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What's the best type of flooring for my kitchen?
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For many families, the kitchen is the heart of the home and is often the one area in the house that is subjected to constant foot traffic. Flooring options will depend on how you intend to use the space, the needs of your family and how much money you are willing to spend on a floor. Classic floor options are available even if you are on a budget.

- Vinyl

Pros

Highly Water Resistant and Temperature Stable
Vinyl floors are extremely water resistant and easy to care for. They are a great choice for high-traffic areas and for high-moisture areas of your home. They also maintain heat during the winter to prevent cold from traveling through your slippers or socks.
Cheap
If you are on a budget, a vinyl floor is a good option for with prices as low as 50 cents per square foot. Even premium vinyl materials cost less than more high-end options such as stone or tile.

Cons
Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOCs)
The manufacturing process of vinyl floors produces VOCs that continues to off-gas after installation in the home. Families with pets or young children may want to rethink new vinyl floors and opt for something less toxic.

- Ceramic Tile

Pros
Water Resistant
Ceramic tile is naturally water-resistant and can handle dishwasher leaks, children’s messes and wet mopping with no problem at all. Ceramic tile is especially durable because of what is called through-body. Through-body means that the product is the same all the way through. What you see on the surface is the same all the way to the bottom.
Durable
Ceramic tile is one of the most durable floor options you can choose. It is virtually indestructible unless you drop heavy metal or stone objects on it. Tile can last you for the lifetime of your home if properly taken care of.
Stain-Resistant
Ceramic tile is naturally stain-resistant due to its dense structure. As long as you don’t allow staning products to remain on your floor for extended periods of time, your floor will look good for years to come. You can always consider using earth-toned tile to hide those any inevitable stains or dirty spots.

Cons
Hard on Joints and Slippery When Wet
Because of its hardness, ceramic tile can take a toll on the back and legs if you are standing for long periods of time. Consider wearing supportive shoes if you spend a lot of time on your feet on a ceramic tile floor. Ceramic is slippery when wet and could pose a safety hazard. Pets will also have a hard time finding their footing on a tile floor.
Cold in Winter
A ceramic tile floor has a coolness to it that may be welcome in the summer but a bear in the winter. There is nothing quite so unpleasant as feeling the warmth sucked from your body through the bottoms of your feet when standing on a tile floor in the winter. If cold floors are a problem for you, consider installing in-floor heat with electric mats or radiant heating in the subflooring.

- Cork

Pros
Environmentally-friendly
While all trees have an outer layer of cork within their bark, the cork used for cork floors and wine stoppers comes from the cork oak. The cork oak grows near the Mediterranean where there is sufficient sunshine, high humidity and limited rain fall. The primary supplier of cork is Portugal with Spain, Algeria, France and Morocco following close behind. Cork is harvested from living trees and is 100 percent sustainable.
Easy on the Feet
Cork has a yielding texture that makes it easy on the joints. When people step on a cork floor for the first time, they are usually surprised at how springy it feels under their feet. Cork floors provide a certain amount of give that can cushion you in the event of a fall.
Excellent Insulator
Cork is a good insulator and will help keep your home hot or cold, depending on the season. It is also a natural noise barrier between upper and lower floors.

Cons
Easily Damaged
Because cork floors are so soft, they are very easy to dent and mar. If any sharp object comes in contact with a cork floor, it may puncture it. Chairs and furniture legs can put dents and holes in the floor, while even the smallest amount of grit will cause scratching. Heavy appliances such as a stove or refrigerator may permanently sink into the cork, making it very difficult to move them.
Absorbs Water
Although cork floors are finished with a protective seal, they are not waterproof. High moisture content can cause the floor to warp and buckle, while flooding can lead to discoloration and unevenness.
Fades in Sunlight
Cork is susceptible to fading when exposed to sunlight for extended periods of time. You may end up with a patch on the floor where the sun entered a room with cork floors if you don’t keep the windows covered.

- Hardwood

Pros
Easy to Maintain
Hardwood floors are easy to maintain and can stand the test of time. If cared for properly, a hardwood floor can last for several generations before needing to be replaced. An occasional sweeping or vacuuming followed by a light wet mopping will keep them clean, while a protective agent such as Pledge ® will eliminate scuffs and prevent grit and grime from collecting in the grooves.
Adds Value
Harwood floors add a significant amount of value to a home, as it is considered an upgrade. While hardwood is great for the kitchen, it can also be used in other areas of the home. Homes with hardwood floors tend to sell faster than homes with carpet.

Cons
Expensive
Hardwood floors are one of the most expensive floor options on the market and can cost a pretty penny to install. Wood floors must be installed over subflooring and is a task that is usually best done by a contractor.
Refinishing
Over time, all hardwood floors will become scuffed or scratched. Softer woods such as bamboo will mar more easily than oak or maple. A professional refinishing may be in order if you have children or pets to maintain the integrity of your hardwood floors.

- Engineered Wood Floors
The terms “engineered” and “laminate” are often used interchangeably, but they are two completely distinct options. Engineered wood floors are made by fusing a thin layer of real wood on top of plywood, while laminate floors are a high-quality image of wood fused to fiberboard and topped with a transparent protective layer. These two types of flooring can be remarkably similar to one another in looks and texture, but the appearance of engineered wood floors is significantly more realistic than laminate.

Pros
Great Resale Value
Similar to hardwood floors, engineered wood floors offer an increase of the value of a home. Many homeowners, builders and designers are incorporating this option into new construction. Engineered wood floors offer the unique quality of more expensive hardwood floors without the cost.
More Solid than Hardwood
The layer of plywood beneath the layer of real wood in an engineered wood floor is more stable than solid wood. The layers run perpendicular to one another, thereby creating a more solid surface than through-body wood floors.

Cons
Limited Finishing Options
Because engineered wood has thin veneer on the surface, it can only receive a certain number of sanding before wearing through. It is also not water-proof and can become damaged by leaks and standing water.

Out of the four options, engineered flooring just might take the cake. Easier on the joints than ceramic tile, sturdier than cork and less expensive than hardwood, engineered wood floors could be the next upgrade to your kitchen.


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