Kitchens

How to choose the best kitchen floor – your flooring options explained

Is wood, stone, tile, vinyl or another pick right for your kitchen floor?

How to choose the best kitchen floor
(Image credit: Future)

A kitchen floor has to score highly in terms of its practicality, while its aesthetic qualities are equally vital to any aficionado of great interior design. Yet, despite these twin demands, there are many different types of flooring that are possible options for the room. 

With the breadth of choice in mind, the question of how to choose the best kitchen floor is crucial. Each flooring has its particular qualities along with its care demands, and some can suit some households and lifestyles more than others.

Read on for all your kitchen flooring options explained.

See: Kitchen ideas – decor and decorating ideas for all kitchens 

Kitchen floor tile

best kitchen floor - tile

(Image credit: Original Style)

Kitchen tile is a hygienic, attractive and easy to clean flooring option. While it’s one category, there is in fact an array of materials from which kitchen tile can be made, each with its own qualities.

Ceramic tile can be a relatively inexpensive tile choice. With a huge range of colors and patterns on offer, it makes getting the look you want easy, and as well as allowing selection between finishes such as matte and gloss, ceramic tile can also have the appearance of materials like stone and wood.

The reason you might rule out ceramic tile as a kitchen option? There are floorings that are more hard wearing and which could therefore be preferable in a busy household. Ceramic is also more porous than porcelain tile. This is less crucial in a kitchen than a bathroom, but lower porosity can help prevent staining.

Porcelain tile can also be a choice that’s fairly easy on your pocket although it will likely cost more than ceramic. Once again, wide choice of color and finish, plus the availability of both plain and patterned tile makes it easy to achieve the style you want in the room. Like ceramic, porcelain can create the illusion that it’s made of natural stone or wood. Porcelain is simple to clean and care for, extremely durable, and hard to damage. 

There are few downsides, but porcelain isn’t kind to dropped objects because it’s so hard. Like ceramic it can also feel unyielding underfoot and, unless it’s teamed with underfloor heating, will feel cool which can be unwelcome in some climates.

Natural stone tile is a stylish and durable choice as kitchen flooring. Pick from stones such as granite, limestone, travertine, marble and slate which each have their inherent characteristics of color and veining. Natural stone gives your floor a unique quality that can’t be attained with manmade options. 

While it’s hygienic as a flooring and easy to keep clean, natural stone requires more care than ceramic or porcelain flooring. Stone is porous in different degrees, and therefore sealing is necessary to prevent stains. Sealing at installation or pre-sealed tile is a must, and natural stone will also need to be resealed at intervals over the years.

Like other tile, natural stone is a surface which isn’t forgiving if an item is dropped, doesn’t offer any give underfoot, and without underfloor heating feels cool, which may be an unwelcome sensation depending on where you live.

See: Kitchen flooring ideas – stylish but practical floors for kitchens

Wood kitchen floors

best kitchen floor - wood

(Image credit: Chiselwood)

Wood flooring can strike a warm and welcoming note in a kitchen. Select between solid timber and engineered versions, which both come at a wide range of price points.

Engineered wood flooring should be your first consideration for practical reasons. The advantage of engineered wood flooring is a structure that makes it more dimensionally stable in the changing temperature and moisture levels caused by the cooking process. 

Solid wood flooring isn’t out of the question, although some suppliers don’t recommend it as an option for kitchens. If it is your preference, excellent ventilation for the room is crucial, and it’s advisable to check the warranty before purchase.

It is possible to scratch, stain and mark wood flooring but its advantage is that it can be sanded and re-finished if necessary. Wiping up spills straightaway and regular cleaning should avoid this becoming necessary.

Wood flooring is a little more forgiving on the feet than tile, as well as naturally warmer. 

Vinyl kitchen floors

best kitchen floor - vinyl

(Image credit: Amtico)

Vinyl flooring can be a functional and stylish solution for some kitchens. Made using PVC, it’s durable, water resistant and easy to clean and maintain. It can be an especially good choice for family homes as it’s more yielding as a surface than tile or wood, and feels warmer. It’s also quieter underfoot.

Luxury vinyl tile (LVT) can look convincingly like surfaces such as wood or tile – including natural stone as well as patterned designs – so using it because of its other benefits needn’t mean compromising on the appearance you prefer. 

However, there are also plain colored versions in quiet neutrals and vivid shades, offering plenty of design possibilities. Another benefit of LVT is that should it become damaged an individual tile or plank can be replaced.

High quality LVT is a mid-range option when it comes to your budget. Avoid cheap sheet versions as they’re thin and won’t offer the same properties. 

Linoleum and cork kitchen floors

Best kitchen flooring - cork flooring

(Image credit: Haro )

If you like the idea of an alternative to kitchen tile or wood, but want an eco-friendly option, take a look at both linoleum and cork.

Linoleum is made from materials such as linseed oil, pine rosin, wood flour, pigments, limestone and jute. It’s hard wearing, repairable if it does become damaged, easy to clean and maintain, and will resist water and stains. It’s available in a wide range of colors and finishes.

In a home with young kids, it might also be a top choice as it’s softer underfoot than tile and wood, quiet and warm. 

Be aware that high heels can mark linoleum, and it can be scratched. Excessive humidity isn’t good for it either.

Cork flooring is derived from tree bark, so is another natural ‘green’ flooring choice for a kitchen. Like linoleum it might also fulfil plenty of the requirements of a family home. It’s moisture resistant, durable and comfortable to walk on. It will also absorb sound and has natural insulation properties. 

While much cork flooring comes in natural shades, there are colored versions with which to create an impactful or subtle finish.

Cleaning a cork floor is easy, but spills need to be wiped up straightaway. It might not be the best option for pet owners as claws could scratch it. On the upside a cork floor can be refinished to freshen up its appearance.

Laminate kitchen flooring

best kitchen floor - laminate

(Image credit: Future / Robert Sanderson)

Laminate flooring is often chosen as a budget-friendly way to get the look of more expensive kitchen flooring options like wood and stone. A high quality laminate is hard wearing, and easy to keep clean, too. While it’s water resistant, if you’re concerned about spills in the kitchen, choosing a version with a water-repellent coating is a sensible strategy.

Like wood and tile it’s one of the harder kitchen surfaces and noisier underfoot than vinyl, linoleum and cork. It can’t be refinished it it’s damaged either.

Polished concrete kitchen floors

best kitchen floor - concrete

(Image credit: Emma Lewis)

Polished concrete flooring, for a contemporary kitchen, is definitely worth considering. There are a wide range of colors and finishes, allowing this to be a creative choice. 

It’s a hard-wearing flooring and ideal for heavy foot traffic and home with pets, and it’s easy to keep clean as well. And while polished concrete has a sheen it’s actually non-slip. Of course, it won’t be the kindest on dropped objects because it is hard, nor provide any give underfoot.

See: Kitchen tile costs – which type is best for my budget?

Polished concrete plus underfloor heating is a good combination, and in sunny rooms it will absorb and hold heat.