The 5 Best Kitchen Flooring Options for Your Remodel
With loads of options on the market, look here first to find the durable, easy-clean flooring that’s perfect for your cook space.
The kitchen has become the hub of the modern home, not just a cook space but a gathering place for family and friends and a focal point for activity. With all that goes on in today’s kitchen, it’s crucial that the floor can withstand high foot traffic as well as the all the inevitable spills and spatters. It also has to suit your personal style and fit within your budget. Reconciling these needs can be difficult, so we created a guide to help you end up with nothing but the best kitchen flooring for your family. Read on for the most important attributes in a kitchen floor and which of options fit the bill.
FOUR KITCHEN FLOOR MUSTS
Keep the following in mind when floor shopping:
Durability: To withstand frequent spills without staining, and to survive dropped skillets without damage, choose flooring that’s tough enough to survive your lifestyle.
Water-resistance: Your kitchen is a “semi-wet” room, so the flooring you choose should not be damaged by the occasional spilled glass of juice.
Scrubbable: Messes always seem to end up underfoot, so the best kitchen flooring is one that’s easy to keep clean.
Design-friendly: When all is said and done, you want your kitchen to look just as good as the rest of your home. With today’s flooring options, you can have an attractive kitchen floor that’s resilient to boot.
Flooring manufacturers offer a wide assortment of materials that are functional as well as aesthetically pleasing. The following five flooring choices top the most-desirable list for contemporary kitchens. Start here when planning your kitchen redo, and you’re sure to find one that meets your needs.
1. SHEET VINYL
Pros: Water-resistant, scrubbable, comfortable underfoot, and budget friendly
Cons: Heavy appliances can leave depressions (avoidable with coasters under appliance legs)
Sheet vinyl has been around for decades and has only gotten better. The fact that it comes in a large sheet, as opposed to small, stick-down tiles, means there are no seams where water can seep down to the subflooring. Sheet vinyl offers wall-to-wall waterproof floor protection, which is always welcome in busy kitchens that see a lot of spills.
Vinyl flooring doesn’t get cold in the winter (as, say, ceramic tile can), so it’s comfortable underfoot all year round. It’s easy to care for, too; regular sweeping and occasional mopping with an all-purpose vinyl floor cleaner is sufficient.
Sheet vinyl is available in a wide variety of patterns and colors. The thicker the vinyl, the more durable and the more expensive. Expect to pay $.50 to $10 per square foot depending on quality. Professional installation will add another $1 to $3 per square foot. Pro installation is recommended because the vinyl sheet must be perfectly cut to fit the exact dimensions of the room and then carefully glued and rolled with a heavy press to prevent air bubbles.
2. PORCELAIN TILE
Pros: Extremely durable, waterproof, stain resistant, and good for high-traffic areas
Cons: Grout requires periodic sealing to prevent stains
For the ultimate in durability, it’s hard to beat porcelain tile. Though similar in appearance to ceramic, porcelain is fired at higher temperatures, which makes it stronger and more resistant to damage. It comes in a variety of sizes and shapes, from six-inch squares to 18-inch planks that mimic hardwood. Like other hard flooring surfaces, porcelain can be slippery when wet, and it’s extremely hard—glasses and plates that fall on the floor will likely shatter.
Porcelain tile is heavy and will add substantial weight, so it’s not usually recommended for a second-story floor. If you have questions about whether your floor system is adequate for installing the tile, contact an engineer or a reputable tile setter. Depending on brand and quality, you’ll pay $3 to $8 dollars per square foot for porcelain tile and an additional $5 to $10 for professional installation. Unless you’re familiar with laying tile, it’s best to leave this job to the pros. Installing porcelain requires the use of a special type of underlayment and thinset mortar.
Though porcelain tile is easy to clean with an all-purpose floor cleaner and a wet mop, the grout between the tiles should be sealed every three to four years with a grout sealer to reduce the risk of stains.
