Design Discussion : Hardwoods in the Kitchen

Design Discussion : Hardwoods in the Kitchen - roomfortuesday.comI have another new blog series I’ve been wanting to start for awhile now… design discussions! There are a lot of controversial design topics that have been brought to light since I started this blog. I figured it would be fun to break them down, share my opinion for each, and get a conversation started. Design is like art- it’s a process in which you can (and should) take creative liberties based on the space you have to work with. I’ll share my most loved and hated design decisions in this series- starting with installing real hardwood flooring in the kitchen! Click through to read all about it…

Design Discussion : Hardwoods in the Kitchen - roomfortuesday.comDepending on how long you’ve been following our renovations, most of you know this isn’t the first time I’ve opted for hardwood flooring in the kitchen as opposed to tile or another material. In our first home (built in 1910), we restored the hardwood floors throughout the entire house, including the kitchen. They were oak, original to the house, and so beautiful! There was no way I was going to rip those babies out (pictured above and below).

Design Discussion : Hardwoods in the Kitchen - roomfortuesday.comIn an effort to do something different in our second kitchen renovation, I opted for patterned tile. While I LOVED the look, I wasn’t as into the feel underfoot. I think I would’ve liked it more if we would’ve installed radiant heat beneath the tile. I’m a barefoot type of gal and I don’t enjoy stepping on cold tile or having cold feet (no pun intended).

Design Discussion : Hardwoods in the Kitchen - roomfortuesday.comIt probably didn’t come as a surprise that hardwood flooring showed up in our third (and most recent) kitchen renovation. This time around we installed it in a herringbone pattern. So why is hardwood my preference and why do I love it so much despite it being a controversial material for a kitchen? Let’s talk details!

Kitchens aren’t necessarily a “high moisture” room, in my opinion. Sure- they’re more prone to spills, but if mopped up- water is not an issue. Nobody is going to leave a mess or spilled water standing on their kitchen floor, right? Another concern I’ve heard voiced is faucet overspray… again, the odds that standing water is going to occur from that is slim to none. Therefore, overspray should have little to no effect on hardwood flooring around the sink.

Design Discussion : Hardwoods in the Kitchen - roomfortuesday.comFinished hardwood flooring is typically sealed (all of ours have been), unless you like the raw natural look, but having sealed flooring means it’s pretty durable to spills and moisture. Would I install hardwoods in a bathroom? No- because it is a high moisture room… think humidity, steam, etc, but in a kitchen- absolutely. I will say, hardwood flooring is a natural material, so it WILL patina over time. You guys already know, I like and prefer that look. Hardwood floors get scratched and I don’t mind that at all… again, that’s part of the patina charm and LIVING in a home.

So why hardwood for me personally? I like the classic, traditional look it brings to a space, but most of all- I adore the warmth and texture of hardwood flooring!

Design Discussion : Hardwoods in the Kitchen - roomfortuesday.comNow let’s chat about the cons… it’s true, given hardwood is a natural, softer material- it’s not as durable as tile or stone. If you’re really worried about practicality, scratching, water spills, and longevity (or you don’t like natural patina that occurs with aging), then opt for something else.

Design Discussion : Hardwoods in the Kitchen - roomfortuesday.comRemember this project I shared a few years ago? This kitchen contains tile that looks like hardwood. Perhaps that’s the best of both worlds? I’m still team natural hardwood, but if you like the look and also want mega durability- this could be the best option for you!

Design Discussion : Hardwoods in the Kitchen - roomfortuesday.comWhere do you stand on the issue? Take the instant poll below and see how the numbers stack up…

[yop_poll id=”1″]

I received a bunch of feedback saying people loved the flooring in our recent kitchen renovation, but also quite a few messages that voiced concern with my choice in installing hardwoods in a kitchen. Hopefully this helped to clarify! Remember, there is no wrong answer… it’s just a matter of your personal preference and what fits your family & lifestyle. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below! Also- please send me more ideas for controversial design discussion topics. I’m excited for this new series!

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  1. Look at you, stirring up controversy on a Monday morning! I am all for hardwood flooring in a kitchen. Because our kitchen sits between our living room and dining room, continuing the wood floors made sense for flow, but I also love the look. Even with messy cooks and splashy dishwashers (hands raised), our floors are in great shape after almost 10 years. Honestly, think of all the old farmhouses, schools and porches that withstood years of snowy boots and stampeding kids! But now to think of another controversial topic…

    1. Haha, yes! I love hearing that your hardwoods are in great shape- even after 10 years. I’m surprised hardwoods in the kitchen scare so many people. I’m all ears for other controversial design topics. Ha! xo

  2. Love the look of hardwood, but don’t think i could go through another plumbing failure with them. What would have been a minor annoyance with a tile floor turned into a major headache with hardwood.

