Kitchen floors are a large part of the investment in your kitchen and the choices are abundant. Reliable classic standbys and new-to-the-market materials and designs mean the possibilities for color and design are endless. In each category, there are options to fit every style, every lifestyle, and every budget. And there are many opportunities for DIYers!
Variety Is the Name of the Game
Vinyl’s reputation was sullied by talk of its peeling and lack of durability. New technology created luxury vinyl that makes it a beautiful, durable and economical choice. Sheet vinyl comes in a plethora of patterns and colors. Luxury vinyl plank (LVP) floors are an excellent impression of wood floors without the upkeep and moisture worries. Luxury vinyl tile (LVT) is frequently used in applications where a stone look is desired. Vinyl tiles are available in a multitude of colors and designs that mimic every conceivable material, making it easy for the DIYer to install. They lend themselves to creativity with patterns and designs. Vinyl kitchen floors are very comfortable to stand on and easy to maintain.
Linoleum is often confused with vinyl but is made from more sustainable materials: “Linoleum is a term used for a smooth floor covering made from a solidified mixture of linseed oil, flax, cork, wood flour and pigments, pressed between heavy rollers onto a canvas backing.” (Hagley Museum and Library)
This flooring is highly durable, and like vinyl, is waterproof. It is available as a sheet or as tiles and in hundreds of colors. The tiles are often used to create interesting patterns. Linoleum is also a soft comfortable kitchen floor underfoot and easily maintained. It carries a higher price tag than vinyl, but as they used to say, wears like iron.
Cork is becoming a popular kitchen floor choice because it is a sustainable and environmentally friendly product. It is very comfortable to stand on for long periods of time. Cork is more expensive with higher maintenance than vinyl and linoleum, requiring sealing. Cork is less durable than other flooring: the qualities that make it very comfortable also make it susceptible to dents from drop items and heels and scratches or tears from pets’ nails or chairs slide across the floor.
Laminate floors are gaining popularity because the quality is improving, and the available styles and colors mean there is a hardwood look alike for practically every hardwood option. There is a wide array of price points and is relatively easy to install. It is durable and easy to maintain. Like hardwood, laminate can be susceptible to scratches and moisture.
There is no argument: hardwood floors are beautiful! They can have a place in the kitchen but require vigilant attention to spilled liquids. Hardwood kitchen floors are more comfortable than tile or stone and add warmth to the space. They are higher maintenance and show wear in high-traffic areas. Hardwood is more expensive and not a great DIY option.
Ceramic and Porcelain Tile
Ceramic and porcelain tile kitchen floors are easy to maintain and basically waterproof. Style, color and design choices are endless. Not an inexpensive choice, and professional installation is recommended. Grout should periodically be resealed to maintain moisture resistance. Fatigue mats used in areas of prolonged standing to chop or stir make these floors a little more comfortable. They are susceptible to cracking if a heavy object is dropped.
This is perhaps the costliest kitchen floor material. Natural stone is beautiful and has many reasons to recommend it, but moisture-resistance isn’t one of them. Stone floors are susceptible to staining, so must be adequately sealed and maintained to retain their beauty. Stone floors are extremely durable, but like ceramic and porcelain tile, fatigue mats will make areas of prolonged standing more comfortable.
How To Choose Your Kitchen Floor
Here are some important questions to answer as you consider what material to choose:
- Lifestyle: Are you a busy family with kids and pets? You may want to consider lower maintenance options. Do you cook, bake or entertain a lot? A more comfortable flooring choice might be right for you.
- Personal style: While all these materials come in a wide variety of choices, some lend themselves more easily than others to creativity and more eclectic styles. Products that come as tiles, for example, or even sheet linoleum can be professionally installed in patterns.
- Budget: While most of these materials come in many price points, some have more opportunities for higher style at a budget-friendly cost. Vinyl and laminate especially fit this description.
- DIYers: LVP, LVT, and laminate are good choices to DIY. HOWEVER, as with any remodeling project, preparation is key. In the case of flooring, the subfloor must be perfect before installation of any of these floors.
Kitchen floors are literally the foundation to a kitchen remodel. Experienced kitchen designers can walk you through your flooring choices to avoid costly mistakes. Selecting the floor you love is the first step to the kitchen you love.