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The Ever-Broadening Options in Kitchen Flooring
January 19, 2018

It may take a few decades, but eventually that once stunning floor in your kitchen is going to wear out. Today, replacement options are abundant.

Linoleum
Since the 1860s, yes, I said 1860s; the definitive flooring for kitchens has been linoleum. It wasn't dethroned until the 1960s, when vinyl arrived and was advertised as a "no wax" alternative to linoleum, which needed regular waxing. Linoleum now comes from the factory with a UV-cured finish that lasts for years. When you further consider its anti-microbial nature, smoothness, and affordability; it's no wonder linoleum is making a comeback. And, it's very eco-friendly; made of natural substances like linseed oil, cork, and rosin. After a long hiatus, linoleum deserves a fresh look.

Vinyl
Vinyl tiles remain very popular because of their unending styles and easy installation for do-it-yourselfers. Vinyl is a soft and durable, synthetic material. Its softness means a dropped glass won't necessarily shatter, and your back won't ache as much; but smooth vinyl can be dangerously slippery, so opt for a textured design. Styles range from simple graphic patterns to extremely realistic simulations of wood or stone.

Stone / Ceramic
Natural stone tiles will never go out of fashion for the kitchen, but ceramic ones are more affordable and a bit more durable. Real stone is porous, so that raw beauty will require at least an annual re-sealing. Ceramics resist water and stains better than natural stone, but both will also resist heat and so remain cold. That's great in southern climates, but may require sub-floor, radiant heating in northern homes. Ceramic tiles are available in diverse patterns and colors; however, if you need authenticity, nothing compares to real stone.

Bamboo
Newer to the industry is bamboo; strong as steel, resembling hardwoods, and very water resistant. It presents a delightful arrangement of amber tones across the room. Installation compares to hardwood flooring with tongue-and-groove joints. And, bamboo is very "green"; growing rapidly, harvested early, and replanted continuously.

Hardwood
There is no disputing the comfortable warmth of real, hardwood flooring. It's timeless and generally adds to the value of any home. Periodic coatings protect it long-term against spills. It is very durable, but, normal wear and tear will be noticeable in high traffic areas. Some feel this adds charm to the room; others will refinish the hardwood to its original state.

Laminate Wood
The cost of true hardwoods can be an issue, which explains the popularity of an affordable alternative: laminated wood. It's easy to install and un-install when you feel that need for change. Every conceivable wood type is offered as a photographic imprint, or as a veneer of real wood, over other wood-based materials, topped off with a protective, clear finish.

Cork
One of the newer floorings to gain accolades is cork. Did you know cork is tree bark? That means it's very renewable. You're already aware of its softness, which is both a blessing and a curse in flooring. It makes long stretches of standing more comfortable, but heavy objects can sink into it or gouge if dragged across it. Though sealed to resist water it is still prone to staining. Luckily, a damaged tile is simple and affordable to replace.

Concrete / Rubber / Carpet Etc.
Materials previously unheard of as flooring in the kitchen are garnering some attention. Concrete, certainly a durable surface, is finding its way from the garage to the ground-floor kitchen. It can be stamped, stained, and stenciled with an array of contemporary colors and patterns, and is a cinch to clean. Rubber has comparable features to cork and is affordable, just beware of staining. Wall-to-wall carpeting in the kitchen was a "thing" years ago, and still is for many. It offers softness and warmth, but will require regular vacuuming and stain protection.

Evaluate your kitchen habits and choose accordingly. You now have the floor!