Picking new flooring and countertops for your kitchen can be a big decision. After all, it’s a choice you may only make once in your home, and it affects an area you likely use every day.
No matter your lifestyle, practicality and durability should be a priority when selecting a kitchen flooring or countertop. But these days, there are many materials that check both of these boxes.
Let’s go through your options for flooring and countertop materials so you can make a buying decision that improves the function and look of your home.
Choosing Flooring Materials
Before selecting flooring for your kitchen, consider your motivations for renovating your floor.
What do you dislike about your old flooring?
Perhaps it couldn’t stand up to the constant flow of kids and pets rushing in and out, looking for snacks. Maybe its light color showed every crumb and spill and you’re tired of constantly cleaning. It’s a good idea to make a list of gripes about your current flooring—so you know what you don’t want in your next.
After you have a good idea of what you don’t want, consider what you do. If easily damaged flooring is your main frustration, you’ll want to look for extremely durable materials that can withstand rambunctious kids or pets.
If frequent cleaning is getting on your last nerve, consider a darker flooring that’s a bit more forgiving. The best flooring for your kitchen will vary based on your motivations and desires for your ultimate vision.
There’s an incredible variety of flooring available to suit any style of home. Here are some of your options:
Linoleum: While linoleum may conjure images of yellowed flooring, it’s now a much more durable and longer-lasting option than you may think. Linoleum is a great kitchen flooring material for a number of reasons.
It’s an eco-friendly flooring that you can feel good about installing in your home. It’s a biodegradable material made of things like flour, wood resins, linseed oil, and coloring. Linoleum is also a durable kitchen flooring option, comparable to hardwood and ceramic; these properties mean linoleum may last anywhere from 20 to 40 years. If your kitchen is a highly trafficked area, linoleum may be a good kitchen flooring option for your home.
Linoleum is also relatively easy to take care of. Regular sweeping and mopping are sufficient, with an occasional buff needed.
Laminate: Laminate flooring is the master of disguise. There’s a good chance your neighbor’s wood flooring that you’ve been eyeing is actually laminate. Many opt to select laminate flooring over wood for a number of reasons. Laminate is crafted from composite wood pressed together at high temperatures, making it a durable material that is both stain and scratch resistant. To maintain your laminate floor, sweep and wipe it down regularly.
Laminate comes in a wide variety of colors, textures, and finishes to mimic any wood flooring you’re looking for. If wood isn’t your style, there may still be a laminate option for you. It’s also available in a variety of natural stone and tile finishes.
- Ceramic Tiles: Ceramic floor tiles (sometimes known as non-porcelain floor tiles) are easier to install than porcelain tiles. While many discredit ceramic tile for its porosity, a glaze will protect it from kitchen spills and stains.
However some drawbacks are that ceramic tiles can be too heavy for certain floors, and they aren’t always easy to clean.
Ceramic tiles are available in a wide variety of colors and patterns, one of which is bound to match whatever design you have your heart set on.
- Hardwood: Hardwood gives your home a natural touch that’s hard for other kitchen flooring options to match. Whether you select solid hardwood (made from a single piece of wood) or engineered hardwood (layers of hardwood “plies” bound together), you likely won’t regret selecting hardwood flooring.
Hardwood flooring comes in almost as many different varieties as there are trees. Different species offer different densities, colorings, and wears—it’s just a matter of deciding which type is the best for you.
With the right care, hardwood floors age with grace, gaining character through the years. Regular sweeping and wiping are more or less sufficient, but they may need to be buffed or stained every decade or so.
The main drawback of hardwood flooring is that it can be expensive compared to other options, and certain types of wood are more prone to scratches than others.
- Bamboo: A trendy newcomer to the scene, bamboo also checks the eco-friendly box. Because it grows so quickly, bamboo is an incredibly renewable resource that’s widely available and well loved. In terms of ease of cleaning, bamboo’s a great choice for that, too. Just like laminate, a regular sweeping and occasional wipe does the trick.
The one drawback of bamboo is its durability. It’s not as hard as standard wood flooring, which makes it a great kitchen flooring option in terms of comfort, but not so great in terms of durability. While it can withstand heavy traffic, bamboo can be prone to scratches, making it susceptible to damage from pets nails or moving heavy objects.
