Kitchen floors go through a lot of wear and tear. Between spills and drips, heat and dropped utensils, as well as the constant plod of feet, the flooring in this space needs to handle multiple hazards and look good while doing it. Not every material is well suited for this location, and some kitchen flooring options will last longer than others and with less maintenance. Balancing style, function, and comfort is the key to making the right choice.
Here are seven different kitchen flooring options to consider for one of the highest-traffic areas of your home.
01 of 07
Hardwood is by nature a very durable flooring material in most areas of the home. But, for many years, hardwood was considered a poor choice for bathrooms and kitchens, where moisture is often an issue. The perception has changed a bit for hardwood flooring thanks to modern sealers and polyurethane finishes that make the material more durable and longer-lasting for moisture-prone areas.
You still need to have caution when choosing hardwood flooring for a kitchen. Whether it's solid hardwood planks or engineered wood flooring featuring a hardwood veneer, the material will naturally be more susceptible to moisture problems and stains than other flooring materials. Here are a few other pros and cons to hardwood in the kitchen:
- Pros: Hardwood is softer underfoot, it's good for resale value, and it can be sanded and refinished to make it look new if becomes too aged.
- Cons: Hardwood can easily dent and become scratched from embedded grit, it's difficult for DIYers to install, and it's expensive
Hardwood flooring in a kitchen will change and degrade somewhat over time as spills, splatters, and stains occur. But, if you like the personality of a well-used hardwood floor, you may prefer hardwood in a kitchen.
02 of 07
Bamboo flooring looks and feels like hardwood, but it's actually harder than hardwood. Bamboo flooring can look different depending on its color, grain, and pattern. The manufacturing process of turning bamboo into flooring makes the material more resistant to moisture and water damage. Bamboo is becoming an increasingly popular choice for kitchens since it's considerably more durable than wood.
There are three types of bamboo flooring:
- Strand woven: the most durable and expensive solid bamboo flooring, made of pulped bamboo that is pressed and formed into very dense blocks of material and formed into planks
- Engineered bamboo: flooring planks topped by a layer of bamboo and a waterproof coating
- Solid bamboo: processed by bonding sliced bamboo together, this solid bamboo may not be ideal for kitchens where moisture is present
Bamboo flooring can be somewhat more expensive than hardwood. It's also more difficult to refinish because there's no natural grain direction to the material. While refinishing bamboo flooring may be possible, it usually requires the assistance of a professional.
03 of 07
Ceramic tile is made from natural clay that's then shaped, glazed, and fired under extreme heat. It's a hard and durable flooring material that's impervious to water and stains, making it an ideal kitchen flooring option. Ceramic tile is also resistant to heat and breakage. Under normal conditions, ceramic tile can last indefinitely with little change to its appearance or function over time.
Ceramic tiles are also available in numerous colors and patterns and can take on the look of other materials, such as wood and stone. Tiles can be made in all shapes and sizes to give you a wealth of design options. If you can't find a ceramic tile in the color or design you'd like, it's perfectly fine to look for its cousin, porcelain tile, which is also suitable kitchen-flooring material, though it can be a bit more brittle.
The drawbacks to ceramic tile are few. It can be hard and cold underfoot. You do have the option of remedying that by installing a radiant heating system beneath the tiles.
04 of 07
If you live in a home that doesn't have a basement and your kitchen is at ground level, concrete may be another flooring option. It's an inexpensive and long-lasting material. You may already have a concrete slab underneath your existing kitchen floor just waiting to be exposed. If there's not a concrete slab already in place, a new pour can be done over a variety of subfloor surfaces.
A concrete floor surface can then be polished, stained, or creatively treated in a variety of ways to turn it into a low-maintenance and stylish work of art. Concrete floors are especially appropriate in modern kitchens.
There are a couple of drawbacks to concrete flooring. The material can be hard and cold underfoot, just like ceramic tile. You may not like the unique look of concrete flooring because it can exude an urban or industrial aesthetic, which can be a challenge when trying to sell your home.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
Natural Stone Tile
Natural stone is one of the most popular, durable, and long-lasting kitchen flooring options available. It signals luxury, and a kitchen with a natural stone floor is often a draw for buyers when it comes time to sell your home.
Different types of stone will have different properties, such as hardness, scratch resistance, and long-term durability. The flooring options in this category include:
- Granite: comes in tiles for flooring and slabs for countertops and is known for its attractive veining and durability over decades if sealed and maintained
- Limestone: a soft and pretty tile typically used for countertops, it's too soft for busy kitchens but can be used for accents in low-traffic areas
- Marble: known for its elegant veining, but polished marble may be easily scratched and stained
- Sandstone: known for its soft multicolored look, it's not the longest-wearing natural stone but does wear well enough in kitchens
- Slate: one of the most sophisticated stones that can last for decades when sealed and maintained
- Travertine: known for its Old World style and textured surface, it's not the longest-wearing natural stone
The drawback to stone is that it is porous and therefore susceptible to water and liquid stain penetration, which is a common problem in the kitchen. An annual application of a quality penetrating stone sealer can create an invisible coat of protection over the stone. Sealers need to be reapplied regularly.
06 of 07
Linoleum was a favored kitchen and bathroom flooring option up through the 1960s. It faded from popularity as other flooring options were introduced. Today, it's making a comeback and proving to be a contender with vinyl flooring options.
Made from all-natural linseed oil, linoleum is environmentally friendly, is easy to clean and maintain, comes in a wide variety of neutral and vivid colors, and comes in elegant designs that include borders and insets. If properly cared for, linoleum flooring can last for decades.
Linoleum kitchen flooring is susceptible to damage if it's immersed in water as a result of a leak or flood. You'll also avoid the problem of curling edges if you opt for the highest quality linoleum flooring.
07 of 07
Vinyl is one of the easiest and most versatile kitchen flooring solutions. This manmade material is nearly impervious to stains, damage, and water issues. Cleaning it with a quick sweep, mop, or vacuum keeps the floor spotless.
Vinyl is among the most inexpensive and DIY-friendly of all flooring materials to install. It's a popular choice for busy high-traffic kitchens, especially those that see a lot of family use. However, expect to replace it every decade or so, as it wears and fades fast with heavy use.
If you're used to older sheet or tile styles of vinyl flooring, you'll be pleased to learn about LVF, which stands for luxury vinyl flooring. This new generation of vinyl flooring is available in tiles and planks. The high-quality material can last up to two decades and comes in styles that can mimic wood or stone in remarkably convincing ways. Luxury vinyl is often installed in upscale homes.