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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The use of cork flooring helps to soften the feeling of a large, open space. Designed by Philip Guarino.
Bamboo flooring. Photograph by Geoffrey Hodgdon.

One of the hottest trends in wood flooring for kitchens isn't actually "wood" at all. Cork and bamboo flooring is made from treelike tropical grasses.

'Bamboo and palm wood products work very well in kitchens," says David-Michael Madigan, an interior designer in Santa Ana, Calif. 'They are tropical woods and are treated to withstand the occasional moisture mishap. Underfoot, cork is a very comfortable flooring choice. It has a natural give in the material and its antimicrobial benefits are great around food prep areas."

Megan Dubois, a homeowner in Virginia Beach, Va., first ran across cork flooring at her yoga studio and quickly realized she wanted it in her soon-to-be remodeled kitchen.

"Cork floor is certainly more expensive than a vinyl floor but we thought the upgrade was worth it," explains Megan. "We have a really unique looking floor, which is definitely what we wanted, and the cherry finish that we chose gives the room a warm and cozy feel. I love the fact that when one of my four children drops a dish or glass, nothing breaks!"

The price of installed cork is at the upper end of the range for wood flooring, and bamboo will cost $1 to $2 more than cork per square foot. But homeowners who choose one of the two cite several advantages. Both cork and bamboo are considered environmentally friendly; both are harvested without killing the tree, which will continue to grow and produce. And while cork is soft and comfortable, it's also remarkably resilient. It "remembers" its shape, preventing furniture dents and scuffs, and it's extremely water-resistant. Bamboo resists warping better than other types of wood floors and is surprisingly firm.

Brick
For homeowners who like the feel and durability of tile but want something a little different in the kitchen, brick — that's right, brick — offers an appealing alternative.

Jen Woodall of Albany, N.Y., remembered the cozy brick floor in her grandmother's vintage farmhouse kitchen and wanted the same for her new home. She chose brick pavers, thin tiles of real clay that look like aged brick but are as easy to install and maintain as traditional tile.

'People are surprised when they come in the kitchen and see the brick floor, but they love it," Jen says. 'It's cozy and inviting and doesn't show any dirt. We have big dogs, and it's indestructible."

Brick flooring pavers come in many colors and textures, and they can be laid in interesting patterns. They do require some grout maintenance just like tile, and are comparable in cost to tile.

Rubber Flooring
As home kitchens have begun integrating more commercial-grade features, homeowners are beginning to discover one flooring option that busy professional chefs have appreciated for years: rubber.

Today's manufactured rubber flooring is environmentally friendly, often made from recycled tires, and it offers a dazzling array of color choices, including custom colors. These floors are durable, easy to clean and can really withstand a kitchen's high-volume traffic. Best of all for homeowners who spend a lot of time cooking, a rubber floor's natural "give" is exceptionally easy on the feet and back.

Newer types of rubber flooring come in either rolls or tiles, and at $3 to $5 per square foot installed, they're comparable in cost to linoleum flooring.

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