Choosing the best floor for your kitchen remodel means balancing style, durability, and cost.

You’ve got a lot of important decisions to make in your kitchen remodeling project, but arguably none more important than which flooring material to choose. This choice is important because:

  1. Your kitchen is likely the busiest room of your house, and its floor is the most heavily used surface in the entire kitchen. Consequently, the flooring you choose must be durable enough to withstand the heavy foot traffic, spills, dropped objects, and other wear and tear.
  2. The floor in your kitchen takes up a lot of visual real estate, making it a major design element that should harmonize with the texture and color choices you make for your countertops, walls, cabinets, and backsplash.
  3. There are big cost differences between the least expensive and most expensive flooring options. Consequently, your decision will have a major impact on the overall cost of your kitchen remodel.

There are other issues you’ll need to consider when choosing flooring for a kitchen remodel. Is the flooring material easy to clean? Does it have antimicrobial properties? How does it feel under your feet? Will it be damaged by falling objects?

Your kitchen designer – who’s likely answered these concerns hundreds of times — will be your guide on this journey of inquiry, but let’s go ahead and evaluate some of the materials you have available today with an eye to their durability, style potential, and cost.

Wood. Natural wood floors are very popular as a flooring material today. Because kitchens are often incorporated into open air floor plans, extending the main room’s flooring into the kitchen can pull everything together into a coherent design statement. Wood floors are also preferred by many home buyers, so using wood in your kitchen may add to the house’s resale value.

Natural wood can be a great choice for your kitchen remodel, but beware of two important caveats:

  1. Natural wood can easily lose its luster under heavy use and will need to be periodically finished to preserve its beauty. Spills – if unattended – can badly damage hardwood floors, stains can mar them, and dirt tracked in from outside can be ground into their surfaces. This means that you’ll need to refinish your floor from time to time to keep it looking great.
  2. Natural wood floors will expand and contract due to changes in temperature and humidity. This can be a problem in certain climates, especially the Southeast area of the U.S; if it is, a better choice may be engineered wood, whose plywood core is less subject to expansion.

Durability: Excellent (provided it’s refinished periodically)
Style potential: Good
Cost: Moderate to high

Natural stone.  Floors made of granite, marble, limestone, travertine, or slate tile remain popular kitchen floor choices. Stone substances are both beautiful and durable, requiring little daily maintenance. Stone floors aren’t completely maintenance-free, however. As tough as stone is, it’s a porous material, which means that periodic resealing is necessary to keep it water-tight. Additionally, softer stone varieties such as marble and travertine may chip or scratch, thus requiring professional refinishing. And of course, stone is an unforgiving surface to drop anything on.

Durability: Excellent
Style potential: Excellent
Cost: Moderate to high

Porcelain and Ceramic Tile. Both porcelain and ceramic tiles are made from clay and have been preferred kitchen floor choices for many years. Porcelain is a versatile, extremely durable floor tile material that can be tricked into mimicking a wide range of surfaces, including wood. The result is an impressive floor that can be closely matched to other kitchen design elements.

Porcelain/Ceramic tile floors are a little harder to maintain than those of natural stone, because the recessed grouted areas separating the tiles can accumulate dirt. But there are sealants and special cleaners available to make the job easier.

Durability: Good
Style potential: Excellent
Cost: Moderate

Other flooring options
While wood, stone, and ceramic/porcelain tile are popular choices today, they’re hardly the only options in a kitchen remodel. Linoleum, once derided as an “old school” flooring choice, is enjoying a bit of a resurgence today, thanks to its eco-friendly, all-natural origins. Laminate floors have also come into vogue as an option for DIYers, because of their low cost and ease of installation. Cork and bamboo are also regarded as excellent eco-friendly choices; in tile form, these materials are both comfortable to stand on and durable, making them excellent choices for the kitchen.