You put your kitchen floor through a lot. Between spills and drips, heat and dropped utensils, as well as the constant plod of feet, the flooring in this space has to be able to handle multiple hazards and look good doing it. Not every material will be ideal for this location, and some will last longer, with less maintenance, than others will. Balancing style, function, and comfort is the key to making the right choice.
Ceramic Kitchen Tile
These durable flooring materials are manufactured to be hard, resilient, and impervious to water and stains. They are resistant to heat and breakage, and under normal conditions can last indefinitely, with little change to their appearance or function over years and decades. Ceramic tiles are also available in numerous colors, faux natural patterns, as well as sizes, shapes, and even mosaics, giving you a wealth of design options.
Durable Concrete Kitchens
If you have a ground level kitchen then concrete can be another inexpensive and long lasting option for you. In some cases, a concrete slab will already be in place beneath existing floor coverings. This surface can then be polished, stained, or treated in a variety of ways to make it stylish and attractive for the kitchen. If there is not a slab already available then a new pour can be done over a variety of subfloor surfaces.
Natural Stone Kitchen Tile
Hard as a rock, natural stone actually is rock, making it a durable, long lasting flooring solution for the kitchen. The drawback to stone is that it is porous, and is therefore susceptible to water and liquid stain penetration, a common problem in the kitchen. However annual application of a quality below surface chemical stone sealer can create an invisible coat of protection over the stone, preventing these issues.
Different types of stone will have different properties as far as hardness, scratch resistance, and long-term durability. Slate and granite, if properly sealed and maintained, can easily last for decades. Travertine and sandstone will be more likely to wear over time, but can still last for many years, and marble, especially polished marble, will be the quickest to degrade with scratches and stains.
Hardwood Kitchen Flooring
Hardwood flooring is going to have some problems with water and stains in the kitchen. Naturally, the material is very porous, and relatively soft compared to hard tile alternatives. However, if treated with a quality polyurethane-based finish a hardwood floor can be a good, durable, and long lasting solution in the kitchen.
With hardwood in a kitchen, you are going to see the material change and degrade somewhat over time. As spills and splatters occur there will be inevitable stains. However, some people like the aged look of a well-used hardwood floor, finding the personality in the defects to be better than its original perfection. At the same time, you always have the option of refinishing the floor to make it look brand new once more.
Similar to hardwood in look and feel, bamboo is slightly harder, and more resistant to moisture and water damage, which can make it a better option in the kitchen.
The drawback to bamboo is that it is harder to refinish it because there is no natural grain direction to the material. While it is possible, it will usually require the assistance of a professional.
Linoleum Kitchen Sheet and Tiles
Linoleum is a material that was very popular in kitchens 50 years ago, and which is making a comeback today. Made from all natural linseed oil, linoleum is environmentally friendly, easy to clean and maintain, and if properly cared for an installation can last for upwards of 40 years.
The drawback to linoleum kitchen flooring is that this material is susceptible to damage if it is immersed in water. During normal everyday use it should be fine, but if a flood occurs from an appliance breaking or a pipe bursting then the entire installation can be ruined. You also have to avoid low-quality bargain basement linoleum options as they can curl when faced with humidity.
Vinyl is one of the easiest and most versatile kitchen flooring solutions. This man-made manufactured material is nearly impervious to stains, damage, and water issues, and cleaning it is as easy as keeping it free of debris with sweeping, vacuuming, or regular mopping.
Some vinyl manufacturers will offer warranties on this material that run up to 20 years. In truth, while this material can last that long, it usually begins to wear and fade after about 7-10 years of active use in a kitchen.