FLOORED BY CHOICE: The Ultimate Guide to Kitchen Flooring Types
With so many designs, styles and colours of flooring available, it can feel overwhelming to choose which type would look best in your kitchen. Whether you’re undertaking a complete renovation or just looking for a quick room refresh, it’s a big decision that can be affected by everything from budget to underfloor heating. Do you want an easily-installed, affordable option? Or are you on the hunt for something luxurious and long-wearing?
To make the task a little easier, we’ve compiled a handy guide to the pros and cons of different kitchen flooring types, to help you work out what’s best for the hub of your home.
Naturally warm and wonderful underfoot, wood flooring is the most traditional flooring material available. While it’s possible to have solid wood flooring in a kitchen – such as planks or parquet – engineered wood is more practical, and often more affordable.
Engineered wood flooring consists of a thin hardwood top layer (popular woods include oak, ash and walnut), with a thicker plywood core beneath for stability. The top layer can usually be sanded down and refinished once or twice throughout its lifetime before it need to be replaced. If properly maintained, engineered wood can potentially last for decades, making it a long-term investment.
Regular sweeping is recommended, and occasional mopping using specific wood cleaner can prevent staining and refresh the top layer. Engineered wood is less prone to warping and swelling from water damage than solid wood flooring, making it a more reliable material to use in kitchens.
Running the same flooring throughout the kitchen and hallway can make the kitchen and surrounding areas feel like one cohesive space. There are many colours and types of wood to choose from to suit most kitchen colour palettes.
Engineered wood is more affordable than natural hardwood, and its ability to be refurbished and re-sanded means your new floor should stay beautiful for many years.
A popular and affordable choice for many, laminate is constructed from several layers of material, including moisture-resistant backing, durable fireboard, a high-definition photographic image (imitating wood or stone) and a top, wearable layer which protects the photographic layer from damage.
The durability of laminate flooring depends on the thickness of the wear layer. Generally, thicker means better quality, as it will protect the photographic layer beneath, making it resistant to scratches, dents and staining – particularly important if you have dogs or young children. The thickest laminate can withstand life’s knocks for a while, but may need replacing within 10 years.
It’s easy to clean with a warm soapy cloth but avoid excessive amounts of water which can cause moisture damage. Leaving standing pools of water on laminate for long periods of time may lead to warping or distortion.
If laminate is heavily scratched or damaged, it must be replaced altogether, as it cannot be refinished like engineered wood.
There’s a laminate floor design for any kitchen, resembling stone, hardwood, or tiles depending on the aesthetic you’re aiming to achieve.
Laminate flooring is significantly cheaper than other flooring options. You can hire a professional or lay it yourself, but it requires almost zero prep work on the existing floor and takes mere hours to fit.
If you’re a family looking for a cheaper alternative to wood or stone flooring, this could be the perfect option to spruce up your kitchen. However, there’s also the future to consider: if, or when, you sell your home, laminate flooring will not add value like hardwood flooring or tiles would.
LVT (LUXURY VINYL TILES)
LVT, sometimes marketed as vinyl plank flooring, is one of the fastest growing products on the flooring market. The thick vinyl tiles, which can come in any width and length, are installed with either a loose-lay ‘click’ system requiring underlay, or a glue-down system which needs specially-formulated LVT glue. Whichever system is used for your kitchen, the sub-floor (floor beneath it) must be completely level before installation.
LVT is made from multiple layers of PVC vinyl combined with special compounds to toughen the product. Compared to the lifespan of laminate flooring which can sometimes be as brief as 10 years, LVT can last for up to 30 years. Of course, this varies depending on where it’s placed, how well you maintain it, and how much traffic it endures.
It’s also resistant to fire and is waterproof. Despite being cheaper than wood or tiles, it’s more hard-wearing than these costlier options, which can be more prone to wear and tear.
LVT is zero maintenance – you just need to sweep and mop to banish stains. The design layer is covered with a waterproof, scratch-resistant, protective coating to guard against staining. For this reason, it’s often used in commercial properties such as shops and hotels and is ideal for families, homes with dogs, or anyone who wants to invest in long-term, durable flooring.
LVT comes in a variety of styles and colours – from wood to stone or tile effect. The design and texture of LVT make it look more expensive and much more realistic than other options such as laminate.
Installation is quick and easy, but you’ll need someone experienced to lay it – and some brands, such as Amtico, recommend a registered installer. The better quality is reflected in the higher price tag per square foot, but overall, it’s usually worth the extra investment for being watertight and more comfortable, luxurious, and longer-lasting than laminate flooring.
