Kitchen Floor Debate: Part II

Monday, July 16, 2012

It's actually ridiculous, how hard this floor decision has been on us. I feel like I am being slowly tortured!

I asked, and you answered. (Thank you.) I remained neutral in my last post so as not to influence anybody one way or another. And we received lots and lots of comments about our three options: (non-matching) hardwoods, tile, and cork.

Let me back up for a second and tell you quickly how we got here. We knew when we first walked through this house last year that we hated the parquet and would be replacing it. We assumed right off the bat that we would be doing that with tile. It wasn't until the start of our kitchen remodel that we started to consider hardwoods--especially those that don't match our existing hardwoods in the dining and living rooms. Then we got hung up on that for a while, thinking that was the way to go... but with a DARK hardwood.

There was just always a nagging voice in the back of my head that just didn't like the look of it. Hence the reason we've been dragging our feet on this.

So we got back on the horse again this past weekend and visited another flooring shop. The guy there swayed us to the opposite side of the color spectrum--to lighter flooring to bring more light into our fairly dark kitchen. BUT perhaps he swayed us a little too far to the light. We came home with natural-colored oak hardwood samples, but we also came home with cork. They look nice and bright, BUT... they eliminate a lot of the contrast we were hoping for with our newly painted white cabinets. Also to consider? We plan on getting a white kitchen table and chairs. It would certainly be a lot of white, my friends.

Some of you pointed out that you thought the tiles and cork that we picked out and showed you yesterday were too light with our cabinets. And as much as I love looking at the bright light reflecting off of those light floors... I do think you may be right.

As for the non-matching hardwoods: We are thoroughly convinced that this is not the way to go. We were already pretty convinced prior to putting that out there for you all, but now that we see that you all UNANIMOUSLY voted down the hardwoods, it is settled.

That leaves us with tile and cork. And here's the thing: I love the look of tile. But I absolutely hate everything else about it.

I like the look of cork. But I love everything else about it. For those who are unfamiliar with cork or asked about it, it's very similar to hardwoods, actually. It "behaves" similarly. You can scratch it, you can dent it--but really no more easily than you can oak floors. It is sealed like hardwoods are. And it's fine in high traffic and areas with potential moisture like kitchens or bathrooms. Because cork is actually naturally moisture-resistant. And antibacterial.

SO. After our shopping this weekend, and the narrowing down we did yesterday, I was leaning toward the cork but couldn't get behind the color. The one I posted yesterday--I was just really bothered by the pink undertones. Today, I began thinking that I do like cork... just maybe not THIS cork. And so I went shopping again. I picked up lots and lots of cork samples. I brought them all home, then laid out ALL of the tiles we picked up yesterday, too. We started from scratch (well, at least with the samples we have at home). We looked at everything again with new eyes.

And I'm back with two new favorites. One cork. One tile. Both a bit darker than what I showed you yesterday.

I am naturally leaning toward the cork since I kind of hate tile. Except it's pretty. But I still really hate it. And a lot of you served to reinforce all of the things I hate about tile. Especially the "hard to keep clean" part, because lord knows I am not a good housekeeper.

Here's the darker tile. And no, the tile isn't blurry--that's the way it really looks. Which I kind of find a bit irritating, so if we DO decide to go this route, I might pick a similar color palette but a different tile, because this sort of gives me a migraine to look at.
{Next to our hardwoods}
{Up against cabinets--although the actual cabinets aren't this stark white, we still have to paint this beadboard--and also showing our countertops}

And here is the cork:
{Next to our hardwoods}
{Next to our carpet}
{With cabinets/countertops}

I feel like I am never going to feel 100% certain with this decision, regardless of what we choose. And that's a difficult position to be in. But we are trying to remind ourselves that in the grand scheme of things, I don't think we can really choose wrong--whatever we do will be a gigantic improvement over the ugly parquet.

Now that I've confessed my stance on the whole thing--that we're heavily leaning toward cork--I'm interested to hear what you all think about the darker shades compared to the ones I showed you yesterday. And has anyone else been swayed toward the cork like I have been?


Jennifer @ Also Known As...the Wife July 16, 2012 at 10:14 PM  

Oh.My.God. I LOVE the darker cork! I think you're really on to something here. It doesn't look like traditional cork. I showed it to my husband without telling him what it was and he thought it was marble or some other stone flooring.

Wendy G,  July 16, 2012 at 10:27 PM  

I really loved the idea of cork from the previous post,but kind-of-really-didn't-love the color. With the darker sample you have now I'm 100% on board! (cork board...)

Go for it!!

Heather July 16, 2012 at 11:05 PM  

Love the cork! I have tile in my kitchen and i loathe it! The darker cork looks great!

Anonymous,  July 17, 2012 at 1:59 AM  

I have never heard of cork flooring, but it sounds really awesome! I agree with the comments from yesterday. We have tile in our kitchen and dining, and the grout is stained so badly, AND coming loose in certain sections...I hate it. I really really like the color of cork you chose. I actually picked that sample as my favorite in your picture with all of your samples. I think it looks great with all of your other floorings it would butt up to. Good luck with your decision!

Vanessa July 17, 2012 at 6:08 AM  

I really like the darker cork!

I understand your predicament, because I also like the way that tiles look. And since we have them, we won't be paying extra to lift them up and replace them.

