The kitchen has become the hub of the modern home, not just a cook space but a gathering place for family and friends and a focal point for activity. With all that goes on in today’s kitchen, it’s crucial that the floor can withstand high foot traffic as well as the all the inevitable spills and spatters. It also has to suit your personal style and fit your budget.
FOUR KITCHEN FLOOR MUSTS
Keep the following in mind when floor shopping:
Durability: To withstand frequent spills without staining, and to survive dropped skillets without damage, choose flooring that’s tough enough to survive your lifestyle.
Water-resistance: Your kitchen is a “semi-wet” room, so the flooring you choose should not be damaged by the occasional spilled glass of juice.
Scrub able: Messes always seem to end up underfoot, so the best kitchen flooring is one that’s easy to keep clean.
Design-friendly: When all is said and done, you want your kitchen to look just as good as the rest of your home. With today’s flooring options, you can have an attractive kitchen floor that’s resilient to boot.
Flooring manufacturers offer a wide assortment of materials that are functional as well as aesthetically pleasing. The following five flooring choices top the most-desirable list for contemporary kitchens. Start here when planning your kitchen redo, and you’re sure to find one that meets your needs.
Pros: Water-resistant, scrub able, comfortable underfoot, and budget friendly
Cons: Heavy appliances can leave depressions (avoidable with coasters under appliance legs)
Sheet vinyl has been around for decades and has only gotten better. The fact that it comes in a large sheet, as opposed to small, stick-down tiles, means there are no seams where water can seep down to the subflooring. Sheet vinyl offers wall-to-wall waterproof floor protection, which is always welcome in busy kitchens that see a lot of spills.
Vinyl flooring doesn’t get cold in the winter (as, say, ceramic tile can), so it’s comfortable underfoot all year round. It is easy to clean too; regular sweeping and occasional mopping with an all-purpose vinyl floor cleaner is sufficient.
Sheet vinyl is available in a wide variety of patterns and colours. The thicker the vinyl, the more durable and the more expensive. Expect to pay R300 to R1000 per square meter depending on quality. Professional installation will add another R100 to R300 per square meter. Pro installation is recommended because the vinyl sheet must be perfectly cut to fit the exact dimensions of the room and then carefully glued and rolled with a heavy press to prevent air bubbles.
- PORCELAIN TILE
Pros: Extremely durable, waterproof, stain resistant, and good for high-traffic areas
Cons: Grout requires periodic sealing to prevent stains
For the ultimate in durability, it’s hard to beat porcelain tile. Though similar to ceramic, porcelain is fired at higher temperatures, which makes it stronger and more resistant to damage. It comes in a variety of sizes and shapes, from 300mm squares to 1800mm planks that mimic hardwood. Like other hard flooring surfaces, porcelain can be slippery when wet, and it’s extremely hard—glasses and plates that fall on the floor will likely shatter.
Porcelain tile is heavy and will add substantial weight, so it’s not usually recommended for a second-story floor. If you have questions about whether your floor system is adequate for installing the tile, contact an engineer or a reputable tile setter. Depending on brand and quality, you’ll pay R250 to R800 per square meter for porcelain tile and an additional R350 to R1000 for professional installation. Unless you’re familiar with laying tile, it’s best to leave this to a professional. Installing porcelain requires the use of a special type of underlayment and thin set mortar.
Though porcelain tile is easy to clean with an all-purpose floor cleaner and a wet mop, the grout between the tiles should be sealed every three to four years with a grout sealer to reduce the risk of stains.
- ENGINEERED VINYL PLANK (EVP)
Pros: Waterproof, DIY-friendly, closely resembles real hardwood flooring
Cons: Heavy appliances may leave depressions
One of the newer flooring products on the market, engineered vinyl planks (EVP) are getting a lot of attention. The planks, which resemble hardwood, are completely waterproof. On the surface of the plank is a layer of luxury vinyl, bonded to a waterproof core that’s slightly cushioned to give the floor a soft feel underfoot.
Like other engineered flooring (laminate flooring or floating flooring), EVP planks do not attach directly to the subfloor. Instead, the planks snap together, which makes installation DIY-friendly. The flooring runs R500 to R700 per square meter and includes installation instructions. If you choose to have it professionally installed, expect to pay another R300 to R600 per square meter. Unlike a lot of flooring choices, such as sheet vinyl or tile, EVP can be installed directly over existing tile, concrete, or linoleum.
In terms of downsides, EVP is not as resilient as porcelain—and moving a heavy fridge could leave a scratch, so care should be taken when moving heavy appliances. It’s a breeze to clean, however, with just a mop dampened with soapy water.
- STONE TILE
Pros: Adds a natural, one-of-a-kind ambiance (no two tiles are identical), non-slip surface
Cons: Expensive and can stain without regular sealing
If you want natural flooring at any price, check out stone tile. You’ll pay R240 to R600 per square meter, depending on the type of stone, and factor in an additional R250 to R550 per square meter for professional installation. Hiring a professional tile setter is highly recommended because of the special underlayment and thin set mortar required. Even slight discrepancies in the thickness of the mortar or failure to use the correct product could result in stone tiles popping off.
Natural stone tile adds beauty to any kitchen and, unlike manufactured tiles, it’s by and large non-slip due to its semi-porous surface. Choose from a handful of natural tan, gray, red, and brown earth tones, depending on the type of stone you choose. The following types of stone are commonly available in flooring tiles:
- Travertineis smooth underfoot, non-slip, and available in light-to-medium soft earth tones.
- Marbleis very hard and can be polished to a high sheen. Unfortunately, it can also be slippery when wet. Marble is available in a wide variety of colours, including green, brown, gray, and near-black with pink, red, gold, and burgundy veining.
- Slateis one of the best kitchen flooring choices for many reasons, but namely, because it’s slip-resistant and very durable. It comes available in blue, gray, red, and orange tones, with attractive veining in the same colours.
- Granitetile is very hard, making it a good choice for high traffic areas. It comes in deep gray’s, blacks, tans, and mottled white tones. Granite resists scratching and can be polished to high shine, although the higher the sheen, the greater the slip factor.
Pros: Budget-friendly, DIY-friendly, warm and cushioned feel underfoot
Cons: Can be scratched by heavy objects
A relatively new addition to the flooring market, cork is quickly becoming a preferred choice for those who want a warm soft floor at an affordable price. Expect to pay R300 to R800 per square meter for cork tiles in square or plank shapes. Cork tiles can be installed by an enthusiastic homeowner—they’re available in peel-and-stick, glue down, or snap together assembly. Professional installation, if desired, can run an additional R250 to R400 per square meter.
Composed of ground-up cork combined with resins and then compressed into firm tiles, this flooring is available in a variety of gray, tan, and brown shades. While cork flooring can depress under the legs of heavy appliances, given time, the depressions will return to their original state. Cork flooring is soft underfoot and slightly springy. It reduces sound transfer, so it’s a good choice for homes that have a living area beneath the kitchen. Cork flooring resists stains but it is not stain-proof. Spilled wine that’s not promptly wiped up may leave a stain, but one of the cool things about cork is that it can be refinished by sanding down the surface and then applying stain and a sealer.
Cork can fade if exposed to direct sunlight, so protect your floor by using curtains or blinds. Clean-up is simple; wipe up spills promptly and mop with soapy water when necessary. Follow up by wiping the floor with a clean, dry microfiber mop to remove excess water.