When choosing the right flooring material for your kitchen, it's important to consider your style, budget, and lifestyle. This simple guide to popular materials can help you narrow down the choices.
Vinyl: A budget-friendly choice that's perfect for busy cooks and homes with kids prone to spills, vinyl is easy to clean, waterproof, and stain-proof. Felt or foam back also gives vinyl cushion to make it more comfortable in rooms where you'll do a lot of standing, like the kitchen. Even more, the softer surface can protect glasses and dishes from breaking when dropped. Choosing a top-quality sheet vinyl (rather than peel-and-stick tiles) will reduce seams where water can seep under. Experienced DIYers can tackle vinyl installation, but professional help is advised for large kitchens that will require piecing seams. Also, vinyl emits volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can affect indoor air quality.
Tile: When it comes to giving your kitchen a clean and classic look that's also extremely durable, you can't beat tile floors. Ceramic tile is stain-resistant and sealed tile and grout are also water-resistant, making it a great choice for the kitchen. To avoid slip-and-fall accidents in the kitchen, especially in a home with children or older adults, it's smart to choose a tile that is certified slip-resistant. On the downside, tile is cold underfoot, provides a hard walking surface, and dropped glasses or dishes are unlikely to survive. Also, tile can be tricky to install for even seasoned DIYers.
Cork: Made from bark, cork is sustainable resource and great for the environment. It's filled with air cells that make it naturally spongy and a comfortable surface for standing to prepare food and a safety zone for dropped glasses or dishes. While cork floors are not waterproof, they are water resistant -- perfect for a kitchen. A polyurethane topcoat will protect the floors from minor spills that are cleaned wiped up (the floor should be resealed every few years to protect against moisture in the kitchen). Installation can be tricky and is best left to a professional.
Wood/laminate: A timeless choice that rarely loses popularity, hardwood floors create a warm and classic look in the kitchen. Engineered wood, which is made of real wood veneer backed by plywood, resists humidity better than solid wood and is a smart choice in a damp kitchen. There are also many prefinished options that withstand heavy foot traffic and are water resistant. Budget-friendly laminate gives the look of wood but is actually a photographic image sandwiched between two wear layers. The material is exceptionally scratch and stain resistant. Be careful, when selecting a wood or wood-like product. Water doesn't play well with these materials; one big water-line leak can cause serious and expensive damage.