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An Introduction to Hardwood Flooring

Kitchen With Hardwood Flooring


Oak and maple are common choices for kitchen flooring; pine is often used to give a worn effect. The wood is typically installed prior to the cabinets and laid in planks, narrow strips, or patterned parquet squares.

A floor finished on-site with penetrating oil and wax gives you the classic look of hardwood floors and an even surface. However, it will need to be waxed annually. This type of treatment is more appropriate for the drawing room than a high-traffic, high-spill zone like the kitchen.

A floor treated on-site or at the factory with a penetrating sealer like polyurethane won't need to be waxed regularly. It can be kept fresh with a vacuum or broom and with a recoating every five or six years.

Don't get stuck with a bad finish job. Look for bubbles, paper, and dust that may have been trapped in the finish; a wavy look or feel along the strips; deep swirls or sander marks; and splotchy areas. While you may see some imperfections in isolated areas, they shouldn't appear throughout the flooring.


Recommended flooring support

Plywood.


Pros

  • Polyurethane-coated wood floor can be clean with a vacuum or broom

  • Wood provides a variety of looks

  • Long-lasting and durable

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Cons

  • If water seeps between the boards, it may cause warping and buckling

  • Floors with wax finishes require maintenance and may not be practical for the kitchen?

  • Can be slippery

  • Entire floor may need to be refinished to get rid of scratches

  • You have to guard against fading; be careful where you place throw rugs and mats as sun can fade the floor around them, leaving a darker area underneath


Price
About $7-$100 per square foot.

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Get to Know Your Flooring Options

Fun with Flooring-Introduction

Although flooring by nature exists to be stepped upon, floors can and should do more than be durable. Whether wood, laminate, tile or stone is your material of choice, the kitchen floor adds color and character to the room. It also unites the kitchen with, or distinguishes it from adjoining areas. As one of the largest visible sufaces, flooring has a huge impact on a kitchen's design. Here's a sampling of the available options.

An Introduction to Carpeted Flooring

Table-Legs-On-Carpeted-Floor

Courtesy of DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen

Carpet flooring in the kitchen can work well in areas of the country with little humidity.

If you'd like to place carpeting in your kitchen work area, choose something durable, such as a tight berber made out of a stain-resistant material like olefin.


Recommended flooring support

Plywood or concrete.

Pros

  • Quiet and comfortable


Cons

  • Doesn't provide the durability and stain-resistance you expect from a kitchen floor

  • Will be a chore to clean up everyday spills, much less major accidents.

  • Can mildew easily, especially in areas of the country with humid climates

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Price
About $3-$9 per square foot for berber.

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An Introduction to Laminate Flooring

Close up of laminate flooring

Laminate flooring can look identical to many hardwood species.

Laminate flooring resembles hardwood or stone while offering the easy maintenance of vinyl. Some people turn their noses up at the idea of obtaining the look of natural materials from plastic laminate adhered to fiberboard or particleboard. But you may want to consider the product, which has been popular in Europe for decades, if you want the look but not the price tag of real wood.


Recommended support
Plywood.

Pros

  • Liquids don't cause the damage they would to a real wood floor

  • No worries about staining or fading for at least a decade

  • Extremely durable and can handle lots of traffic

  • Cleanup requires just a broom or mop

  • Requires less maintenance than real wood

  • Costs less than real wood


Cons

  • Laminated layers could break up if water seeps into cracks

  • When it wears out, the whole floor has to be replaced rather than just refinished

  • More prone to chipping than real wood

  • Surface won't be as even or as smooth and seamless as real wood

Price
About $4-$11 per square foot.

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An Overview of Vinyl Flooring

Close-Up-Of-Vinyl-Flooring

Vinyl can provide the look of tile without the hardness of stone or ceramic.

You've stepped on plenty of vinyl in your lifetime. One of the most common kitchen flooring materials, it's known as "resilient" because of its ability to bounce back into shape. That's what gives it a cushiony feel. Vinyl comes in sheet or tile form (which can be easier to install but also more susceptible to water damage because of its seams) and in all kinds of colors and patterns.

When you choose vinyl, you'll need to decide on a type: standard or inlaid. The key difference between the two is:

  • Standard vinyl uses a rotogravure process in which the color and pattern are printed on one sheet layered between a thick, clear upper surface (the wear layer) and a foamy vinyl core.

  • In inlaid vinyl, the color and pattern go all the way through the core material. Inlaid vinyl is considered the more dense and durable of the two.

Both types of vinyl have a protective no-wax coating or a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) surface (the same water-resistant resin used on raincoats). Jump around on the floor samples before you decide, as the cushiness will vary depending on the thickness of the core material in inlaid vinyl and of the wear layer in standard vinyl.

Recommended flooring support
Plywood.

