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  • Writer's pictureBecka

22 Kitchen Flooring Types

Considering a floor change in your kitchen? From hardwood to vinyl to tile, there's so many to choose from. Here we take a look at some of the most popular flooring materials for the kitchen. Read along to find the best option for you.

Hardwood (medium, light, dark): Out of the many benefits of hardwood flooring, the most substantial would have to be that it will instantly give your room a high quality look. It's a great long-term investment, as it's lifespan can easily last 100+ years, making it cost effective and giving your home a higher re-sale value. It's timeless appeal is decoratively versatile. The installation is relatively straight-forward, it's easy to clean, it has high strength and durability, and provides your home with healthy indoor air quality. Hardwood flooring also improves the acoustics of your home by reducing the hollow sounds and/or vibrations within the room. A disadvantage of hardwood is that it can have porous attributes, which means that it's vulnerable to moisture and humidity. Any spills would need be cleaned up quickly to avoid damage. It can also be a bit noisy to walk on. Pricing can vary depending on the tones you pick between, meaning it can get expensive if you decide to go with more exotic wood species.

  • Medium [cost $3-$10 per sq ft]: Medium hardwood flooring has a detailed brown look; it's not too light or too dark. It's various stress lines create an all-around natural look and it's tone can mix well in many spots. A downfall is that it doesn't offer much of an elaborate look compared to lighter or darker hardwoods. It can also scratch easily if you're too rough with it.

  • Light [cost $3-$10 per sq ft]: Light hardwood typically has a slightly yellowish or off-white accent. It's relatively bright in appearance, which makes the room look larger in size. It doesn't show scratches or wear as easily, making it a good option for families with small children and/or pet owners. It does require regular cleaning, though, in order to avoid spot stains.

  • Dark [cost $5-$13 per sq ft]: Dark hardwood typically comes in a cherry or mahogany tone. It's often stained with a dense finish to give it an even deeper look, which works well with larger rooms. Compared to medium or light options, dark hardwood gives off a beautifully elegant appearance. Scratches can be easier to spot, though, and darker wood can often times make a room look smaller than intended.

Engineered wood (man-made) [cost $3-$10 per sq ft]: A modern alternative to hardwood, engineered wood (or made-made wood) has become ever popular. It comes in a variety of color options, ranging from light to dark, which is very attractive to homeowners. Engineered wood consists of several layers: 1) outermost is a hardwood veneer, a thin slice of wood (less than 1/8") of whatever species you desire; 2) inner layers are made of plywood, high density fiberboard, or hardwood; 3) core layers make the product more stable than regular hardwood; 4) outer veneer surface adds beauty and authenticity.

It's designed to reduce moisture problems associated with conventional hardwood. The layers block moisture and provide added stability. It will not swell or warp, making it low maintenance. It's also considered to be more environmentally-friendly than traditional hardwood. A downfall of engineered wood is that it can be a relatively more expensive option. Potential issues are also greatly increased due to human error. If the veneers are produced too thin, it will prevent sanding and refinishing opportunities that may double its lifetime. Depending on the quality of the manufacturer, it has the potential to prematurely warp or fade.

Tile (porcelain, ceramic, terra-cotta, cement):

  • Porcelain [cost $2-$20 per sq ft ]: Porcelain tile is made with a solid ceramic material. It's durable, nonporous, and adds a strong look to your home. It won't break or crack easily, it's stain resistant, and easy to replace individual tiles in an event that it does become damaged. It comes in variety of styles which can look like wood, stone, or traditional tile. The grout around the tile can attract stains if not treated carefully, so make sure to clean any spills right away. Since it's such a hard surface, it's not too ideal for living areas unless additional cushioning is provided. You should also be very careful with fragile items, as it's easy to break things against it.

