Kitchen Flooring Options

One the most significant decisions to be made when remodeling a kitchen is your kitchen flooring options because there are many choices: Porcelain Tiles, Ceramic Tiles, Natural Stone, Natural Wood (finished in place), Pre-finished Wood, Engineered Wood, Laminate, Vinyl Squares, Sheet Style Vinyl, Luxury Vinyl Flooring and even Cork.  Fortunately, no one flooring fits all. This blog article will not tell you the best flooring option (because we feel that it depends on many factors), but it will attempt to help you navigate the flooring choices based on our experience.

natural stone flooring

Porcelain Tiles, Ceramic Tiles or Natural Stone

Arguably, this is the durability champ – natural stone, ceramic or porcelain tile. 

The Flooring Pros:

  • Very durable. This flooring will withstand the traffic if you have pets, large dogs in particular, or young children going in and out of the kitchen. 
  • Stone tiles are easy to clean (once you seal the grout). Typically, a damp mop is all that is needed. 
  • There is a lot of variety from which to choose. 
  • The appearance is quite attractive, and a custom look can be created based on the patterns and sizes of the tiles. 
  • A heating option is easily installed with tile – in other words, it is possible to have a heated tile floor, which is nice to have in the winter. 

The Flooring Cons:

  • This is an expensive flooring material, usually costing between $26 – $35/sq foot (installed). Natural stone is higher. 
  • This is not a forgiving kitchen floor. If you drop a glass on the floor, expect the glass to break. 
  • The surface is hard. No flex in the floor covering can be uncomfortable underfoot for those who experience back pain. 
  • The tiles are difficult to remove. 
  • Proper underlayment installation is critical to ensuring the tiles do not crack. 
hardwood flooring

Natural Wood Flooring (Hardwood Flooring)

This option is raw wood installed, stained, and then sanded and finished in place. 

Hardwood Flooring Pros:

  • This kitchen flooring is moderately priced at around $13 – $14 (select Oak)  per square foot (installed). Other woods species are generally more. 
  • It is an attractive and warm option. In addition, it allows one style and color of flooring to be carried throughout one level of the house with no seams. 
  • Wood flooring is durable. With the right finish, it can be very durable even with kids and medium size pets (large dogs will still scratch the most durable finish). 
  • It is somewhat forgiving. If a glass or dish is dropped, it may not break or crack. 
  • The planks can be sanded and refinished, restoring the kitchen floor to a new appearance. 

Hardwood Flooring Cons:

  • The installation and finishing process takes 4-5 days. However, some finishes can take 30 days before reaching maximum durability, which limits the use for the first 30 days. 
  • Large water spills and a leaking dishwasher or ice maker will likely warp the flooring. The warping will dissipate over time, but refinishing is the only option to restore the floor to new condition. 
  • Not as hard as ceramic, porcelain tile or natural stone, but it may bother some people’s legs or backs if standing on it for long periods. 

Pre-finished Natural Wood Flooring

This option is natural wood flooring finished in a controlled factory environment to provide a durable, uniform finish. 

Pre-finished Flooring Pros:

  • This material is moderately priced at approximately $13 – $16 per square foot (installed). 
  • It typically can be installed in one day, and there is no wait time to use the floor after installation. 
  • It is an attractive flooring option, and just like hardwood floors, it allows one style and color of flooring to be carried throughout one level of the house with no seams. 
  • It is durable and somewhat forgiving if a glass or dish is dropped.  
  • It can be sanded and refinished, restoring the floor to a new appearance. 
  • A skilled floor technician or finish carpenter can remove and replace damaged individual boards. 

Pre-finished Flooring Cons:

  • Large water spills: Same as Natural Wood 
  • Repair from water damage: Same as Natural Wood 
  • Comfort underfoot: Same as Natural Wood 

Engineered Wood Flooring

Basically, this flooring is high-grade plywood flooring that looks and feels like pre-finished solid wood flooring. It comes in planks the same size as traditional wood flooring. The flooring’s top or “wear” layer is what we, as consumers, see. It is a thin layer of the wood species and color you selected.  

Engineered Wood Flooring Pros:

  • It can be a budget-friendly option or costly depending on the selected product – the rough range can be $7-$18 per square foot (installed). 
  • Typically installs in one day and can be installed on concrete. Additionally, there is little to no wait to use the floor after installation. 
  • Like hardwood, it is an attractive option and allows one style and color of flooring to be seamlessly carried out throughout one level of the house. 
  • It is durable and forgiving (same as hardwood) and has a little more flex than solid wood, so some people may find it easier on their back and joints. 

Engineered Wood Flooring Cons:

  • This flooring option can be sanded and refinished; however, great care must be taken not to sand through the “wear” layer. If this happens, the plywood will be exposed. 
  • Typically, it can only be refinished one time. 
  • When extensive water spills occur, the same consequences as natural and pre-finished wood happens except that once it warps, it is difficult to refinish without going through the “wear” layer. Therefore, replacement is typically the best solution.

Laminate Flooring

This type of floor is a plastic laminate (similar to laminate countertop material). The plastic laminate adheres to a composite pressed wood backing (HDF – High-Density Fiber) for rigidity. These floors come in many colors and styles and can even look like wood or tile. They snap and sometimes glue together at the edges. Full disclosure: We have not had anyone inquire about or request a laminate floor since 2016-2017. 

