Kitchen Floor Debate

Sunday, July 15, 2012

We've kind of been dragging our feet on this whole kitchen renovation project. In case you hadn't noticed--it has been FIVE MONTHS since we began this thing. There are only a few things coming between us and a finished kitchen. Most of these things are small--trim, closet doors, some minor painting. But there is one BIG thing that has been holding us up for a while now: THE FLOORS.

At first, we were waiting until we had a decent amount of money in the floor fund. But then that happened, and we still didn't move forward. Why? Well, because we can't decide what to do.

Hardwoods. Tile. Cork. There are too many options, and pros and cons with each.

But I'm getting tired of staring at the ugly parquet, so it's time to make some decisions and get things moving. My new goal? To have a new floor in by Nora's birthday (September 11).

Before we pull the trigger on anything, though, I wanted to put our choices out there and give some complete strangers the chance to weigh in. But before I get to the current "finalists" for the floor, I want to give you lay of the land so you can see what we're working with here. Allow me to give you a mini tour.


View from our front entryway. See that parquet? That is what we're getting rid of. The kitchen is at the end of the hallway there.

This is the view to the right of the door, going into the formal living room (currently a playroom for our family). The playroom (and the dining room beyond that) have nice, recently refinished hardwoods that we like and are keeping.
The view with the front door closed, so you can see the relative size of the doorway into the playroom.
View to the left of the door. A little bit of parquet, then our stairs (which are hardwood with a carpet runner, if that matters).
View looking left from standing in the doorway into the kitchen from the entry hallway. The doorway with the baby gate leads into the family room (carpeted).
See?
View of the family room. Pardon the mess.
View from the opposite side of the family room. You can see in the back left there--we have some more parquet to get rid of. To the left there is the entry from our garage, and the open door is our (tiny) powder room. We're considering two things: 1) connecting the kitchen and the garage entry/bathroom with the new flooring. In other words, we'd have sort of a walkway along the back of the room here with the new flooring (we'd tear up a strip of the carpet there). 2) We might leave the separation with the carpet, but expand the garage entryway flooring a little bit out into the family room--maybe a semi-circle type shape over there on the far end of the fireplace. Make sense?
Closer up of the area where we'd want to expand the entry floor (one way or another).
Back into the kitchen (view from the doorway from the family room). HEYY! Look, white cabinets. I don't think I've even shown you guys this yet. Hellooooo, informal kitchen update. :) Straight ahead is the dining room.
Dining room/kitchen doorway, where the traditional hardwood meets the parquet.

Alright, so hopefully that gives you at least an idea of what we're replacing, and where? Let's move on to the flooring choices we've been considering.

At first, we were considering going dark with the new flooring (nice contrast against the white cabinets!) but because we don't get a ton of natural light in this area of the house--thanks to having a lot of trees--we have decided recently that we think we want to go lighter. Really brighten up the space more, and open it up. With that said, let's take a look at some of the top contenders. With each of them, I'll show them to you up against the carpet, up against the hardwood, and up against the white of the cabinets.

TILE #1 - a square 20" tile

(This one above shows the most tile detail.)
(That's a shadow from the doorway on the lower left.)

(Tile on left, cork on right. More about the cork below.)

TILE #2 - a rectangular, but still large tile (I think it's 18" long, don't know the width off hand)
It's actually very similar to the first tile, but the real difference here is the shape. Square vs. rectangular.
With either tile option, we'd be using a darker grout so that it's easier to keep clean (or it'll at least look cleaner, ha).

CORK
This particular cork comes in "planks" instead of squares.
(Cork on right.)

HARDWOODS - A natural colored oak. No stain, just clear poly. I think these are 3.25" planks.

OK, opinions? Here are some of the pros and cons of each we've been discussing.

Tile: Pros
- It's a completely different kind of flooring than what we have in the other rooms.
- Nice for both kitchens and bathrooms
- Neutral. For resale value, most people like tile
- Durable
- If we change the configuration of the kitchen down the line, it will be easier to "patch" areas that were not originally tiled (like under the peninsula or something)

Tile: Cons
- Cold
- Hard--can be uncomfortable to stand on for long periods of time. Small children can hit their heads or teeth on it (ouch ouch), and uncomfy to crawl or sit on.
- If you drop dishes or glass containers, they are most likely goners

-----------------------------------

Hardwood: Pros

- Can be refinished in any color down the line. For us, for future owners, whatever.
- Longevity. Hardwoods can (will?) stay pretty much forever.
- "Softer" - for feet and small children
- We have other hardwoods throughout the house
- If you drop something, it stands a chance

Hardwood: Cons
- They wouldn't match our existing hardwoods. We wonder if that will look weird to us (and others)
- Because they don't match, does it look like a bad remodel?
- Hardwoods scratch, dent, etc.
- Would be difficult to "patch" down the line if we change configuration of the kitchen

-----------------------------------

Cork: Pros
- Eco-friendly
- Very soft underfoot
- It is "self-healing" if there is a scratch or dent
- Could also be "patched" pretty easily if we do a big kitchen remodel and change layout of the room
- Easier install (floating floor)

Cork: Cons
- Not as common--will others hate it/think it's weird? Is it good/bad for resale?
- I've heard mixed reviews about how it holds up to dogs. Tessa is light, though, so I'm not that worried?