  • Ceramic [cost $2-$20 per sq ft]: Ceramic tile is not as solid as porcelain tile, which can make it easier to stand on. It's considered to be environmentally friendly since it's made from clay, sand, and glass (typically from recycled content). It's easy to apply, easy to clean, and easily repairable, making it a low maintenance option. Ceramic tile comes in a good number of styles and tones to choose from. It offers a smooth surface, is nonporous, and can increase your home's re-sale value. Be aware that it can scratch fairly quickly, though. Even though it's not has solid as porcelain, it still has a cold feeling which can make it tough to walk on at all times.

  • Terra-cotta [cost $3-$8 per sq ft]: Terra-cotta is the Italian word for "cooked earth". This type of tile is one of the oldest tile materials around (it dates back before the birth of Christ). It's often used to give a rustic or weathered look and can be applied to both indoor and outdoor areas. It has a clay body with a brighter red/orange tone (it's color comes from the iron in the clay). Terra-cotta can last for ages if manufactured and installed properly. Since it's made from a natural, non-toxic material, it does not give off gaseous or hazardous chemicals. If you add in a sealant it can help to create an even stronger body, too. It's not easy to stain nor is it hard to clean. The colors are susceptible to fade, though. It's texture can sometimes be a but rough and you have to be careful with spills since it is a porous material (can absorb moisture quickly).

  • Cement [cost $3-$8 per sq ft]: Cement tile is made with a real cement surface. Cement is mixed with water to create a solid surface that is easy to apply. It's great for high-traffic areas. This type of tile can be organized in any size or color (even customization). It's not very porous since cement is a thick compound and will outlast most other types of tile. It also has a high thermal mass, which means it can hold it's temperature well (to help insulate your home). Be careful, though, as it can be easily scratched or stained if not properly installed and maintained. Acids and hard cleaners can also damage it if not clean correctly.

Travertine [cost $2-$15 per sq ft]: Travertine is a natural limestone material that is deposited by mineral springs. It typically comes in lighter tones and is noted as one of the more durable stone types. It's highly resistant to moisture and water. Travertine has a timeless appeal, is easy to cut and shape, and easy to replace if it becomes damaged. It can come in a variety of finishes and colors, but the more popular options include brown, tan and beige. Other options include white, gold, or rusty red tones. It can be polished, textured, brushed, tumbled, or honed and can come in numerous forms. It can be easily maintained and is the more cost effective option compared to other stone tiles. It's not as easily scratched as it's the heavier surface option. Be careful, though, as it can be heavily damaged by acidic substances.

Concrete [cost $2-14 per sq ft]: Concrete flooring offers a contemporary look to your home. It's a completely durable surface made from broken stones and gravel, cement, and other items. This material is melted down and mixed with water, then poured in to a mold to harden. It can be added with one solid body all the way through your room. It has a smooth grayish look but can be colored if desired. It resists moisture very well if sealed and installed properly. Concrete flooring is perfect for a busy area and gives your kitchen an edgy and industrial feeling. Try mixing it up with warm and soft colors to give it a more comforting feeling.

Since it's so durable, it's not easy to crack with normal usage. However, it can stain if not treated regularly. It also needs to be re-sealed fairly consistently, making it a bit higher maintenance than other options. Since it's a cold surface to stand on, it's not an ideal surface to be walking on all the time without additional padding. Make sure you have a professional help with the installing. If it's not sealed properly, moisture and mold can become a huge problem. Cracks are eventually going to become inevitable as the foundation of a home shifts over time.

Vinyl [$2-$5 per sq ft]: Vinyl is a synthetic material made from a mixture between chlorine and ethylene. It's naturally water resistant and smooth. It can be textured to give off a wood-like look and is often used as an alternative to the more expensive hardwood flooring option. It is long lasting and does not scuff too easily. Vinyl comes in an endless variety of colors and tones, making it great for a customized kitchen.

It's not always easy to install since the sub-flooring must be perfect, sanded down and leveled carefully. It also has the potential to fade over time. Be careful with your decorating, as it can be prone to damage when hosting heavy objects. Since it's a non-biodegradable material, it can sometimes emit harmful gasses, so be mindful not to use acidic products when cleaning it.

