Everything you need to know about installing wood floors in your kitchen.
Did you know that wood floors in the kitchen are the second most popular choice, after tile? Its true - wood floors offer a timeless and warm aesthetic that can bring a sense of coziness to any kitchen space. But before you go ahead and install beautiful hardwood flooring in your own kitchen, there are a few practical tips you should know to ensure that you choose the best option for your kitchen flooring.
In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about wooden floors in the kitchen, providing you with valuable insights and best practices to help you make the most of your investment. So, get ready to learn how to achieve the perfect balance between style and functionality with these practical tips for wood floors in the kitchen.
With so many flooring options these days it is hard to know what the best option is for a modern kitchen. From ceramic tile to vinyl or laminate flooring, chances are you can find a great option to fit right in with your kitchen cabinets and other designs. Hardwood flooring a popular choice for kitchen floors because of their easy install, durability and gorgeous aesthetics.
Types of Wood Flooring or a Wood Look
- Engineered hardwood
- Traditional hardwood
- Luxury vinyl plank
This wood is an engineered construction of hardwood, mixed with layers of MDF or plywood to cut down on costs. There is a thin layer of hardwood on top that can be refinished.
Pros: Can be refinished depending on how thick the top layer of wood is, looks identical to hardwood, holds up to water better than hardwood, lasts longer than LVP.
Cons: Can scratch easily, more expensive than LVP, less waterproof than LVP.
A hardwood kitchen floor made out of wood types like oak, maple, pine or walnut. The best hardwood floors tend to be oak and maple because they are harder woods, while pine and walnut tend to be softer.
Pros: Oak and maple are more dense and resistant to everyday use. Pine and walnut are more gentle on your feet. Solid wood flooring can last a lifetime or longer if it receives proper maintenance, can be refinished several times.
Cons: Soft woods are easier to damage. Harder on your feet, have to be sealed regularly to prevent moisture damage, more expensive up front.
Technically speaking, bamboo isn't even classified as real wood at all. Bamboo is actually a hardened grass that is turned into flooring planks.
Pros: More natural products, affordable.
Cons: Dents and scratches easily.
Luxury Vinyl Planks
Luxury vinyl plank flooring is a vinyl flooring that simulates the look of hardwood. It is thicker than standard vinyl and softer.
Pros: Most vinyl flooring is water-resistant and can tolerate a damp mop, low maintenance, easy to install in a floating floor that interlocks, holds up well to scratching and heavy foot traffic, can install an underlayment underneath which helps in sound barrier and moisture. It is also cheaper than hardwood and less costly than engineered hardwood.
Cons: Vinyl floors can't be refinished, does not hold up well to heavy denting, won't last as long as engineered hardwood or traditional solid wood floors.
This flooring material is very similar to vinyl planks, but is made from wood byproducts where LVP is synthetic materials.
Pros: Closely resembles natural beauty of wood flooring, similar pricing to LVP, easy click and lock install, durable flooring.
Cons: Not quite as water resistant as vinyl, can see more water damage if exposed because of the wood products in the floor, not as durable as laminate.
Considering all the pros and cons of wood floors in kitchens, overall hardwood floors are still considered to be one of the best types of kitchen flooring. But if you are comparing wood floors in your kitchen versus tile, tile is still known as the most durable and maintenance-friendly out of all flooring. Though it does have its own set of cons too.
How to Protect Wood Floors in Your Kitchen
It's always a good idea to take proper care and maintenance of whatever flooring you choose. This will help to protect your flooring and provide the best results long term.
Because wood floors can have moisture problems in the kitchen, always make sure to clean up any large amounts of water on the floor. Occasional spills will happen, but you want to be prompt in cleaning it up because risk of damage is significantly less.
Many types of solid hardwood floors can also receive coatings or sealants to protect them from water damage and keep floors in good condition. This will fall under your long term maintenance. Regardless of what floor type you choose, when doing normal clean up you should follow the guidelines set by the flooring company for optimal results.
Wood Floor Style Design Tips
When choosing the best wood flooring for your kitchen, it's also important to pick the right choice for design style.
First, consider the floor layout. There are different ways to lay out your entire floor. Do you like herringbone or chevron style? Basketweave or brick? Perhaps you want something simple that is vertical or horizontal slats. What about a unique pattern design?
Typically, hardwood floors are laid out in a straight pattern, but that doesn't mean you can't change things up based on personal preferences. A straight floor pattern can make your room feel much larger than it is, while a herringbone style can add much needed character to a simple space.
Choose a pattern that is right for you and the mood you want for that room. Do you want a relaxing bedroom that is peaceful and orderly? Then a busy pattern is probably not right for that space.
When deciding on the color of wooden flooring, be sure to consider the style and color of your kitchen cabinets and kitchen island, if you have one. There are many options for coloring, but you want to make the best choice that will go with your kitchen flow.
Tip: Don't match your kitchen cabinetry to the exact color hue of your flooring. It is highly recommended to mix complementary colors so your floor and cabinets won't blend in to each other. You want your kitchen to have some dimension and texture, which is hard to achieve if flooring and cabinets are the same.
