best flooring for kitchens

Best Floorings For Kitchens

By Fortino Rosas / July 19, 2020 / 10 Comments

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    The kitchen is one of the hardest-working rooms in the house, and finding the best flooring for the kitchen can be one of the biggest challenges.

    Not only are there aesthetic considerations, but it needs to be durable enough to deal with heavy foot traffic and stand up under the inevitable spills and messes. If you spend a lot of time cooking, you will also want the floor to be comfortable. Your knees and other joints won’t thank you for spending hours standing on a rock hard floor.

    So what types of flooring are best for kitchens and why? Those are the exact questions we are going to answer here.

    Let’s take a look at some of the best kitchen flooring options and see how they measure up.

    Cork Flooring For Kitchens


    • It is highly sustainable and eco-friendly.
    • Cork has a very moisture-resistant cellular structure.
    • It is soft to walk on.
    • It is a safe choice because it is slip-resistant.


    • It must be sealed every three to four years.
    • Too much sun can discolor it.
    • Heavy furniture can cause indentations.

    Cork flooring has become a popular flooring option in homes, is easy to clean, and is one of the best floorings for kitchens.

    It is probably the most sustainable flooring product you will find. Did you know that it is harvested from tree bark?

    Since the tree bark grows back, cork can be harvested again every eight to 10 years without depleting valuable resources.

    It also has a cellular structure that is very unique. This structure is very resistant to water and moisture.

    However, you must reseal cork flooring every three to four years after installation to protect it.

    Cork is both soft and safe to walk on. It is soft to touch and has a textured surface that helps prevent you from slipping on it. It is also kind on your joints if you spend a lot of time on your feet in the kitchen.

    But if you choose to go with cork flooring for your kitchen, make sure to close your blinds or curtains regularly because it will fade in the sun.

    And if your table, hutch, or any other kitchen furnishings are heavy, they could leave dents in your cork floor.

    But cared for correctly, you can expect your cork flooring to last 20 to 25 years.

    If you are looking for another environmentally friendly option for your kitchen, consider bamboo flooring. Like cork, it is a durable floor that comes from a highly renewable source. But it too can be warped by water and must be sealed properly if it is to be used in spaces such as kitchens.

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    Engineered Hardwood Flooring For Kitchens


    • It is durable enough to withstand a high amount of traffic.
    • It is moisture-resistant enough to handle kitchen spills.
    • Hardwood flooring increases your home value.
    • It transitions well in open-concept homes.


    • It’s one of the more expensive options.
    • It can be difficult to replace a damaged plank.
    • It’s manufactured with resins and adhesives.

    Hardwood flooring looks good in any room and increases its value. And a kitchen is no exception.

    In the past, many people avoided using hardwood flooring because of the moisture and heat often created in the kitchen. Solid hardwood can expand and warp in humid and moist environments.

    Fortunately, we now have engineered hardwood.

    Engineered hardwood is extremely durable, which is a good thing because the kitchen is the busiest room in the house.

    This flooring can withstand high amounts of traffic and the messes that come along with them. Regular sweeping and mopping are all you need to keep these floors in good shape.

    And since they are moisture-resistant, if anything spills on them while you are cooking, simply wipe it up. It won’t damage engineered hardwood.

    Another reason why this is such a great choice for kitchen flooring is how well it transitions to other rooms. If you have an open-concept floor plan, you can use the same flooring from room to room.

    Engineered hardwood also has an advantage over solid wood when it comes to installation, as it can be installed as a floating floor over other floors. This means that if you are doing a refurb job, you don’t necessarily have to pull out all of your cabinets to install your new kitchen floor.

    While engineered hardwood doesn’t have the same prestige as solid hardwoods, it adds a similar level of value to your home when installed. Like solid wood floors, which can be resurfaced when they become scratched and worn, good quality hardwood floors can be resurfaced at least once. You can expect these floors to last between 30 and 50 years.

    Engineered hardwood is made by cross-layering between three and 12 layers of plywood to form a strong bond. The cross-layering helps stop the wood from warping when exposed to water. The plank is then finished with a top layer of real hardwood.

    This does mean that many engineered hardwood planks are manufactured with resin adhesives, which are volatile organic compounds. These can convert into gas when heated to room temperature in a process called off-gassing, which can negatively impact the air quality of your home. So, when choosing an engineered hardwood, make sure to pick one that is marked as VOC-free.

