The kitchen is one of the most hardworking rooms in the house. We use it for food preparation, cooking and sometimes for doing laundry as well. This not only means that most of us use our kitchens every day, it also means that we have a need for surfaces that will withstand every type of wear and tear, from water to heat and the impact of sharp objects.
Furthermore dogs and cats are frequent inhabitants of many – if not most – of our kitchens, as are children. So we can expect dirt and mess to accumulate fairly quickly.
For this reason every surface in the kitchen needs to be chosen with care, not least of which is the kitchen floor. Flooring options for the kitchen are remarkably varied, although some are more suitable than others. They range from all types of tiles to laminate flooring and vinyl sheeting and vinyl planks. So whether you are building a new house or renovating an old one, consider all the options before you decide what to do with your new floor.
Kitchen floor tiles
If the structure of your home incorporates concrete floor slabs, tiles are a great way to go. The concrete must first be finished using a trowel and a suitable mortar mix (building sand mixed with cement and a bit of water). This then forms a nice, smooth service for the tiles to be laid on.
But there is an enormous choice in terms of both material and cost. For instance you can opt for locally made quarry tiles, or you can splash out and buy imported ceramic tiles or even classy marble, travertine or granite tiles.
There are numerous manufacturers of suitable kitchen floor tiles, and many more companies that distribute tiles for manufacturers. If you’re not sure what you want, it’s a good idea to visit showrooms so that you can see a variety of tiles for yourself. Ideally seek out companies that stock a good range of different tiles. For example, Express USA Tile, which has a warehouse showroom in Newark, New Jersey, has a huge range of different types of floor tiles suitable for kitchens, ranging from porcelain and ceramic tiles to those manufactured from marble and granite.
Aiming at greater exclusivity, the New Jersey-based Mannington Mills (www.mannington.com), manufactures a 100% porcelain tile that can be used on all kitchen surfaces, including floors. Manufactured in a range of beautifully natural colors and textures, this product range is inspired by top notch trends across the globe.
Brand new on the North American market are tiles that were launched by an Italian company Ceramiche Refin (www.refin-ceramic-tiles.com) at the AIA Convention & Expo in New Orleans in May 2011. The company specializes in ceramic and porcelain tiles for the kitchen and other parts of the home. But before you explore products from other shores, see what is available on your own continent.
Vinyl sheet flooring for kitchens
Resilient vinyl flooring has been used in kitchens for decades. Manufactured to closely resemble other materials – ceramic tiles, marble and so on – vinyl sheeting is relatively inexpensive and fairly simple to lay. It is also really easy to clean. Generally it is available in both 6 foot and 12 foot rolls, which means that you will normally be able to avoid excessive seams which can give away the fact that this is in fact vinyl.
The Pennsylvania-based Armstrong World Industries (www.armstrong.com/flooring/) has an incredible selection of designs including sheeting that looks like wood (natural or distressed), stone, ceramics and slate. The finish of the vinyl flooring also comes in different finishes: high gloss, medium gloss and low gloss, and it is guaranteed not to rip, gouge or tear. The company also manufactures Luxe Plank, a “luxury vinyl” product that has been designed to look like hardwood 2010 it was voted a “best new home product” by This Old House magazine.
Mannington Mills is another American company that manufactures sheet vinyl flooring. Calling their flooring “resilient” rather than vinyl, they have also taken the bold step of incorporating recycled content into the product. Plus they have pioneered the use of water-based inks that have ultra-low volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that pollute the atmosphere. Products also carry trademarked and registered names.
Vinyl is also used for floor tiles, which are a particularly popular choice for DIY enthusiasts, and most vinyl flooring manufacturers make both. Like sheeting, vinyl tiles are made to look like other materials, as well as being available in a range of colors.
Vinyl is, of course a type of plastic, and therefore synthetic. If you want to go green, but still want sheeting, then consider linoleum.
Linoleum flooring for kitchens
Good old fashioned linoleum (lino) is coming back into fashion, largely because it is naturally biodegradable and anti-bacterial. According to Armstrong, that has a seven-color range of linoleum flooring, new-age lino is made from wonderfully natural materials including recycled wood flour, linseed oil, cork dust and limestone.
Fiberglass flooring for kitchens
Falling loosely into its resilient categorized flooring products Mannington Mills also manufactures fiberglass-backed sheeting for kitchen floors. Manufactured with a flexible inner core for comfort, the flooring company (which makes a good range of different products) maintains that their Sobella fiberglass flooring has advantages no other floor can offer. These include a special softness underfoot as well as durability and ease of cleaning. The surface is vinyl, making it “resilient”.
Flooring installers maintain that fiberglass flooring is easier to install than regular vinyl sheeting. Because it is so flexible, there is no chance it will crack like old fashioned lino used to do.
Laminate and solid wood flooring for kitchens
If you like the look of wood underfoot in your kitchen, there’s the choice of either real wood or laminate flooring that has been made to look like wood. Some types of laminate flooring simply lock together, making it an ideal product for the home handyman to install. Some companies, including Armstrong and Mannington, also manufacture solid wood flooring that locks together, making it relatively quick and easy to install.
Of course some laminate and solid wood flooring is more expensive than other types. If you are aiming to minimize the cost of the choice of flooring options for the kitchen you are planning, have a look at what companies like US Wood Flooring (www.uswoodflooring.com) have to offer. This particular company operates throughout North America and will supply details of certified installers who are well equipped to fit the flooring for you.