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Home Maintenance

Best flooring choices for your kitchen

Whether you’re planning a full or partial kitchen renovation, the good news is that there are myriad options when choosing the best flooring for your kitchen, and those choices are available at a variety of price points. We’re no longer restricted to tile, linoleum or wood flooring.

Here’s a rundown of some of today’s best kitchen flooring options and some of the pros and cons of each.

Best environmentally friendly kitchen flooring options

If you’re concerned about off-gassing or passionate about leaving the smallest environmental footprint as possible, you may want to stick with options that don’t include vinyl or heavily manufactured floorings.

Those can include cork, bamboo, new or reclaimed wood, and stone.

Wooden kitchen floors are a huge trend these days and one that’s likely to continue for the next decade or so. If your kitchen cabinets are painted, glass-fronted or melamine, wood can provide some much needed visual warmth as well as design continuity between your kitchen and the rooms adjacent to it. Both hardwood and softwood floors are expensive. If you can find a source of reclaimed wood or salvage flooring from your own renovations, reclaimed wood might be your best option, especially for smaller kitchens.

Bamboo, while gorgeous, is not a great idea for kitchen flooring. While it’s an amazingly renewable resource and very durable, it’s also highly reactive to temperature and humidity.

Cork flooring is a great choice for kitchens and is both environmentally friendly and durable. It does, however, need to be resealed every few years. Check out the cork flooring options available and you’ll discover you’re not confined to natural cork-colored flooring. Dyed cork is available in a whole range of color options, from mint green through dark red to bright purple. And it’s available in tile, sheet, and plank formats. Cork is also both warm and comfortable underfoot. If you spend a lot of time (or long stretches at a time) cooking, it’s a lot easier on your legs than almost any other kind of kitchen flooring. Cork can be dented over time, so choosing a near-industrial grade of cork flooring is important for a high traffic area. Bright sunlight can also cause cork to fade, and light is important in a kitchen. If your kitchen has a southern exposure, this may not be the best flooring choice for you.

Stone floors are beautiful, luxurious, environmentally friendly and extremely durable. You will be limited in your color choices if you choose stone kitchen flooring, and you’ll also pay a premium for them. Artificial stone floors are available in a wider color range. But the beauty of slate or stone floors is the natural color variations and textures. The other unexpected premium you may pay for stone floors is replacing dishes. If you drop it, you break it. There is also the beyond slippery-when-wet factor. You need to wipe spills up immediately, not to protect your floors but to make sure you get from the fridge to stove without a mishap.

Last but not least is linoleum. Made primarily from linseed oil derived from flax seeds, it can also include jute, cork powders, wood flours and tree resins. Linoleum could work very well if your kitchen has a retro theme, and is available in many color options. Installing linoleum is a renovation that won’t add anything to your home’s value, however.

Best comfort options for kitchen flooring

Cork, softwood, and vinyl flooring are your best kitchen flooring choices if you spend a lot of time in your kitchen cooking and baking.

Vinyl flooring is cheap, durable, and highly water-resistant. Think of it as linoleum’s “synthetic cousin.” It also comes in almost-infinite options: sheets, planks, and tiles and in almost as many designs as you can imagine. There is some very good vinyl “wood” flooring on the market these days. It’s also warmer and softer than either wood or ceramic tile floors, and a padded underlayer can sometimes be added for even more cushioning. It is, however, one of the least environmentally friendly flooring options.

Best design options for kitchen flooring

Wood is “in” for kitchen flooring, whether it’s real or engineered hardwood or vinyl planking, and the first two options can add significant value to your home. Wood flooring can provide nice design integration in a more open-plan home, but be careful not to create wood overload if your kitchen cabinets are wood as well.

Stone floors are a time-honored, casually elegant option.

Porcelain and ceramic tiles are extremely durable. The color and design combinations are endless, from mosaics to marble. Porcelain tiles are harder and less porous than ceramic tiles. If your kitchen isn’t absolutely level or your house is settling, these tiles can crack easily and repeatedly in problem areas. They’re not indestructible either: a hammer falling off a counter can crack or chip one of these tiles. There’s no one best flooring choice for all kitchens. Try to eliminate some options based on price, availability, and difficulty of maintenance and installation.