Every room in your home deserves practical, durable, and beautiful flooring that suits your style. The kitchen is no exception. This room is the heart of the home, an important space for cooking, socializing, working and entertaining. It experiences a heap of foot traffic, many spills, frequent stains, temperature fluctuations and continual cleaning. You want the flooring in this room to be easy to maintain, comfortable to walk on and be able to last for years. Your kitchen floor has a big job to accomplish! So what is the best flooring for a kitchen? Which flooring choice meets your needs, goals and budget? The following is information about a variety of types, materials, colours, styles and textures available for your kitchen. The options are vast!
What should I consider when shopping for kitchen flooring?
- Durability: Do you have children and/or pets? Do you spill sauce, drop pans and splash oil often? What type of wear and tear will your kitchen floor encounter? These questions help you decide the durability you require in your choice of flooring.
- Style sense: Choose flooring that complements the style of your kitchen, whether it’s rustic, contemporary or country. Consider the colours, textures and patterns already present in the room in your walls, cabinets, and counters.
- Comfort: Look for flooring with a bit of softness and resilience. You want it to be comfortable to stand on for long periods.
- Ease of cleaning: Kitchen floors get grimy! Choose a material that’s easy to clean as well as water and stain-resistant.
- Cost: Choose flooring that you can afford, taking into account delivery, installation, possible underlay and removal/disposal of the old floor.
What types of flooring can I choose from?
Natural stone (granite/slate/marble) comes in a variety of colours and patterns and has plenty of character. It’s durable, long-lasting, easy to clean and not slippery. However, stone is pricey, expensive to repair when chipped and needs to be sealed following installation and re-sealed at regular intervals. With proper care stone is a beautiful and tough surface for your kitchen. Avoid limestone (tends to scratch) and travertine (is porous).
Porcelain tile comes glazed or unglazed. Glazed tiles come with a glass-like coating that can be made in any colour and can look like just about anything, including fabrics and marble. Unglazed tiles have the natural earthy colour of the clays used to make them. Porcelain tiles are waterproof, durable, can handle just almost any stain and some are certified to be slip-resistant. However, installation is difficult (requiring specialized tools) and your subfloor must be completely level.
Ceramic tiles are made from clay and baked to a finish. They’re available in a wide variety of styles, shapes, colours, and patterns. Ceramic tiles handle spills, splatters, and messes. However, the grout used with these tiles stains, so clean up spills quickly. Ceramic has the least amount of options as far as looks but it’s extremely durable and has the lowest price-point in the tile market. Installation is difficult and requires specialized tools and the subfloor must be completely level. The glazed pattern and/or colour on this tile can be chipped, revealing the natural colour beneath.
Hardwood is warm, beautiful, stylish and comfortable underfoot. It never goes out of style! This flooring combines durability with low maintenance. Properly finished hardwood is water-resistant but spills should be wiped up immediately. Hardwood floors can be slippery but some styles have hand-scraped or distressed finishes that provide extra surface area for traction. This choice of flooring is reasonably expensive and must be installed over a plywood subfloor. Depending on the thickness of your hardwood, you can sand and refinish your floors for an updated look, no need to replace the whole floor. Reclaimed, recycled, and environmentally sustainable choices are also available.
Engineered wood has a veneer of real wood backed by a layer of plywood or high-density fiberboard, making the planks stable and the flooring less susceptible to humidity and temperature. It’s less expensive than hardwood, features a scratch-proof finish, is easy to clean, durable and can be refinished when you need a new look. However, it is susceptible to fading, dents and scratches easily and may contain toxic chemicals. Keep in mind that, because the wood layer is relatively thin, there is a limit to the number of times you can refinish it successfully. Nail, staple, glue or even float engineered wood floors. Installation is a breeze!
Cork is waterproof, resilient and gives when compressed, making it a comfortable choice for kitchen floors. It has a textured surface, offering some slip resistance and, since it is made from tree bark that grows back, it’s a sustainable material. Cork comes prefinished, but needs to be resealed every 3 to 4 years to help prevent scratches and stains. Cork is naturally resistant to mould, mildew and termites and repels dust, hair, and other small particles from its surface. Because it doesn’t off-gas or shed microfibers, cork floors promote higher indoor air quality. Cork is also a natural thermal and acoustic insulator, which means rooms with cork flooring are warm and quiet. It resists cracking and abrasions and is impermeable to gas and liquid. It can be installed on uneven surfaces or over existing flooring. This material has one of the longest lifespans of any kitchen flooring options, lasting up to 40 years with proper care and maintenance!
Linoleum is another green kitchen flooring option. It’s made from renewable, biodegradable cork powder and linseed oil and has no harmful VOCs. It’s a resilient flooring that comes in many patterns and colours, is available in sheets, tiles and panels, stands up well to foot traffic and is moisture-resistant. However, it’s a bit susceptible to staining. Lino can be installed over virtually any flat, dry, clean surface. It’s inherently antibacterial and antistatic, making it hygienic and easy to clean. It feels soft and comfortable underfoot. Make sure the product you purchase has a protective coating to guard against scratches and spills.
Luxury vinyl is 100% synthetic and comes in sheets, tiles and planks. The base layer is usually fiberglass, coated with PVC and a plasticizer. The resultant flooring is printed and embossed with a surface print (stone, wood, many patterns). Over this are placed multiple wear layers with a no-wax polyurethane topping. Vinyl offers a variety of styles and colours for those on a budget. It’s waterproof, stain proof, feels slightly soft underfoot and deadens sound. You can peel and stick, glue (permanently), lock and float, or loose lay vinyl. It’s a tough, durable flooring solution and can last up to 20 years. However, vinyl has a tendency to warp to any particles left beneath during installation, is not biodegradable and heavy furniture can result in scuffs and gouges that are difficult to remove.
Laminate is similar to luxury vinyl planks in look and method of installation. However, its core is made from wood byproducts bonded with resins. The surface is a hard, transparent plastic layer that covers the printed design. Laminate floors are warm, water-resistant, scratch-resistant, durable, easy to install, come in a variety of finishes, a diverse range of styles, colours, and patterns and are inexpensive. Mimicking hardwood colours and patterns is one of the selling features of laminate. Hand-scraped, distressed, rustic, and reclaimed looks are available. Most laminate floors can be clicked together and either permanently installed (glued down) or floated over uneven subfloors. Laminate is very easy to clean and maintain. Because laminate is an image, you cannot refinish your floors. This means when it’s time for a change, you will need to buy all new flooring. Laminate doesn’t degrade well in landfills and some options are made with chemicals such as formaldehyde which can release volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Many feet pass through your kitchen! Your flooring is exposed to moisture, spills, heat and scratches. Because the kitchen is a coveted room, the flooring needs to match its esteem while standing up to its use. Consider your kitchen flooring options carefully before buying. Make sure your choice meets your needs, matches your style and fits in your budget. Then enjoy your new kitchen!
Looking for quality flooring for your kitchen? Contact Smith Bros. Floors, one of Canada’s oldest flooring companies; family-owned and operated. We use industry-leading flooring and finishes because we want your flooring to last! With a tested crew of installers and finishers and a lifetime guarantee on workmanship and longevity, Smith Bros. quality cannot be beaten! Call us at 403-255-7791 for a free consultation.