Homeowners love obsessing over every inch of their kitchens, from backsplashes to their Sub-Zero fridge. Yet one home improvement you should ponder more carefully is right beneath your feet: the flooring. What’s the best kitchen flooring to have in your home?
The truth is there are many types and varieties of kitchen flooring, and each comes with its own unique pros, cons, and costs. The sheer array of flooring options can be overwhelming, so we’re here to help break it down into easily digestible, info-rich bites so you’ll know exactly which flooring suits you best. So let’s head to the kitchen!
One of the cheapest options ($2 to $7 per square foot), this one is good for a fast, simple update, says Alexander Ruggie, a construction expert at 911 Restoration. It’s easy to install and replace if sections become damaged, and it’s popular due to the variety of styles and colors to choose from.
The downside? It dents easily and can’t be sanded down like hardwood, notes Hilary Nadelman Matt of Michelle Gerson Interior Design in New York City. And if you’re thinking of selling your home eventually and getting a good return on investment, laminate isn’t a great option, because it won’t add significantly to the value of your home.
Similar to laminate in terms of look and price ($2 to $7 per square foot), vinyl is easy to clean and lay down—a good pick if you’re a DIY type. If installed properly, it will last a long time, says Victoria Stepanov, lead designer at the NYC-based firm Sense of Space.
There are countless options to consider, including ones that look like stone, wood, or painted tile. It’s soft on the feet and can enhance soundproofing, says home remodeling expert Stephan Sardone. The main issue is this flooring can contain polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, which has been linked to cancer. That said, since 2010 many manufacturers have curbed their use of PVC to levels considered safe, although the long-term health effects remain unknown.
If you’re looking for a tough, inexpensive floor ($2 to $8 per square foot), consider concrete. This flooring is seen more frequently in the design world today, especially in kitchens, reports Nadelman Matt. It can be formed to look like almost anything from wood to stone to amalgams that can’t be found naturally.
“This gives it a range of visual appearances that make it highly appealing for a kitchen,” notes Ruggie. As for the downside, concrete is cold and hard on the feet and can be quite porous if not sealed properly.
Whether porcelain, natural stone, glazed ceramic, or concrete, this pick is always a good choice from a durability standpoint as most don’t scratch easily and there are so many good-looking design options.
“Tile floors have been popular for decades, providing easy maintenance and many aesthetic options, from very traditional to ultramodern,” says Stepanov. Cost can vary a great deal ($5 to $50 or more per square foot), depending on materials and designs. But there isn’t much that can damage tiles unless it’s harder than the tile itself, so watch out for falling cast iron pots, advises Ruggie: “Other than that, tile flooring will last longer than the house.”
Of all the types out there, porcelain is by far the most resilient and easy to maintain. “You just have to watch out for highly polished finishes, which make the surface extremely slippery even when dry,” notes Stepanov. The fix? A matte or semipolished coating will lessen the glide.
Another consideration is the grout. “It could get moldy, discolored, or even crack while shrinking and expanding with temperature changes,” she points out. One way to solve this is to use a type of grout made from quartz or glass.
For the best ROI, hardwood wins the prize. It’s one of the most expensive (up to $30 or more per square foot), but it will almost always suit a potential buyer. Wood floors truly last and can be stained and refinished to change up the look. Not only does it have the highest ROI, but it also looks great anywhere, wears well, and is no more likely to be replaced than tile in the event of a major flood.
A hardwood floor is a lot easier on the cook’s back due to its relative softness.
“If you go for this option, definitely choose a closed-pore wood, such as oak or mahogany, though walnut could also work,” notes Stepanov. A durable polyurethane is recommended as a final coat. Scratches are the inevitable drawback. Hardwood flooring is also sensitive to water and moisture, so spills need to be cleaned up quickly.
You might also consider an engineered hardwood, which is all the best parts of laminate and wood mixed together, explains Ryan Fitzgerald, a Realtor® with Raleigh Homes in North Carolina. The top layer is composed of a hardwood veneer while the core is usually a high-density fiberboard or plywood. Engineered hardwood costs less and resists heat and moisture better than the real deal, and the ROI seems to be greater because homeowners love the look and feel.
“Some actually prefer it over natural hardwoods thanks to the durability,” says Fitzgerald.
This article was originally publish at Realtor.com.