For good quality LVT flooring, visit amtico.com
Made of ceramic, porcelain, stone or concrete (also known as encaustic), tiles are back in fashion for kitchen floors, thanks in part to their suitability for being used with underfloor heating.
Very durable and can withstand heavy foot traffic. Ceramic tiles have a ‘low life cycle’, meaning they can last up to 20 years without needing to be repaired or replaced. They’re water-resistant, and fire resistant too.
Ceramic tiles are versatile and can be used in rooms with high levels of moisture, such as kitchens. Just mop clean with soapy water and sweep away any dirt. What’s more, they don’t absorb any odour or grow bacteria, so are ideal for kitchens.
Ceramic tiles are available in a vast range of colours, patterns, and sizes.
Compared to other tile materials, ceramic tiles are among the most affordable. It’s recommended you hire a professional to install them as it can be time-consuming. Overall, they’re a cost-effective product and can last up to 20 years.
Porcelain tiles are made of clay that’s fired to an extremely high temperature. They’re denser, stronger, and harder than ceramic tiles. However, the hardness of porcelain can make it slightly more brittle than standard tiles, and therefore can crack more easily.
Porcelain is water, stain and damage-resistant and can be cleaned with water and cleaning products.
Like ceramic tiles, there’s a great amount of colour and variation in porcelain tiles. Thanks to state-of-the art printing techniques, they can be designed to look like almost any material, including wood, bamboo, or steel.
Porcelain tiles are slightly more expensive than their ceramic counterparts as they use a more refined clay. You should hire a professional to lay them, as they can be heavy, and may crack if not handled correctly.
Natural Stone Tiles
As the name suggests, stone tiles are entirely natural, made from stone that have formed over millions of years. As such, it’s available in a wide variety of characteristics, finishes and colours. Popular options for natural stone tiles include marble, sandstone, limestone, granite, travertine and onyx tiles which are all very hard-wearing. However, different types react differently to moisture. In general though, stone tiling can last for many years.
To clean stone tiles day-to-to-day, just wipe clean with a damp cloth and sweep regularly. They will need sealing every three to five years, although a wide range of protective finishes can be applied to prevent wear and tear and extend their lifespan.
Every individual stone slab is different to the one that was mined beside it. A stone tiled kitchen floor will therefore look totally unique.
Despite the initial high cost of natural stone, it will almost certainly pay off through the longevity of the material.
Like stone flooring, concrete is one of the sturdiest materials to use in your kitchen. It can resemble natural stone, giving you the opportunity to completely customise its colour, texture, stain effect, polish finish and more. Because of its hard nature, it may not be the best option for those with young families.
Natural stone, concrete and microcement flooring could last indefinitely within your kitchen if it is maintained properly. Installation is best done by a professional as it’s a several-step process, including pigmenting, pouring, finishing, staining, polishing, and sealing, which must be done properly to prevent staining (and it’ll need resealing at least once every three years). Permanent stains can occur if the concrete is not sealed properly or the sealant is eroded.
Keep the floor swept to ensure dirt does not begin to erode the protective sealant. Mop stains with warm water, but don’t use detergents or harsh floor cleaners which could permanently stain the concrete.
Any design imaginable can be achieved with concrete flooring. The mixture can be pigmented any colour under the sun; or it can be acid stained to resemble natural stone. Alternatively, embedding materials like tiles, stone or glass achieves a terrazzo effect of varying colours and shapes within the concrete. Finally, you can opt for either a matte or a polished mirror surface.
As with stone, concrete can be expensive, but it will last much longer than hardwood or laminate flooring. If well maintained and regularly sealed, it may never need replacing.
And finally a note on underfloor heating…
Fast becoming a must-have in modern kitchens, underfloor heating is a great way to keep things toasty underfoot as well as doing away with the need for bulky radiators taking up valuable wall space. To achieve optimum results with underfloor heating, you’ll need a flooring with good conductivity – something that heats up fast and stays warm for a long period of time:
- Tile and stone are very effective conductors and perform the best with underfloor heating. They also have the added bonus of staying cool underfoot in summer when the heating isn’t on.
- If you can’t resist a wooden floor, engineered timber is the best type to use as it deals well with temperature change. Make sure you choose a thinner style specially formulated for use with underfloor heating as thicker boards may act as an insulator to the heat.
- Vinyl and LVT flooring products are great for underfloor heating, as they warm up and cool down fast.
- Concrete also works very well with underfloor heating. However, it can crack with sudden extreme temperature changes, so talk to your plumber and flooring installer about how best to look after it.
If you have any questions or would like help with your project, please do not hesitate to get in touch, we would love to hear from you.
Written by By Natalie Finnigan