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Picking The Right Flooring For Your Kitchen

Your kitchen is the heart of your home. It's where you prepare and serve your family's meals, celebrate holidays and special occasions. It stands to reason that the floor in this busy room has to stand up to heavy foot traffic, dropped dishes, and of course, spills. But this is not just a practical decision. For as much time as you and your loved ones will spend in the kitchen, your style and personal tastes should also play a role in picking your flooring. How to choose?

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Floors in any room are going to take a beating, but kitchen floors are notorious for bearing the brunt of the foot traffic in the home. Since the kitchen is typically the busiest spot in the house, it's important to find a kitchen floor that can handle abuse and still make a stylistic statement that will last for years.

In order to pick the perfect surface for your kitchen floor, start by asking yourself a few questions about your needs and your lifestyle.

Questions on the Floor

How many people will be using the kitchen on a regular basis? Will your kitchen floor be exposed to moisture on a regular basis? How often do you anticipate needing to clean your kitchen floor? How long do you expect your kitchen flooring to last?

Questions on your Lifestyle

How big is your family? Do you have children (Remember children, especially small children can do more damage to flooring than you may think.)? Do you have pets? Do you entertain regularly?

Other things to consider before choosing your flooring:

  • Your Style Sense—I'm guessing your kitchen already has some overriding design scheme. You may have a modern kitchen with stainless steel appliances and cutting-edge fixtures. You might have a rustic space with eclectic furniture. Make sure that the options you're considering for your flooring align with your existing colors, textures, and patterns.
  • Comfort—Other than sitting down to enjoy a meal, most of the time you spend in your kitchen will be spent standing up. This means you'll be looking for a floor that's comfortable. You need a material that is soft and resilient.
  • Cost—Take a few minutes to crunch the numbers and come up with a realistic flooring budget. Remember that most of the materials are priced by the square foot. This means to get an accurate estimate of what you project will cost you need to measure your kitchen and get an idea of square footage. You'll likely incur additional costs, even if you're installing the floor yourself. If you're having it professionally installed, expect more added charges. These may include underlayment, delivery, installation, and removal and disposal of your old kitchen floor.
  • Ease of Cleaning—Never choose your flooring based on appearance alone. Food spills and tracked-in dirt will be par for the course. Consider how difficult or easy your flooring will be to maintain. Ideally, you want a material that isn't prone to staining, is easy to clean, and is water resistant.

As with any decision, one of the first steps is to do your homework. Before you make your choice, know your options. There are several different materials you can use for your kitchen flooring. Understanding the benefits and drawbacks of each option will make your final decision much easier.

Your Options

Ceramic Tile

You can find ceramic tile in many different colors and styles. There are even decorative borders and designs available. In fact, there are multiple ways to customize your tile with colors and patterns. Cleaning the tile itself is simple with a damp mop. Some kinds of tile can be hard to maintain because of the surrounding grout. Ceramic tile isn't the easiest on your legs and it's definitely unforgiving if you happen to drop a dish!

Natural Stone

Stone is an excellent choice for heavy traffic areas. It's also durable and requires little day-to-day maintenance. Some of the available options in stone flooring are granite, limestone, marble, Travertine, slate, and stone tiles. Stone flooring is naturally cool, making the hard surface perfect for warm climates. It also doesn't harbor dust or allergens.

Solid Wood

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Wood floors can give a kitchen a very intimate and "homey" feeling. Timber flooring is a popular option and can go well with many different design styles and is typically easy on the legs. It's hard to generalize how long a wood floor will last, or how difficult it will be to maintain because the different types of wood vary. Many people worry that wood flooring may scratch, but if it can easily be sanded and refinished. You can also use a good protective finish, like polyurethane, to guard against the moisture that will undoubtedly affect your flooring.

Vinyl

Over the years, vinyl flooring has gotten a bad rap. Because some of the older styles were generic, even ugly, many people avoid vinyl as a flooring option. That's a shame because today, you can find a variety of styles and colors in either tiles or sheets to fit your budget. Peel-and-stick tiles are easy to install and comes in many different colors and patterns. One drawback to vinyl flooring is that the edges can curl.