-----------------------------------

What are we not thinking of? What are your experiences? What is your opinion based on the pics?

I'm not going to tell you how we're leaning, because I don't want to persuade anyone one way or another. Oh, and we're about 99.9% sure we are hiring someone to do this, regardless of which option we choose, which is why ease of install didn't factor into the pros/cons.

Let the debate start... now. :)

30 comments:

E @ Oh! Apostrophe July 15, 2012 at 9:57 PM  

We absolutely love our cork floored kitchen. Mostly we get a lot of "oooh is that cork? Cool!" comments. We have a schnauzer and he hasn't scratched it once. So much more comfy to walk on than hardwood or tile (which I thought was something only an, ahem, older person would appreciate, but at 31 I think it's pretty nice too!). Good luck deciding!

MamatoJackson July 15, 2012 at 10:02 PM  

I would shy away from doing hardwoods that do not match what you currently have. If you could match perfectly what you already have in the playroom, I would say hardwoods 100%, because as far as resale, I think that will give you the best bang for your buck. But if you can't match it, I would not do hardwood, because in my opinion, it makes it look like a sloppy remodel. I agree that tile would feel cold and be hard on small ones that aren't always stable. And I think the area is too big for a lot of tile.

I've never seen cork in person, and although it wouldn't be something I chose, I like the idea of it. Good luck, such hard decisions!

Megan July 15, 2012 at 10:05 PM  

Short of ripping up floors in LR and DR and making it all uniform hardwood (I would not do mismatched hardwoods) I really like the tile. I think the tile you choose (either size, really) is very pretty and looks great next to existing wood, new white cabinets (!) and carpet. I am neutral on cork, I don't think it would necessarily deter me as a buyer but i know nearly nothing about it. How is it in wet areas - that would be my first 'newbie' question.

Last, about the 'hallway' in the family room - - I think it might look best to do the 'strip' to line up with the wall in the kitchen (I think? have to go back and look at pics). Basically I'd try to find some 'landmark' to line it up with. Barring that yes, I think that keeping the carpet and maybe just enlarging your garage entry area in tile would be great.

Heather July 15, 2012 at 10:05 PM  

E @ Oh! Apostrophe--Good to hear from someone with cork! Is yours lighter or darker in color? How long have you had it? Do you have any pics you'd be willing to share?

MamatoJackson--Thanks for weighing in. Interesting that you say it's too big an area for tile, I haven't heard that before. For what it's worth, we are planning to use very large tiles--18" to 20" ones, so it would be less grout lines than if we were using smaller tiles.

Megan July 15, 2012 at 10:06 PM  

Edit -I'd go larger tile, less grout lines - and I'd look into an interesting way to lay it (on angle, staggered, etc)

Helen July 15, 2012 at 10:27 PM  

I vote for the cork. We saw a lot of houses with the mismatched hardwood, and it did look like a shoddy remodel, every time.

I am sure the tile would be fine, but I think the cork would just be nicer to live with. My parents have cork in the upstairs of their house now and it is the nicest surface to walk on. I look forward to someday when we can put it in our kitchen ;) We have tile in the kitchen now, and while it's fine, it is super hard on my back. We had laminate floors in our condo and the difference is night and day.

Good luck with your decision. The house looks great!

Jennifer @ Also Known As...the Wife July 15, 2012 at 10:30 PM  

I have a tile floor in my kitchen and I loathe it! We have similar tiles (in texture & color) to the square tile you're considering and I find the texture to attract and hold on to dirt. I also find the color to just always look dirty at least to me.

I wouldn't do the hardwood floors unless the installers weave the existing hardwood floors with the new floor and were able to match the color which may be impossible unless they re-finished all the hardwood floors on your main level.

I like the idea of cork for your cooking area but I'm not so sure how it would look in a large area. I definitely wouldn't use it in the garage/mud room area nor would I cut out a large swath of carpet. I like the semi-circle idea the best using hardwood floors.

I feel like you need another flooring option in the kitchen altogether but I can't figure out what it is (within a reasonable budget). If I do figure it out I'll be sure to come back and let you know.

