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hardwood floor in kitchen

  • m

we are starting a kitchen remodel and I would love to put hardwood floors in but my wife thinks I'm crazy. For those who have them would you do it again? My wife thinks they will wear fast and we won't be able to keep them clean. What do you clean them with?

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  1. My mom has hardwood in the kitchen, with little rugs over the most trafficy areas (in front of the stove and sink). It's so much easier to clean than the blah linoleum in my apartment kitchen. I would think that since it has a smooth surface, hardwood would be easier to keep clean. Linoleum has that bumpy surface that catches dust and other particles, and things seem to stick to the plastic surface.

    It also depends how clumsy you are: we all loved the slick hardwood, but my dad said "What are you, trying to kill me?"

    4 Replies
    1. re: nooodles

      Plus, any contractor worth his/her salt will be able to suggest flooring that's been used in other people's kitchens. Your contractor might even be able to get photos of other floors he's done so you can see what wear and tear looks like. There might be new coatings made in the last few years that posters on this board didn't have when they installed their floors. My mom's never used anything but soap and water, and there's no damage or discoloration after 5 years (even after the ceiling leaked water onto the kitchen floor one winter).

      There's also that new synthetic material that looks just like hardwood. Don't know if that would be up your alley, but people do seem to love it and it eliminates a lot of the traditional problems of hardwod.

      1. re: nooodles

        After they have lived with laminate flooring they begin to hate it. It can be broken, it is a floating floor and if your dishwasher melts down and floods the floor, the water will get under the laminate and soften the glue and the joins will lift and it will never look the same. I made the mistake of putting it in my laundry room lowerlevel hallway. The washer over flowed within a month of the floor being installed and it looks horrid. I just cannot replace it right now so I have to live with it. Also the laminate that looks like wood is pretty obviously laminate. As a Realtor I see a lot of floors and I can pick out the laminate without having to touch it.

        1. re: Candy

          Yes, it "floats" which can also be spelled S-E-P-A-R-A-T-E-S! It has an almost hallow sound when you walk on it. Opt for the real thing. The laminate is cheaper for a reason.

        2. re: nooodles
          JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester)

          You're thinking of laminate flooring. It is better for use in rooms that don't have water splashing around... putting it in the kitchen, laundry room, or bathroom is asking for trouble later down the line.

          On the bright side, if you do ruin part of the floor, it isn't incredibly difficult to pull up the floor, take out the bad bits, put in new ones, and put it back down.

          Link: http://thecosmicjester.blogspot.com

      2. moisture is the biggest problem. if you get a spill or leak and don't tend to it immediately, the liquid will be under the boards in no time. a little spill probably won't matter, but a leaking dishwasher can cause it to swell and buckle in no time. it's impossible to seal between boards as the grain pattern causes each piece to breathe differently.

        it's a beautiful look in the kitchen, but you do have to be prepared for the wear and tear. of course, wear patterns are part of the charm of a hardwood floor. the finish in high-use areas (in front of the stove, fridge and prep stations will wear faster than the rest). you also have to accept that dropped knifes, etc. will ding it up. you have two choices, go with a very durable finish (think basketball court) that will hold up as long as possible. the drawback is these types of finishes are either difficult or impossible to do spot touch-ups on. or go with a wax-type finish that is less durable, but can be touched-up.

        if you're doing an extensive enough remodel, i'd have custom drip pans made and installed under any wet areas to prevent moisture from getting onto the floor if you have a leak.

        1 Reply
        1. re: mark

          forgot to mention. regular sweeping and occasional damp mopping is the generally proscribed method of cleaning. in a kitchen it's just important to stay on top of the cleaning. don't let anything dry on it.

        2. I've had hardwood floors in my kitchen for more than three years and cherish them. They are tongue and groove, prefinished at the factory and very sturdy. Installation was both glue and nails - unusual but sturdy. We insisted. Vacuum and a damp mop is all I've done for cleaning and I must admit to being a messy cook. So far, the only downside that I've found is that if you drop an eight pound frozen roast on them, they can ding and our dogs slip a bit when they round a corner at full gallop. After twenty years of hard tile floors, these are a treat! I find less "back fatigue" with them and for this reason chose them over truly gorgeous stained concrete or the French limestone I was oogling.