Linoleum

Many folks confuse linoleum with vinyl. Linoleum is a 100% natural material made from several materials including linseed oil, resins, wood flour and more. It is a more eco-friendly material which is why linoleum is coming back in vogue.

Cork

In recent years, people have been attracted to cork flooring because it is all natural and sustainably harvested. Cork has a distinctive look and strong patterns and textures. Some of the benefits are that cork floors are durable, water-resistant, and reduce impact noise. It's available in lots of different colors.

Concrete

Concrete flooring isn't just for garages and basements anymore. Now, concrete is able to be stamped, stained, scored, even acid etched for visual flair. One drawback is that concrete floors are cold, unforgiving and easily stained since the material is porous.

Laminate

If you're thinking about getting wood flooring in your kitchen but are concerned about the cost, you may want to take a look at laminate. It's durable, easy to maintain, and comes factory-finished. That's part of the reason it is easy to install. You can even put it over you current flooring. One drawback is that laminate is somewhat noisy.

Bamboo

Even though bamboo looks like wood, it's really a type of grass. Even so, bamboo flooring is very durable. It's perfect for busy spaces and active families since it has a high density and is very sturdy. Compared to hardwood floors, bamboo is less expensive.

Rubber or Carpet

Many homeowners are opting for alternative floor coverings in their kitchens. Two of the most popular are carpet and rubber. Carpet? In the kitchen? I know you may be skeptical; however, carpet tiles can be used to make custom rugs, add softness, or accent certain areas of your kitchen. The backing inhibits mold and bacteria growth. Plus your carpet tiles are a snap to remove, rearrange, or replace. You can install springy and soft rubber sheets or tiles in a large assortment of colors, textures, and patterns. Rubber is water resistant, hard to burn, and easy to clean. Rubber-cork blends are also gaining popularity.

Helpful Tips

  1. Don't choose a material based on looks alone. Narrow your choices down to a few candidates and head down to your local flooring store or home center to check them out in person.
  2. Ask questions until you have all of the information you need to decide. Talk with representatives of the flooring company, installation companies, and friends, family, or coworkers that have had their kitchen floors redone. See what worked for them, what didn't, and why.
  3. When evaluating floor coverings, try to get a feel for how they floor treats your legs by standing on the floor.

Costs

All of the following cost estimates are for uninstalled materials. As mentioned earlier, most of the materials are priced by the square foot and you'll probably have some additional costs, even if you're installing the floor yourself

  • Ceramic Tile: About $3 to $8 per square foot
  • Natural Stone: About $15 to $30 per square foot
  • Solid Wood: About $4 to $12 per square foot
  • Vinyl: About $1 to $5 per square foot
  • Linoleum: About $4 to $7 per square foot, custom colors and patterns add to the price tag.
  • Cork: About $2 to $12 per square foot
  • Concrete: Getting a basic concrete floor installed from scratch can cost hundreds of dollars or thousands of dollars. The cost is dependent on several factors, including the size of your floor. Finishing treatments, like staining, stamping or etching, can run you anywhere from $2 per square foot to $15 and up per square foot.
  • Laminate: About $2 to $4 per square foot
  • Bamboo: About $4 to $9 per square foot
  • Rubber or Carpet: Carpet will run anywhere from .49 (in-stock, cheap) to $3 (TrafficMaster commercial grade) per square foot

Choosing the perfect flooring for your kitchen doesn't have to be a difficult process. Combine your personal taste with practical considerations to increase the chances you'll be satisfied with your new floor. Since there are advantages and disadvantages to each type of kitchen flooring, you'll have to weigh the pros and cons and choose the floor that's right for your kitchen.

Jessica Young a home designer, with over 18 years' experience, firmly believes flooring to your kitchen is very important, especially for resale purposes.

 
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