How to choose the right flooring for your kitchen

As the hardest-working room in the house, the kitchen deserves beautiful flooring that’s tough enough to last.

Bunnings magazine, autumn 2020

What to look for in a kitchen floor

When you’re embarking on a kitchen renovation or whole new build, flooring is one of the most important decisions you’ll face. While there’s an abundance of options, not every material will be adequately suited to the high-impact demands of the kitchen.

As it’s the hub of your home, the floor must be able to withstand daily wear and tear, heavy foot traffic, dropped dishes and spills. It also needs to look good and complement the style of your home. To help you decide, here are a few of the most popular options.

Solid timber

Anyone with old timber floors in their home understands what a joy they can be. “Timber’s a softer option than concrete or porcelain tiles,” says Auckland-based interior designer Lucy Sargent of Pocketspace Interiors.

This quality makes them prone to signs of wear, but they can be sanded back to give you a brand-new surface when needed. “Timber floors need to be re-oiled or sanded and refinished intermittently to keep them looking their best,” says Lizzi Whaley of Spaceworks Design Group.

To keep your floors in good nick, use a good-quality floor sealant. Choose a matt finish over gloss, as it’s better for hiding scratches and dust, and wipe up spills speedily to avoid moisture damaging the boards. Also, consider extra protection with a rug. Polypropylene outdoor rugs are a good choice, as they can be hosed off outside whenever they get a bit grubby.

“Timber floors are a great choice for kitchens, especially open-plan ones. You can easily use the same flooring from the kitchen through to the dining and living areas, which isn’t easy to do with all materials” Lizzi Whaley Spaceworks Design Group.

Watch it: How to sand timber floors 

Watch it: How to seal timber floors 

Tiles

Tiles can withstand all kinds of spills and are naturally sterile, as they don’t absorb odours or bacteria. The main downside is that standing on them for long periods can be tough going on your legs and back, but it could be a case of a little pain for a lot of gain. “Ceramic tiles can add vibrancy and dynamism that you can’t get from any other material,” says Lizzi.

Installing tiles is a relatively easy project for confident DIYers if you have an even, level surface – and, once down, can last forever. The grout between the tiles is the only weak point, so it’s important to use the right products to seal the grout lines.

Watch it: How to lay floor tiles

tiles in kitchen

Laminate

“Laminate flooring is a great alternative to vinyl,” says Lucy. “It has a more sophisticated feel as well as a more authentic look.” Just take care when choosing. “Depending on the quality of laminate you buy, there may not be a high pattern variation, compared to the high variation in tone, texture and pattern of real timber,” explains Lucy.

Because laminate is formed from moisture-resistant layers around a core of high-density fibreboard, it is a practical application too. It’s a good choice for busy homes because it’s also easy to clean. “You can use almost any cleaning product without worrying about discolouration or scratching,” says Lucy.

Watch it: How to lay laminate flooring

Vinyl

Wonderfully durable as well as low maintenance, vinyl comes in a huge range of styles, mimicking the look of stone, concrete, timber and distressed timber, so you can choose what will suit the style of your home.

“There are some good timber-look vinyl planks that tick budget and aesthetic boxes,” says Lizzi. “It’s just a case of being sure it’s in keeping with other surrounding materials and specifications.”

Vinyl also has great sound absorption qualities, is safer for children (softer falls!) and is easy to clean. “It can be used on myriad floor substrates,” says Lizzi. “It’s also cost-effective and fast to install, with much less wastage, and it’s easy to clean and maintain.

Perhaps best of all, laying vinyl planks and tiles can be a straightforward DIY option if you have a sound, clean and level floor. “Its extremely thin profile means it can be applied over existing flooring, which is a huge cost saver,” says Lucy. “It’s also very quiet underfoot – no problem with clacking heels.

Watch it: How to lay vinyl flooring

vinyl kitchen flooring

Find your kitchen floor

Take a look at our wide range of flooring options and find the floor that’s right for your home.

Photography credit: TI Media, Senso Flooring.

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