Durable Flooring for Kitchens (and Baths)
This survey of sturdy, stylish, and sustainable options looks at price per sq.ft., maintenance requirements, and installation considerations to help you choose the material that best fits your needs.
Synopsis: This article walks through the different flooring options for kitchens and baths, including wood and engineered wood, bamboo, ceramic and porcelain tile, cement, vinyl tile, linoleum, natural stone, and terazzo. The author lists approximate prices per square foot for each material, the pros and cons of each, and when they are best applied to a kitchen or bath.
When you’re considering flooring options for your new kitchen or bath, it’s important to keep durability high on the list. Wet and heavily traveled, kitchens and baths are tough on floors. They also have a major impact on resale, so you want your floors to be beautiful and to stay that way.
This is one case where you really can have it all. An expanding array of products— some new, some rediscovered—will deliver lasting beauty and performance in the toughest environments.
Despite some similarities in moisture and traffic, kitchens and baths differ in significant ways. Today’s kitchens are often open to adjoining spaces and share a unified look and feel. That’s why hardwood is king in modern kitchens, flowing seamlessly through open floor plans. Minneapolis architect Jean Rehkamp Larson echoes the thoughts of many designers: “If the kitchen is part of a larger room, having a change of flooring material feels like a taped line on the floor.” Wood floors, combined with painted cabinets, create the cozy farmhouse and quiet transitional styles that designers favor.
Finally, compared to tile, wood (as well as bamboo, linoleum, and luxury vinyl tile) is more forgiving to standing cooks and dropped dishes.
If you decide to go with something more waterproof in the kitchen, there are ways to ease the transitions to nearby spaces beyond simply dropping a threshold at the border. “If someone definitely wants a flooring change in the kitchen, I recommend making an architectural or spatial change as well, like changing the ceiling or wall plane or both,” Rehkamp Larson says. This can be as simple as closing an entryway slightly.
The bath, because it’s fully separate, can make its own cohesive design statement. That means flooring materials can be tailored to this unique environment, where kids leave wet towels on the floor and showers create steam and puddles of standing water. Tile is still the most popular option for durable bathroom floors.
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