A Guide to Flooring OptionsJuly 12, 2017
Your kitchen flooring is more than just an aesthetic choice. The type of flooring options you choose can change how enjoyable it is to work and clean in your kitchen. It can also make your kitchen remodel more expensive. That’s why it’s necessary to know the different types and their advantages and disadvantages. Here’s what you need to know.
If you need a durable kitchen floor, tile is the way to go. Tiles can come in a wide array of colors and are relatively easy to install. Tiles are also the flooring of choice in commercial kitchens because of they are durable, easy to clean, resist staining, and can be slip resistant depending on the style.
Tiles come in two main types and two main styles. Ceramic tiles are made using normal clays, while porcelain tiles are made out of harder porcelain clays. Porcelain tiles are much less susceptible to staining and are harder than ceramic. Both kinds of tiles can be glazed or unglazed. Unglazed tiles show off the natural color of the tile but have less durability and stain resistance. Glazed tiles can be any color you like. For most kitchens, it’s best to go with glazed.
Tile does have its downsides. While it’s easy to clean tiles, it can be quite troublesome to clean up every bit of dirt in the grout lines between tiles. The hardness of tile can also make it difficult to stand on for hours on end. But you’ll never have to wax or strip tiling and it’s very unlikely that a tile will break.
Hardwood flooring is an excellent choice for the kitchen. It’s beautiful and comfortable to stand on. It also looks great in an open floor plan where you have hardwood extending into both rooms. Done this way, your flooring can make your kitchen part of a larger space.
Hardwood flooring is also much easier to install these days. There are engineered hardwood floors that snap into place and are more durable than traditional hardwood floors.. Oak is the most common hardwood flooring type, but there are others. Depending on the wood and if you want fancy features like parquet, the cost of a hardwood floor can go up fast.
The main enemy of a hardwood floor is moisture. Spills have to be quickly cleaned up to prevent staining. Hardwood floors also need to be waxed to maintain durability and spill resistance. This wax will need to be stripped periodically to prevent buildup.
While less common in a kitchen, cork may be an ideal substance that balances some of the problems of hardwood and tile. Cork is a type of wood that grows very fast, unlike traditional hardwoods, making it a green resource. It is also quite slip-resistant.
Cork has a natural softness that makes it much easier on the feet than tile. It also doesn’t need to be resealed as often as hardwood. Every 3-5 years is the usual timeframe. You still have to watch for staining, but cork is much more water resistant. You can also get it in planks or tiles. The big downside of cork is durability. Dragging a heavy appliance across the floor, dropping a knife, or even walking on it with the wrong shoes (think high heels or cleats) can damage it.
A compromise solution between cork and hardwood flooring is bamboo flooring. Bamboo is as sustainable as cork is, but has a stronger durability than cork. Bamboo flooring is a relatively new type of flooring option, but it’s great as a green solution for your kitchen flooring.
Surprised? Concrete flooring is taking off in kitchens thanks to a variety of new sealers that can come in any color you like. Out of any flooring style, this is the most durable and easiest to maintain. The sealant makes spills and stains no trouble and the need to reseal is very rare. It’s also as easy to clean as hosing off your driveway. Also, if you have radiant heating in your home, a concrete kitchen floor could be used as a heat sink to lower energy costs.
Its one major disadvantage is that it’s so hard that you may not want to stand on it for hours cooking or cleaning, but a rubber mat in front of the sink or stove may be all you need to overcome that problem.
Vinyl flooring is the most cost-effective flooring, and as far as flooring materials go it’s quite a good choice. Vinyl is spill and stain-proof, can be printed in any color, easy to install, and has few seams. It’s also a bit soft depending on how thick you make it. You can also drop things on it without it scratching, though dragging something heavy across it could tear it. It can even mimic other flooring types, but not perfectly.
However, it is probably the least-green flooring option out there. It’s basically a thick plastic sheet that’s glued to the floor. Also, it can look as cheap as it is depending on the pattern. Installing a vinyl floor isn’t going to increase the sale value of your home unless your current flooring is trashed.
Linoleum tiles are like a cross between traditional tiles floors and cork floors. It is made of a mixture of wood flour, linseed oil, and natural binders to create a resilient tile that’s not as hard as ceramic, but similarly durable to foot traffic. All materials used in linoleum are biodegradable, so this is an eco-friendly option.
Linoleum tiles do need to have a protective coating and most tiles come with this pre-installed. It is also possible to dent a linoleum floor and it can change color if it is exposed to too much sunlight. But it is easier to clean and you don’t have to worry about grout lines.
As you can see, there are many choices out there for your kitchen flooring with a variety of advantages and disadvantages. Hopefully, this guide has helped you to narrow down your options before you talk with your kitchen designer and visit the flooring store.