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    Luxury & Resilient Vinyl Flooring For Kitchens


    • It’s budget-friendly flooring.
    • Vinyl is highly water-resistant and some options are even waterproof.
    • You can find a wide assortment of colors and styles.
    • It is easy to clean and maintain.


    • It does little to nothing for the value of your home.
    • It is not eco-friendly.
    • Vinyl is susceptible to scratches and gouges.

    When it comes to vinyl flooring, the options are virtually endless.

    Luxury vinyl planks and tiles can mimic the look of real wood and natural stone. Resilient sheet vinyl can also be found in stones and woods, plus even more styles.

    Luxury & Resilient Vinyl Flooring

    So, why is it one of the best kitchen floorings? Primarily because it is extremely durable.

    In fact, sheet vinyl can last up to 20 years if it is taken care of. And the taking-care-of-it part is really pretty easy.

    With all the traffic that a kitchen must handle, you need a durable flooring. Not only is luxury vinyl flooring durable, all vinyl is water-resistant and you can even find choices that are waterproof.

    Another bonus with vinyl is that it is relatively soft underfoot. If you spend a few hours on your feet in the kitchen on very hard floors you can feel it. The give in vinyl leaves your joints feeling just a little bit happier.

    It is also one of the most budget-friendly options available for kitchens. Yet, despite all these benefits, installing vinyl does not add to the resale value of your home.

    While vinyl plank flooring is certainly scratch-resistant, it is not scratch-proof. It is particularly prone to damage when exposed to sharp or heavy objects, both of which tend to exist in kitchens.

    And it is not the eco-friendliest choice. Many vinyl manufacturers are working to make green changes, but this means you need to be careful which type you buy. Vinyl flooring is often made using chemicals that can omit volatile organic compounds when heated to room temperature. So they can release poison into the air of your home. Also, if your kitchen happens to catch on fire, the vinyl will release toxic chemicals into the air.

    Most vinyl plank flooring is also not biodegradable. So, once you rip your flooring out after its 20-year lifespan, it sits in a landfill forever.

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    Porcelain Tile Flooring For Kitchens


    • It is hard and durable.
    • Porcelain is extremely stain-resistant.
    • It is a truly waterproof option.
    • It can look like natural stone, yet is much less expensive.


    • It is difficult to stand on for long periods of time.
    • It’s easy to slip and fall on.
    • Porcelain tile can be a challenge to install.

    Porcelain tile is extremely durable. You can’t find a tougher material to put in your kitchen.

    It can handle any spill, splatter, or mess that your kitchen dishes out with a simple tile mop. How so?

    When it is made, porcelain is fired at very high temperatures. These high temperatures create a tile that is extremely hard, very durable, and one that water cannot penetrate.

    So, if you have a hard-working kitchen, this could be the best flooring option for you.

    However, there are a few downsides to porcelain tiles.

    First, because these tiles are so hard, you might get tired standing on them for long periods of time. So, wear cushioned shoes or place a soft mat in the area you plan to do most of your work in the kitchen.

    Porcelain can also lead to more slips and falls. Look for an option that is slip-resistant if this is a concern for you.

    Second, while your tiles are incredibly durable and waterproof, the same is not always true of your grout. Water can seep into the grout, meaning it is the first thing to become discolored, and mold can also grow in the small air pockets within the grout.

    For this reason, grout needs to be properly sealed when the floor is installed and should be resealed every couple of years. Plus, a deep grout clean should be on every tile floor owner’s “spring cleaning” to-do list.

    Also, even though they are a relatively budget-friendly option, these tiles aren’t such a good DIY project. To get the installation job done right, you really should hire a professional to install your porcelain tile flooring.

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    Natural Stone Tile Flooring For Kitchens


    • It gives your kitchen a natural, designer look.
    • Natural stone comes in many different options and colors.
    • It adds resale value to your home.
    • Natural stone is very durable.


    • It is one of the most expensive.options.
    • It is heavy and difficult to install.
    • Cheaper natural stone tiles are susceptible to damage.

    Natural stone is the best alternative to hardwood flooring for your kitchen if you want to add resale value to your home. It comes in many beautiful, natural options such as travertine, slate, and marble.

    And since no two pieces of stone are exactly the same, your kitchen will truly have a one-of-a-kind look.