Whatever you decide I'm sure it will look great and you'll be happy with it.

Amy July 15, 2012 at 10:52 PM  

I think the cork looks great! I will definitely not do the hardwood floors. Mismatched wouldn't look good and also, wood floors in the kitchen is a nightmare. I like being able to deep clean my kitchen floors and with wood, you can only use steam or vinegar. I also didn't like carefully making sure it didn't get wet every time I did the dishes.

Amy July 15, 2012 at 10:52 PM  

That should say would not do hardwood floors. Sorry!

caren July 16, 2012 at 7:06 AM  

I totally agree with everyone else...no hardwoods unless you can match it.

Being married to someone who works in the tile industry I will say I do not think that area is too big to be tiled. I love the 12X18 tile you have picked out but thats probably bc we have some of it in our house too (in the mudroom and bathroom). Yes, tile isn't the best to stand on but you can always put down an area rug under the table and one of those padded area rugs in the "cooking area"

With that said...I think you should reconsider a darker tile. It would look awesome against the while cabinets and I don't think it would take away from the brightness of the room. The area is big enough that you can get away with it and everything else is bright enough to keep the room light.

I'm neutral on the cork. I don't hate it but I don't love it.

Vanessa July 16, 2012 at 8:47 AM  

I really like the look and practicality of cork. We have tiled flooring because that was already in the house, and whilst it looks smart/elegant, it is impractical, uncomfortable to stand on (I hate the feel of it barefoot) and less than ideal with little ones. Growing up we had marble floors, and when I was six I split my chin when I feel over on them. So I would definitely avoid something as hard as stone.
I'm not averse to mismatched hardwoods (and think they are easier to match than people realise, anyway) but personally would choose the cork. Good luck!

Catherine July 16, 2012 at 9:01 AM  

I like the look of the cork, but also like the tile. I would not go with the wood. I agree - it would be weird to not match the other wood in the house.

We just finished house hunting, and if we ran into a house with mismatched flooring (even if it were newer) I would have to replace it.

We own a rental property, and LOVE the tile there. We lived there for awhile too, and had zero problems. I would probably personally go with that.

The animal thing with the cork might pose a problem later on - if you were to resell.

Tile it is for my vote!

Catherine July 16, 2012 at 9:05 AM  

Oh, and Heather - speaking of my own personal house hunting journey, I asked you a quick question on your playroom reveal post. Just curious how it is working out for you! No hurry on a response, just wasn't sure if you saw it.

Sue,  July 16, 2012 at 9:07 AM  

Agree with what Jennifer said- I have a large kitchen area with a very similar tile and I hate it. Hate it, hate it, hate it. It's impossible to keep clean- it always looks dirty!

I don't have experience with cork but it looks interesting!

Amanda July 16, 2012 at 9:20 AM  

Voicing an opinion similar to the other girls on tile floors. Growing up we had tile floors and my mother always complained about how impossible it was to keep them clean, and why would people build houses with tiled kitchens. Well once I had one of my own I couldn't have grown to agree with her anymore! They are impossible to keep clean.

Our new house has a fake wood floor, something that resists scratching and dents - I love it!

Maureen,  July 16, 2012 at 9:44 AM  

I would stay away from the hardwoods. We have/had two different hard wood floors and it just looked odd so we decided to carpet (added expense) the dinning and living room area and leave the sitting room with just the new hardwood floors.

With that said we do have tiles in our kitchen and I hate them they always look dirty. I would go with the cork although I haven't heard much about it.

Amy July 16, 2012 at 9:45 AM  

I agree with everyone about the hardwoods not matching. I love the tile! I personally like the square and think the color you have looks really classy.

Melissa July 16, 2012 at 10:20 AM  

I am surprised at how many people do not like tile! We put tile in our old kitchen, replacing old laminate and I really liked it! I want to put it in our new kitchen when we have the budget. I would not put hardwood in an area that can be water-damaged, and I don't think it would look quite right if the hardwoods didn't match. If I were you and had the money, I would put hardwoods that matched in the hallway and eating area, and I would put tile in the kitchen/bath/garage entry. Good luck with your decision!

Melissa E. July 16, 2012 at 10:21 AM  

I would go with the tile. But have you thought about Alterna? It's a combination tile made of ceramic and laminate. It's sturdy and warmer under your feet. Also nice because you have the option to go groutless (is that a word?). We have it in our bathroom and LOVE it! Here's a link: http://www.armstrong.com/flooring/luxury-vinyl/alterna/floors-11439.asp

We were able to find it at our local flooring place for a great price (not much more than regular tile). Good luck!

