Kitchen flooring is available in a wide variety of types and materials, with everything from carpet to exotic woods tempting homeowners. Because the kitchen is a room with a designated purpose, special considerations must be kept in mind when selecting kitchen flooring. If you're in the market for a new kitchen floor, you'll want to think about available floor types, function of the flooring, and common misconceptions.
Aside from the primary purpose of any flooring type---to provide a durable, aesthetically pleasing cover for the rugged subfloor---kitchen flooring serves additional purposes. In many homes, the kitchen serves as an impromptu gathering place or entry point, so the floor must stand up to heavy foot traffic. It must also be impervious to liquids, as cooking and cleaning activities are generally centered around this room. Finally, kitchen flooring must be heat resistant, as accidental spills when removing items from the oven or microwave are bound to happen.
The type of flooring available for the kitchen is limited only by the homeowner's imagination and financial abilities. Simple (albeit primitive) kitchen flooring may be dirt or bare concrete, though most homeowners prefer some form of covering that offers more visual appeal. Linoleum, vinyl tile, and other types of synthetic floor coverings are popular because of their durability and low expense. Cork flooring is also available in a similar price range. Ceramic tiles are available in a variety of sizes (and prices), and hardwood floors can be found in virtually every type of wood imaginable. Some homeowners even choose to complete their kitchen floors in carpet or exotic---and expensive---stones such as granite or marble.
When selecting kitchen flooring, consider the activities that take place in that room. Carpet, for example, is applied to kitchen floors, because its fabric easily absorbs and retains spilled liquids and pastes. Hard wood, though a popular kitchen selection, is vulnerable to spills, as liquids can seep into cracks and seams, later emerging as warps and bulges in the floor. Synthetic flooring, such as vinyl tile and linoleum, offers resistance to damage, while being more budget-friendly than other available kitchen floorings. High-end stone flooring, such as marble or granite, is highly resistant to spills, though it can become slippery when wet; the high price of stone flooring is also a detriment to many would-be buyers. Some ergonomics-minded homeowners may consider cork flooring to provide comfort to those standing by the sink or oven for hours at a time, though cork can quickly stain or become discolored.
The lifespan of kitchen flooring may vary considerably, depending on the type of flooring selected, how much traffic crosses the floor, and the amount of care you give your floor. According to The Flooring Lady, a typical flooring warranty is good for about ten years, though many homeowners find their kitchen floor outlasts the warranty by several years.
Home improvement professionals at Lowe's Home Improvement offer advice on their website, Lowes.com. Based on this advice, experts recommend vinyl flooring for kitchens, as their easy-to-clean nature makes them ideal for an environment where spills are likely. In addition, vinyl provides a measure of cushion for long periods of standing, and may provide enough bounce to prevent breakage of dropped glass containers. Lowe's also recommends ceramic tile, laminate, and wood flooring, though they recommend placing a rug or mat in areas where individuals are likely to stand for extended periods.