          Check out the "Wood Hardness Council" on the internet (or some name like that) for your best choices. Hardwoods are not all equal. Pay more now, you won't regret it later.
          P.S. -- I'd do this again in a heartbeat.

          1. I swear by mine and I plan on redoing them again when we do our big remodel in a few years. I find them easier on legs/back, easy to clean and maintain. However the biggest caveat is that you need to like the worn in look all wood floors will eventually get. You will notice marked differences in high traffic area. You have to be careful that all chairs have pads on the leg bottoms and even so you will still eventually get drag marks. Plus as a PP said you will get dings and divots if you drop heavy things like frozen turkeys or Le Creuset pans.

            1. We've got them in the house we bought 4 years aro, and LOVE them. I believe the floor is about 6 years old and I haven't noticed any wear patterns, or major dings like other posters mentioned. It's a highly trafficked area and we cook a lot, so it's not like it's not getting a lot of use. I don't notice any problems with slipping or slickness either.

              I sweep and mop with Murphy's Oil Soap. If I was redoing a kitchen myself, I'd definintely put them in.

              1. my Bruce sealed hardwood floor has been in place for over 15 years. I wish I had done the kitchen entirely in wood (see photo) at the terrace and porch end of the room I used ceramic tile. It takes more upkeep. The wood gets damp mopped and occasionally when I get ambitious I put a few coats of Holloway House Quick Shine on it and it gives it a nice shine for awhile. We live in the kitchen, our friends hang out here, all 3 dogs are certainly under foot all of the time. The floor gets a lot of wear and looks better now than some vinyl I had installed in bathrooms which does not get as much wear as the kitchen floor. It is also much better on your legs and back.

                Image: http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y75/...

                2 Replies
                1. re: Candy
                  La Dolce Vita

                  Gosh, Candy, you have a nice house. Did you do the decorating yourself? It's lovely. I love the window treatments.

                  1. re: La Dolce Vita

                    Yes, thank you. What you cannot see in the picture since I was more focused on the change in flooring from hardwood to the sort of lamented ceramic tile, is that there is a deep border paper around the soffit that looks like a deep green oriental carpet. The hunter green counter tops work with that and the deep gold walls. And the gold walls with the oak flooring. I did make the window treatments too, once a domestic type always a domestic type. That is my Loulou in the picture. Suzy and Judy declined to be in the picture. Snooty standard poodles!

                2. We have a 20 year old hardwood (oak tongue and groove) floor in our kitchen which I love as a surface - it doesnt win any beauty contest - has only been refinished once, and given the thousands of footsteps and the number of times the chairs have been pushed back is bare wood in areas - but it is very comfortable to walk on and forgiving when we drop things. HIghly recommend the surface.

                  My parents replaced a very nice old asbestos tile floor with one of the new European laminates, and it is awfully slippery.

                  What kinds of sealing finishes are preferred for application to wood floors these days?

                  1. Wood's what I want when we finally get our kitchen redone. Tania's probably going to want REAL linoleum (not the vinyl stuff), and that's OK too, but my favorite kitchen floor is wood - not oak or maple, but a fine-grained, non-splintery wood that can be given a waxy finish. Good traction and easy on the increasingly elderly feet...

                    1. My husband and I put hardwood floors in the entire 1500 square foot 1st floor of our house 3 years ago including the kitchen.(Excluding the laundry and bathrooms.) We purchased real oak that was prefinished at the factory with a "diamond" coating with a 25 year guarantee on the finish. WE LOVE THEM. Yes it gets beaten up when our 3 year old drops his toys, but that's part of the charm.

