Kitchen flooring – everything you need to know

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  • When it comes to kitchens, you should never overlook the floor. Some designers even recommend it as a jumping-off point for the rest of your scheme

    It’s easy to overlook kitchen flooring when you’re busy thinking about what units, appliances and added extras you’re going to have. But the floor of your kitchen is likely to be one of the largest surface areas in the room, so its selection deserves careful thought.

    Your floor should work together with the rest of your kitchen so take the look and material of your units into consideration when picking flooring. Materials such as durable laminate and matt porcelain will look great in modern schemes, while natural stone tiles and warm wood suit traditional designs. A popular, contemporary flooring material is polished concrete, which gives a chic, industrial edge.

    It needs to perform on many levels – durability, safety and ease of cleaning – and it must look great, too. Ultimately your choice of flooring can make or break your kitchen look. ‘A good place to start when selecting materials is the flooring,’ says Robert Burnett, Head of Design, Holloways of Ludlow. For example, it’s usually best to avoid veneered or wood kitchen panels if the floor is wood. Most kitchens require a contrast in materials and/or colour to achieve impact.’

    There’s a wide range of flooring materials on offer that can be used to enhance your cooking zone. But before you set your heart on a material, there are some important points to consider.

    Kitchen flooring – everything you need to know

    We’ve made your life easy by putting together this simple list of things to consider when choosing your kitchen flooring.

    Starting from scratch? Read: How to plan a kitchen – your step-by-step guide to the perfect space

    1. Consider the overall look

    How to choose kitchen flooring

    Image credit: Darren Chung

    The flooring you choose for your kitchen should complement your units and worktop, so either go for a coordinating look with a material that matches your worktop, or create contrast.

    To coordinate, go for materials in the same finish (matt or gloss) and match the colours as closely as possible. Choose a material that can be used for both worktops and floors, or match, say, a walnut floor to a rich brown stone or composite worktop.

    For contrast, choose different finishes in the same colour or different colours in the same finish. Team a pale matt worktop with dark matt flooring, for example. You could even contrast both, such as a matt slate floor with a polished white granite worktop.

    Whatever you choose, bear in mind that kitchens are a long-term investment so make sure you won’t tire of the finishes or colours that you choose.

    2. Think about maintenance

    How to choose kitchen flooring

    Image credit: Lizzie Orme

    Some flooring needs regular resealing and treating with specialist products. It’s a good idea to consider whether you’ll have time to maintain your kitchen floor or whether you’d prefer an easy-care material that you can sweep, mop and then forget about.

    Don’t be afraid to mix up materials in an open plan kitchen space. You could use durable, easy-clean flooring in cooking zones and softer vinyl, laminate or wood in living and dining spaces.

    3. Take a sample home

    Make sure you still like the flooring you loved in the showroom once it’s in situ in your home. The colour may look different when seen under different lighting, or the material may clash with your units or worktops. Remember that sealing can change the colour, so be sure to look at a sealed sample before you buy.

    4. Work out your budget

    Budget carefully to include all fitting costs and extra expenses for underlays, fixatives and grouts.

    5. Think before you lay

    How to choose kitchen flooring

    Image credit: Paul Massey

    If you intend to lay underfloor heating in your kitchen, be careful what you choose to lay over the top of it. While underfloor heating can be used with most modern flooring – stone and concrete warm up and retain heat well – some wooden floors, particularly extra-wide boards, certain veneers and some types of adhesive, can be heat sensitive.

    Most flooring is best fitted by a professional. Some types of flooring need to be installed at the start of the kitchen design process, whereas others can be installed afterwards. Ask the manufacturer in advance to avoid any nasty, costly surprises.

    Find the right look: Kitchen cabinets – what to look for when buying your units

    Choose the best kitchen flooring for you

    Porcelain tiles

    One of the most versatile types of floor tiles, porcelain tiles can be made to look exactly like anything from concrete to wood. As porcelain is maintenance-free and highly durable, very often these tiles are more resilient than the materials they mimic.