- Cork: Another natural and sustainable material is cork. Cork comes from the bark of the aptly-named cork tree and is renowned for its eco-friendliness. Cork flooring is made of the same material as the cork in your wine bottle.
In fact, the flooring is made from the byproduct of making cork wine stoppers, putting to good use a material that might otherwise be discarded.
Because cork flooring is cork all the way through, rather than a material with an artificial coating on its surface, it’s better at hiding scratches, dings, and dents.
- Rubber: Rubber is another alternative to more traditional kitchen flooring options. It offers a good spring that’s easy on feet and highly durable. Rubber comes in a huge variety of colors, patterns, and textures. For the eco-conscious, recycled options are available.
Premium rubber flooring may be expensive, and certain types of rubber are prone to staining when they come into contact with certain solutions.
Once you understand the composition of your window and window frame, you can look at how these various parts come together to create a variety of window styles. Keep this glossary in mind as you peruse different types of window frames and styles to help guide your selection.
Choosing Countertop Materials
Choosing your countertop starts with the same considerations as choosing your flooring. Ask yourself:
- What’s motivating me to change my countertop?
- What do I like about my current countertop?
- What don’t I like about my current countertop?
These questions will help you get a better idea of which kitchen countertop option is right for your home.
Quartz: Quartz is a manufactured kitchen countertop option that’s loved for its durability. In fact, quartz is one of the strongest materials in the world. It’s stain resistant and crack-resistant. In addition, because it nonporous, it’s more resistant to bacteria growth than porous materials.
Most quartz countertops are made with manufactured quartz (about 95% natural ground quartz mixed with polymers). Because it’s manmade, it’s available in an extensive variety of colors. It’s also relatively easy to maintain and doesn’t require the upkeep that many natural stones do.
Granite: There’s a reason granite is one of the most coveted kitchen countertop options. It’s available in a beautiful variety of natural colors and patterns to compliment any home. While less durable than quartz, it’s heat-resistant, and incredibly hard to chip or crack.
While quartz requires little to no maintenance, granite should be sealed at least once a year.
- Ceramic Tile: Ceramic tile countertops create a classic look that can be customized to suit just about any home aesthetic or color scheme. Glazed ceramic tiles are both heat and stain resistant. If they do incur any damage, the affected tiles may be replaced without affecting the entire countertop, unlike granite or quartz.
That said, ceramic tile countertops can be more of a project to clean, as grout can collect crumbs and is easily stained.
- Stainless Steel: For fans of a modern or industrial aesthetic, stainless steel is both a fashionable and practical choice. It’s durable, corrosion-resistant, and easy to clean. Stainless steel countertops come in a variety of finishes, from the standard shine to brushed or hammered.
- Concrete: Just like stainless steel, concrete easily lends itself to an industrial home. It’s made of the same material as sidewalks and patios—but with a much different finished appearance. A major advantage of concrete is that it’s customizable. Manufacturers offer concrete in a variety of colors by using dyes, stains, and other colored coatings. You can also opt to inlay stones, shells, tiles, and more in your countertops.
To maintain your concrete countertop, wipe it down regularly and be sure to seal it each year.
- Laminate: Laminate countertops can be a budget-friendly option that improves the function and look of your kitchen. Typically, laminate counters must be replaced more often than heavier materials like granite; however, with proper care, your countertop can last for years. Clean regularly with mild soap, and avoid cutting or placing hot items on your laminate counters. You can also opt for self-stick laminate countertops to further cut down on cost.
- Butcher Block: Butcher block is made of a series of strips of wood bonded together, and using this material for your countertop means creating a work space where you can slice and chop freely. While you can dice directly on your butcher block countertops, you may want to continue using a cutting board to cut down on maintenance and prevent bacteria.
Butcher block countertops come in a wide range of wood types, with maple, cherry, and red oak being the most common. Butcher block countertops require more maintenance compared to the other options on this list, including frequent wipedowns and annual mineral oil treatments. However because they’re made out of wood, any scratches or stains can be sanded away, and as long as you maintain your countertops well, they can last a long time.
No matter which kitchen flooring or countertop option you select, remember that these surfaces will be with you for a long time, so you should keep practicality and durability in mind.