Picture this: It’s the holiday season. You’re having a bunch of friends and family over to celebrate and spread some merriment. The place is packed. There’s food, drinks, and everyone is having a grand ole time.
Now picture this: Where is everyone standing and hanging out together?
If you’ve ever had your own place or been to a gathering, you probably pictured that good time happening in the kitchen. Let’s be honest – the kitchen is the central hub of the home and the place where everyone tends to congregate. It’s a high-traffic area, that is frequently exposed to spills, dirt, and moisture. Kitchens need to have durable, water-friendly flooring, but what is the best flooring for kitchens?
Everyone circle around the island, pull up a stool and grab a seasonal beverage, as we review the options for kitchen flooring. We’ll focus on what’s hot for 2020 in kitchen flooring, different types of flooring, which kitchen flooring is best, cheap flooring options and more. But first . . .
Special Considerations Underfoot
Unlike other rooms in the home, the kitchen gets used daily – either for food storage and preparation, group or family dining, or just as a rallying point for activities. Kitchens take a beating unlike any other room – save maybe the bathroom. It’s no coincidence that both are regularly exposed to moisture. From washing dishes, sinks, cooking, ice makers/refrigerators, to regular foot traffic, moisture is a real consideration that affects every surface in the kitchen, especially the floor. When choosing flooring for the kitchen, waterproof is key.
Due to the number of kid, adult, and pet feet meandering through the kitchen each day, a durable floor is also critical. Many kitchens double as a “mudroom” with an exterior entrance and all the fun, dirt, debris, and moisture one could track from the outside to beat up your floor.
Additionally, like in a bathroom, all that moisture on a hard surface can be an accident waiting to happen. Many waterproof flooring options get extremely slippery when moisture is applied to them. Non-slip options should be a consideration for any flooring installed in a kitchen.
Remember, working with a flooring and remodeling professional can help you identify considerations like these and put you on the path toward making the right flooring choice for your project.
Recommended Flooring for Kitchens
Factoring in those aforementioned special considerations, and others such as price (who doesn’t love cheap flooring?!), let’s take a look at some of the types of flooring that work best in kitchens.
Used for centuries in homes, hardwood floors continue to be a luxurious and popular choice for many homeowners. Solid hardwood floors are durable, warm, stylish and water-resistant. Yes. You read that right. Hardwood floors are not waterproof. Solid hardwoods, when combined with the proper finish are water-resistant, but long-term exposure to moisture will damage them. Spills should be cleaned as soon as possible; however, they can take more exposure than a laminate or engineered hardwood floor with composite or non-water-resistant cores can handle.
Despite this “weakness,” hardwoods are a great kitchen floor. They can also add a variety of looks over the years of their life through refinishing either to match flooring throughout the home or to give the kitchen some standalone pizazz. Depending on the finish, hardwood floors can be slippery, however, design variables such as hand-scraped or distressed finishes or plank width/length can provide extra surface area for traction.
Trends to watch for with hardwoods in 2020: lighter finishes and variety. While the deep walnut and cherry finishes are somewhat traditional and timeless, hardwood flooring for 2020 will feature lighter, more “natural” wood colors. Look for terms like “blonde” and “honey” to be big players, along with grays and whitewashes. Color variety is another continuing trend for 2020 – dark wood mixed with light and medium-tone woods provide an eye-catching floor.
Much like lay patterns for tile, hardwood flooring can be laid in patterns for added interest. Your flooring pros at The Good Guys can also help you with pattern installation that is going to be on-trend for 2020 but timeless for the future. Herringbone, diagonal and other install patterns will continue to be popular choices, but wide plank and mixing plank widths are also coming back strong.
Look for reclaimed, recycled, and environmentally sustainable choices to be popular varieties for hardwood flooring.
Generally speaking, like hardwood floors, laminate floors are a warm, water-resistant choice for the kitchen. As they are not waterproof, homeowners should remember to factor this in when selecting laminate. Laminates have long been a less-expensive way to get the look of traditional hardwood.
HOWEVER – many flooring manufacturers are now offering “waterproof laminate” which features a rigid core made of waterproof material that adds strength and stability. These do away with the perceived weakness to moisture.
These new laminates still have the advantages of traditional laminates – including the flexibility of installation. Most laminate floors can be clicked together and either permanently installed (glued down) or floated, allowing for installation over uneven subfloors.
Much the same as hardwood, lighter finishes will be the trend for 2020. Gray washes, light woods, and mixed colors will lead the style parade. Also look for longer plank lengths, even up to 36” and 48”, combined with wider planks (as wide as 8”!) to be a trend for all wood and wood-look laminates.
Mimicking solid hardwood flooring’s distinctive colors and patterns remains a primary selling feature of laminate floors. Hand-scraped, distressed, rustic, and “reclaimed” looks will all continue to be popular for 2020, as homeowners continue to want unique, realistic looks for their floors. Pattern installs like chevron or herringbone remain popular and assist with achieving those looks.
A classic and durable look, tile flooring has long been the go-to option for wet areas. If installed, grouted and sealed properly, tile can last a lifetime and sometimes longer. Tile is, anecdotally-speaking, the number one most popular option for kitchen flooring. A wide variety of floor tiles are available, so it’s helpful to understand the differences and narrow it down to a few options you prefer.
