When you are looking to install or replace the floor in your kitchen, the choice needs to reflect your lifestyle (married with children, empty nester, single, etc.). This room is a high traffic area in which your family probably spends a lot of time. Style should not be an issue, as all flooring options offer a wide variety of colors and patterns from which to choose, but you do need to consider each floor’s durability, maintenance needs, comfort, and cost.
Consider the following primary factors when selecting flooring options for your kitchen.
1. The impact of moisture or water spills for each flooring option. Most floors will survive if a spill is quickly mopped up and not allowed to pool. Waterproof Flooring means the flooring itself is 100% waterproof. Even after a flood, the flooring itself will be fine and able to be re-installed. However, the subfloor beneath a waterproof floor is not waterproof. Liquid that eventually seeps between planks could get to your subfloor, so spills should still be handled responsibly (This isn’t a sneaky way of implying, “So, don’t spill!” We just mean “Don’t leave them unattended.”).
2. Which floor is best able to handle a high level of traffic? Most first quality flooring comes with a Factory Warranty. You should review the warranty for any floor you consider buying, considering:
– the type of coverage (residential or commercial)
– what is covered
– the length of your coverage
– how a claim would be processed
Several flooring options are discussed below, ranked in preference order from first to last based on the factors noted above.
Vinyl Planks and Vinyl Tile Flooring ($1-5 per sf) will duplicate the look of stone, wood, and ceramic tile, with embossed finishes providing true textures. These Floors are easy to clean, easy to install, and easy to repair. Vinyl Flooring is also 100% waterproof. Most vinyl is durable depending on the thickness of its wear layer (2-20 mil, with 20 mil even being good enough for light commercial use). Sheet Vinyl is durable, practical, easy to install, and an inexpensive option. It is waterproof, and because there are no seams your subfloor is also protected from spills, except around the baseboards. However, it does puncture easily, can fade in sunlight, and may begin to show wear over time.
Ceramic Tile ($2-8 per sf) and Natural Stone ($15-30 per sf) are great options. Both floors can stand up to high traffic, and almost any activity your children can initiate. They are also fairly easy to maintain, though they do require periodic sealing on a regular basis. They can also be cold underfoot, and slippery when wet. This flooring is subject to cracks when items are dropped on it. The main concern would be with the grout, which can hold moisture and dirt, and could become a home for mold.
Laminate Flooring ($1-4 per sf) is durable, practical, and easy to install. Laminate flooring requires little maintenance, and many laminate floors are scratch, fade, and wear resistant due to their aluminum oxide top coating. This coating makes laminate the only non-stone floor that isn’t usually destroyed by high heels, so they are an excellent match for high traffic if they have an AC Rating of 3 or above. Laminate floors require padding underneath, and this provides both the acoustic and thermal insulation often desired in a kitchen. Some laminate flooring is Water Resistant in that not only is the wear layer designed to keep water on the surface, but a liquid sealer is run between planks when installing. This can keep unattended, spilled water from soaking into the board itself.
Cork ($2-12 per sf ) is a viable alternative, as it provides a comfortable surface on which to work, has good acoustic insulation, and contains a natural substance that guards against bacterial issues. But, while cork is durable, high traffic may cause a constant level of sweeping and vacuuming, in addition to resealing on a regular basis. It’s a pretty high maintenance floor.
Carpet ($0.69 – 3.99 sf) and Hardwood ($2-12 per sf depending on solid or engineered) are the least desirable floors for a kitchen. Even stain resistant carpet requires substantial maintenance for sanitation purposes, and is very absorbent (causing mold and other bacterial issues when it comes to spills). Carpet also does not wear well in a high traffic environment. Hardwood is definitely a designer choice, adding value to your home, and depending on the species you choose, hardwood may stand up very well to high traffic (no heels though). However, moisture and liquid spills can cause damage when not cleaned up in a timely manner. Hardwood can dent and scratch easily, and requires regular refinishing. It is a hard surface that can be uncomfortable to spend a lot of time standing on. Bamboo ($4-9 per sf) also usually falls into this category. It is more comfortable than hardwood when standing for longer periods. While dense enough to stand up to high traffic, and a low maintenance product that requires no special care, it can warp due to its lack of moisture resistance to spills or high humidity.
All Flooring options all have pros and cons, and will you need to determine what is important to you and your lifestyle when making your selection. Feel free to consult with our qualified flooring specialists should you have any questions regarding your selection.