    Ceramic tiles

    How to choose kitchen flooring

    Image credit: Rob Sanderson

    Ceramic tiles are primarily made from clay and other natural materials. They come in many different shapes, colours and textures. Though less expensive than porcelain, they tend to be manufactured with fewer straight edges and square corners, which means that grout lines need to be thicker. This results in a more grid-like finish.

    Stone flooring

    Kitchen flooring

    Image credit: Holly Joliffe

    Stone floor tiles come in such a wide range of sizes, colours and textures that they can complement any style of kitchen, from country to contemporary. Maintenance-wise, even the best quality limestone is porous, so it will inevitably suffer some wear and tear. Having said that, the latest sealants are very effective, and once applied the floor should be easy to maintain.

    Solid-wood flooring

    Kitchen flooring

    Image credit: Lizzie Orme

    While solid wood flooring can be a real plus when it comes to selling a house, it may move and curl if used in a kitchen as it is both heat and moisture-sensitive. It can, however, be finished in polyurethane, lacquer or natural linseed oil. These set hard, and seal and protect the wood for many years, making it more durable.

    Bamboo flooring

    Bamboo has a higher fibre rating than any hardwood. It is incredibly durable and is less likely to gape than other solid woods. Usually pre-treated by the manufacturer, it can be stained or left its natural colour, then sealed with a gloss or matt lacquer.

    It’s also an incredibly eco-friendly product, as it releases 35 per cent more oxygen into the atmosphere than trees, and is a fast-growing grass, so it can be harvested every 3-5 years.

    Engineered-wood flooring

    Engineered wood comes in a variety of widths and finishes and is perfect for achieving a natural wood look at a lower price. The boards are created by layering a softwood or plywood base with a wood or wood-effect top layer. The central core stops the top and bottom layers moving, meaning that, unlike solid wood, engineered boards are less likely to gape or warp when they come into contact with water.

    Laminate flooring

    How to choose kitchen flooring

    Image credit: Lizzie Orme

    Supplied in planks that fit together for easy installation, laminate is a good-looking alternative to wood and stone if you’re on a budget. Make sure you choose a laminate that is suitable for kitchen use as some are not suitable in damp environments.

    Laminate is available in all manner of finishes (from wood to stone-effect) and it is super durable so it’s a strong contender for use in a high-traffic area. Prices do vary hugely, and you will get what you pay for – be aware that choosing cheap laminate may result in ill-fitting, bouncy boards.

    Concrete flooring

    How to choose kitchen flooring

    Image credit: Paul Massey

    If you want to add a contemporary edge to your kitchen, concrete flooring could be for you. It is more versatile than you might imagine – not only is it available in a range of colours, it can also be laid inside and out, making it ideal for open-plan extensions.

    One advantage is that concrete can be poured directly onto the existing floor without any levelling and, once sealed, it is relatively low maintenance. Lightweight versions, which can be used on upper floors, are also available, but it’s best to ask a structural engineer for advice about this.

    Rubber flooring

    Silky, warm and tactile, rubber kitchen flooring is soft underfoot yet extremely resilient. Think of it this way – if it doesn’t wear out in an airport, then it won’t in your kitchen!

    Choose a smooth surface or low-profile studs in a kitchen as they are easier to clean. Be careful with the products and polishes you use to maintain rubber flooring, especially initially as it’s softer when it’s new.

    Vinyl flooring

    Kitchen flooring

    Image credit: Oliver Gordon

    Vinyl flooring has come a long way from old-fashioned vinyl sheeting. Modern designs are exceptionally hard wearing and can replicate the look and feel of anything from wood and stone to zinc and glass. And it can also be warmer and quieter underfoot than the real McCoy.

    Linoleum flooring

    Lino feels similar to rubber but is made of totally natural and sustainable ingredients. It is tough and resilient, but at the same time it is tactile and warm to touch, making it comfy underfoot. It is also hygienic – bacteria can’t live on it and it doesn’t harbour dust mites, making it ideal for people with allergies.

    Love these kitchen flooring tips? Read: Carpet planks – is this the next big trend in flooring?

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