Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >
Sep 19, 2009 07:19 AM

Using Pre-Finished Wood Flooring in a Kitchen

Does anyone have engineered/prefinished wood flooring in their kitchen? How long have you had it and how is it performing? I am thinking of installing it but am worried about scratches, dents etc. due to hard use. Has anyone resanded this flooring successfully? Thank you for any input.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. My house is 15 years old and it has had this type of wood floor since it was built by the original owner. I have had no issues. However, I do believe that this kitchen floor was coated with a good polyurethane finish right out of the factory. I also keep a large rug under my sink and prep area to absorb water, mostly. I think you will find that water is the biggest enemy of this floor, so you need to pay attention if it gets wet.

    I really like this floor much more than tile or stone, and I will probably put the same floor in my next kitchen when the time comes. It is warm looking and easier on your legs that those cold, unforgiving surfaces. About the only problem I have ever had with this floor, which runs throughout my house, was a pet accident that went undetected, and that darkened some of the boards near the edge.

    1. With a really good polyurethane finish, pre-finished wood flooring should be fine. I think a laminate floor would be a disaster, since you wouldn't be able to sand or buff out scrapes.

      1. Prefinished hardwood flooring is a great idea for the kitchen. Maybe you can find a manufacturer that first thermally treats the wood -- this will make it more durable from scratches and dents. You can take a look at prefinished hardwood floors at Galeković for more info:

        1. ABSOLUTELY NOT. Underline this: Under no circumstances should you even consider engineered flooring in a kitchen.

          Prefinished solid wood (3/4" thick) would be a fine choice. But let me tell you from firsthand experience: Engineered flooring in the kitchen, a semi-wet environment, would be an absolute DISASTER.

          I have Bruce prefinished engineered flooring through 80% of my whole-house rehab, and it is the worst product I've ever spent thousands of dollars on.

          Here's why: If you get moisture on the ends of boards, it seeps up into the wood and ruins the finish for the first few inches -- crazing and cracking it irregularly. This is because the micro-beveled ends of the planks do NOT have any polyurethane or aluminum oxide, so it's completely open wood. That means moisture works its way right in via capillary action.

          After just about a year, I already have two terrible places in my floors from everyday cat barf on a seam. Both happened while I was at work, and I came home a couple hours later to a nice 4" or so square section of ruined flooring.

          In the kitchen, a dropped and overlooked ice cube would do the same thing. A dishwasher overflow while you sleep would ruin a huge section of your flooring.

          It's my life's work to warn everyone about these products. I've absolutely never been so dissatisfied with anything I've ever bought before in my life. Because I've finished so much of the house with them, I feel completely trapped.

          You can screen prefinished floors -- meaning you scratch up the outer poly layers and put new poly on. I'm sure I'll do this in a couple of years, because it will then SEAL the ends. But that's a truly lousy solution to an expensive product's defects.

          Denting isn't a big issue. Better than breaking tiles and/or bottles you drop on them.

          I have cork for my kitchen. Best solution all around for how I use the house.

          1 Reply
          1. re: dmd_kc

            While I actually think cork is the best choice, the engineered bamboo I put in my basement stood up to a lot of abuse, including cat barf and minor liquid spills. I suspect bamboo is a better wood for this, though, since it seems to be used in pretty much every wood product that's meant for high humidity environments.

            Cork is cheaper, too.

          2. I have prefinished wood in my kitchen and most of my house (we built it around 2 years ago). It is solid, not engineered. It is tigerwood and it's from Shaw. It is great. We have never had any problems with it. Scratches and dents aren't really a problem because it is a very hard wood and the finish is pretty tough. Before we picked out the wood I ordered samples from several places and abused them (I am still using a piece of tigerwood as a coaster on my desk at work and there are no stains or water damage). We have a few scratches (from our cats) here and there, but it's really not noticeable to anyone but me. My best advice to avoid scratches is to make everyone in your house and everyone coming into your house take off their shoes. People may think that's weird, but it really works. Lots of grit gets tracked in on shoes, and high heels are the worst!

            1 Reply
            1. re: baloo

              I know this is a really old post, but I came upon it while "researching" the topic, so I figure someone else might see this, too.

              We are just about to lay engineered hardwood flooring in our kitchen. We installed it in one room downstairs, and now want to run it throughout the downstairs (except the bathroom) while keeping carpeting upstairs, where the bedrooms are.

              I strongly believe that not all engineered wood flooring is the same, and this is true even at a lower price point. We have purchased 5/8" thick, 3 1/2" wide click lock oak engineered plank flooring manufactured by Home Legend, known as "the Home Depot brand," although they are actually available elsewhere. This is a mid-range product, I'd say. We actually could have gotten prefinished solid wood for less per square foot, excluding installation costs. We wanted to be able to install ourselves, and found the click-lock to be the easiest, requiring no special tools aside from a saw for custom cuts. (This is a floating floor, not glued down, but it is so extremely heavy because of the 5/8" boards that it feels utterly solid underfoot.)

              It is worth noting that engineered floors are specifically recommended over real hardwood (prefinished or site finished) in potentially wet areas, like basements. They can even withstand moderate wetness in an adult's bathroom. The product we purchased has the wood veneer on top of a four-layer substrate. The substrate is plywood sandwiched between some sort of paper-based product, with another layer of plywood on the bottom. Don't fear the paper... whatever binders are use make it extremely strong and stable. This substrate is much more stable than solid wood. And, it's impregnated with wax so it is resistant to water.

              I have taken some of my short scraps leftover from our first installation, clicked them together, and performed all sorts of tests. I allowed vinegar to sit overnight, and it left no mark whatsoever, and didn't change the sheen of the finish. I poured water over the clicked-together-boards, and let it sit overnight, and found no buckling and no change in finish. I've soaked a scrap in a bowl of water overnight, and only noticed a little "furring" of the bottom plywood layer. (I just made up that word, but I mean that some fibers were raised, similar to what it looks like if you try to paint plywood with a water-based paint.) I've scratched with a screwdriver, and find it difficult to scratch. Small scratches and gouges can also easily be filled with either a wax pencil made for filling scratches on furniture, or a pen made specifically for floors. I should also note that I have two cats who made a habit of puking on the floor we've already installed, and I have had no problems, even after it has sat.

              The most expensive engineered floors have a thick enough "wear layer" or wood veneer that you can resand at least once. However, I just read that the latest technology in floor refinishing can work with floors with a "sculpted" finish (for example, the very popular handscraped) and floors with only a thin veneer. An abrasive brush-like attachment abrades the floor rather than sanding down to raw wood, and allows for recoating with a new finish.

              Nevertheless, most people will tell you that even solid wood floors are rarely refinished. Boards tend to be replaced if damage occurs, rather than refinishing the whole floor. With some care (you really do have to vacuum or sweep everyday, but it is so much easier with wood flooring) you can largely avoid scratching. Experts also say that factory finishes (whether on solid wood or engineered) are almost invariably stronger than anything which could be applied on site.

              So in short... I suggest doing some research, but don't dismiss it out of hand because of some horror stories.