                      As far as cleaning, our flooring contractor gave us a starter kit of Bona Kemi hard wood floor cleaner and a mop pad. I have been able to purchase this by the gallon at our local hardware store. Amazing stuff. It brings the shine right back and gets rid of scuff marks and dirt. They have a web site so you can find out who carries it in your area.

                      Link: http://www.bona.com

                      1. Have laminate over concrete slab- hate the laminate in the kitchen and hate the lab, too.

                        1. We had a hardwood floor installed in the kitchen ten years ago.
                          It is oak (to match the rest of the house).
                          It is tongue and groove, installed board by board, then finished on site (the old-fashioned way).
                          We use small rugs in front of the sink and stove.
                          The floor is worn now, but that is part of the charm (and it matches the rest of the house). It is easy on the feet, looks great, is forgiving of dropped things.
                          The oak floors in the rest of the house are about 100 years old. We had some of the rooms refinished a few years ago and they look great. Can't do that with laminate.

                          1. Go with the hardwood floors. Just wipe up spills immediately and all you should do to maintain is to wipe w/ a damp, soft cloth.
                            NO abrasives, no "special" cleaners in spite of what the manufacturers say (including a popular brand of "oil soap"). I've used my fingernails if I need to scrap anything up; you can use a putty knife w/ great care.

                            1. j
                              Jim Washburn

                              I had wood floors in the kitchen once and would not do it again. My floors were finished with oil and wax, not sealed, so they would look good (to me). When I put the floor in I vowed to be diligent about cleaning up spills immediately. However, whenever I would have a bunch of folks over for a dinner party I would get distracted, drink too much, and totally forget about the floors until the next morning. Too late. It got badly stained lots of times. I need something that can be spilled on, forgot for a day or two, and then hosed down. I do love the look and feel of wood, but it does not belong on my kitchen floor.


                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Jim Washburn

                                Our kitchen oak floor (installed ten years ago) was finished with a synthetic material -- several coats, one day each, with sanding in between. I opted for an extra coat -- not much more expensive, but it did take one more day in the process.

                                This finish is not to be waxed; we just damp-mop it.

                                The old-style oil-based varnish darkens over time, which some consider a benefit. The synthetic retains the light color of the oak. However, some areas that receive direct sun are getting bleached.

                              2. There are several different options of wood flooring. There is pre-finished, unfinished and even engineered wood flooring. Pre-finished wood flooring is best for rooms like kitchens as it often has high-quality finishes of Aluminum Oxide or Polyurethane. Thus it is more immune to spills, humidity and high temperature. Engineered wood, also called composite wood or man-made wood is manufactured by binding together the strands, particles, fibers, or veneers of wood, together with adhesives, to form composite materials. Because of this, engineered wood floors are extremely sturdy and are also good for kitchens.

                                Here are links that might be useful:

                                - http://www.helpful-kitchen-tips.com/k...
                                - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wood_flo...
                                - http://ezinearticles.com/?The-Benefit...

                                1. Our wood floors are only a year old, but they still look perfect. We all have always had the habit of removing our shoes in the house so perhaps the traffic issue isn't as much of an issue. I love the feel of the wood beneath my feet-- it's such a comfortable surface. Ours are oak and were installed on site and finished on site with stain and three coats of poly in a satin finish. They look as good as the day they were finished. You do have to be prepared for a bit of dings and so on if you drop stuff-- it's the nature of the wood. We also put felt pads on the legs of all the chairs to avoid scratches.

                                  1. The maple floor in our kitchen was installed 20 years ago. Before that, we had maple flooring in our previous home for the entire 5 years that we lived there, installed by the previous owner. I love it and would not go with anything else.

                                    Over the years we have had some warping of floor boards immediately near the refrigerator -- as the result of a complete meltdwon of the contents of our freezer as the result of a power failure when we were on vacation -- and the dishwasher (from occasional flooding when a drain line was plugged), as well as some wear in the area around the kitchen table. We periodically have the flooring stripped, sanded, and refinished; about once every five years. Other than a mat by the back door for dirty, wet shoes (we don't have a mudroom), the entire floor is uncovered.

