From limestone to linoleum, from concrete to cork, there are a myriad of floor materials that can improve the appearance of your kitchen. But before you set your heart on solid wood or splash on ceramic, there are some important points to consider.
“The floor you choose should complement your kitchen rather than being the focal point,” says Richard Robson of Paris Ceramics. “It should provide a platform for the rest of the room without requiring too much attention.” Ideal flooring will help create a feeling of space and light, and if you have an open plan living area, consistency is paramount, so be sure to choose a material that can go through everything. Some products may work in the kitchen, but they don’t feel suitable for the living area, for example, and this could affect your overall decision.
“The key is to find a balance between beauty and endurance,” says Tony Nicholas, CEO of Nicholas Anthony Kitchens. ‘Always talk to professionals, who will be able to advise you on how the different floors will adapt to your lifestyle.
Industrial style floors
“Concrete adds a contemporary touch to a kitchen,” says Jonathan Reid of the White & Reid concrete surface design company. The colors range from charcoal to antique white, and it is ideal for open plan extensions, where it can be laid both indoors and outdoors. Once sealed, concrete has a fairly low maintenance and one of its advantages is that it can be poured directly on the existing floor without the need for it to level it. There are also light versions that can be used on the upper floors, but ask a structural engineer for advice.
The resin used in residential projects has a soft and flexible finish, seamless, comfortable to walk on, hygienic and which also softens the sound. “A silk finish is best for kitchens,” advises John Wilson of Stratum UK resin floors. ‘You can opt for gloss, which gives a true wow factor, but does not have the hardness of polished marble or concrete. The glossy finish will eventually dull and will need maintenance to restore it to its former glory. ‘Remember, resin is a hand-applied system, so there may be minor flaws in the finish.
“The stone is available in such a range of sizes, colors and textures that it can complement any style of kitchen,” says Richard Robson of Paris Ceramics. Choose from rich browns and soft tones in grays, greens and yellows. Even the best quality limestone is porous, but the last sealants are very effective and, once applied, the floor should be easy to maintain. “For a modern look, opt for matte, extra-large tiles,” says Jo O ‘Grady in the Stone Age. “The cramped surfaces and random dimensions, on the other hand, adapt to traditional kitchens.”
“Porcelain is so versatile and can be made to look like anything from limestone to concrete, or even modern fabrics and fabrics,” says Cressida Johnstone at Surface. “It’s maintenance-free and practically bombproof, so good if you have a messy dog or kids.” The new ranges include a wood effect, which seems indistinguishable from reality.
With about 38% quartz, the quartz composite is partly stone and partly tile and does not require sealing. One of the huge advantages is that you can have a corresponding work surface in the same material. To add glamor, choose a composite with metallic spots: fabulous combined with stainless steel.
Mainly made of clay and other natural materials, ceramic tiles are available in different shapes, colors and textures. They are less expensive than porcelain, but tend to be made with fewer straight edges and square corners. This means that the mortar lines need to be thicker, resulting in a more grid finish. However, Moroccan or Syrian glazed tiles can still be beautiful.
Kitchen floors need to know
Underfloor heating can be used with most modern floors.
Stone and concrete heat and retain heat well. But some wooden floors, especially very large panels, some veneers and some types of adhesive, can be sensitive to heat.
Most floors are best adapted by a professional.
Some need to be considered early in the kitchen design process, while others can be installed later. Ask the manufacturer in advance.
Even if the floor is sealed, you should still eliminate leaks as soon as possible. And remember to use the products recommended by the manufacturer to make sure you don’t strip oils, lacquers or sealants.
Floors and work surfaces
Interior designer Clare Pascoe of Molten London offers us her advice for obtaining the perfect combination of floor and work surface. But do you want to coordinate or contrast?
To coordinate, choose materials in the same finish (matte or glossy) and match the colors as close as possible. Choose a material that can be used for both worktops and floors, or combine, for example, a walnut floor with a rich brown stone or composite worktop.
