Kitchen, most important area of your home...
Let's be honest, everything ends up down here. Nowadays this room often plays major role in the entertaining of your friends and family, and are open to your family rooms.
It is understandable that in many cases, when the house features an open concept, we want to maintain the visual flow, and are seriously considering hardwood floor in the kitchen.
Being an interior decorator, I could just say: "go for it, it's the latest look", but I would be crazy to do that to you! First thing that we all need to consider, before making any decorating choices is your own lifestyle. The most important thing to remember, when making those decisions is that your decorating choices should never, ever make your life more difficult.
Think about why you love the idea of wood floor in your kitchen. Do you just like the look of it? So decadent and sophisticated? Or maybe you just like the feel of gleaming wood under your feet? Warm and smooth, cozy even. Or perhaps you feel protective of your favorite china, which will probably brake if dropped onto tile floor... and may survive if an accident happens over wood floor.
If you like the look of it, keep in mind, that kitchen is usually one of the most busy and messy places in the entire home. It will take a lot more effort than usual to preserve the look you loved so much in the first place. An average family has so little time to spend together, we rush in and out, we cook fast, we eat faster. Stuff drips on the floor, if we notice it, we wipe it down, more often however, we are so rushed, we do not notice...
I know people who wash their kitchen tiles daily, I do admire them, their determination to keep everything nice and tidy. (Try coming from European country where your neighbors would judge you only on the state of your home...) However, most of us have no time to clean and wash every day. Build up of evidence of our messy kitchen activities can be removed of course, but it takes a lot more then running the "Swiffer" through it.
By the way, I do use the amazing "swiffer" on my tiles, but would never, ever even consider using it on our hardwood. I know they have a "special solution" formulated for wood floors, but please do not use it! It will leave a dull film on your floor, very difficult to remove, unless you enjoy wearing your fluffy slippers inside out to polish your floors like your grandma used to...
Another important thing to remember, is the fact, that wood floors are not suppose to be washed too often. It is wood, and although, we never should use water to wash it (I hope you don't use water, that will kill your floor soon enough), we do however use cleaners that are... liquid. Liquids contain moisture. Moisture is not something that hardwood floor likes too much...
You may love the look and the beauty of a hardwood floor in your kitchen, but will you be able to preserve it and maintain it for years to come? Even if you are careful, spills and little messes will happen, your floor will get damaged especial in the areas you use most. Gone will be the beauty you loved so much. Today's finishes are tougher and more durable then ever before, selection is amazing, but even the greatest finish will not withstand a heavy pot landing on your floor, or deep dents made by your heels, when you rushed back in from the door, to turn off the forgotten stove. This mishaps are not covered by manufacturers warranty.
Damaged boards can be replaced, but it will be almost impossible to match the stain color, unless you held onto the leftovers from original installation. Replacement process, may seam "simple" to a home owner, in fact it is not only time consuming and difficult, it can not be guaranteed due to the re-installation process involved.
Beautiful hardwood floor can be enjoyed, even in the kitchen, but that decision must be made only after considering all the aspects of your life. Kitchen hardwood floor can be maintained easily and effectively if there is no need to scrub it every other day, using harsh chemicals. If your kitchen is not used often and serves as a form of decoration in your home (lucky you...), go ahead and choose a spectacular hardwood floor. Keep your wood floor clean by daily dusting or vacuuming and light spray of the right wood floor cleaning product, once every couple of weeks to restore the shine and beauty you love so much.
Let's go back to your own reasons for wanting a hardwood floor in your kitchen. The warmth and comfort underfoot. Yes, wood is better on your feet then tile, it is warmer and smoother. But the warmth can be achieved with an installation of a heating system under the tiles. This argument, is a strong one, and again, I'm not trying to change your mind, if your heart is set on wood in your kitchen. I just want to stress out that there is a lot to consider, before you purchase new floor for your kitchen.
The third reason that you may have, is break-ability of your favorite china. (I know, it sounds a little off..., but you would be surprised, people have their own reasons) So you hope that if you drop your plate on hardwood, it will not break. Well, it probably will, not only that, it will also damage the floor. Tiles on the other hand, would break your plate, but that would be the entire extent of the damage... Our friend had her floor installed in the kitchen, and the next day her large roast pan, with the roast still in it, slid from her hands and skid of the floor, gouging it in several places. She got over it, and waited to replace the damaged wood at the latter time, when her budget would allow her to install new floor in the rest of the house. She just fund out that damaged pieces can not be replaced, because the stain color was discontinued and is no longer available. Things like this happen.
Another story, that I have to share, is about our own kitchen, that was opened to the breakfast area and to the family room beyond it. Like so many of you, I wanted our breakfast table sitting on beautiful hardwood floor. I had to consider, among others, the fact that I am a messy cook, and that I do not have time each day to clean my floor the way it should be clean.
For those reasons, I designed a layout that would give us a table sitting on wood floor and all the kitchen cabinets sitting on a ceramic tile, visually compatible with the stain that we chose for the wood. Two weeks after we moved in, coming back from a New Years Eve celebration at 4:00 in the morning, we walked into the house and discovered an inch of water sitting on the tiles, spilling over entire breakfast area and sipping slowly into the formal dinning room, where we just finished installing custom inlaid border framing spectacular stained oak floor...
Our fridge was acting up. Imagine us in the ball gown and tuxedo trying to gather all this water. Believe me, the champagne I had that evening came in handy. I think I was crying and laughing at the same time. Remarkably there was no damage, but only because we came back, when we did. Earlier that night, we did consider spending the night at the hotel. I can not even think about what would have happen if we did. It became a funny story, that we do share with our Clients. It is not here, however to scare you, and convince you that wood in the kitchen is a "no, no".
On the contrary, I do hope that you will still consider putting a hardwood floor in your kitchen-area, it is a beautiful choice and can provide satisfaction and pleasure to it's owners. If it suits your lifestyle, if you like it, and if you understand the maintenance involved in preservation of your investment, by all means, go ahead and have fun choosing.
Following are the species to consider: Santos Mahogany, Brazilian Cherry, Hard Maple and White Oak. Stay away from softer woods like Red Oak, Ash, or Black Walnut or even White Pine. If you have a country kitchen, softer woods in fact, would be at home here. Dents and scratches would only add to the overall character of your decorating style.
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