Updating Your Floors with Hard Surfaces

Several years ago we added on to our tiny kitchen.  Our new area was a dining / multi purpose room that included a laundry area and walk-in pantry.  Our old kitchen had about five layers of vinyl flooring (the home was built in 1954) and we wanted something new for our updated kitchen and extended room.

These days, just about every room’s floor is being replaced with a hard surface.  They are easier to clean, don’t attract allergens, don’t stain nearly as easily as wall-to-wall carpeting, and typically last much longer.  Back then, we had a few choices for hard surfaces that were reasonably priced and we thought appropriate for the kitchen.  We chose hardwood. Now, you have oodles of options:

  1.  Wood:  This is the old standard, but even here you now have tons of choices.  Do you want unfinished, nailed down, old fashioned?  How about pre-finished floating that you glue together?  Or engineered wood that that you can click together?
  2. Laminates:  these used to be really flimsy, with owners complaining that they were hard on the feet and noisy.  The updated versions are much more quiet, durable, and with the right under-layer, softer on the feet.  They come in a TON of options, too.  They aren’t as expensive as hardwood.  Even though they may not last as long, they do have a pretty long life – between 10 and 25 years.
  3. Cork:  this is an eco-friendly choice that is quiet, easy to clean, and comes in a variety of colors.  You can also choose from natural, pre-finished with urethane or vinyl covered. It comes in strips or tiles.  This product is fairly easy to work with, so it’s a favorite for DIY people.
  4. Tile:  tile is incredibly durable – we’ve seen examples of tiles hundreds of years old.  it comes in just about any color, size and shape imaginable.  As long as you keep the grout sealed, it’s extremely easy to clean.  The downsides?  Tile is very hard on the feet, and depending on what you choose, can be slippery when wet (think dangerous for children) and gets dirty easily — in other words, do you REALLY want white?
  5. Stone:  stone has most of the advantages and disadvantages of tile, except it is natural rather than man-made. The good news?  It will literally last almost forever.
  6. Vinyl:  though still probably the least expensive and will last the shortest amount of time, this has still come a long way.  You can now choose from planks (can last up to 10 years) sheets, or peel and stick tiles (good for quick upgrades). There are almost as many options here as you have with tile. If you want a colorful floor, this is the a fun option.

I hope this helps as you look at options for your home.  Please let me know what you choose for your home, and what room you install it in!

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