Ceramic, Porcelain, and Natural Stone Tile Flooring
Tile is extremely popular because of its durability, its ease of maintenance and especially the incredible range of design options out there that can suit every décor. For this reason, it’s accessible for a variety of budget levels. Most spills can be easily cleaned up. The grout may get grimy, but can be cleaned from time to time and be made to look like new.
Porcelain tile can be made to look like natural stone, and is actually stronger than ceramic. Natural stone tiles vary in strength, and tend to be more expensive. Stone needs to be resealed periodically, and of course contains natural variations.
Tile requires a perfectly level subfloor, however, and is a real chore to install. If your home shifts slightly over time a tile floor can crack. The subfloor needs to be not only level, but reasonably sturdy as well, as the tile is a heavy option. Tile can also chip if something heavy is dropped on it. Some ceramic tiles are prone to wear and tear.
Tile can be very hard to stand on for long periods of time. People who spend a lot of time cooking and especially joint or back issues may want to consider another option, or invest in a silicone mat at their main work station.
Hardwood floors are a true classic, and go with a lot of different kitchen styles. It’s hard to go wrong with hardwood, as it’s not something that will go out of fashion. Good hardwood will last for the lifetime of your home, and can be sanded and re-stained if you find the colour doesn’t work a few years down the road. Small scratches can be sanded out, and larger ones filled. It’s also much easier to stand on than tile, concrete, or stone.
Hardwood floors require a reasonably consistent humidity level to prevent warping over the long term. Hardwood also requires a certain amount of maintenance: crumbs and dirt can collect between the planks, and it needs to be resealed every few years. Serious spills can be a major problem, and can require pulling and replacing of planks if the liquid gets soaked in (and is something that can really stain, like red wine).
Installation difficulty can vary. Some types of engineered hardwood are designed to click in to place, but full hardwood that’s one solid plank usually needs to be nailed in place, again, to prevent warping.
Laminate is very versatile: it can be made to look like wood, ceramic or even stone. It is fairly easy to install, and some varieties can just click into place on a reasonably level subfloor.
Laminate varies in durability as well, and some can be incredibly tough – make sure you buy a good quality laminate that can withstand most scratches. This means that the price of laminate has a large range as well, but it is more affordable than wood or a lot of tiles.
One of the main drawbacks of laminate flooring is that it doesn’t always wear well in high-traffic areas (again this will vary depending on the quality you buy). If you tend to splash, be aware that laminate does not respond well to damp conditions.
Vinyl flooring has come a long way in the past few decades, but it’s still one of the easiest types of flooring to install, the easiest to clean, and the most affordable options. It’s available in sheets or tiles of varying thicknesses and toughness.
Sheet vinyl flooring does not require a level subfloor – it just rolls out over what’s there like carpet. Vinyl tiles require a bit more evenness from a subfloor, so it’s best to check with the sales person what your particular choice needs.
Vinyl flooring has a key down side, however: it’s vulnerable to scratches and tears. If you’re prone to dropping kitchen tools you may want to go for something else. It’s not the most chic option, but if you’re on a budget, a keen eye can help you come up with a style that complements your look.
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