Limestone [cost $2-$10 per sq ft]: Limestone is a beautiful natural stone. It has a timeless appeal that's perfect for the classic yet modern home. This flooring type if a favorite among homeowners and thus has a high potential to increase the re-sale value of the home. It's makeup consists of a series of skeletal fragments gathered from marine life and features a mixture of calcite and carbon. It comes in an off-white tone and is typically installed with a classic square tile arrangement but can easily have mixed patterns. Limestone has a hard and tough surface, making it highly durable with minimal chances of wear and tear. Be careful while cleaning it, though, as it can be damaged by acidic materials. It also requires proper sealants to be added in order to protect its porous surface.

Slate [cost $4-$10 per sq ft]: Slate is a stone compound that typically has a dark body but can come in a variety of solid color and multicolored materials. It usually has natural grooves so it often comes with a sanded down body for home installation. It's color will not wear out or fade easily. It has a unique appearance, which is perfect for a creative work-space. It also has a tendency to increase your home's re-sale value. It's naturally slip and stain resistant and is relatively easy to repair if damaged. Slate flooring adapts well to radiant heating systems, helping to insulate your home. Be careful with decorating, though, as it can crack if excess pressure is added improperly. It's not the easiest flooring to install as the sub-flooring must be perfectly smooth before tiles can be laid down. The quality of the slate depends on how porous it is, which can determine how expensive it can get. As all stone-type floorings, it has a cold, hard surface which can have a chilly underfoot and be uncomfortable to stand on for long periods of time.

Marble [cost $10-$20 per sq ft]: Marble flooring instantly enhances any room and upgrades the look and quality of the space. It's an overall very elegant, very classy look that gives your home a high re-sale value. It's a carbon-based compound that comes in a few different light and dark tones. Marble can be added to a surface with just a few millimeters of compound over a sub-floor and is strong enough to last even when slim amounts of materials are used. It's tiles are all distinctive and come in a variety of sizes.

Marble is highly durable and warm enough to walk on barefoot (compared to other stone flooring which is typically very cold). It doesn't collect dust, dander or pollen, which is perfect to reduce allergens. It's easy to clean but can chip with a lot of added weight.

Since it's a relatively soft material, it can scratch, scuff, and scrape easily. Marble is naturally porous and can take in lots of water so it needs to be sealed off as soon as possible. Acidic substances can stain it since it has a pH level on the base [alkaline] side, due to its origin as a sedimentary limestone. Also note that it can be quite slippery when polished.

Linoleum [cost $3-$7 per sq ft]: Linoleum is a canvas material that features a mix of cork and linseed oil as a strong coating for a hard surface. It's made with non-toxic material that will not produce any fumes or other common problems. It's a much less expensive option than other natural materials such as ceramic, wood, or stone. Colors can vary between both bright and dark tones. It's very resistant to water, easy to clean, and can handle high traffic areas well without significant wear and tear. Linoleum has been known to be stiff and difficult to install. It requires consistent maintenance as it needs to be polished once or twice a year to maintain an optimal finish. It's a good option for those looking to save some money, but it doesn't do anything for your re-sale value. Most homeowners consider it "cheap" and will often times choose to replace it at some point.

Bamboo [cost $2-$5 per sq ft]: Bamboo is a sustainable yet seriously chic flooring option. It has a denser body than most other woods and comes with a naturally smooth, beautiful grain. It's impressively strong and can withstand the every day use and abuse that a kitchen is subject to. It has very few pores so it's more than capable of handling spills.

Bamboo is considered to be an environmentally-friendly wood material since bamboo trees grow at a faster rate than others, allowing them to be used to make flooring without harming the environment in a drastic way. It's a less expensive wood option that's easy to source. With it's organic hues, it offers an overall clean and contemporary look. Be mindful that it's surface is relatively soft compared to other wood options, so it can scratch and scuff easily. Dents and chips may develop if you're too rough on the surface.

