You picked a cabinet color (green, #yolo) and finally landed on a backsplash (continuous quartzite). But what about your flooring? We know it’s not the most immediately sexy design decision (being underfoot and all), but floors will take the most abuse of any surface in your kitchen, not to mention set the tone for the space. We rounded up ten of the most popular kitchen flooring ideas—and weighed their merits—to help you nail down a decision before the appliances arrive.
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It doesn’t get more gorgeous, warm and timeless than good, old planks of hardwood flooring. Material and professional installation costs are relatively high for these beauties, but according to the experts, they’re the best damn thing you can do for your home from an ROI standpoint. Do keep in mind that hardwoods are a natural material, so they do dent, scratch and stain from water damage. The good news? You can refinish for years to come, and re-stain should you tire of them.
Price/Sq. Ft.: $6 to $12
ICYMI, vinyl has gotten really chic in the past few years. New technology has enabled this synthetic material to look miraculously similar to stones, woods and patterned tiles—but at a fraction of the cost. You can typically buy vinyl in either large sheets or small tiles to suit the look of your space, and they’re an achievable DIY project for the craft-savvy. One word of warning: They’re backed in foam and applied with glue—not the most-eco-friendly choice, and not the easiest material to replace down the road.
Price/Sq. Ft.: $1 to $5
Want the hardwood look for less? Consider laminate hardwood instead. This synthetic flooring material is cut and textured to look remarkably similar to the real deal—and the price tag is way easier to stomach. Another accolade? They’re super durable for pets and foot traffic, and they don’t stain from water like real hardwoods. The downside? While they typically have a ten-year lifespan, they don’t age beautifully—and you certainly can’t refinish them.
Price/Sq. Ft.: $1 to $3
Cork flooring? Yup, you heard us. This earthy-chic material is growing in popularity thanks to its sustainability, eco-friendliness and comfort-first properties. (It’s soft underfoot and has a bit of give, making it a good choice for serious cooks who are always on their feet.) One would think it would be spongy and porous and not entirely kitchen-friendly, but if you seal with polyeurethane every year or two, it’ll look great and function like a laminate.
Price/Sq. Ft.: $2 to $6
Fast-growing bamboo is one of the most earth-friendly and sustainable flooring choices available—and often the fibers are even harder (read: more durable) than true wood floors. Bamboo floors are laid like wood floors—in planks—but note that each “plank” is actually strips of glued-together bamboo stalks. Meaning, they’re ultimately a bit more prone to wear and tear in the end.
Price/Sq. Ft.: $4 to $8
Looking for something inexpensive and easy to install? Look no further than linoleum, which you can buy in either sheets or tiles at your local hardware—and which has honestly gotten significantly cuter since your granny’s heyday. Fun fact: Linoleum is actually an all-natural and renewable material—and cleanup couldn’t be easier. Just bear in mind that it’s susceptible to moisture damage and denting. (Translation: It doesn’t necessarily last forever.)
Price/Sq. Ft.: $3 to $7
Limestone, slate, travertine: The sizes and types of stone tiles are endless—and we love them for their timeless, organic beauty. Stone options are generally durable and low-maintenance, but they require consulting with your contractor and/or local stone provider. Reason being: They’re “living” materials and can be fussy (read: sensitive to temperature, climate and moisture conditions). Always double check that the stone you’re dreaming of will actually work for your space before committing.
Price/Sq. Ft.: $3 to $15
Ceramic tiles are a classic kitchen choice: Easy to clean, easy to install, generally durable and available in every color and pattern under the sun. (Terra-cotta is a perennial ceramic tile kitchen favorite thanks to its earthy tones and versatile aesthetic.) But ceramics aren’t bulletproof: They can chip, and when they do, it’s a “replace it,” not a “fix it” situation. Plus, it’s not the gentlest standing material on your joints. (Definitely an opportunity for a kitchen rug.)
Price/Sq. Ft.: $3 to $7
We really, really love concrete flooring. Why? It’s affordable, eco-friendly and you can have it stained, brushed or polished into a gorgeous finish of your choice. (Ya know, so that it doesn’t look like a sidewalk.) Some ambitious DIY’ers will take on concrete pouring, but we think this job is best left to the professionals. Keep in mind: Concrete does show cracks over time—and if you drop a dish (or your cell phone), it’s toast.
Price/Sq. Ft.: $2 to $15
Visually, porcelain tiles can look much the same as ceramic tiles. (That is, the selections are endless.) But they’re actually made out of natural minerals, which makes them a bit tougher to chip or damage—and a bit more expensive to reflect that. Pick a favorite porcelain tile at your local hardware store, but we advise hiring a professional to install them. (They’re notoriously tricky to piece together due to the organic composition.)
Price/Sq. Ft.: $4 to $10
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