- Dark flooring - dark flooring adds mood and intimacy, provides a warm tone for the space, dark stains can show the wood grain better, timeless
- Light flooring - helps the space to feel more light and open, does a better job at hiding dirt
- Medium flooring - very versatile and can go more contemporary or more traditional
Also be sure to not pick anything that sways too far yellow or orange, because that can impact how the coloring bounces off your kitchen cabinets and island. My best tip - go neutral.
How to Install a Wood Floor in Your Kitchen
With an open floor plan in our new house, I opted for carpet free flooring. Having torn carpet out so many times and seen what is under there, wood planks were a good choice for our wood kitchen flooring.
Having previously installed other solid wood flooring, this engineered wooden flooring was easier than anticipated!
- Broom / Shop Vac
- Vapor barrier
- Hammer stapler
- Brad nailer
- Air compressor
- Floor stapler
- Tape measure
- Miter saw
- Table saw
- Jigsaw - for small cuts around doors
- Knee pads
YouTube Video: How We Installed Our Wood Floor
Prep Work for Your New Floor
When laying any type of hardwood flooring whether it is solid hardwood or engineered, there will be a fair amount of prep work before you can install.
- Allow time for wood to acclimate
- Clean your subfloor really well
- Use a vapor barrier
Allow Time for Acclimation
Solid hardwood flooring needs to sit in your home for 2 weeks before you begin installation. It may feel like a long time of doing nothing. But in fact, this allows the wood to acclimate to its environment so there is less expanding and contracting after it is installed. Make sure to allot for enough time to do this.
Clean the Subfloor
Begin with a clean base layer. Sweep or vacuum any and all debris and dirt off of your subfloor. You want your surface to be completely smooth so your new floor will lay flat.
Add a Vapor Barrier
For proper care of your wood flooring, use a hammer stapler to secure a vapor barrier sheets to the subfloor. Because moisture can destroy hardwood floors, vapor barriers are highly recommended to help prevent moisture from wicking up and absorbing into the natural wood.
Laying the Floor
After you have done all of the prep work to set the stage for your beautiful flooring, you can begin laying the floor.
- First row must be straight
- Use spacers and a level
- Nail down your first row with a brad nailer
- Use a floor stapler to finish the additional wood planks
The First Row Must Be Straight
It is incredibly important for this design style that your very first row be laid straight. This is NOT optional. If you want the best flooring, you need to do that hard work and get it straight from the beginning. If it is off even the tiniest bit you will be able to tell in the next row that follows with gaps in your wood planks.
Use Spacers and a Level
Use spacers and a level to space your first piece of wood ¼" from the wall. This gives the wood room to expand and contract over time. Use a level to make sure the board is straight. Do not rely on your wall being straight.
Use a Brad Nailer for the First Row
Once your first wooden plank is spaced and straight, use a brad nailer to face nail it down.
PRO TIP: Face nailing is when you nail on the top of the board. You can see these nail holes, so it is better to strategically place them in areas that are less noticeable to maintain an elegant look.
Continue face nailing the first row of wood. After the first board is nailed down, you can also use a chalkline to ensure the rest of your boards are straight. Again, your first row MUST be straight.
Finish Wood Planks with a Floor Stapler
Begin your second row using a floor stapler. A floor stapler will put the staples right on top of the tongue of the wood so they will be hidden. Also make sure that your wood seams line up at different spots on each row so the rows are not identical.
PRO TIP: Continue to lay boards down and hit them gently into place. It's a great option to use a scrap of wood to hit the planks. Hitting the wood planks directly can damage the real wood.
Continue to staple your wood planks every 3 to 5 inches. You will want them nailed down nice and tight. Repeat these steps until you have laid down all of your pieces.
From our experience, a popular option for flooring like this can take some time to install. But we did have great help from time to time for our kitchen wood floor. Acquiring a few extra sets of hands is one of the best ways to cut down on how long it takes to install.
Why Choose a Wood Floor for Your Kitchen?
A quality wood floor is an excellent choice for your kitchen, living room and other high-traffic areas because of its durability and low maintenance. While it may not be the ideal choice for a basement because of moisture content, it is a good option for other living spaces.
Hardwood flooring is less likely to be damaged, as long as you don't go pouring buckets of water on it. But if something does happen, it can easily be sanded down slightly and fixed. Hardwood has great longevity.
Our engineered hardwood has an oil finish to help prevent scratching from pets. The wire brushed wood texturing also is very resistant to wear and tear.
While tile flooring is often traditionally used in kitchen renovation, hardwood floors have a classic look of natural beauty that is visually appealing to everyone. Wood floors provide a soft warmth to a room that you don't get with tile or concrete flooring.
I also love that wooden floors come in so many options. Our floor is wire brushed hardwood, which is a finishing technique that creates a rustic looking, slightly distressed surface.
Sometimes the finish you choose can also be useful for maintenance purposes and hiding dirt. Not having a floor that looks dirty all the time is always aesthetically pleasing.
There are many different types of kitchen flooring that fit great in a modern home, but hardwood flooring is definitely a favorite for its aesthetics and longevity. With these practical tips and know-how, you can choose a wooden flooring that meets your needs and fits the style of your home.
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