Cork [cost $3-$8 per sq ft]: Cork flooring is a completely different, yet beautiful, texture compared to most other flooring materials. It has a soft and comfortable surface that is relatively easy to apply and maintain. The waxy substance on the inside helps to keep moisture from being a problem. It's surface is naturally anti-microbial, which offers hyper allergenic properties and can repel insects. Cork flooring offers a softer and more padded feeling compared to other wooden surfaces. It's easily available and can be used as a great heat insulator and sound barrier, making is a great choice for apartments if you are conscious of making noise for your neighbors below. It does need to be sanded fairly regularly and can scratch and dent easily if you're too tough with it. Be aware that it's also prone to fading over time.

Laminate [cost $1-$5 per sq ft]: Laminate flooring offers a wood-like appearance. It uses several thick paper sheets that are applied together with a glue or epoxy and is then painted to give off a wood-like style. It's an environmentally friendly option that's easy to install and comes in a vast variety of colors and styles. A foam sheet can be added as a layer to go under the flooring to make it feel softer. It's a relatively inexpensive choice to achieve the wood-like feel in your home. Laminate is durable and water resistant but cannot be finished in any way. Be aware that it can sometimes be noisy and slippery to walk on, as well. If damaged, it can be a costly and difficult venture to repair when working with a large slab compared to smaller tiled options.

Brick [cost $5-$20 per sq ft]: Brick flooring is a bold design element. It adds visual warmth, texture, color and eye-catching patterns to the area. It has similar advantages to those of ceramic and stone tile and needs to be carefully sanded down in order to be applied properly. Bricks are cut into slender bodies to be placed over your sub-floor, which offers a natural and industrial look. It's highly durable and can handle high-traffic areas easily.

Brick flooring is easy to clean and doesn't harbor dust or other allergens. Since it's a noncombustible material, it's a good choice for flooring to be installed near wood-stoves and fireplaces. It is a very hard material so it's not too comfortable to stand on for long periods of time. It can also be cold on bare feet and not easy to insulate. Since it's made from clay and grouted with cementitious mortar, it's also highly susceptible to stains and scratches if not sealed properly. It has a risk of wearing out quickly if you're not cautious with it.

Plywood [cost $2-$7 per sq ft]: Plywood is a compound that uses several layers of wood pulp that are glued together. It creates a slightly stronger surface when compared to other wood options and can be stained in numerous forms. Since it has so many layers it can be very durable if finished properly. It's thicker body will not crack or soak up water easily, making it less prone to water damage compared to traditional hardwood. You'll need a soft sub-floor in order to apply it without having an uncomfortable underfoot. Be careful during installation as it can easily scratch if finished improperly. Plywood can never truly match up to the hardwood alternatives, as it won't have as grand of an appearance or feel, so it doesn't do much for your home's re-sale value.

Terrazzo [cost $6-$20 per sq ft]: Terrazzo consists of marble or granite that is set in concrete and then polished to create a smooth look. It creates a visually stunning and hospitality environment. It can come in an unlimited variety of artistic flourishes and varied color tones that can be used both indoors and outdoors. Logos and various designs can be easily incorporated, which can be perfect for marketing opportunities. It's anti-microbial, non-porous, easy to clean and arguably the most durable and lowest life-cycle-cost flooring available. Terrazzo will typically last the lifetime of the the building structure, making it perfect for high-traffic areas. It's often used in public spaces like airports, hospitals, government buildings, and schools. It does have a cold touch to it so it may be uncomfortable to walk without additional padding.

Rubber [cost per square ft: tiles $3-$8, floor coating,$9-$15, rolled mats $1-$5]: Rubber flooring has a gymnasium-like feel. It's very similar to cork flooring as it has a large variety of colors and textures, it's durable and non-slip (except when wet, then it becomes very slippery), and it can be considered environmentally friendly if recycled rubber is used during manufacturing. It's easy to clean, easy to source, and water resistant. Rubber also has a soft underfoot for added comfort. While standard rubber colors and textures can be inexpensive, attractive styles and unique looks can dramatically raise in price. It can also absorb stains from daily wear and tear, so you may need regular repair and maintenance, which can get expensive over time.


We'd love to hear from you! What is your favorite type of kitchen flooring?

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