Kitchen Flooring Options Northwood Construction

Kitchen Flooring Options Northwood Construction

The Home Remodeling Blog

January 23rd, 2013

By Bob Benedict

One the biggest decisions to be made when remodeling a kitchen is which flooring to use. There are many choices: Ceramic Tile, Stone, Natural Wood (finished in place), Pre-finished Wood. “Engineered” Wood,  Laminate, Vinyl Squares, Sheet Style Vinyl, Luxury Vinyl Flooring and even Cork.  Fortunately no one flooring fits all. I will attempt to help you wade through the choices based on our experience.

Ceramic Tile or Stone: Arguably the durability champ – natural stone, ceramic or porcelain tile.

Pros:

  • Very Durable. If you have pets, large dogs in particular, or young children going in and out of the kitchen this flooring will withstand the traffic.
  • Easy to clean (once you seal the grout). Typically a damp mop is all that is needed.
  • Lots of variety from which to choose.
  • Appearance is quite attractive.

Cons:

  • Expensive ($20 $25/sq foot installed for decent tile including underlayment stone is higher).
  • Not forgiving (if you drop a glass on the floor the glass will usually break).
  • Hard (no flex in the floor or floor covering so it can be uncomfortable for those who experience back pain).
  • Difficult to remove.
  • Proper installation of underlayment is key to tiles not cracking

Natural wood flooring. This is raw wood installed, stained and then sanded and finished in place.

Pros:

  • Moderately priced ($10 $12 per square foot).
  • Attractive: allows carrying one style and color of flooring throughout one level of the house with no seams.
  • Durable: With the right finish is can be very durable even with kids and medium size pets (large dogs will still scratch the most durable finish).
  • Somewhat forgiving if a glass or dish is dropped.
  • Can be sanded and refinished which will restore the floor to new appearance.

Cons:

  • Installation and finishing process takes 4-5 days. Some finishes can take 30 days before reaching maximum durability limits the use for the first 30 days.
  • Large water spills, leaking dishwasher or ice maker will likely warp the flooring. Warp will dissipate some over time but refinishing is really the only option to restore the floor to new condition.
  • Not as hard as tile or stone but it may bother some people to stand on it for long periods of time.

Pre-finished natural wood flooring. This is natural wood flooring, that is finished in a controlled factory environment to provide a durable uniform finish.

Pros:

  • Moderately priced ($9 $12 per square foot installed).
  • No wait time to use the floor after installation.
  • Typically installs in one day.
  • Attractive: allows carrying one style and color of flooring throughout one level of the house with no seams.
  • Durable: Same as Natural Wood
  • Somewhat forgiving if a glass or dish is dropped.
  • No wait time to use the floor after installation.
  • Can be sanded and refinished which will restore the floor to new appearance.
  • Repairs: A skilled floor technician or finish carpenter can remove and replace damaged individual boards.

Cons:

  • Large water spills: Same as Natural Wood
  • Repair from water damage: Same as Natural Wood
  • Comfort: Same as Natural Wood

Engineered wood flooring: Basically this is a very high grade plywood flooring that looks and feels like pre-finished solid wood flooring. It comes in strips the same size as traditional wood flooring. The top or wear layer of the flooring is what we as consumers see it is a thin layer of the wood species and color that you select. The floor in the photo is manufactured to have the appearance of hewed wood.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive to Moderately priced ($7-$10 installed).
  • Typically installs in one day.
  • Can be installed on concrete
  • Attractive: allows carrying one style and color of flooring throughout one level of the house with no seams.
  • Durable: Same as natural and pre-finished wood.
  • Somewhat forgiving if a glass or dish is dropped.
  • Little to no wait time to use the floor after installation.
  • It has a little more flex than solid wood so some people may find it easier on their back and joints.
  • Most styles can be glued to concrete.

Cons:

  • Can be sanded and refinished HOWEVER great care must be taken to not sand through the wear layer. If this happens the plywood will be exposed.
  • Typically it can only be refinished one time.
  • Large water spills: Same consequences as natural and pre-finished wood except that once it warps it is difficult to refinish without going through the wear layer therefore replacement is typically the best solution.

Laminate Flooring: This is a plastic laminate very similar to plastic laminate countertop material. The plastic laminate is laminated to a composite pressed wood (HDF High Density Fiber) backing for rigidity. These floors come in many colors and styles such as wood and tile appearance. They snap and sometimes glue together at the edges.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive to Moderately priced ($6-$10 installed).
  • Typically installs in one day.
  • Durable: The surface will stand up to heavy traffic and large pets (pets will slip and slide more on this flooring than most). See Con below.
  • Fairly forgiving if a glass or dish is dropped. No wait time to use the floor after installation.
  • It is typically installed over a foam membrane which give the floor a spongy feel and thus is gentle your back and joints.
  • Easy to clean barely damp mop.