But tiles are annoying for the many reasons people have cited. I must admit that I haven't found them hard to clean, but they are just not ideal with young kids or if you want to be barefoot.

I remember growing up that in one flat we lived in for a while there was cork in the bathroom, and I loved that the floor was always warm, and non-slippery.

I think that the cork looks really attractive, and will be so much nicer to live with. I also think that it goes beautifully with the rest of your decor and makes for a very attractive and tidy but not overly 'flashy' or 'ostentatious' look, which is a style that isn't generally my preference anyway.

One other thing to throw into the mix: whilst cork and wooden floors can dent etc, tiles do not stay looking the same either. We have marble tiles that look similar to the ones you posted, and in high traffic areas they definitely have a matt appearance, whereas in less high traffic areas they are shiny, and this bugs me.

I hate decisions like this - I've had a fair few to make myself - good luck!

Jacki July 17, 2012 at 6:53 AM  

I love the darker cork. Especially over the tile.
My main question is why you didn't consider putting in hardwood that matches what you already have.
And also, PLEASE don't do the "strip" in the living room that you were considering. It would look really strange.

Michelle July 17, 2012 at 8:00 AM  

I'm really loving the cork!!!

Rachel July 17, 2012 at 8:43 AM  

I definitely like these two choices better, but like you - I think I would choose the cork. Do you read Young House Love blog? They just did a kitchen remodel and used cork flooring - that's actually the first place I'd ever heard of it. It is REALLY dark, but you might be able to peruse their posts for additional info on cork flooring!

Melanie,  July 17, 2012 at 10:10 AM  

I'm all for cork, but I think I would go a little darker than these. In your picture with all of them, there are four cork samples in the bottom row of the picture. If they're numbered 1-4 going left to right, I would go with 1, 2, or 4. (4 is my personal favorite)

1 is kind of a different look. It would more like what the people on Young House Love did.

2 and 4 are similar in tone to your hardwood. I feel like 4 is a really rich, warm brown tone that will complement your cabinets and future table really nicely.

Heather July 17, 2012 at 10:36 AM  

YAY for all of the cork comments!

@Jacki--We didn't consider trying to match the hardwoods for a few reasons. 1) The current parquet actually pretty closely matches the existing hardwoods, and although we like the color in the dining and living/playroom, we just don't like it in the kitchen. 2) We have gorgeous, top-nailed, original-to-the-house hardwoods and even if we could miraculously match the color exactly (and actually wanted to), they would look very different. And 3) We have no interest whatsoever in refinishing all of the floors to match. The dining/living room floors were refinished just a few years ago. Hence our decision to do something completely different in the kitchen.

@Melanie--I appreciate your opinion, but honestly, we don't like the current color of our floor, and the ones that you like (aside from the darker one) are too similar for our taste. Boo. :( If we had a lot of natural light, believe me, I'd go very dark, but alas--the back of our house faces north and we have a very shady backyard to boot.

MamatoJackson July 17, 2012 at 11:33 AM  

Love the cork! Definitely the way to go, in my opinion!

Maureen,  July 17, 2012 at 2:41 PM  

cork all the way!! The darker color looks great especially with the carpet.

Anonymous,  July 17, 2012 at 8:25 PM  

The "new" color of cork is awesome and looks awesome!

nikinikinine July 18, 2012 at 4:01 PM  

I guess I'm not understanding a few things based on the two posts you wrote about this. I get that you are removing the parquet, but are you planning on keeping the carpet? So on your first floor there will be three flooring materials: carpet, oak floors and then either tile or cork?

I tried to follow your tour, but I'm not good with that stuff. Are the walls in your house creating such separation that the house won't still suffer from looking truncated or choppy with all of the different flooring?

And you don't want to just match the current hardwoods exactly to create some sort of flow and cohesion (or maybe that's not necessary because you don't have an open floor plan?)

Even if you sanded the recently refinished oak and stained it darker to match new oak, the cost to refinish isn't exorbitant (in comparison to replacing).

You seem to really like the cork, so I would say then go for that. I don't really dig the idea of cork. But it's personal preference and it's your house. If you do go with tile, I like the rectangular tile and I would lay it in a running brick pattern. I like the idea of darker grout also. Unless you are going with real stone, I would get rid of anything with faux veining. To me, it cheapens the look of the tile. You're better off finding a beautiful solid or an inexpensive stone that will be much more timeless.

We had four flooring materials on the first floor in our current house - berber, tile, pile carpet and linoleum. I ripped out the berber, carpet and linoleum and my contractor and husband convinced me to leave the tile alone because "nothing was wrong with it". I hate that tile every day of my life. It breaks up the flow of our space even though the rooms don't necessarily open to one another. If I had it to do over again, I'd rip it out in a heartbeat.

Wishing on stars July 25, 2012 at 10:21 PM  

I like the cork so much better than tile. Especially for the large amount of space you are putting it in. Tile is hard, cold, hard to keep clean, not baby/kid friendly and your right about and dish you drop on it...gone.
From my experience cork with do better resale wise.

Also. I know ive suggested you read this blog before but I'm going to do it again ;) Young House Love. They just layed down all new cork and they are VERY detailed in the way they came to that choice. They also have tips from friends that had then before them.

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