3. ENGINEERED VINYL PLANK (EVP)
Pros: Waterproof, DIY-friendly, closely resembles real hardwood flooring
Cons: Heavy appliances may leave depressions
One of the newer flooring products on the market, engineered vinyl planks (EVP) are getting a lot of attention. The planks, which resemble hardwood, are completely waterproof. On the surface of the plank is a layer of luxury vinyl, bonded to a waterproof core that’s slightly cushioned to give the floor a soft feel underfoot.
Like other engineered flooring (laminate flooring or floating flooring), EVP planks do not attach directly to the subfloor. Instead, the planks snap together, which makes installation DIY-friendly. You’ll save money if you install EVP yourself: The flooring runs $5 to $7 per square foot and includes installation instructions. If you choose to have it professionally installed, expect to pay another $3 to $6 per square foot. Unlike a lot of flooring choices, such as sheet vinyl or tile, EVP can be installed directly over existing tile, concrete, or linoleum.
In terms of downsides, EVP is not as resilient as porcelain—and scooting a heavy refrigerator across its surface could leave a scratch, so care should be taken when moving heavy appliances. It’s a breeze to clean, however, with just a mop dampened with soapy water.
4. STONE TILE
Pros: Adds a natural, one-of-a-kind ambiance (no two tiles are identical), non-slip surface
Cons: Expensive and can stain without regular sealing
If you want natural flooring at any price, check out stone tile. You’ll pay $6 to $16 per square foot, depending on the type of stone, and factor in an additional $5 to $10 per square foot for professional installation. Hiring a professional tile setter is highly recommended because of the special underlayment and thinset mortar required. Even slight discrepancies in the thickness of the mortar or failure to use the correct product could result in stone tiles popping off.
Natural stone tile adds beauty to any kitchen and, unlike manufactured tiles, it’s by and large non-slip due to its semi-porous surface. Choose from a handful of natural tan, gray, red, and brown earth tones, depending on the type of stone you choose. The following types of stone are commonly available in flooring tiles:
• Travertine is smooth underfoot, non-slip, and available in light-to-medium soft earth tones.
• Marble is very hard and can be polished to a high sheen. Unfortunately, it can also be slippery when wet. Marble is available in a wide variety of colors, including green, brown, gray, and near-black with pink, red, gold, and burgundy veining.
• Slate is one of the best kitchen flooring choices for a number of reasons, but namely, because it’s slip-resistant and very durable. It comes available in blue, gray, red, and orange tones, with attractive veining in the same colors.
• Granite tile is very hard, making it a good choice for high traffic areas. It comes in deep grays, blacks, tans, and mottled white tones. Granite resists scratching and can be polished to high shine, although the higher the sheen, the greater the slip factor.
Natural stone tiles are available in two-inch squares for creating a mosaic look and come in up to 18-inch squares for a more streamlined design. Clean your stone tile floor with a wet mop and soapy water. Follow the tile manufacturer’s recommendations for sealing the floor, to protect it from stains and discoloration, every two to four years.
Pros: Budget-friendly, DIY-friendly, warm and cushioned feel underfoot
Cons: Can be scratched by heavy objects
A relatively new addition to the flooring market, cork flooring is quickly becoming a preferred choice for those who want a warm soft floor at an affordable price. Expect to pay $3 to $8 per square foot for cork tiles in square or plank shapes. Cork tiles can be installed by an enthusiastic homeowner—they’re available in peel-and-stick, glue down, or snap together assembly. Professional installation, if desired, can run an additional $2 to $4 per square foot.
Composed of ground-up cork combined with resins and then compressed into firm tiles, this flooring is available in a variety of gray, tan, and brown shades. While cork flooring can depress under the legs of heavy appliances, given time, the depressions will return to their original state. Cork flooring is soft underfoot and slightly springy. It reduces sound transfer, so it’s a good choice for homes that have a living area beneath the kitchen. Cork flooring resists stains but it is not stain-proof. Spilled wine that’s not promptly wiped up may leave a stain, but one of the cool things about cork is that it can be refinished by sanding down the surface and then applying stain and a sealer.
Cork can fade if exposed to direct sunlight, so protect your floor by using curtains or blinds. Clean-up is simple; wipe up spills promptly and mop with soapy water when necessary. Follow up by wiping the floor with a clean, dry microfiber mop to remove excess water.