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Kitchen flooring options

The kitchen floor sees more abuse than any other in the house.

Even the kids' basement play area doesn't get such torture. Where else does a floor get hot grease spilled on it? What other room gets juice stains on top of that?

Fortunately, there are a dozen different flooring options for dealing with those practical issues. There are a hundred different styles of each to lend beauty also to this utilitarian space.

Once upon a time hardwood floors were the only 'high tech/high style' option. It was that or brick (when it wasn't just plain dirt). That option has come back to life with a modern slant. Contemporary hardwood floors offer a durable, beautiful surface. Coated and maintained properly, they'll last for generations. Brazilian Teak, American Oak, and others provide a sturdy, attractive surface that will stand up to just about anything.

For those who need a truly indestructible kitchen floor, stone is the way to go. Take care selecting the right material. While marble is ultra-strong it can be stained easily if the surface isn't coated with the right compounds. Slate is a very popular option. A bit on the pricey side, but it provides a strong, beautiful surface that doesn't show stains.

Laminates are a nice middle ground. Not as durable as stone, nor as beautiful as natural hardwoods, they do a good job of emulating either. And they do that at a much lower price. They are available as tiles, but more commonly come in planks, to create the look of a hardwood floor. Made of high density fiber with a resin on top, they give terrific support. No bowing with age.

Laminates come pre-coated with a stain-resistant compound that will keep the surface from getting damaged by juice, coffee, and other common spills. They don't fade or change color from long-term exposure to sunlight, either. Most manufacturers offer a 25-year warranty for their laminates.

Ceramic tile remains one of the most popular choices, and for good reasons. Older tiles were prone to cracking. That's much less likely today with contemporary composites. If installed correctly, they provide a highly pressure-resistant surface. That surface is also one of the best for spills. Tiles themselves are practically stain proof.

Grout, unfortunately, is not. But cleaning it has gotten easier with the evolution of commercial grout cleaners. Once upon a time dirt, tea stains, and other common kitchen compounds would muddy grout forever. Today, with proper sealing and regular care, the grout can be kept looking new for decades.

Vinyl is still an option. Once, and still usually, the cheapest option, it no longer has to look cheap. Modern materials science has developed vinyl tiles and sheets that are attractive and sturdy. With proper underflooring, the 'valleys' that would appear in a few years are mostly a thing of the past. The range of designs available is greater in this arena than for any other type of flooring.

Look at all the options and think about the type of use and abuse your kitchen floor gets. Then opt for something that will provide long-term durability and beauty. You'll live with the choice for years. Make it a good one.