                                    Aside from being visually warm, the floor is "softer" to stand on than ceramic tile, which means that your feet tire less easily if you are standing for a long time.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: masha

                                      I moved from a house that had sheet vinyl installed over hardwood to one that has porcelain tile. I cook a lot and find if I spend a couple hours in the new kitchen, my back is toast. I never had back issues before because the floor was forgiving. The new kitchen floor is not and is the problem.

                                      If I could, I'd replace with either hardwood (ash would be my preference), bamboo or cork.

                                      My dad has an older home and replaced the old vinyl tile floor (installed over 6 layers of old floor, with hardwood as a base) with floating laminate (WilsonArt in a faux stone tile pattern). Clean up is easy and it looks great. Since the floor is more reflective of sound than the old vinyl tiles, there is an echo. That echo is easily erradicated by using some area rugs. It doesn't bother him much.

                                      Before you decide on a flooring medium, try to spend some time on all surfaces. Stand on it for an extended period of time as if you were cooking. If you start to feel foot/back pain, that surface probably won't work well in your home.

                                        1. re: ferret

                                          This product is interesting. We have fatigue mats in spots at work but I'd never seen this for home use before. Thanks for the link.

                                      1. re: masha

                                        I realize this is a very old thread but I am so crazy about my floor I want everyone to consider hardwood.

                                        I don't know how old the oak floor in my kitchen is but the house was built in the 50s and, until we redid the kitchen 2 years ago, it hadn't been changed to the best of my knowledge. At least the cabinets were original to the house.

                                        So we had these floors for years and during that time we had one slow leak from the line to the icemaker in the fridge and major backups from the laundry and bath adjacent to the kitchen several times. The result was the dreaded corduroy effect in the wood. Because of that I was perfectly prepared to replace the floor along with everything else. But my contractor said there was no reason to. He said he'd whip it back up into A1 shape. Because I had loved the warm look of wood, appreciated that breakage was relatively rare, that standing and working on it was a pleasant experience and that repairing it was the green thing to do we went with his plan.

                                        Here's what it looked like when we began http://www.flickr.com/photos/75667634...
                                        Note one of the voids where we changed the footprint of the cabinets http://www.flickr.com/photos/75667634...
                                        Here's the raw sanded and repaired floor with 2 voids and corduroy boards replanked http://www.flickr.com/photos/75667634...
                                        Here's my new floor ready for another 50 years of service http://www.flickr.com/photos/75667634...

                                        In comparison, we lived for a year in a house that had recently had laminate floors installed in the kitchen. I noticed a real deterioration in the condition over just the year that we lived in the house. And it didn't have any particular insults, just ordinary wear.

                                      2. Have had hardwood flooring in the last 3 houses I've lived in. By far the best flooring to have in a kitchen, IMHO.

                                        Laminate has that weird "click-clack" sound to it when you walk on it, and I personally feel it looks tacky. It does have the benefit of being easy to replace. If water gets between the slats, they will buckle and warp.

                                        Tile can be porous (I guess it depends on what kind of coating/finish it has) and thus can absorb stuff that spills. Also the grout in between can get grungy. Drop heavy things on a tile floor and you might break it (the tile).

                                        Engineered/pre-fabricated hardwood floors can look great, but beware of the grooves in between each piece as these can collect dirt and grime.

                                        Hardwood floors that are installed and finished/sealed on site work optimally - no grooves to hold dirt, easy to clean with soap and water or mild cleaners, and you can refinish/reseal the floors whenever you want to get them looking like new again. Most hardwood flooring comes with a long warranty (more expensive brands have longer warranties) these days. The water pan under the dishwasher is a good idea. One of the responses posted who did not like her hardwood floors did not have sealed floors - hence the stain issues. We tend to keep a small rug in front of the sink, stove, and dishwasher.

                                        Also, lighter woods may be better - dark woods tend to show every speck of dust or food crumb - kind of like having a black car.