Kitchen Floors

floor

Choosing flooring is a lot like choosing countertops. Which type you choose depends on the style of your kitchen, the amount of use it will get, and the price. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages.

Vinyl, linoleum and carpet are the most comfortable underfoot. Laminate, vinyl and polyurethane-treated wood are the most durable. Stone and concrete look good and are also hard-wearing, but are also harder to clean.

Decide whether you want to install flooring under your removable appliances or around them (whichever you choose, make sure you can roll them out for repairs). Talk to your designer about this.

Vinyl

The most common kitchen flooring material, vinyl offers the best value and versatility. It is available in many patterns and colors, either inlaid, where the pattern and color runs through the material (most durable, works well in high traffic areas), or a with a surface-only printed design which is not as lasting. Make sure you buy the appropriate grade for the area it will be used in. It is easy to clean and is stain- and water-resistant. It comes in either sheet or tile form.

Advantages:

Nice ‘bouncy’ feel underfoot (dependent on thickness). Easy to install and keep clean. Large variety of color options. Durable.

Disadvantages:

Can stain if spills are left too long. Can peel up if not installed properly.

Price:

Ranges in price from $.70-$4.25 per square foot. Installation is between $1.35-$3.00 per square foot. Major brand names are Armstrong and Mannington.

Cleaning:

Sweep regularly and damp mop with a non-abrasive cleaner or an ammonia/water solution and rinse well.

Linoleum

What is the difference between vinyl and linoleum? Well, they look the same and come in sheets, but vinyl is synthetic and linoleum is a natural (and therefore Earth-friendly) material (felt or canvas coated with linseed oil, cork and resins). It is resistant to bacteria and is anti-static so it repels dirt and dust. It is durable, comfortable and easy to maintain. The material can be heat-welded to create graphic designs. It is available in patterns and solid colors.

Advantages:

Environmentally friendly. Comfortable underfoot. Durable.

Disadvantages:

Fewer color options than vinyl. Sometimes susceptible to water damage.

Price:

Starts at $4.00-$22.00 per square foot installed.

Cleaning:

Frequently sweep or vacuum, and mop up spills as soon as possible. Use the manufacturer approved cleaner to damp mop and let air dry. Do not use alkali-based cleaners.

Tile

Tile comes in a number of types, ceramic, porcelain and quarry. Ceramics are made from pressed clays and their surface is glazed with metallic oxides and ceramic stains, or finished with a matte finish. Porcelain tiles are baked at higher temperatures, which makes them thicker, and the color also goes through the whole tile (rather than just the surface as with ceramics). Quarry tiles are a mix of shale and clays but are unglazed, and again, the color goes through the whole tile.

Whichever type you choose, you will get spaces in between the tiles and this will be filled with grout. An epoxy grout is the best choice as it will resist stains. Most people choose a grout that nearly matches the color of the tiles. Darker grout will show less dirt.

Advantages:

Large selection of patterns and styles. Durable. Low maintenance. Heat (radiant) resistant.

Disadvantages:

Can be slippery if surface is too smooth (glazed and untextured). Unglazed tiles may need to be sealed. Not so soft underfoot. Can crack and will be hard to repair if you don’t have spares from the original batch.

Price:

Ceramic tile costs from $1.00-$100.00 per square foot plus another $7.00-$12.00 per square ft. for installation.

Cleaning:

Use a formulated tile and grout cleaner. Keep tiles dry so grout does not get mildew.

Laminate

Synthetic material that looks like natural wood or stone but with the low-maintenance and durability of vinyl. Laminate flooring is not glued down and can be laid over an existing floor (floating floor). It comes in strips or as square tiles.

Advantages:

It has great wearability, is stain resistant and easy to maintain. Durable for high-traffic areas. Easy clean-up. Looks like real wood but costs less.

Disadvantages:

When it (eventually) wears out you have to replace the whole floor (can’t refinish). Lamination can break down with water seepage. Not as smooth as real wood.

Price:

Ranges in price from $2.00-$10.00 per square ft., plus another $3.00-$4.00 per square ft. for installation. Some major brand names are Pergo, Mannington and Wilsonart.

Cleaning:

Sweep regularly and damp mop.


Wood

Real wood can be either oak or maple, sometimes pine and cherry, and can be stained in many different colors. It can either be laid raw and finished in your home with wax and oil, or purchased pre-finished. Polyurethane sealer can be applied onsite or at the factory for greater durability. It wears well and can be resanded and refinished. it is laid in planks or squares (parquet).

Advantages:

Easy to clean. A good variety of looks and finishes.

Disadvantages:

Can warp with water penetration. Maintenance is required for wax and oil finish (annually) but not so much for polyurethane (recoat every 5 years). Can be slippery (and can be hard) underfoot. Finish susceptible to fading and scratching (which may entail refinishing the whole floor).

Price:

Ranges in price from $5.00-$100.00 per sq. ft. plus an additional $3.00-$5.00 for installation. Major brand names include Boen, Mannington and Bruce.

Cleaning:

Wipe up spills immediately and follow manufactures directions. Never wax a urethane-finished floor. Always call a professional to recoat it when needed.

Cork

Manufactured from the bark of the cork oak tree and comes in a variety of brownish shades. Durable and comfortable to walk on. It is a great temperature and acoustic insulator. It can be used in kitchens when extra coats of urethane are applied to seal the joints. Available as a floating floor or as tiles which can be glued directly to the substrate. It is also available in rolls to be used as an underlayer for ceramic tile to create warmth underfoot and to decrease stress-cracking.

Advantages:

Natural and environmentally friendly. Easy to install and maintain.

Disadvantages:

Not as durable as some floors. Susceptible to water damage.

Price:

Prices at around $10.00 per square ft. plus installation.

Cleaning:

Apply any water-based cleaning product with a damp mop. Stains are easily wiped up.

Stone

Granite, slate and marble are the most common stones used for kitchen flooring. There is a lot of variation in color so make sure that you approve the stone at the manufacturer or distributor, rather than those you see in the showroom.

Advantages:

Very durable. Looks good.

Disadvantages:

Look and feel may not be to everyone’s taste. Can be expensive. Needs regular maintenance (sealants) to prevent stains. Can be slippery if not textured. Can chip.

Price:

Prices at around $10.00-$100.00 per square ft. plus installation.

Cleaning:

Various stone cleaning products are available (Marbalex, for example). Natural Soap or neutral pH detergent can be used. Check with the supplier.

Concrete

Concrete these days has changed from the gray, dull material it used to be. It is mix of cement, water, and sand or gravel that can have colors added to it, extremely durable and good at absorbing heat.

Advantages:

Very durable. Comes in a large variety of colors. Cheap but can look good.

Disadvantages:

Needs sealer. Also needs a sound floor (heavy). Hard.

Price:

Prices at around $15.00-$20.00 per square ft.

Cleaning:

Can be swept with a broom or mopped.

Carpet

Probably the least practical choice for a kitchen floor as it is neither durable or stain-resistant. A tight berber might work if it is made out of olefin. Comes in a roll or as tiles.

Advantages:

Soft and bouncy underfoot. Warm and quiet.

Disadvantages:

High-maintenance. Bad stains or spills may entail replacing the whole carpet. Carpet tiles are better and can either be replaced or moved around so worn or stained ones can be placed under appliances.

Price:

Prices at around $3.00-$10.00 per square ft. plus installation.

Cleaning:

Same as any other carpet, vacuum or sweep with broom.

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