Tile, Laminate or Wood?

Q. I am renovating my kitchen and am unsure of what flooring to install. The kitchen cabinets are medium pine and the rest of the house has original pine floors that are quite rustic looking. My husband and I disagree on which type of flooring will work best. He feels that ceramic tile is the way to go, while I have a bad back and would prefer flooring that is warmer and not so hard on the feet. What would you suggest?

— K. Reynolds

A. As you’ve discovered, flooring should be chosen for more than just aesthetic appeal. Although ceramic tiles may fit in well with your kitchen, it may not be the material that will best meet your needs. Ceramics are hard and cold to the touch and if you will be standing for long periods you will undoubtedly feel this in your back. In addition, before considering ceramics, you should be sure that the structure of your home is able to support their weight.

One good alternative to ceramic tiles is wood. Wood is durable, hard-wearing and inherently beautiful. It evokes a natural feeling of warmth and is easily refurbished. Pine is a softwood and although this may match the rest of your home, it will not stand up to wear in a kitchen. Consider hardwoods such as oak, maple and birch, which can withstand harsher treatment. Maintenance is quite simple requiring regular sweeping and occasional light washing. You might consider laminate wood flooring which works well in kitchens, is easy to install and less expensive than hardwood.

Another idea is to consider resilient floor coverings as they offer a middle ground between the hardness of stone and the softness of carpet. Resilient floor coverings include vinyl, linoleum, marmoleum, rubber and cork. They are durable, affordable and comfortable underfoot as they have a bit of bounce to them. Resilient flooring offers the added benefit of being impervious to water. With the range of colours and patterns available you are sure to find something that will go with your kitchen. Resilient flooring is available in sheets or tiles.