Here’s a look at the most popular varieties of tile for kitchen floors.
Ceramic or Porcelain
One of the most durable, and most popular tile for floors or walls. Ceramic tiles are man-made from natural materials – in this case, clay – and baked to a finish. They are available in a wide variety of styles, shapes, colors, and patterns.
Ceramic tiles can handle spills, splatters, and messes dished out in most kitchens. While they won’t damage the tile, these messes can stain grout, so where possible they should be cleaned up as soon as possible.
Among the most popular style of ceramic tiles, porcelain tiles are 100% waterproof and can handle just about any stain. They are harder than standard ceramics due to a higher temperature baking process which strengthens the tile for durability. That durability can make them slippery in some finishes, so be on the lookout for slip-resistant tiles or tiles with non-slip features like patterns or texture. These are found commonly on ceramic and porcelain tiles meant to look like wood or natural stone, which can be difficult to install.
Another great tile option for kitchens is made of natural stone. On the higher end of the price scale, stone tiles (think marble, granite, etc.), like ceramic, are offered in a variety of colors and patterns, however, the most popular options tend to feature colors or patterns that occur naturally, rather than man-made.
Natural stone tile does require a bit more care than porcelain or ceramic. Typically, they need to be sealed following install and re-sealed at regular intervals as time progresses. But with proper care, they are a beautiful and tough surface for your kitchen.
For 2020, tiles continue to be popular as kitchen flooring. Especially those that mimic traditional hardwood floors, with planks and “grain” finish details. Larger tile sizes remain popular, as they have in previous years. Plank tile 8” wide by 48” long is a big hit, as are 12” x 24” ceramic tiles. Despite these trends, subway tiles will continue to be popular, along with decorative mosaic tiles. Traditional square tiles were trending down in recent years, but in larger formats, they are making a comeback in popularity!
Mixing tile sizes and patterned installations will be popular again in 2020. Installing a room entirely diagonal, or even using a herringbone or chevron install to spice up a more traditional tile, are just a few of the options.
Perhaps the most popular flooring option in recent years, and for 2020 shows no signs of slowing down. But many people looking for kitchen flooring don’t know anything about modern vinyl flooring. This is not the sheet vinyl your parents used to have; this ain’t mom’s linoleum!
Vinyl flooring today, which was formerly a purely commercial product, is most popularly offered in tiles and planks, and popular varieties of vinyl will be referred to as LVT or LVP. These stand for “Luxury Vinyl Tile” and “Luxury Vinyl Plank”. Basically – you’re getting good vinyl either in a tile or plank. Most importantly in the vinyl acronym world is the reference to vinyl as WPC or SPC: Wood Plastic Composite or Stone Plastic Composite.
WPC and SPC refer to the core of the vinyl flooring. WPC uses wood and polymers in the core for stability and strength; SPC vinyl has a stone/plastic composite core, made largely of stone dust, stabilizers, and PVC to strengthen the tile. Both feature a foam or cork backing to soften the floor underfoot and deaden sound. The vinyl layer from where the floor gets its name is the prominent feature of these floors, showing the near-infinite colors and patterns, and they’re topped with a wear layer for added protection from scrapes and spills.
Both vinyl types are fully waterproof and can be installed “floating” above the subfloor. They’re a great option for kitchens and even bathrooms, they can even be installed in basements — if you have a kitchen in the basement. And let’s be honest, if you do, that’s awesome!
While vinyl flooring is a bit softer than some other options (looking at you, ceramic tiles!), it’s still a tough, durable flooring solution. Popular trends for 2020 include the most popular variant of the vinyl: wood look. Vinyl designed to mimic solid hardwoods is responsible for driving the vinyl market, offering customers the look of wood, with a softer underfoot yet extremely durable product.
Vinyl flooring will also continue to move toward lighter colors and finishes for 2020. Look for the whitewash and “blonde” coloring on wood look and gray on stone look vinyl. Interesting “finish” patterns are also becoming more popular like wire, and vinyl is offered in a near-infinite array of colors and patterns. The same install patterns that are popular for hardwood will also be for your vinyl think chevron, herringbone or diagonal and look to install in a pattern or patterns to tailor the unique look to your home.
Perhaps the most basic and most durable kitchen flooring option is stained concrete. Offering a sleek look that can be tailored to be modern or traditional, concrete is extremely durable and can be sealed to completely waterproof, which is necessary as concrete typically absorbs most fluids… Frankly, most homes have concrete sub-flooring in them today. However, you’ll need to work with a professional like your pals at The Good Guys to properly prepare the surface for staining.
Concrete floors can be stained to look like wood, or stone, even some tiles. It can be slippery once finished, however, there are options to make the flooring less slick. So mats in the kitchen probably are a good idea wherever excessive moisture may occur – think in front of a sink.
Look for lighter finishes, as we saw with the other flooring products. As there are no tiles to specifically install and arrange, the unique looks come from the finish, including the color and patterns.
Stained concrete is one of the best cheap flooring options for 2020 as well, so it can be a great economical option for your kitchen floors. Want it to look like marble? No problem! Want hardwood or traditional ceramic tile looks? No problem!
As you can see, 2020 is going to be an exciting year for flooring. If you’re interested in bringing some of that excitement home to your kitchen, contact your flooring pro partners at Lillie Avery Flooring for help on choosing the best type of flooring for your job.