Installing new flooring in a kitchen
The kitchen is often the most used room in the house, with cooking, eating, storage, and even just socializing taking place there. Your kitchen has to withstand the usual foot traffic, with or without muddy or damaging shoes, as well as food spills, high temperatures and moisture. All the while still looking attractive and reflecting the personality of the family that uses it. Not too much to ask?!
One of the key things to consider when updating your kitchen is flooring. Like choosing 'paint for kitchens', a robust floor covering makes for a longer-lasting and higher-quality kitchen. Flooring that is easy to clean helps to minimise the maintenance of constant spills, breakage, and trodden in dirt from the outdoors. It also should also be comfortable to stand on, as cooking and washing up involves hovering over a work surface for long periods.
One of the top choices for kitchen floors is laminate flooring. Laminate is a synthetic product made of multiple layers laminated together, and resembles natural flooring, such as wood and stone tiling. It is easily installed and long lasting. It is also attractive like hardwood flooring, but cheaper and easier to maintain. Laminate has the following pros and cons:
- Comes in flat-packed planks that interlock like a puzzle, and can be laid easily as a do-it-yourself project (see our guide on installing laminate flooring). It can also be installed over the top of existing flooring.
- It is scratch resistant and holds its color well, even after years of walking, splatter, and cleaning. It is good for withstanding broken crockery and pet toenails.
- It is easily cleaned with a mop or rag and cleaning solution, without the need to scrub awkward crannies or rough surfaces.
- Laminate does not muffle sounds well, so footsteps will echo. It may help to include a good underlay, which will help to reduce noise.
- Though laminate is resistant to moisture, excessive wetness can cause the planks to warp. This means it will need to be dried after mopping, and snow or rain dripped from incoming outdoorwear will need to be kept away from it or wiped up immediately.
Solid wood flooring (also known as real wood or hardwood) not only looks fantastic, it is comfortable to walk and stand on, essential in the kitchen. It comes in natural planks or as engineered wood. Engineered wood flooring is made from rwood fibres, with veneers made of natural wood. Engineered wood offers the same look as natural wood at less cost, and often is harder wearing.
Durability depends on the type of wood used. Oak is a popular choice, as it looks good and is hard wearing but low cost. Cherry is another durable wood, but more expensive. Pine is one of the cheapest choices, but may not last as long. It is worth noting that wood in general is not as resistant to scratches as other types of flooring.
Wood flooring higher in maintenance needs than laminate or even tiling, as home owners will have to be careful about any contact with water. Natural wood and engineered wood both need to be lacquered, in order to protect them from moisture and can also be slippery when wet. In addition, kitchen users will have to be vigilant about puddles of water, as if these are left for long, the wood planks will warp. They can be cleaned with a mop, but the mop should only be damp and any small water spills should be wiped up immediately. Wooden flooring can also be bought pre-treated with a sealant that will help protect it.
Installing wood flooring was traditionally a lengthy, fiddly process involving a team of professionals and several days of setup. However, engineered wood is easily installed as a DIY project, and there are even “snap-together” flooring packages available.
Other flooring types
Other flooring types include bamboo, cork, rubber, carpet, brick, or even concrete. Cork and bamboo are sustainable resources, as they can be tapped without cutting down the tree. Cork is comfortable to stand on, and both are long lasting. Rubber flooring has many of the same qualities of linoleum and vinyl, in that they are comfortable to stand on and durable. Carpet is also a comfortable option, but will be more difficult to protect from and treat after moisture and spills. Brick comes in easy-to-install tiles, and offers an alternative look to typical modern households. Concrete, though not easy to stand on for long periods, offers easy maintenance and has the unique advantage of naturally maintaining temperature in the room due to its slow warming process.