    Similar to porcelain tiles, natural stone tile flooring is waterproof and extremely durable. But you do need to make sure to seal it periodically to protect it.

    If you are going to budget for natural stone, be prepared to spend a small fortune. Depending on the type of stone you choose, this kitchen flooring option can get pretty expensive.

    However, it is worth the money to go with good quality natural stone. Some of the cheaper options tend to flake or chip.

    Also, plan to have this flooring professionally installed.

    The stone tiles are heavy and the process is complicated. It is not a good idea to try this one yourself.

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    Price Comparison For Kitchen Flooring

    Now that you know what your best kitchen flooring options are, how do you decide on one?  There are many factors to consider.

    Price Comparison

    A big one, of course, is what you can afford. You may love the look of travertine floors, but if natural stone is not in your budget, you’ll need to find an alternative.

    We will calculate what you can expect to spend on average for each of these options. But keep in mind, these are only estimates.

    Your actual cost will depend on factors such as where you live, how big your kitchen is, the specific flooring you choose, additional materials you will need, whether it is a DIY project or you hire someone, and how complicated the installation job may be. But here’s a general idea of the average cost of materials.

    Floor Cost For A 250-Square-Foot Kitchen

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    Installing A Kitchen Floor

    Installation is another factor when choosing the best kitchen flooring for your home. Some of these flooring options make good DIY projects and others don’t.

    Cork, engineered hardwood, and vinyl flooring are all relatively easy to install yourself. So, if you are looking to save a few dollars on installation, these three are all good choices.

    They are also all floating floors, which means they should not be installed underneath your cabinets, as the weight of the cabinets can inhibit their natural expansion and contraction. But this does mean that if you are replacing your floors and not your cabinets, there is no need to move your cabinets.

    If you decide to hire a professional installer to do the job, expect to pay installation fees around $6 a square foot for cork, $8 a square foot for engineered hardwood, $3 a square foot for sheet vinyl, and $7 a square foot for vinyl tile and plank .

    Porcelain tile and natural stone tile flooring are more complicated. If it is not in your budget to hire an installer, you may want to look at some other flooring options.

    This is not just about laying the tiles evenly and having consistent-sized grout lines. When you open a packet of tiles, they are consistent in design, but they are all different. It takes both experience and patience to lay the tiles out in a way that flows well with the pattern of the individual tiles. Your eye will immediately be drawn to inconsistencies if this is not done well.

    Installation of porcelain tiles will cost you an extra $13 a square foot.

    Installation prices can average around $15 a square foot for natural stone. However, prices may be more or less depending on the kind of natural stone you choose.

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    Best Places To Find Kitchen Flooring

    Today, there are so many places to buy flooring. You shop online, visit a showroom, or take a trip down to your local home improvement store.

    So where should you look?

    Some stores specialize in certain products. Take Lumber Liquidators for example. They got their start buying and selling overstocked wood from other companies. So, wood and products that resemble wood are what they mostly sell.

    And they are a great place to go for discount pricing.

    Floor & Décor specializes in hard surface flooring. You can find both wood and tile options here, but you won’t find carpet.

    (Not that you’d even want to put carpet in your kitchen – yuck!)

    This store offers a price match guarantee. So, if you find your flooring cheaper somewhere else, let them know and they will honor that price.

    The big home improvement stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot are also good places to look. They offer just about any kind of flooring you can think of.

    And they employ knowledgeable salespeople to help you with these choices.

    You can purchase your flooring from each of these stores online as well. So, if you live somewhere remote, or would just rather do your shopping online, you have this option too.

    Some stores such as Empire Today offer an in-home service. You simply contact them by phone or online and schedule a home visit.

    So, there are plenty of ways to shop for your floors. And the best place to find them is the one that offers the kind of flooring you want in the manner you want it.

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    FAQs About Kitchen Floors

    What Is The Most Durable Flooring For The Kitchen?

    Porcelain tile is the most durable flooring for your kitchen. The way it is manufactured means it is waterproof, and it is highly scratch-resistant. You are very unlikely to scratch tile flooring with your shoes, and your pet is unlikely to scratch it with their nails.

