Tim Barber House & Home | Blog | Finding What Fits Underfoot: A Guide | Whether you are truly a chef or simply spend much of your time in the kitchen, choosing the best flooring for this room is an important decision. ...

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Finding What Fits Underfoot: A Guide To Kitchen Flooring
3.30.16

Whether you are truly a chef or simply spend much of your time in the kitchen, choosing the best flooring for this room is an important decision.  You’ll want to consider ease of cleaning, durability, and imagine how your back and feet might feel at the end of a Thanksgiving cooking marathon. Fortunately, there are plenty of flooring materials to choose from, all with their merits and drawbacks.  Let’s explore the usual suspects - tile, wood, linoleum, and cork. 

Tile

Tile Flooring in the Kitchen

Tile is perhaps the most common choice for kitchen flooring.  Whether you opt for a small-scale mosaic or 12x12 squares, you have a gazillion options in terms of style, color and texture including terra cotta, ceramic, porcelain, and encaustic cement tile.  

A dark kitchen can be brightened with a light-colored floor tile or a classic white kitchen can be grounded with a dark tile. Tile is also the most durable flooring selection for high-traffic rooms, and a breeze to clean.  Yet tile has no give or “shock absorbers”, if you will, so it can wear on your back and feet by the end of the day. 

Wood

Wood Floor in the Kitchen

Wood floors bring a warm richness to a kitchen. This natural material has gradations of color and texture only nature can produce.  If the rest of your home boasts hardwood floors, including these in the kitchen makes it seamless, especially in an open floor plan.  You can choose the type of wood - oak, maple, cherry, walnut, etc., and play with the width of the planks.  These can be uniform widths from narrow to wide or varied like you often see in old colonial homes. Lay the boards straight or install them diagonally, or in herringbone, chevron or basket-weave parquets. Consider wood borders; or adding stain colors or paint. The sky is the limit!  

Wood flooring is kinder to your back and feet because it has a little “give”.  However, areas where people stand frequently (like in front of the sink) can see wear and tear, and repeated spills or runoff can also damage the finish. Fortunately, wood floors can be sanded and refinished several times, and super-durable coatings can ensure a longer life.  

Linoleum

Linoleum Flooring in the Kitchen

(Photo Credit: Courtesy of Crogan Inlay Floors)

We know what you are thinking. Linoleum has gotten a bad rap thanks to the overuse of some truly cringe-worthy colors in the 60s and 70s. Puce? Taupe? Really?! However, when it first came on the scene in the late 1800s, linoleum was tres moderne. Only the upper crust could afford it.  But by WWII, this durable and dynamic flooring option was relegated to schools and post offices.

We say it’s time for a linoleum comeback and TBH&H is going to lead the charge! Here’s why: Linoleum is a naturally Green product made from linseed oil, pine resin, wood flour, ground cork dust and mineral fillers.  It comes in a vast array of colors and patterns.  It’s a softer surface than tile or wood; it’s inexpensive and can take a beating. Clean it with water or Murphy’s Oil Soap and wax it periodically.

You’ll be amazed at the creative potential it offers. For the finest examples of linoleum’s versatility, we turn to our close friend and linoleum artisan Laurie Crogan. She can take nearly any pattern or piece of artwork and fashion it out of linoleum.

Cork

Cork Floor in the Kitchen

(Photo Credit: Courtesy of Crogan Inlay Floors)

Cork is almost springy underfoot and unconventional!  It is a natural product cut from the bark of the cork oak tree. Cork contains suberin, a waxy substance which makes it resistant to liquids and prevents it from rotting.  This flooring selection gives you gorgeous blends of color and texture.  You can even stain cork different colors.  It needs a fresh sealer or wax every few years, but not much else.  

As you can see, these flooring options are all solid choices. Hopefully, we opened your eyes to materials you hadn’t considered yet. Stay tuned for more insightful tips, techniques and guides to help you achieve your dream kitchen.