Cons:

  • Large water spills, leaking dishwasher or ice maker where water gets under the floor or soaks into the backing of this flooring through the seams, will ruin the floor and necessitate replacement of the entire floor.
  • Appearance is subjective: It has a nice appearance but does not look exactly like wood or tile.
  • Can be chipped or dented if heavy metal object (think cast iron frying pan) is dropped onto floor.
  • As a System (of snapped together planks) these products are not a good choice for the kitchen.

Vinyl Square Flooring: These are typically 12×12 vinyl peal and stick or glue down squares. Other sizes are available.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive. Can be as low as $2 per square foot.
  • Fairly forgiving if a glass or dish is dropped (unless the tiles are installed on concrete).
  • Maybe a short wait time to use the floor after installation if trowel applied glue is used.
  • Typically installs in one day.
  • Durable: Will stand up to heavy traffic and large pets.
  • Easy to repair. Peel up damaged square and replace with new.
  • Easy to clean damp mop and floor cleaner.
  • Works well on concrete.

Cons:

  • Large water spills, leaking dishwasher or ice maker where water gets under the floor through the seams in the vinyl and into plywood underlay can cause buckling of underlayment.
  • Appearance is subjective given other choices available today.
  • Has a commercial appearance.
  • Dirt trapped in seams is very difficult to remove.

Luxury Vinyl Flooring: These are typically squares or strips. The product has a wear surface that is made from marble or limestone dust mixed with a polymer. The appearance can be tile, stone or wood. The seams are sealed with a clear sealer or in the case of tile or stone appearing tiles an acrylic grout can be used. The backing is vinyl and the product is glued to the floor (plywood subfloor or concrete).

Pros:

  • Moderately priced.  $6 -$9 per square foot
  • Comfortable on back and joints- has a slight flex
  • If the product is installed well large spills can be mopped up with out damage to subfloor (water cant penetrate at seams if sealed or grouted correctly)
  • Fairly forgiving if a glass or dish is dropped.
  • Wait time to use the floor after installation  is typically the next day.
  • Typically installs in one day.
  • Durable: Will stand up to heavy traffic and large pets.
  • Easy to repair. Cut the sealer or grout and peel up damaged square and replace with new.
  • Easy to clean damp mop and floor cleaner.
  • Works well on concrete or plywood subfloor.

Cons:

  • Edges can get slightly chipped when using rolling kitchen chairs.
  • More expensive than traditional vinyl.
  • Proper installation is key to product performance.

Sheet Vinyl Flooring: New generation of sheet vinyl is greatly improved over traditional sheet vinyl. Good sheet vinyl no longer has a paper backing so it does not curl at the edges. It can be perimeter glued, total surface glued or set in place. Can be installed over existing vinyl without an embossing leveler which saves installation cost.

Pros:

  • Moderately priced.  $3- $6 per square foot
  • Comfortable on back and joints. New generation sheet vinyl is slightly spongy.
  • Not much to worry about with big spills. The flooring is one big vinyl sheet with occasional sealed seams.
  • Pretty forgiving if a glass or dish is dropped.
  • Typically installs in one day.
  • Wait time to use the floor after installation is same or next day.
  • Typically installs in one day.
  • Durable: Will stand up to heavy traffic and large pets.
  • Easy to repair by a professional.
  • Easy to clean damp mop and floor cleaner.
  • Works well on concrete or plywood subfloor with underlayment.

Cons:

www.scscertified.com/gbc/floorscore.php

Cork Flooring: Very green/sustainable product. Typically installed as squares with an adhesive. Most have some sort of sealer on the surface. However cork dents easily and our experience has shown it to not perform well in a high traffic kitchen. Because of this we would not recommend cork flooring in high traffic kitchens. It is very well suited for perhaps a home art studio or low traffic office with minimal heavy furniture.

I have attempted to cover the most common kitchen flooring type material questions here. For additional answers I suggest visiting a reputable flooring seller/installer, call one of us with questions, visit  the particular manufacturers website or consumer review sites. Special thanks to Ken Shakibnia of Royal Interiors in Reston, VA for his input based on 20 + years of experience in the flooring business. Questions/comments: see below to reply.


Leave a Reply