    1. Oh no- sorry to hear about your plumbing nightmare!!

  3. I vote for hardwood in the kitchen 💗 we had it in our last house for 15 years and now the new owner gets to enjoy them. Actually I currently have vinyl that resembles cork and I absolutely love it! It feels so soft underfoot, is quite warm, super easy to clean and great on a budget. I personally can’t stand on tile floor for too long as it’s a killer on my back and I’m very clumsy ( I drop things in the kitchen too often 😉) so the vinyl can take my abuse. However, of course it’s not as beautiful as hardwood but I was shocked and happy to find many beautiful alternatives at our local hardware store. But anyone considering hardwood in the kitchen should absolutely go for it in my opinion. Happy Monday!

    1. My sister has that same cork flooring and it’s beautiful! She loves it and it feels so warm and cozy. I’m with you- the tile felt too cold for me (I’m also clumsy).

  4. I have (engineered) hardwood on my kitchen floor and love it. I live in a NYC apartment, and the kitchen/living/dining is open concept, so as Peggi pointed out above I think it’s especially important to have a continuation of the floor into the kitchen with an open concept space. It actually drives me crazy when I see people put tile down in the kitchen area in an open concept home! I can imagine some decent options for that scenario, but I feel like hardwood continuity always looks better. Our engineered hardwood is pretty indestructible, and you are correct that you’re not leaving standing water on the floor. It’s been a total non-issue for us.

    On the other hand, my parents’ have an open concept kitchen in a summer home with wood floors. These floors have sustained some damage due, unfortunately, to having large numbers of guests for the house who haven’t been all that respectful and who did constantly leave spills sitting there for long periods of time. But, their house is 20 years old and it’s nothing that can’t be fixed by swapping out a floor board.

    Also, with tile the GROUT can get so dirty! Definitely not a fan of that. And I second your idea that tile should have radiant heat.

    I love this topic. How about TVs over the fireplace? Or tub/shower combos or high quality wood-mullion windows vs vinyl?

    1. Definitely important with open concept spaces that spill into one another! That was a great point. Hardwoods or engineered hardwoods are usually a non issue in the kitchen. I’m glad to hear you also love them! Thank you so much for the wonderful post ideas- I’ll cover all of those :)

  5. Since your first post showing the herringbone I have been obsessed – can’t wait to do the same in mine! It is just beautiful.

  6. I love the hardwood look in a house! I love the aging, the feel underfoot, the ability to change a look by just swapping a cozy rug…we had hardwoods in our last house (built in 1929), and someone had tiled over them in the kitchen, living, and dining areas. When we gutted the kitchen, they were beyond repair. We saved the rooms we could, but I always hated the vinyl we put in the kitchen. I second Beth’s suggestions above: specifically the tv! Tv’s over a fireplace, or decor around the tv…both great topics! Also bathtub/shower combos; I’d love to hear you weigh in on that!!

  7. I briefly considered tile in our kitchen, but I am so glad we went with hardwood – which, honestly, was the right choice to fit with the style of our 1920s colonial revival home anyway. It’s really a function over form argument (even though I prefer the form anyway): our house is drafty, and tile would be so cold underfoot. Tile is also much harder on your back/feet/knees, and the kitchen is a room where you are standing for longer periods of time. You’d be pretty sore from all the time you log at the kitchen sink or the stove. Finally, you’re much more likely to break items if dropped on a tile floor.

  8. Rose Dykema says:

    I have hardwood in my kitchen and…marble countertops! People lose their minds when they realized I put this into my kitchen. I have zero regrets. Everyone admits it’s beyond beautiful but don’t see it being practical. My house is from 1928, it told me it wanted that so I listened. Your new house had so much potential and I bet she sings with delight as you go room by room and update. You are truly bringing your home to life! Such thoughtful and elegant design will withstand the test of time. So glad you listen to your heart and your house. It’s evolving into such a beauty. I can’t wait to see your living space complete!!! The naysayers will change their tune once they realize how your floors just make sense to flow into each space naturally like they have always been that way.

  9. When I renovated my 1924 bungalow, underneath the vinyl layer, was sheet linoleum. Under that was original pine flooring. Friends were all “refinish it”. I didn’t. It was in terrible shape and would have needed many repairs. Plus the vinyl floor guys were staple happy and had stapled down the luan layer EVERY INCH. Seriously! There were 9 billion staples. I pulled out thousands, hammered the impossible to pull ones into the floor, put down moisture barrier and used Marmoleum square click floor for that vintage authentic look.

    As for no standing water, my refrigerator started acting up and many mornings I would come out to puddles underneath it. Water seeped into some of the seams and swelled the material under the linoleum, either the cork or the MDF so even though ceramic tile is a beast to stand on, I prefer it in kitchens and bathrooms. Plus, when I had dogs, one of them would get water all over the floor when he drank and it would sit on the floor for hours when I was away. It never damaged the tile. And twice I had a laundry issue that flooded the laundry room and adjacent kitchen and was just able to mop up the ceramic tile with no damage. That’s also why I prefer the laundry in the basement and not on the living levels. Sure it’s great until there is a disaster, then you’re kicking yourself when you have thousands in damage.

    1. Great point, Pat! In all of our renovations, we’ve reworked and updated the plumbing, so I think that’s what gives me peace of mind. We also use leak detectors that alert our phones, so I’m hoping should that ever happen- we’ll be on top of it quickly before damage ensues. Fingers crossed anyway. Thanks for the wonderful conversation!

