Choose The Right Kitchen Flooring for Your Lifestyle — When planning your kitchen, shiny chrome appliances and the myriad of countertop choices can often distract from one of the most important decisions of all – kitchen flooring. Kitchen floors have to be the toughest in the home, standing up to grease, spills and breakages while being non-slip and easy to clean. “Especially important for a kitchen floor is wether the material is porous, thus trapping dirt,” advises Amos Sim of Effects Design. So, we give you the low down on what’s available.
Natural stone, such as slate and marble, is valued for its beauty. Stone is durable, water-resistant and able to withstand much duress. Compressed marble is a reconstituted version of the original material and is trendy at the moment, It’s stronger than regular marble, making it an excellent choice for flooring. Regular marble though, is porous, prone to scratches and stains easily, especially acidic liquids like citrus juices or vinegar. It’s also slippery when wet. Slate, being softer, can be subject to flaking or cracking. The best option is to coat slate with a polyurethane finish to protect it. As natural stone may chip, be sure to keep a few extra tiles on hand.
Homogenous tiles, unlike ceramic, consist of the same material throughout, hence the name. They are more durable than ceramic tiles and come in a variety of delightful diguises, mimicking the appearance of natural stone, like slate or cement, at a fraction of the price. As for slate, the trick for telling between the genuine stuff and clever copies, says Amos, is that natural slate will emit a residue while homogenous “slate” will not. Like ceramic, individual homogenous tiles may crack over time so it’s best to get extra matching pieces from the start.
Ceramic’s is popularity is largely due to its affordability. For the kitchen flooring, glazed ceramic tiles are preferable to the unglazed/matte variety, as the latter stains easily and traps dirt. It is heat and water resistance and easy to clean. On the downside ceramic can be slippery when wet, thus a danger to the elderly and children. The larger the tile, the larger its surface area,and the more slippery it becomes. A solution is to coat tiles with an anti-slip liquid, available from D.I.Y shops.
Cement is a great choice for those keen on industrial style while looking to save a few dollars. Cement is highly durable and colour can either be added to the mix or painted on later. However, it is porous and can absorb stains, especially dark coloured liquids. A sealant can be applied to prevent staining, or you can opt for homogenous ceramic that looks like cement but is less porous. Cement also comes embedded with tiny pebbles, known as pebblewash. This tactile surface is a great low-budget solution for wet and potentially slippery areas like by the washing machine.
Thanks to advances in technology, synthetic material are making a comeback in more attractive and durable formulations for kitchen flooring. Rubber, highly prized in c ommercial kitchen, is wonderfully non-slip and comes in500mm by 500mm tiles in a range of colours and raised relief patterns. Amos, who had his kitchen outfitted with a rubber floor, says that while it is a durable materiral, cleaning can be a chore due to the raised pattern and dents and scratches can be a problem. Vinyl is an economical, easy to clean option that comes in a wide range of funky colours and patterns. It comes in larger 2m by 2m sheets or smaller 300mm by 300mm tiles. Flooring that consists of sheets is easier to clean as there will be less grooves. Vinyl is resistant to acid, chemicals and detergent but some types of vinyl flooring have to be coated with a recommended sealant twice a year. While it is long lasting, vinyl can be marked permanently by dirt and burns.
Source articles: SquareRooms Magazine, 13 September-October 2002