Buying new flooring is a big investment, (oh yeah!) especially if you have an open floorplan, then you may be re-doing several rooms at once.
Since this is a decision you'll have to live with for a long time, maybe even 40 years, it pays to do a little investigating.
What's the best kitchen flooring? Only you can decide that and it totally depends on your needs, be they kid friendly, pet friendly, budget friendly, etc.
On this page, I'll talk about the pros and cons of wood flooring for kitchens, why it's better to get "pre-finished" hardwood rather than doing it the old fashioned way, what to watch for, and a testimonial to vinyl floors.
And, since kitchen floor coverings is such a huge topic, there's a whole other page dedicated to kitchen floor tile ideas.
You can go to flooring showrooms, and look at magazines, but more importantly is to be observant when you visit homes of friends and family.
Ask them what they like, or don't like about their floors. This information is much more valuable because they've lived with it.
Now, lets try a little visualization. I want you to picture kitchen floor coverings in your mind. Visualizing is much easier when you're active in the process, for example: See yourself scrambling eggs, what are you standing on? When you walk around your ideal kitchen, what does it look like? How does it feel? Next, picture your family coming in with muddy shoes, or the dog's water dish getting knocked over. Are you calm, or freaking out because of your new floors?
When it comes to kitchen floor coverings, wood looks great with all types of home decor, as long as you choose the right color and style. Smooth = more modern. Rustic = wavy, distressed, or reclaimed.
In this kitchen remodel photo, light colored flooring is paired with darker cabinets. If you had all white, or light colored cabinetry, then darker kitchen flooring can look fantastic. There's a great example of this under galley kitchen designs.
If you like the look of wood, but aren't sure which types make the best kitchen flooring, weigh all the options. Many people choose wood, or laminate flooring because it tends to be easier on your legs, and warmer on your bare feet, as opposed to ceramic tiles or stone. If you live in a hot climate, you may prefer tile because it stays cooler.
The biggest drawback when it comes to kitchen floor coverings made of real wood is the water factor and no matter how well you seal hard wood floors, even small leaks from your dishwasher, refrigerator, or sink, can cause stains that penetrate the wood. Be extra vigilant in fixing leaks of any kind, and don't forget about pet messes and spills from water bowls.
Water can also get in under doors and ruin your kitchen floor coverings. A friend had to replace a brand new floating wood floor because rain blew under the patio doors, causing the whole thing to buckle. I'm not trying to scare you off wood. My hope it that these stories will keep you on the lookout, so you can avoid a similar disaster.
Kitchen floor coverings made of engineered wood fare a little better with water and humidity, and can be used in basements, but laminate "wood look" products are actually better in that regard.
If you're concerned about water, then take a look Allure Flooring. Their Ultra Flooring is touted as 100% waterproof, has a lifetime residential warranty, and seems easy enough for DIY'ers. Of course it's great for kitchens, but it's an excellent choice for basements and bathrooms where real wood isn't recommended.
Contractors can also be a wealth of information, especially ones that install floors all day long, just make sure they're recommending the best kitchen floor for your budget, and your lifestyle.
This kitchen doesn't look dark despite darker kitchen floor coverings and perimeter cabinetry. What makes it work is the combination of lighter elements to balance the dark, such as: warm faux paint finishes on walls and cathedral ceilings, backsplash tiles designs, and kitchen islands design.
Having stained and sealed hardwood floors myself, and without a respirator, I can tell you, it's awful! (never again!) Trying to keep the floor clean was challenging enough without pieces of my hair falling into the wet polyurethane. Talk about a DNA sample!
My mom had her sights on new wood floors and did a lot of homework on the different types of kitchen floor coverings, from pre-finished, to engineered wood, and laminate wood flooring.
"Pre-finished" hardwood floors turned out to be the best kitchen flooring for their needs, and here's why:
It's ability to be sanded and refinished multiple times. With high traffic, a dog and a whole lot a dirt outside, anything else wouldn't last.
Ease of installation, since you forgo sanding, staining and sealing, bad fumes, and you can walk on it right away.
The warranty is actually longer on their pre-finished flooring than if it was unfinished wood, because it's finished in the factory, under ideal conditions. (bet their wearing hair nets and those little booties)
They were able to install this right over the old vinyl tiles, with the help of an underlayment, except in an area where there were loose tiles.
Lastly, they found a beautiful cinnamon color that added just enough warmth to balance the white paint on the kitchen cabinets without darkening the room (which was the problem with the old floor)
Installing new kitchen floor coverings had another unexpected benefit. Because the wood planks run the length of the room and down the hallway, it visually elongates the space, making it appear much larger than before. The old flooring with its random brick pattern was so dark and busy, that it actually shrunk the space.
Laminate wooden flooring and stone laminate floor tiles may be the best flooring option for pets that have an incontinence problem, doggie diapers being another. For occasional pet messes, remove all traces of it with a good enzyme product.
One product to check is out if you decide to go with laminate wood floors is Shaw Silent Step 3 in 1 Underlayment. It acts a moisture barrier, provides support/cushioning, and has a more realistic wood sound when walking on it.
My mom just replaced her kitchen floor coverings after 38 years and it wasn't because it was worn out. There were a few tiles popping up, but that could have easily been fixed, in fact, the ones that were salvaged were given to a friend to be re-used.
So what was the reason for getting a new floor? Truth be told, after close to 40 years, she just got tired of looking at it. You may be saying, "Tell me who made that indestructible floor". It was my grandfather who recommended these Kentile 9" x 9" solid vinyl tiles to my mom back in the 70's. He also managed a tile store for 55 years, so he knew his stuff.
Vinyl tiles today look so realistic, plus their pet friendly and durable. Consider using them for kitchens, bathrooms, mud rooms, laundry rooms, or sun rooms.
Saving Wood Floors From Pet Urine
Did you ever walk into someone's house and smell ammonia? Urine! Homeowners who live with this situation get immune to the smell, but their guests can't wait to get out of there.
My sister got a great deal on a house because the previous owners had 3 Dogs that trashed the place, and no one could stand the ammonia smell. After taking up the carpets she noticed there was hardwood flooring underneath, but they had become blackened from all the pet urine soaking through.
I was able to help her get rid of the smell with a gallon of special enzyme cleaner. After pouring it over the affected area and letting it soak in overnight, it was almost tolerable the next day, and within a few days, it was gone. That's because the enzymes eat the odor causing bacteria. She chose to carpet over it, not knowing how deep the stains were, but there's always the option to refinish those floors down the road.
Another small thing that can cause big damage to wood or laminate floors is sharp little nails. Make sure to regularly trim your pets nails to avoid scratching your new floors.
Cork and Bamboo are both very green because they grow so fast, preserve forests, and they're very comfortable to stand on. You still need to be vigilant about moisture though, because these floors can also warp.
When going over a concrete slab, I urge you to use a waterproof membrane designed for this type of installation OR, seal the concrete. Don't expect that the glue will do that for you, and if they tell you it will, don't believe the hype! Nothing should go down over bare concrete, because vapors and moisture can transfer from the ground up. Just ask people who have Radon problems.
I'm a big fan of recycled rubber flooring which is a great option for kitchens, basements, garages, game rooms, etc.
Would you like to know more about stone or tile for kitchen floor coverings? Then visit my kitchen floor tile ideas, where you'll find lots of great info, plus my special fix for chipped or cracked floor tiles.