    However, tile does have drawbacks as a kitchen floor. First and foremost, because it is so durable, it can be very hard on the joints if you spend a lot of time standing on it. This means it is not ideal if you work a lot in the kitchen. Second, while the tiles are waterproof, the grout that holds them in place is not. Water seeping into grout can cause mold.

    Tile is still an excellent choice for the kitchen floor, but invest time in cleaning and sealing your grout, and purchase soft mats for the areas where you spend the most time on your feet.

    What Is The Easiest Kitchen Floor To Keep Clean?

    Tile is one of the easiest floors to keep clean in any situation, including in the kitchen. Tiles do not soak up dirt, so it is easy to remove by sweeping. For a deeper clean, detergent is not even required—warm water or steam can be enough to do the job.

    But, while tiles are easy to keep clean on a day-to-day basis, the grout that holds them in place is more complicated, and it is often the first thing to start to look grubby. Unlike with the tile, dirt and moisture can soak into the grout, leading to mold and discoloration.

    Seal grout upon installation and every few years to protect it from soaking up moisture, and clean your grout periodically using baking soda or a specialist grout cleaner.

    Is Vinyl Plank Flooring Good For Kitchens?

    Vinyl plank flooring is an excellent choice for kitchens for a number of reasons. First, it is waterproof and deals well with changing temperatures, so it won’t buckle and warp in kitchen conditions. Second, it is scratch-resistant, so it is unlikely to get scuffed up by heavy foot traffic.

    It can also be a better choice than more durable floors such as tile, as it is relatively soft underfoot. That means it will be kinder on your joints if you spend a lot of time on your feet in the kitchen.

    Vinyl flooring also has the bonus of being affordable and easy to install, so you can save more money by making it a DIY project. But bear in mind that vinyl adds very little to the resale value of your home.

    Is It A Good Idea To Put Laminate Flooring In The Kitchen?

    Laminate flooring is not advisable for kitchens for the simple reason that it does not hold up well under moist conditions. Even a small spill can cause serious staining and the floor to warp, making it unstable underfoot and leaving you with a creaky floor.

    Manufacturers are starting to produce water-resistant laminate flooring using similar techniques as for engineered hardwood. But it is still relatively expensive. In the meantime, as this technology develops, if you are looking for wood flooring that will hold up in the kitchen, you are probably better off investing in engineered hardwood, which is also water-resistant and adds greater value to your home.

    Should Kitchen Flooring Go Under Cabinets?

    Whether flooring should go under cabinets depends on the type of flooring being installed. For any flooring that adheres to the floor, such as tile, and perhaps engineered hardwood depending on the type you choose, the flooring should go under the cabinets, forming a solid base for the entire kitchen.

    However, if you are installing floating floors that do not adhere to the ground, such as vinyl plank flooring or some engineered hardwoods, they should be installed after your cabinets are in. This is because the weight of the cabinets can restrict the floor from its natural expansion and contraction.

    What’s Trending In Kitchen Floors?

    Stone and tile have become very popular flooring choices for kitchens, as they are durable and also give a timeless, rustic look. Wood is a popular flooring option in every corner of the home, and now that engineered hardwoods are offering a water-resistant option, this style has also become a very popular choice for kitchens. Those who are concerned about the environment are looking at cork as something attractive, durable, and renewable.

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    In Conclusion

    What is the best kitchen flooring for your home?  It is the one that best fits your priorities and budget.

    Are you going for a designer look that will increase your home’s resale value? Choose engineered hardwoods or natural stone tile.

    Do you want to tackle the installation yourself? Luxury vinyl is one of the simplest ones to do on your own.

    Is the environment a top concern for you? Cork is a renewable, all-natural resource you can feel good about putting in your home.

    Or do you need something moderately priced yet highly durable? If so, go with porcelain tiles.

    Also of note: Waterproof laminate flooring options are being manufactured by a handful of companies internationally.

    Do you have experience of refurbishing your kitchen floor? What material did you choose and what challenges did you face? Share your experience with the community in the comments.

    About Fortino Rosas

    Chief Floor Critic, 32 years of experience in flooring installation and sales

    Fortino Rosas is an independent flooring contractor with 32 years of experience in residential and commercial flooring installation and sales. He joined the Floor Critics team to share his expertise with our readers. Fortino has acquired vast knowledge and skills in the areas of product selection, space planning, and installation. He has installed flooring in residential, government, and commercial office projects in the Midwest. Visit Website.

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