Kate,  July 16, 2012 at 10:25 AM  

I love the first tile - and I love tile in general (we have tile in our kitchen and entryway). My only complaint with tile is that our son does have a harder time playing on the tile floor. I haven't seen cork up close, but it looks like a great option as well. I definitely would NOT do the mismatched hardwood.

Amy Kay July 16, 2012 at 12:47 PM  

We have dura-ceramic. Its cheaper, heavier duty, easy to put in and looks very convincing. I love it. We have it in our kitchen/powder room/laundry and hallway bathroom. Ours is in a tan color because I think tan pretty much goes with everything and I like to redecorate :)
But I dont like the really white tile you have pictured I think it wuold look too white with your cabinets.

Elyse July 16, 2012 at 1:31 PM  

I would do the tile! We have tile floors in our kitchen and bathrooms and it's so easy to clean! I think it's also more neutral so it won't clash with your carpet or hardwood. I definitely wouldn't do hardwood unless it's all going to match ie dining room, play room, kitchen. I've honestly never seen or heard of cork floors, so I have no comment!

Jo July 16, 2012 at 1:35 PM  

We recently went through this struggle as well. It took us forever to complete our remodel just because of the floor. We had old vinyl and where thinking about tile, but I couldn't get over the cold hard floor. Our kitchen butts up to our dining room which has 60 year old hard wood. I initially dismissed it because I was worried about new flooring not matching. However, I finally called a floor guy and he said he could match it. It will take a couple years for the patina to match, but it is close enough for it not to bother me. I love it and am so happy I did not go with time.

Having said all that I do love your sample of the rectangle time. If only there was a way to make it more comfortable. Good luck with making a decision. I know what a challenge it is!

Anonymous,  July 16, 2012 at 1:42 PM  

Had a similar light tile at my old house--- very difficult to keep even dark grout looking clean. Now have beautiful hardwoods like the sample you show and because they are pre-finished (not sanded after they are installed) there are grooves between each board. Evil grooves that attract gunk in the kitchen. If my son spills yogurt, there is no simple wiping it up, it's impossible to keep clean and on a daily basis I think nasty thoughts about whoever chose that flooring for my kitchen. We had a house with mis-matched hardwoods in the kitchen (the main house was beautiful re-finished hardwoods and the kitchen was what turned out to be a finished pine sub-floor (that's another story entirely). The finish was close and they joined in a small entry so it wasn't too bad but it did drive me nuts. Whatever you do I would place priority on how it's going to be cleaned because once you're done with the re-model you don't want to spend your life cleaning the floors.

Sarah July 16, 2012 at 2:41 PM  

If you can't match the hardwood with the existing, don't do it. I love open plan houses that keep the same flooring throughout - when it doesn't match by a little bit, it looks odd! Definitely go for the no match at all, so ditch the hardwood.

As a recent buyer (and recent kitchen renovater!) I went with a complete contrast in my kitchen. There's a navy blue carpet in my entry way (frequently muddy black labrador means no light coloured flooring), light oak laminate through the kitchen into a brighter blue carpet in the conservatory. The light contrast in the kitchen looks great.

Definitely cork!

Anonymous,  July 16, 2012 at 6:02 PM  

The hardwood floors do not match so I would eliminate the hardwood.

The tile is very light in color and your carpet is pretty light as well. I would not go with the tile either.

I would do the cork. I like how it matches with your carpet and looks nice.

jenn July 16, 2012 at 10:12 PM  

I like the tile. We have hardwood floors and our bathroom is tiled- it's a nice contrast. I think you are right about trying to match the hardwood- it might looks weird.

Kristin July 16, 2012 at 10:21 PM  

I would go with either the tile or the cork. It really comes down to personal preference for you. We did tile in our kitchen remodel and loved it. I had no trouble keeping it clean and actually dropped things dishes on it without having any break. You can always install radiant floor heating if you are worried about the cold feeling. This was our kitchen tile: http://domesticatedkristin.blogspot.com/2010/09/kitchen-renovations-part-7-big-reveal.html

E @ Oh! Apostrophe July 17, 2012 at 12:15 AM  

Ours is a bit darker...we installed it ourselves, and we have had it for 2.5 years. It looks great, and it's only recommended that we re-seal it every ten years. Here's the installation: http://Ohapostrophe.blogspot.com/2009/12/couple-of-makeovers.html and some better shots of our kitchen: http://Ohapostrophe.blogspot.com/2010/01/I-am-back.html

Anne July 21, 2012 at 9:12 AM  

I love the idea of the cork flooring!! I've heard really great things about it, and from what I've read it's supposed to hold up to little paws fairly well.

Your playroom is adorable--love the ABC wall art!

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