“Hardwood floors in your kitchen? Are you asking for trouble?”
Fifty years ago, most homeowners frowned upon hardwood as a flooring choice for a kitchen. Linoleum was in vogue, and ordinary hardwood posed too many problems — from possible water damage to lack of resistance to dings and scratches. Even today, a lot of homeowners shun the idea of putting down hardwood floors in their kitchens.
But hardwood floors have changed a lot since then. They are an increasingly popular choice for a kitchen, and they’re often a smart choice — a hardwood floor can do amazing things for the design of a home, and it will even withstand quite a bit of use if properly cared for.
So if you come across a client who would like hardwood floors installed in their kitchen, here’s some information about the types, species, and types of finish that are recommended for the job.
Engineered vs. solid floors in a kitchen?
The engineered vs. solid debate takes place almost every time there’s a hardwood floor installation. And the answer usually depends upon the homeowner’s unique needs and geographical factors.
Ultimately — just as with any other area of the home — the choice of engineered or solid floors depends on the location of the kitchen in the house and the humidity fluctuations (or lack thereof) in the geographical area, as well as the substrate it is being installed over. Some very specialized substrates examples include concrete or gypsum concrete with radiant heat tubing.
Engineered wood can be installed in above-grade or below-grade environments and over radiant heat, whereas solid wood is mostly installed in above-grade environments.
If more stability is needed because of the geographical location of the house and the tendency of the humidity to fluctuate, engineered wood is probably your best bet to avoid cupping and gapping.
If the homeowners want engineered floors in their kitchen, you’ll usually want to install engineered unfinished hardwood floors instead of prefinished. The beveled edges of prefinished floors are difficult to clean, and a kitchen is one area of the house that needs almost constant cleaning and maintenance.
For more dimensional stability in solid floors, choose rift sawn over quarter sawn or plain sawn.
No matter what kind of flooring you’re looking for––engineered, solid, prefinished, unfinished––we have it in stock. Click here to check out our selection of hardwood floors.
Choosing a finish for the kitchen floor
The finish you choose for a hardwood floor in a kitchen is especially important due to the kitchen’s above-average exposure to daily wear and tear.
The finish has to be water-resistant because of the potential for the presence of water on the floor. It also has to be durable enough to hold up to the heavy foot traffic that a kitchen typically withstands.
If you’re putting down unfinished wood, a durable, catalyzed waterbased urethane finish is a great choice because of its ability to resist water damage compared to an oilbased finish. Moisture-cured urethane is also particularly moisture resistant and durable, making it a great choice for a kitchen floor.
For added durability, UV floor curing is an excellent system to use. The curing process makes the floor particularly resistant to foot traffic. Click here to read our guide to UV curing systems for hardwood floors.
Some inspiration for your kitchen flooring projects
In a kitchen, the species and its hardness rating is not as important as the finish you choose, but you definitely have to consider the design aspect of what you’re installing. Here are some ideas that you can present to your clients, taken from Houzz. Click here for our guide to marketing your contracting business on Houzz.
For a sleek, modern look, go with a dark wood like mahogany or stain the floors a dark color:
For extra durability, go with an especially hard species like hickory, which happens to also have a distinguished look, as in this diagonal floor:
For a rustic look, go with a classic like wide plank Eastern white pine or heart pine. Its knottiness will lend a traditional, down-home feel to the kitchen:
For a hip, rustic look, go with handscraped or distressed wood flooring.
For a simple, classic look, go with white oak coated with a natural, clear finish:
For more ideas, search Houzz for “hardwood floors in a kitchen” and take a look through the results.
Floor care: Especially important in the kitchen
Just like in any other area of the home, hardwood floors can last a long time if they’re properly cared for. But the hardwood floors in a kitchen are extra susceptible to damage.
To protect yourself from callbacks, you’ve got to advise your clients appropriately.
Any spills or leaks should be taken care of as quickly as possible to prevent damage to the finish. Suggest that they put mats in any areas where the floor is exposed to water and spillage, such as the areas in front of the sink and the stove, and to wipe up any spills immediately after they happen.
If you’re working in a remodeled kitchen, you could suggest that the homeowners install drainage systems underneath the dishwasher and refrigerator to limit damage in case of any leaks.
Since hardwood floors are becoming an increasingly popular floor covering for a kitchen, don’t be surprised if you get a request for one of these projects. Take this inspiration and knowledge with you to the jobsite and you’ll be sure to have a successful and stunning installation!
Click here to browse our hardwood floor selection and find the materials you need for your project, or call (800) 787-1786 for more information.