Fresh Flooring Options for Kitchens

Laminate or tile are not your only kitchen flooring choices. Rubber, concrete and even brick are just a few of the stylish choices available.

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Childhood Amusement Children can find joy in the simplest of forms, such as a musical playset created from pots and pans.

Not so long ago, choosing a kitchen floor was as simple as deciding between tile and linoleum. While both of these traditional flooring favorites continue to have their fans, there are now more choices than ever before. So before you settle on one of the "classics," be sure to consider your kitchen-flooring options.

Many homeowners remodeling their kitchens today are turning to an old flooring standby: wood. Wood flooring has made a major comeback as builders and homeowners look to increase the charm, value and comfort in new and remodeled homes.

"We are seeing lots of hardwood in the kitchen," says Raymond Ferraro, a New Jersey contractor. "(Our) past four jobs have been hardwood."

One reason for wood's return to favor is the increasing prevalence of more open floor plans, in which kitchens and family rooms blend together. Wood floors offer a warm, seamless look for these "great room" designs.

"Kitchens are really the new living rooms of today's homes," explains Lambert Arcenaux of Allegro Builders in Houston. "We want our homes to feel warm. Our clients hang out in the kitchen and great room and we want it to be inviting. Wood does that."

Wood floors can be finished with oil and wax to give a weathered, antique look, but this finish is less durable in a kitchen setting and will require regular waxing. A better choice for kitchens is wood flooring that is factory-pretreated with a tough sealer like polyurethane. Buying pretreated wood also means there will be less mess and smell associated with initial installation. A sealed wood floor doesn't need to be waxed and can be kept clean with broom and mop. Experts say wood floors in kitchens need to be resealed every five or six years.

The better-engineered wood flooring available today is also a practical choice for kitchens. As long as homeowners follow the routine maintenance recommendations of manufacturers, properly installed wood floors are durable, very easy to clean and tend to camouflage spills and tracked-in dirt.

With more homeowners going beyond the basic oak and pine, "I am seeing more maple, cherry, Brazilian cherry and hickory (in kitchens)," says Mark Palmer, a Florida-based interior designer.

Installed hardwood flooring generally runs $3 to $8 per square foot, depending on the variety of wood, but builder Lambert says homeowners can find great deals on "recycled" wood for kitchens in salvage yards and neighborhood teardowns. "We use reclaimed hardwood from older homes," says Lambert. "Recycling these materials helps us to help the environment and gives our homes a link to the past."

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