Should You Select Hardwood Flooring in the Kitchen?

Without a doubt, the kitchen is the center of most homes, drawing all who enter the home into it for a visit. The family will spend a great deal of time in the kitchen, not only for meals and meal preparation but also as the place to relax and share the events of the day. When you think about the hustle and bustle that goes on this area, you want to be sure that you cover the floor with a material that is beautiful and resilient as well as easy to maintain. The popularity of natural wood products in residential construction today has many new homeowners asking, “Should we select hardwood flooring in the kitchen?” The answer is a resounding “yes”

For one thing, hardwood floors in any room will add value and beauty to your new home; but wood floors in your kitchen will make the centerpiece room of the home much more inviting and enjoyable to be in. Wood floors are softer on your feet than ceramic tile and much more resilient than vinyl flooring. Technological advances in clear coat urethane finishes have made it possible to put hardwood floors in the kitchen without the fear that a spilled glass of water will mean the end of your investment; and hardwood floors are a solid investment for your new home. Hardwood floors will last for generations if properly cared for. Many homes over a hundred years old still have the original hardwood flooring in them. Value conscious homeowners have realized that hardwood flooring in their homes increases the value of their home at the time of resale also. One reason for the popularity of hardwood is that wood flooring can be maintained easily for years to come with simple sweeping and the occasional application of a floor cleaner.

Twenty years ago, a person had very few options when it came to purchasing quality wood flooring for their home. Today, the options available in hardwood flooring are every bit as extensive as vinyl or ceramic and include different shapes (natural wood planks in widths from 2” to 12”, and engineered wood planks that are available in squares, rectangles and even specialty patterns, including a multitude of natural wood finishes from white pine to dark cherry). There are also many species of natural wood flooring to choose from, depending on your budget. If you are particularly cost conscious, then a basic yellow pine floor can give you a mountain cabin look that is very popular today in our back-to-the-basics economy, but for those who are putting more of their new home budget into the hardwood flooring in the kitchen, they can choose from a variety of oak floorings, or step up to an exotic like bamboo and mahogany or even iron wood.

Another option that needs to be considered when selecting hardwood flooring for the kitchen is how it will be finished, and part of the decision-making process for which finish to use is to ask the question: who will install it? If you are thinking about installing the wood flooring, then you need to be very honest with yourself concerning your skill level when it comes to sanding and applying the final finish. Installing wood flooring is not the typical DIY project, but a person with a reasonable amount of carpentry skills can install a wood floor if they have the proper tools and patience. If you are going to install the flooring, and you are not a flooring installer by trade, then I highly recommend that you purchase a pre-finished wood floor covering; either natural wood or one of the many engineered wood flooring products, because the finish should be considered the most important aspect of the wood floor. You can start with the best wood and install it in an impeccable manner, but if the finish (sanding and urethane) is not done properly, your wood floor will not look good and will not last as long as it should.

If you have decided to have a professional install your wood flooring in the kitchen, great; you can go with either finished or unfinished. The pre-finished product still offers a decided advantage over the unfinished, even if you are having it professionally installed. Generally speaking, the factory will do a better job of sanding and sealing the wood than most installers. The reason is obvious: the factory is a controlled environment and your house under construction is not! Regardless of the choice you make, finished or unfinished, make sure you only hire an installer with references that you can check and jobs that you can go see (while wood flooring is comfortable to walk on, beautiful to look at and easy to maintain, it is not very forgiving in the installation department). You don’t want to find out after the fact that your floor was the first floor this person ever installed.

Once you’ve made the decision to select hardwood flooring for your kitchen, you need to start shopping for your new floor. Just as you don’t want to cut corners by hiring a cheap installer, you don’t want to save money by looking for the deal of the century. What should you consider when picking a supplier for your flooring?

  1. Does the store specialize in wood floorings? If they carry many different varieties of flooring they may still be a good resource, but you can’t be good at everything. A store that specializes in wood flooring should have a knowledgeable sales staff that can help you make the best choice for your particular situation and offer a wide variety of products to choose from.
  2. Do they offer installation? If they specialize in wood flooring and have a knowledgeable sales staff and a great product selection, they probably offer installation because they want to ensure that the hardwood flooring you’ve purchased from them goes down correctly and looks great for many years to come. Another reason to consider having them install the floor is that they will guarantee the wood and the work. It will be tough to find an independent carpenter with the financial backing to offer a guarantee and actually be able to stand behind it and make it good.
  3. Do they have completed jobs you can look at and customers you can talk to? Anyone that is seriously in business will have both and they should have an abundance of them. A lack of either type of reference should throw up a red flag and let you know that your search for the best supplier is not over yet.

Installing hardwood flooring in your kitchen is a good decision, and if properly cared for, it will give you many years of enjoyment. Plan on spending some quality time with a few suppliers before making a final decision; after all, a hardwood floor is an investment in your new home’s future.