A Guide to Materials: Using Wood Floors in a Kitchen Remodel

A Guide to Materials: Using Wood Floors in a Kitchen Remodel

There was a time when having a wood floor in your kitchen was not the first choice for most homeowners. Typically in older kitchens flooring was either tile or linoleum. Today, the trend for installing wood floors in the kitchen is growing. As open concept living has become more popular, bringing wood from the main living area into the kitchen has become a great way to continue the flow of your design throughout the space, in essence creating one great room.

Before you take the plunge on a wood floor kitchen, there are a few considerations:

• Do minor dents and dings in the floor bother you?

• Do you like the imperfections in natural materials like wood?

• Do you want to be able to sand and refinish your floor rather than ripping it up and starting over?

• How much time are you willing to spend maintaining wood flooring?

Choose your answers carefully! Wood is a naturally soft material and over time it will show wear. If you're ok with that, a wood floor kitchen is a wonderful choice.

Engineered or Solid Wood Floor Kitchen?

Wood floor technology has come a long way in recent years. Today, you have a choice. While solid wood is beautiful durable and will last for years, new engineered wood products offer many of the same benefits, with lower maintenance needs, and often a lower prices point.

Because they are a natural product, solid wood floors react to changes in weather. They can shrink in the winter with lower temperatures and less moisture in the air. Likewise in spring and summer, they swell as the humidity and temperatures rise. A humidifier can help to keep moisture levels and wood flooring more stable. However, solid wood floors, especially when used in a high traffic area like the kitchen, will need periodic buffing and a fresh coat of polyurethane every few years.

If you prefer a dent free, lower maintenance flooring material, take a look at engineered flooring. Half-inch engineered wood can hold up to spills better than solid wood. It's less prone to temperature and humidity changes because it was designed to be used over a concrete subfloor. As a result, it takes a lot longer for an engineered product to move with humidity than solid wood. It is less vulnerable to temperature and humidity changes.

Engineered wood does have a downside. Because it is made with layers of compressed wood that is bonded with heat and adhesive, the top layer (called the wear layer) can't be sanded and refinished as often as solid wood. If you'd like the option of sanding and refinishing, make sure you purchase a good product made with at least a 3-millimeter thick wear layer.

Solid Wood: Easier to Replace and Refinish

The one major benefit of a solid wood floor is that if it is damaged, for example by water, you don't need to pull and replace the entire floor. The entire room can be sanded and re-stained or refinished as often as needed.

This isn't the case with engineered hardwoods. While you can replace planks they should come from the same dye lot. If you need to replace more flooring than what you have left over, it won't match perfectly. In fact, even planks taken from the same lot may not match depending on how old they are and the wear pattern on your kitchen floor.

If You Hate Dents and Scratches, Choose White Oak or Wire Brushed Wood

If you hate imperfections and everyday wear, avoid dark high gloss finishes. It will show dents, dust, dirt and scratches. Consider white oak, or wire brushed wood instead. White oak is a strong hardwood with a tight, straight grain pattern. It's a solid wood that comes in a wide spectrum of colors from sapwood to dark browns.

Another alternative is wire brushed wood. It has a subtle textured look that's practical in the kitchen. Because the texture gives it movement, it hides denting and scratching quite well.

No matter what type of wood floor you end up with, always follow the manufacturers recommended instructions when it comes to cleaning your floor. They are the backers of any warranty on the material. In fact, reading the warranty before you buy is a good practice. It can tell you what products are needed and the level of care required to maintain your new floor.

A Quick Word on Wood Look Porcelain Tile...

If you're truly concerned about imperfections like dents and scratches there is an alternative. Wood look tile has become a growing trend in the past couple of years. While wood look tile has been around for a long time, new manufacturing techniques have made it almost undetectable from natural wood. Tiles are available in either ceramic or porcelain and this new manufacturing process creates almost endless possibilities in terms of size and design.

Wood look tile brings a number of benefits. It's durable, easy to maintain, sustainably manufactured, works great with underfloor radiant heating. It's also customizable, can be installed anywhere and is an affordable product.

With the wide variety of options available, you can even match the flooring in the rest of your house. Wood look tile is resistant to scratching, doesn't dent or stain and never needs refinishing. If you're looking for a real, low maintenance alternative to wood for your kitchen remodeling project, speak with your designer about wood look tile.

A wood floor kitchen offers a luxurious look to your home and can tie in with the rest of your living area beautifully. While there are some drawbacks, if you choose wisely and make sure to incorporate your lifestyle into your choice, you can find the perfect flooring to meet your needs. Work closely with your designer. As new manufacturing techniques become available, products like engineered hardwoods and wood look tile are excellent, affordable alternatives to solid wood flooring. 

Forward Design Build is a residential design-build firm in Ann Arbor, Michigan that is known for its commitment to craftsmanship and communication. We are committed to improving our neighbors quality of life with inspired design and creative remodeling. Our homes are highly functional, exquisitely beautiful, and remarkably comfortable. Contact us to speak with an expert about your new home or remodeling project.