There are as many choices of material, pattern, colour and resilience for kitchen flooring as there is for worktops and kitchen units, if not more.
The best thing to do when choosing flooring is to think about the use that your kitchen gets and pick the material and resilience level first, then go for the pattern and colour afterward, picking something that will suit the rest of the kitchen design.
If you have small children, you might be looking for flooring that will take sticky spills and dropped toys and crockery without damage, and perhaps have an anti-bacterial quality.
If there aren’t many children around but the kitchen leads directly on to the garden, you can probably have something that’s a bit more decorative and less hardwearing, but has a wipe clean surface for mud and earth. Think about these and other aspects of your kitchen use then select your material.
Wood Kitchen Flooring – Real and Laminate
Wood is a great look and has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity over the last decade or so, particularly with the advent of wood-effect laminate flooring. Real wood is more natural and can be an eco-conscious choice, particularly if it is reclaimed. Although wood can be superficially damage fairly easily, it is resilient to major damage as long as it is looked after. The superficial damage can at least be restored by sanding and re-waxing or re-oiling, something that can’t be said of many tiles or laminate flooring.
Laminate flooring is cheaper and easier to lay, and can take spills and stains better than real wood, but once it sustains a deep pit or cut, there’s very little that can be done about it. And if liquid gets into those damaged parts it can permeate through the lower layer which will swell up and crack the laminate, a process means replacement.
Bamboo flooring is a new product that falls somewhere between natural wood and laminate flooring and is finding favour fast for its green credentials, being made from a quick growing crop which is more sustainable. The sections are constructed by steaming and flattening pieces of bamboo that are then glued together and cut to size. The resulting bamboo flooring is hardwearing and stable, combining many of the advantages of real wood with those of laminate
Using Tiles in the Kitchen
Stone tiles such as granite, marble and slate, are probably the most expensive and hardwearing kitchen flooring available. One downside is that they can be cold underfoot, although if you’re installing under floor heating stone will work well with that. Also dropped items will almost certainly break rather than bounce, so consider it carefully if you use a lot of expensive china in the kitchen.
Ceramic tiles and quarry tiles are cheaper than stone and come in a wider variety of colours and finishes, although with ceramic tiles the colour is only in the top layer which can wear through eventually. This is not true of quarry tiles and more expensive porcelain tiles, the colour runs through the whole slate.
Regardless of which tile material you choose, there are some things that you will need to take into consideration. Some of the glossier finishes can be slippery underfoot, particularly when wet. When laying tiles, make sure the surface of the floor is perfectly flat, or tiles will crack when walked on. And make sure you buy more tiles than you need so that if a few do get damage through the years you will be able to replace them even if the line has been discontinued.
One-Piece Kitchen Flooring Options
Linoleum and Vinyl (PVC) are the major players in the one-piece flooring market as most people discount carpet because it’s not so good at resisting sticky spills. Vinyl is cheaper than lino and comes in a bewildering variety of patterns and finishes. Generally the things that govern the cost of vinyl kitchen flooring are the thickness, and there fore the durability, then the finish, with textured surfaces being more expensive than smooth ones.
Lino is making a comeback as it is a natural product. The backing of canvas or felt is topped off with a layer of linseed oil, cork and resin. It has a natural anti-bacterial effect that comes from the linseed oil and explains its past popularity as the flooring of choice for hospitals and clinics. Although the patterns and colours are limited at the moment because of its fall from grace, lino can be cut and patterned then rendered into a complete surface in a way that vinyl cannot.
Choose Flooring Carefully
A last word on kitchen flooring is to take your time with the choice. Wander the aisles of DIY stores and flooring emporiums and get all the samples you can. One thing is for sure, getting the choice wrong with a kitchen floor is a time-consuming and expensive mistake.