Since it’s been almost five years since we remodeled our kitchen, I’ve had time to form opinions about some of our design choices.
Today, I’d like to share my thoughts on tile vs. hardwood floors in the kitchen.
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If you are having trouble choosing between tile and hardwood floors for your kitchen, maybe my experience with both can help.
Back when we were planning our kitchen renovation, I remember searching online for the pros and cons of hardwood floors. Sure, I was able to find flooring websites with very professional advice demonstrating the benefits of tile or even general articles comparing tile vs. hardwood floors in the kitchen. Even though that advice was helpful, I was seeking real opinions from homeowners who have lived with hardwood for awhile. At one point, I even wrote a blog post asking for opinions on wood floors in the kitchen. Feel free to pop over and read that post and be sure to scan down to the comment section to see what people wrote. Years later, it’s very interesting to read over comments on tile vs. hardwood floors in the kitchen.
For the first 15 years in our home, we had tan ceramic tiles running through our kitchen, foyer and back hallway. We also had smaller white (very builder-grade) tiles in our downstairs bathroom and laundry room. After several years, we replaced the tile in those two rooms with larger tan tiles but left the kitchen and other living areas.
Let’s take a look back to when we had ceramic tile in our kitchen:
Sure, the tile was practical and it seemed to be the norm around the time our home was built (1999). In fact, I think most of our neighbors had tile in their kitchens back then. Since we were the first owners of our home, we were able to choose the finishes during the building process. As I recall, the tile we chose was one of the least expensive options. Tile just felt very practical for us and became even more practical after we had kids and got a dog! When I think back to all those high-chair days, I’m thankful that it was so easy to wipe up messes.
Overall, we were happy with our kitchen tile and it held up beautifully for the 15 or so years we had it. In fact, I don’t think we had a chip anywhere! Until we decided to renovate our kitchen, I didn’t even consider changing the tile. Although, a few things weren’t perfect. Standing on our kitchen tile for long periods of time wasn’t comfortable, especially when it was cold in the morning! Our tile also got very slippery when wet so we had to be careful when mopping the floor. Also, the grout was hard to clean.
Pros and Cons of Tile in the Kitchen:
(Please note that I’m sharing my own experiences)
- Practical with kids and a dog – usually doesn’t dent or scratch.
- Easy to wipe up spills (and muddy footprints).
- Cost – you can usually find a wide range of inexpensive ceramic or porcelain tiles in most stores.
- Cold and not comfortable to stand on for long periods of time.
- Slippery when wet – yes, you can buy rougher styles but our tile could get very slippery.
- Doesn’t give a continuous flow if you have other flooring in connecting rooms.
- Grout can be hard to clean! Although we were generally happy with these ways to clean our grout over the years.
Here is another angle of our kitchen with tile:
Like I mentioned, years later we ended up renovating our kitchen.
As you know, one thing leads to another… During that renovation, we decided to rip out the tile floors in our downstairs rooms and replace them all with hardwood flooring. We kept the newer tile in our guest bathroom and laundry room, but replaced the tile in the kitchen, foyer and back hallway with hardwood. While we were at it, we had our contractors remove the prefinished hardwood floors in our living and dining rooms along with the carpet in our family room. Yes, it was a huge project! After living in our home for years, we no longer wanted to define each room with different flooring. Instead, our objective was to give the downstairs rooms a better flow.
Here is our kitchen with hardwood floors:
Yes, a lot has changed from those earlier days! I’d have to say, style was the main reason we chose to switch from tile to hardwood floors in the kitchen. After years of living with oak cabinets and ceramic tile floors, we wanted a whole different look for our kitchen. Like most of us, our tastes change over the years so a different style can feel so fresh and new!
So the big question…
Are we happy we chose hardwood over tile for our kitchen?
Yes, yes, yes!
Not only do we love how the hardwood floors look in the kitchen but we love how they flow from room to room. Before, we would walk from tile to wood to carpet… When I look back now, it all felt choppy to me. Now the rooms flow so much better. With continuous flooring, our rooms even seem bigger.
Also, we love how the floors feel when we walk barefoot. No more cold, slippery tiles. Overall, the floors are easy to clean too – and no more grout lines!
For our home, we chose to install red oak floors which were finished on-site. I recall that we chose red oak for it’s durability and because our staircase was red oak. Our flooring guy suggested that we kept those the same. When we priced out the finished on-site floors vs. pre-finished, I remember that the finished on-site option was less expensive. Of course, my husband pushed for that option! Although, we did agree that those provided the look we were after for our home.
If you are going to choose to have your floors finished after installation, be prepared to move out for a week or two. First of all, the dust is ridiculous and the smell from the stain and polyurethane is beyond noxious. I never want to experience that again!
After five years of living with hardwood floors in our kitchen, we have noticed some scratches and dings here and there. Of course, we do have a golden retriever so I guess we knew what to expect going in.
My List of Pros and Cons of Wood Floors in the Kitchen:
(Once again, these are my own thoughts as a homeowner).
- Style – I love the warm, classic look of hardwood.
- Flow – If you have hardwood in adjoining rooms, continuous flooring helps connect the rooms.
- Feel – Wood floors generally feel more comfortable to stand on.
- Easy to Clean – We usually use Bona Floor Cleaner but I’ve heard people having success with vinegar and water too.
- Can be Re-stained – If your tastes change and you want to update the floor color, you could always pay to have the floors sanded down and refinished in a new color. As I mentioned, our floors were finished on site so feel free to read all about our floor stain options. Apparently, pre-finished floors can also be sanded down and re-stained too.
- Dents and Scratches – yes, with kids and a golden retriever this was bound to happen. I just try to overlook the scratches.
- Risk of Water Damage – so far, we haven’t had any kitchen disasters that would cause damage to the wood floors. Unfortunately, a friend of mine had a dishwasher problem that ended up damaging her floors. I guess it could happen…so fingers crossed on that one!
- Expense – hardwood floors aren’t cheap but there are many different price ranges just like anything else.
- Fumes during staining and sealing – Like I mentioned, if you choose to have your hardwood floors finished on-site, be prepared to inhale some of the worst fumes of your life…I’m talking a lung scorching, eye tearing nightmare. You really cannot stay in your house while they are finishing them. Having said that, we did use the oil-based polyurethane at the advice of our floor guy. I’ve heard the water based option isn’t as bad.
Hopefully, my experience with both tile and hardwood floors will help you make a flooring decision.
Obviously, it’s a big commitment to choose kitchen flooring. Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them. Even though I’m not a flooring professional, I can share my thoughts as a homeowner.
What are your thoughts on tile vs. hardwood in the kitchen?
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