      1. Leak detectors…with phone alerts! OMG. Genius. What a great solution. We have had red oak floors in our open concept kitchen for 20 years. Raised 2 boys and a dog (and a husband) on those floors and they still look great. They even survived a flooding sitch with an older dishwasher with no problem. Perhaps the selection of a hard wood like oak has helped us over the years? Love you, Sarah!

  10. I cook/make virtually every meal our family eats and I love the tile for easy wiping, no stains, of drips and spills and oopsies from me and the kids. We lose maybe 1 item a year to dropping, and while I love the idea of wood and its look, in real life it would truly cause me anxiety to have such a hardworking room (with so many potential plumbing snafus!) be floored with wood.
    PS the poll gave me an error message.

    1. Tile is definitely the winner when it comes to maintenance and durability. There is nothing like it!

  11. I have had solid hardwoods for 15 years and I would get something else next time. I also had tile in a previous house and liked that. The problem with hardwood for me is not water, its hard use. They were refinished 10 years ago but between cooking, accidentally dropping a knife a few times, dents from other objects…the area around my stove, sink and refrigerator do not look particularly great.

    1. Really? I’m intrigued Linda! The frequently used traffic paths definitely patina and wear over time.

  12. Presence of kids that was the determining factor for us. Kids don’t always wipe up after their messes. Also my family must have water/ice dispenser on the outside of the fridge door. So quite common to have little water spills or errant ice cubes that quietly melt into a puddle in a corner not to be discovered until the next morning….

    1. Great point Anne! Everyone has to choose what works best and makes sense for their family. Tile wins when it comes to cleanability with the kiddos!

  13. I’m pro hardwood in the kitchen too! What people don’t realize is that even tile can be ruined if the room floods enough. A coworker had her hot water tank explode while she was on vacation and they ended up having to replace ALL of their flooring — tile included. The chances of an accident happening that is so severe that your hardwoods won’t be okay are so slim! I tend to look at what has survived decades of misuse in a home and wood flooring and wood windows are 2 of the biggest things! People used hardwoods in their kitchen for generations!

    1. Yay! That’s just a good point, Jana. Tile isn’t indestructible and can also break, crack, trap moisture, etc. On our European vacation, it was really neat to walk on hardwood floors that were GORGEOUS and hundreds of years old. People did things right back in the day, and they had the right idea.

  14. I’m team hardwood in the kitchen 100%! We went for Rubio Monocoat to finish our floors, and one of the reasons we chose it is that unlike a poly finish, Rubio-finished floors can be spot-refinished without having to sand the entire floor. I’m quite clumsy, and I actually think the hardness of tile in the kitchen would lead to a lot more broken plates and glasses :) . Plus, I love to be barefoot in the house and find tile uncomfortably cold.

    1. I love hearing that! I’m also clumsy, Sarah. I’ve had my fair share of spills and broken glasses. Haha :) I’m also with you on hardwoods feeling warm and cozy underfoot. There is nothing worse than cold toes.

  15. I love wood floors in the kitchen and can barely stand tile in bathroom lol. What about carpet on stairs. When we removed ours people voiced their concerns with tripping/falling on a non carpeted surface. We haven’t had any issues. I like this series Sarah

    1. Same, Liz!! We have to renovate our basement bathroom and we’re going to install radiant heat under the tile. There is something so cozy about hardwoods underfoot. Love the idea of chatting about carpet (or not) on stairs! I’ll add that to the list :) xo

  16. I have hardwood in my kitchen and love it! Installed about 10, maybe 12 years ago, still looks great! I just make sure I wipe up any drips or spills and it’s good to go! I wouldn’t have anything else. I started with tile, hated it and have loved every minute of my wire brushed hickory flooring!

  17. I could have used this post a couple months ago when we were stressing over this decision it happily we came to the same conclusion as you did. The likelihood of water/spills not being cleaned up almost immediately is very slim and so continuing the hardwood it is! I am still struggling on whether to continue the hardwood into the attached laundry room (off the back of the kitchen and also includes a door to the side yard). My first instinct is not to do hardwood in the laundry but that was also my first instinct in the kitchen. Any thoughts there?

  18. Mid-century home her, and we opted for birch cabinets with only a slight warm tint. Wonderful look, rebelling a bit against the uniformity of grey and white kitchens everywhere. Also goes beautifully with the simple white large tile accented by the large printed glass panel above the stove. We struggled with the floor. Against my better judgement, we decided on wood — avoid the transition from the living room and having to dig out the subfloor to make the thickness of the floor uniform between wood and tile. Problems: No contrast between the cabinets and floor. We went with clear water base finish and a natural tint high traffic waterbase sealer which looks nice but still sruggles with the contrast. I am not a rug in the kitchen person, so this is a big issue. Second, like other commenters, we had the refrigerator meltdown and it ruined the hardwood it was sitting on. Wood planks have gaps, even when sealed, because they need to remain elastic underfoot. The sides and undersides are not sealed, so a leak will fring untold damage, even if there’s a water barrier below. Leak detectors are good for poodles but will not detect a silent leak like this.