is fired at extremely high temperatures to create a surface that is incredibly dense and durable, plus completely waterproof. It will not scratch or indent from furniture, pets, and drops.

It generally costs more than ceramic tile, but is often considered more attractive and can last indefinitely. It also has fewer air pockets in its structure than ceramic tile, which means it is less likely to crack even from severe drops.

Cleaning porcelain tile is incredibly easy and does not require avoiding moisture like some flooring materials. Most porcelain can be cleaned effectively with sweeping and vacuuming, but can also be wet mopped as needed.

The surface of porcelain tile can be quite slick, especially if it gets wet. If slips are a concern, look for styles that are made to be slip resistant.
Additionally, due to the density of the material, standing barefoot on porcelain tile could lead to lower body pains. If you spend a considerable amount of time standing in your kitchen, a cushioned mat where you stand most frequently is an easy and effective remedy.

Porcelain tile is a tricky installation job to tackle, so it’s highly recommended to leave this one to a professional. The tiles are very heavy and difficult to cut and place. If you need porcelain tile in a kitchen that is not on the ground floor, a professional should check that your floor structure can handle the weight.


CERAMIC TILE

 

Pros:

  • Glazed ceramic is very stain and water resistant
  • Extremely durable
  • Replacing a damaged tile is relatively simple
  • Lots of design and color options
  • Easy to clean
  • Wide range of pricing includes more affordable options

Cons:

  • Unglazed tile and grout need to be sealed
  • Could be uncomfortable to stand on for long periods of time
  • May be too heavy for upper floors
  • Not a great option for DIY installation

Ceramic tile is a durable material that makes for easy cleaning and maintenance, in addition to offering a wide variety of style options. Glazed ceramic tile is especially easy to care for, as it is very stain and water resistant. If properly installed, it can last for decades and still look great!

Pricing on ceramic ranges depending on the brand and style, but offers options in a more affordable range than porcelain. It is somewhat less durable than porcelain but still more durable than most other flooring types. While a severe impact could crack a tile, cracking is unlikely and individual tiles can usually be replaced without much hassle.

The density of hard ceramic floors can create the same uncomfortability with long periods of standing as other dense flooring. A DIY installation is also difficult with heavier variations of ceramic tiles and the viability of installation on an upper floor should be assessed by a professional.


NATURAL STONE

bench seating
Pros:

  • Gives a beautiful, natural look
  • Wide array of options and colors
  • Adds resale value to your home
  • Very durable
  • Holds up well to foot traffic
  • Quality varieties that are properly treated shouldn’t scratch

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Some varieties are prone to staining
  • Low-end natural stone tiles are susceptible to damage
  • Some varieties need to be sealed periodically
  • Bad option for a DIY installation
  • May be too heavy for upper floors

Much like hardwood flooring, quality natural stone tile in your kitchen can add to the resale value of your home. It’s attractive, durable, and comes in plenty of beautiful varieties to suit most styles. Each stone is unique, which means your flooring will genuinely be one-of-a-kind.

Work with a flooring expert to budget appropriately if you are looking into natural stone for your kitchen, as it tends to be an expensive option and doesn’t work well for a DIY installation. The stone tiles are heavy, difficult to install properly, and require special tools to cut properly.

Since natural stone is made from genuine rock, and there are multiple varieties, the type you choose will determine the porosity of your floor and how prone it is to scratching and if it needs to be sealed. A flooring professional can help you weigh the benefits and drawbacks of each variation of natural stone. The most popular options are granite, marble, slate, and travertine.

The price of high quality natural stone pays off in the long run. Cheap varieties are prone to flaking and chipping that will shorten the lifespan of your flooring and cause it to look aged sooner.

Not sure which flooring material is best for your kitchen?

Come talk with our flooring experts at Fitzgerald Home Furnishings – we’re more than just a furniture store! Our flooring department has an incredible selection of premium flooring brands, materials, and styles to choose from. We’ll help you make the best choice for your home, style, and budget. For expert help ask for Gil or Frank in our flooring department.