Laminate Flooring Pros:

  • This affordable flooring is priced around $6-$10 (installed) and can typically be installed in one day. 
  • Laminate flooring is durable, and the surface will withstand heavy wear and tear, high-traffic areas and large pets (see cons).  
  • Fairly forgiving if a glass or dish is dropped. No wait time to use the floor after installation. 
  • It is typically installed over a foam membrane which gives the floor a spongy feel and thus is gentle on your back and joints. 
  • It is easy to keep clean and is more comfortable underfoot.  

Laminate Flooring Cons:

  • Pets will slip and slide on this flooring more than other options. 
  • Large water spills, a leaking dishwasher or ice maker where water gets under the floor or soaks into the backing of this flooring (through the seams), will ruin the floor and necessitate the replacement of the entire floor. 
  • The appearance is subjective (and can sometimes feel dated). It has a nice appearance but does not look exactly like wood or tile. 
  • It can be chipped or dented if a heavy metal object, such as a cast iron frying pan, is dropped onto the floor. 
  • As a “system” (of snapped-together planks), these products are not a good choice for the kitchen. 

Vinyl Tile Flooring

These are typically 12″x12″ vinyl peal-and-stick or glue-down squares. Other sizes are available. 

Vinyl Tile Pros:

  • This is the most budget-friendly of all flooring options because it is inexpensive. It can price as low as $3-$4 per square foot (installed). 
  • Unless the tiles are installed on concrete, this floor is fairly forgiving if a glass or dish is dropped. It typically installs in one day. However, if trowel-applied glue is used, there may be a short wait time to use the floor after installation. It is durable and will stand up in heavy traffic areas and with large pets. It is easy to repair – just peel up the damaged square and replace it – and clean up is easy. It also works well on concrete. 

Vinyl Tile Cons:

  • Like above, if you have a large water spill where water gets under the floor through the seams in the vinyl and into the plywood underlay, it can cause buckling of underlayment. 
  • Appearance is subjective, given the other choices available today. It has a commercial appearance. 
  • When dirt gets trapped in seams, it is challenging to remove. 

Sheet Vinyl Flooring

The new generation of sheet vinyl is greatly improved over traditional sheet vinyl. A good sheet vinyl no longer has a paper backing, so it does not curl at the edges. It can be perimeter glued, total surface glued or set in place. It can be installed over existing vinyl without an embossing leveler, which saves installation costs. 

Sheet Vinyl Pros:

  • It is moderately priced at $5- $8 per square foot (installed). 
  • It is comfortable on the back and joints. The new generation sheet vinyl is slightly spongy. 
  • Because the flooring is one big vinyl sheet with an occasionally sealed seam, it is nearly waterproof so there isn’t much to worry about when large spills happen. 
  • It is pretty forgiving if a glass or dish is dropped and is quite durable. In addition, it is easy to repair (by a professional) and to keep clean. 
  • The installation typically takes one day, and the wait time after installation is the same or next day. 
  • It works well on concrete or plywood subfloors with underlayment. 

Sheet Vinyl Cons:

  • There aren’t too many cons with this floor except that it is vinyl, and you can tell it is vinyl. Also, since there is limited demand, there are not many options. 
  • Select a floor with low VOCs (volatile organic compounds).  Check to see that it has a “Floor Score” certification label
LVP flooing

Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring

Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring (LVP) has a “wear” surface made from vinyl that looks very much like the material being emulated (wood in particular).  The appearance can be tile, stone or wood.  The backing can be cork or a dense foam for extra comfort and sound reduction.  

Luxury Vinyl Plank Pros:

  • It is moderately priced at $8 -$10 per square foot (installed). It comes in a wide variety of looks, colors and styles. 
  • Because it has a slight flex, it is comfortable underfoot and easy on the back and joints. 
  • While it’s not entirely waterproof, if the product is installed well, large spills can be mopped up without damage to the subfloor (water can’t penetrate at seams if not sealed or grouted correctly).  
  • This is also a fairly forgiving surface (if a glass or dish is dropped). 
  • It typically installs in one day, and can be walked on immediately. 
  • It is very durable and will stand up to wear and tear. In addition, this surface isn’t as slippery as others, which makes it easier for large pets to walk. 
  • It is easy to clean. It also works well on concrete or plywood subfloors. 

Luxury Vinyl Plank Cons:

  • It is more expensive than traditional vinyl. 
  • Proper installation is key to product performance. 

Cork Flooring

This is a very green/sustainable product. Typically installed as squares with an adhesive. Most have some sealer on the surface. However, cork dents easily and our experience has shown it to not perform well in a high-traffic kitchen. Because of this, we would not recommend cork flooring as a kitchen flooring option. Instead, it is well suited for a home art studio or low-traffic office with minimal heavy furniture. 

So, what’s the best flooring for your kitchen? As we said, it depends on many factors. But we hope this article has helped you understand the different types of flooring and given you a few things to think about as you make your decision.  

If you have any questions or need help narrowing down your choices, feel free to download our guide, Remodeling Costs in Northern Virginia. It will give you a better idea of how much each remodeling project costs so that you can make an informed decision. We wish you the best in your kitchen remodeling journey! 

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2013. It was updated to reflect costs as of November 2022.