Your floors are the most important surface in your home—they’re not only a decorative element that will be seen at all times, but they also need to be built to endure regular traffic for years. And nowhere is this idea more important than in your kitchen. Often considered the unofficial gathering area of the home, your kitchen flooring will usually see more action than the floors in any other room.
Because of this, the best kitchen flooring needs to be prepared for every eventuality. It should be able to withstand regular exposure to water, whether from accidental juice spills or the weekly mopping typical in a kitchen. A kitchen floor should have a durable surface, to endure constant foot traffic, the scraping from chairs and tables regularly being moved around, and the dings and dents that can occur from dropped dishes and silverware. And perhaps most importantly: it has to look good. It’s likely that your kitchen will be the most viewed and visited room in your home, so you’ll want to make sure it’s dressed to impress. In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at what we at Empire Today® consider to be the most important features to have in a kitchen floor.
Water-Resistant Floors Are a Must in the Kitchen
Before a customer begins the process of picking a particular category or style of kitchen flooring, we always stress the importance of considering water-resistant or even fully waterproof flooring. This is the one feature that all of the best kitchen flooring materials will have in common because the floor in the average kitchen will experience exposure to wetness on a daily basis. Whether it’s overspray from the kitchen sink, accidentally overfilling a glass at the fridge water dispenser, or just the typical spills and splashes that happen in an active kitchen, those floors will get wet—consider it an inevitability.
While the small occasional splash will rarely pose a risk to floors that are not water-resistant, we don’t recommend counting on being able to control how often that happens. The frequency of these little messes is what will often lead to permanent floor damage. This is why installing tile in the kitchen has historically been such a common choice—for many years it was the only durable and stylish floor product that was also water-resistant. But today, vinyl plank, vinyl tile, and laminate flooring products are all available with some measure of water resistance, greatly opening up your design options.
One of the side benefits of choosing a waterproof floor is the extra ease it lends to regular cleaning tasks. Your household may be diligent in preventing spills and splashes, making you think that your floors don’t need any extra protection against moisture. But a waterproof or water-resistant floor is significantly easier to clean than one susceptible to water damage. Cleaning a genuine hardwood floor often requires paying careful attention to how much water you use on a mop and how long the floors stay damp. Over the course of time, a bit too much water here and there can add up to lasting damage to hardwood floors.
But if you have waterproof kitchen flooring, like an Aqua Defense wood laminate or vinyl plank product from Empire®, you can go heavy on the water when cleaning stubborn stains. Soak that mop, and even let water sit on the surface for a few minutes to loosen up the really tough messes. Best of all? You’ll still get to enjoy the look of a real wood floor.
Overall Durability and Reliability.
Going hand-in-hand with water resistance is overall durability. Your kitchen floor may see sharp-clawed paws, hard-soled shoes, dropped pots and pans, and all manner of abuse typically absent from the rest of the home. That means whatever kitchen floor material you choose, it should be something that’s built to survive all of these things and more.
Empire Today is proud to offer flooring products from the industry’s top brands, and these products are covered by some of the best warranties around. And while every product we carry is built with reliability in mind, there are a host of optional features to consider that can help extend the useful life of your floors, especially in highly active households.
For the ultimate in durable kitchen flooring, look for a wood laminate product protected by a urethane oxide finish. This robust top layer provides extra scratch, scuff, and dent resistance, which can be of great benefit in busy kitchens—especially those with integrated eating areas where chair and table legs can be a common source of surface damage.
Fading can be caused by more than just physical wear. Just like cushions on your patio furniture or your favorite baseball cap, the vibrancy of your floors can get diminished by the sun’s UV rays. If your kitchen receives lots of exposure to the sun, a UV-resistant coating can help maintain its beauty over the long haul.
This is a feature that you’ll often find included on most water-resistant or waterproof floor products. Non-slip flooring products are made with a specially textured surface that is designed to increase traction between your feet and the floor, especially when the floor is wet. So, if there’s ever a spill in your kitchen, you and your family members will be much less likely to take a spill. A non-slip surface can even help give your pets more traction when running through the home. Non-slip tile is the most common form of this product, but the feature can also be found on vinyl tile and vinyl plank flooring.
Mold and Mildew Resistance
Mold and mildew are problems typically associated with the corners around a tub, shower, or sink in the bathroom. But the truth is, these annoyances can arise anywhere that gets regularly exposed to moisture. In the kitchen, areas of the floor around the sink or under the fridge are common spots for mold or mildew to develop. Something as small as a few drops of water a day can end up leading to unsightly, unhealthy problems with the passage of time. While diligence in quickly drying these messes will go far in keeping mildew and mold growth at bay, taking a major preventative step like choosing mold and mildew-resistant flooring can go a long way towards winning that battle. You can find this feature in various vinyl plank, vinyl tile, wood laminate, and porcelain or ceramic tile products offered at Empire.
The comfort level of floors is perhaps the one trait most often overlooked by shoppers. Kitchen floors are just hard surfaces, and one hard floor is the same as all hard floors…right? Actually, not quite! It comes as a surprise to many, but there can be a drastic difference in comfort levels between hard-surface floors that might initially feel the same. Any runner will tell you that there is a big difference in the feel of running on a concrete street vs an asphalt one, even though they are both hard surfaces built to withstand immense wear and weight. Asphalt is a slightly softer surface, and that adds up over the countless footfalls the average runner makes. The same logic applies to your kitchen floors, where minuscule differences in hardness can add up to big increases in comfort over time.
Odds are, the kitchen is the one room where you and your family members will be doing the most standing: whether it’s while cooking, entertaining, or doing the dishes. While a few steps here and there might not demand floors that prioritize comfort, the amount of time you spend standing in the kitchen definitely should. In general, a porcelain or ceramic floor will be the hardest of all, and your knees might feel the difference at the end of a marathon cooking session. Laminate and vinyl floors will both offer the tiniest bit of give that can make a big difference when you’re constantly standing. This trait can be further tweaked with the type of underlayment that is used when installing either of these floor types.
If you’ve made it this far, you might feel a bit overwhelmed by all the things you should consider—things you may not have even thought of just twenty minutes ago. We know how confusing this can all be, and we’re here to help. A cornerstone of the Empire experience is the knowledge and guidance we provide along the entire journey. Schedule your Free In-Home Estimate today to learn more about the ideal kitchen flooring for your home.
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