Alternatively, contrast the finishes in the same color or contrast the color in the same finish, for example a dark matt floor with a light matt composite worktop. You can even contrast both, like a matte slate floor with a polished white granite countertop.
Keep in mind that kitchens are a long-term installation: make sure you don’t get tired of the finishes or colors you choose.
Wood, wood style and other natural floors
Renewable and recyclable, cards can be a real plus when it comes to selling a house. However, solid wood can move and curl when used in the kitchen, as it is sensitive to moisture and heat. “Decide how inert you want the floor to be,” says Plastik Architects’ John Davies. “Solid wood will change over time, so if you want your floor to remain the same, choose other materials.” Wooden floors can be finished with polyurethane lacquer or natural linseed oil, which hardens, seals and protects the wood. Most sealants will withstand many years of traffic before they need to be reapplied. Choose any level of shine, but keep in mind that high gloss tends to show signs. “Uniform boards give a modern look,” says Steve Maltby of Junckers. “Tables with knots are more rustic.”
Constructed from multiple layers, engineered wood usually has a soft or plywood base and a top layer in wood or wood effect. “Water and wood are never a good combination, but while solid wood can remain open-mouthed or deformed, engineered boards have a central core that prevents the top and bottom layers from moving,” explains Bill Worman to Element 7. Although engineered boards may seem less solid, they are available in various widths and finishes and are perfect for achieving a natural wood look.
The laminate floor is made of synthetic materials combined with natural and recycled ingredients. It is available in different sizes, colors and designs, including wood, stone and tiles. And companies like Pergo have now introduced laminate with antimicrobial and antistatic properties, ideal for kitchens. It is super resistant – resistant to stains, wear and discolouration – making it perfect for high traffic areas. Prices vary enormously, but you get what you pay for – choosing cheap laminate can result in unsuitable and bouncy boards and will always be a false economy.
Far from the curly orange tiles of the 1970s, modern cork floors are available in a wide range of colors, designs and finishes. Resistant and naturally antibacterial, it is also excellent for people with allergies. “There are as many as 40 million air cells in every cubic centimeter of cork,” says Paul Heatley of the cork flooring company Wicanders, “which makes it very comfortable underfoot. It also has exceptional acoustic advantages. ‘Cork it is harvested without damaging the tree. In fact, removing the bark means that the trees live longer.
With a higher fiber rating than any hardwood, bamboo is incredibly durable and less likely to be left open-mouthed than other solid woods. Usually pre-treated by the manufacturer, it can be dyed or left in its natural color, then sealed with a glossy or matte lacquer. Bamboo releases 35% more oxygen into the atmosphere than trees and is a fast growing herb, so it can be harvested every 3-5 years, making it a very environmentally friendly product.
The silky, warm and tactile rubber flooring is available in a wide range of colors and textures. The architects claim to use rubber for its strength, yet it is soft underfoot. It’s really hard like old boots, says Julie Mellor to Dalsouple. If it is not consumed in an airport, it is not consumed in the kitchen. Choose a smooth surface or low-profile studs in a kitchen as they are easier to clean. Use products and polishes recommended by the manufacturer to keep the rubber flooring, especially initially, as softer when new.
Similar in feel to rubber, the ingredients of linoleum, especially flaxseed oil, are all natural and sustainable. “Natural products like this have inherent advantages,” says Therese Magill of Forbo Flooring. “They are really resistant, but at the same time tactile and warm to the touch, which make them comfortable underfoot.” Linoleum is also hygienic: bacteria cannot live on it and does not harbor dust mites, making it ideal for people with allergies.
Modern, high-quality vinyl is a world away from old vinyl sheets. Exceptionally resistant, the designs replicate the appearance and atmosphere of everything from natural materials, such as wood, limestone, slate and marble, to more contemporary finishes, including zinc and glass. It can also be warmer and quieter under the real McCoy. “Vinyl floors like Amtico are a good option if you don’t have time to maintain a delicate surface, but still want the look of a natural material,” advises Tony Nicholas of Nicholas Anthony Kitchens