Pros

  • Endless options for colors and patterns

  • No worries about water discoloring the floor

  • No maintenance beyond sweeping and mopping

  • Resists scuffs and stains from kids and pets


Cons

  • Requires that you clean up spills quickly to avoid stains; it's stain-resistant but not stain-proof
  • If the installation isn't done properly and as free of seams as possible, the flooring may peel up
  • You shouldn't wear pointed heels while you stir the spaghetti, as they could dent the vinyl


Price
About $1-$10 per square foot.

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Introduction to Linoleum Flooring

Checkerboard-Linoleum-Flooring-With-Decorative-Border

Courtesy of Forbo

Linoleum flooring allows you to arrange unique designs for your kitchen.

Most often associated with the kitchen of your grandmother, linoleum has come back in fashion as an environmentally friendly product. Linoleum is often confused with plastic vinyl because they both come in sheet form. But vinyl is made from synthetics and linoleum from natural materials; it's a felt or canvas coated with linseed oil, cork, and resins. The Latin root of the word linoleum means flax or linen combined with oil. It comes in plain or decorative patterns, including ones that resemble marble.

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Recommended flooring support
Plywood.


Pros

  • Quiet, smooth, elastic, and comfortable

  • Takes a lot of effort to dent it

  • Fats, oils, and greases won't damage it

  • Environmentally friendly


Cons

  • Has fewer colors and patterns than vinyl

  • Standing water can damage it


Price

About $4-$22 per square foot.

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Things to Think About When Selecting Flooring

Mother-and-Baby-In-Modern-Kitchen


To help focus your selection process, ask yourself the following questions. You can print out the questionnaire and refer to it as you read through the site and while visiting a designer's showroom.

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pdf PDF Version

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  1. What is under my current flooring? How will this material affect the choice of my new flooring? Is there asbestos that will need to be removed?

  2. What flooring option feels the best under my feet?

  3. Do I want to use the opportunity of getting a new floor to level off its height if I now have to step up or down to enter the kitchen?

  4. Would I like to install a radiant-heat system under my new floor?

  5. Do I prefer a consistent color or one that's broken up by granules or veins or that's patterned?

  6. Do I need to consider the safety of children or elderly family members who may be coming through or using the kitchen?

  7. Do I want to place a priority on being able to quickly clean up spills without worrying about stains or water damage?

  8. Do I prefer natural or manmade materials?

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Eco-Friendly Antique Flooring

Reclaimed antique heart pine wood flooring

Reclaimed from about-to-be-demolished factories, warehouses and mills in the Eastern and Southeastern United States, this antique heart pine flooring features warm tones of orange, amber and pumpkin as well as the tight vertical grain and fewer knots typical of old-growth hardwood. Forest Stewardship Council certification means every board is an antique and qualifies for LEED credits. Available in widths of 3 to 12 inches, unfinished or prefinished.

Exotic Hardwoods

Engineered African mahogany hardwood flooring

The Global Exotics collection from Armstrong features hardwood flooring from species such as tigerwood, jatoba, cumaru and lapacho. Choose from ?-inch-thick solid wood; more affordable, low-profile 5/16-inch-thick wood; or the more environmentally friendly engineered wood, which uses fewer raw materials and can be floated over existing flooring. Shown: 4?-inch-wide planks of engineered African mahogany in the natural color. Armstrong

An Overview of Flooring Options

Side-By-Side-Comparison-Of-Four-Flooring-Types

Of the many things to consider when purchasing new flooring for your kitchen, these may be the most important: durability, stain resistance and style. Of course, no floor is perfect, so don't expect a certain flooring material to be the most durable, the most stain resistant and the most stylish. Figure out what flooring features are best suited for your kitchen and select accordingly.

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VinylLaminateStoneCeramic

Good for long periods of standing?

Yes

No

No

No

Good for kids
and pets?

Yes

Yes

No

No

Easy to prevent stains?

Yes

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Yes

No; needs special sealants

No

Good for
radiant heat?

No

?

No

Yes

Yes

Durable?

Yes

Yes

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Yes

Yes

Chief
advantage?

Lots of colors, easy cleanup, cheap

Look of wood with easier maintenance

Natural look and good for radiant heat

Lots of looks possible

Chief disadvantage?

Can peel up

Susceptible to water damage

Can be
slippery

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Hard on feet

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HardwoodLinoleumConcreteCarpet

Good for long periods of standing?

No

Yes

No

Yes

Good for kids
and pets?

No

Yes

No

No

Easy to prevent stains?

No; needs special coating

Yes

No

No

Good for
radiant heat?

No

No

Yes

No

Durable?

Yes

No

Yes

No

Chief
advantage?

Durable

Environmentally friendly

Good for radiant heat

Comfort and quiet

Chief disadvantage?

Susceptible to water damage

Not many color options

Requires sealing

Chore to keep clean

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