Which Is Better for Kitchens – Tile or Hardwood Flooring?
There are so many options for kitchen flooring – hardwood, ceramic tile, natural stone, cork, laminate, vinyl, linoleum. But which one is best for you and your Westchester NY kitchen? Of course this depends on which factors are most important to you as well as your budget and the condition of your subfloor (e.g. is the floor level? Do you have plywood or concrete underneath?)
I’m going to focus on the 2 most popular choices for kitchen remodels: Hardwood Flooring vs. Tile Flooring.
Advantages of Hardwood Flooring for a kitchen:
1. Hardwood Floors are easier on your feet. This is especially important if you spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking or entertaining or both.
2. Hardwood Floors are warmer on your feet. Tile draws heat away, so tile flooring feels colder, especially in the winter. Of course, with tile flooring, you can also install radiant heat underneath, but this definitely adds to the cost.
3. Hardwood flooring is USUALLY LESS EXPENSIVE than tile flooring. This is especially true here in Northeast and Mid Atlantic. Don’t be fooled by going to a store and looking at the prices for the materials…it will probably look like hardwood is more expensive than tile…but remember, these are the prices for the materials and not the labor. The labor for tile is much higher than the labor for hardwood, so when you add labor and materials together, USUALLY hardwood is less expensive. Naturally, this depends on which hardwood and which tile and condition of your floor, but this is a good rule of thumb for the colder climates. (Note, in warm climates, labor for tile is lower so this equation may flip flop).
4. Hardwood floors can help make your space look larger, especially if it’s the same type and color as the hardwood in the adjoining rooms. By using the same surface and color it makes your space more cohesive and your eye flows from room to room giving the illusion of more space.
5. Hardwood is currently in style for kitchens. This is why you see them featured in all the kitchen magazines.
6. Many of my customers find hardwood flooring easier to clean and maintain than tile flooring. Many complain that the grout gets dirty and all the dirt gets trapped there. Hardwood can dent and scratch over time, and you may want to refinish them every 10 yrs or so. But, I will say this option is usually preferable vs. tile that can crack over time. Once tile has cracked, there is very little that you can do about it. Once you refinish your hardwood floors, they look like new again. Plus, you can change the color if you like.
Advantages of tile flooring in kitchens:
1. Tile flooring is waterproof. (or extremely water resistant). So, you don’t need to worry about water spilling at the table or extra water by the sink or if one of your appliances has a major issue or just leaks a bit. You also don’t need to worry about who’s cleaning it because these floors are close to indestructable.
2. Tile flooring can be very pretty and has many design possibilities. You can get really artistic and fun designs by putting tiles on a diagonal, using multiple sizes/shapes, adding inserts and adding borders. Also, if you have mid-tone wood cabinets, sometimes it’s easier to find a tile that complements the cabinets. Sometimes, it’s challenging to find a hardwood color that works with some styles of cabinets.
3. If you are using radiant heat, tile will conduct the heat better. Plus, any type of tile should work. With hardwood and radiant heat, your options are limited and you often need to purchase the more expensive hardwoods as your choices have been narrowed for you in terms of what will withstand the radiant heat.
4. Some people just prefer the look of tile. I can’t explain this except to say that some people just like tile better, or they grew up with tile and therefore just prefer it. Tile is what they expect to see in a kitchen. So for these customers, tile is best for their style.
5. Tile won’t scratch. It’s hard so you don’t need to worry about shoes, chairs or other objects scratching the floor. So for some, having this piece of mind is worth it. If you have dogs and they tend to scratch the floors, this is a safe bet.
Downsides to hardwood flooring:
1. Hardwood flooring isn’t waterproof, so be careful and clean up spills right away. The good news is that if small sections are damaged by water, they can be replaced and you can refinish the whole floor.
2. Hardwood floors will need to periodically be refinished. Refinishing hardwood is not expensive and you may only need to do this every 10 yrs or so.
Downsides to Tile Flooring:
1. Tile flooring can crack. This can happen for a number of reasons, but the most common reasons stem from poor installers and/or do-it-yourself installers. They often don’t realize how important floor prep is, and as a result often install on top of plywood (which is a no) and don’t level the floor. Both of these will cause the tile to crack…it’s just a matter of how long it will take. Also, over time a house can just settle a bit and cause cracks. And, if you’re tile is cracked, it is extremely difficult (and often impossible) to repair just a few tiles without causing additional cracks in other areas). In the long run, solid hardwood will probably last much longer than tile. I’ve seen many homes hardwood that is over 100 yrs old..sometimes over 200 yrs old.
2. The grout gets dirty and starts to chip away. If you reseal your grout every year, this will help, but over the long run, the grout will often need to be replaced.