To Be or Not to Be: Hardwood Floors in Your Kitchen?

Large island and double pantries

8 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Putting Hardwood In Your Kitchen

Hardwood flooring can be stunning in a kitchen remodel, highlighting appliances and cabinetry, adding texture, movement, and color. The variety of woods, colors, textures, grains, finishes, lengths, and cuts are just the start of the choices available. The temptation to use this material in the kitchen is huge.  Kitchens are no longer utilitarian rooms tucked away at the back of the house.  Kitchens are now the heart of the home, the centerpieces of entertaining and daily living. So how do you decide? Answering some of these questions is a good start!

  1. Do you have a good plumber?

    The one thing that all kitchens have in common is water.  The kitchen sink, dishwasher, refrigerator, prep sink, pot filler, ice maker, coffee maker, etc. all use water.  It is a rule that at some point plumbing will leak, a gasket fails, a hose breaks, a connection leaks, the water dispenser leaks, water spills… and it usually ends up on the floor.  Water and hardwood do not work well together, so if you have a hardwood floor in your kitchen, you need a great plumber.

  2. Do you live near a hill?

    When your home is on or next to a hillside, even if your floor is above grade, it will likely be considered to be below grade for purposes of your hardwood floor. Why does this matter? We are back to water again! Look at the fine print from your floor manufacturer and see if the floor is suitable for below-grade applications, as often they are not, especially solid hardwood floors. If the floor fails, the manufacturer will likely say the product was installed below grade and deny liability.

  3. Do you wear shoes in the house?

    People use their homes in different ways.  Some people are very gentle with their homes while others live large. Hardwood floors have different finishes and hardness ratings.  Some floors can be dented with high heels, yet others are much more difficult to dent.  If you do not wear shoes in the house,  your hardwood floor is likely to last longer.

  4. Do you have a dog?

    Dogs have nails, waterbowls, accidents, and often boundless energy.  We talked about water, right?  Well urine is worse, potentially much worse.  Big dogs have bigger nails, bigger water bowls and bigger accidents.  Dogs need traction to move and their nails provide traction, which can be very hard on your hardwood.

  5. Do you drop things?

    Hardwood is softer than tile, so when you drop that glass there is a chance the glass won’t break.  However, the hardwood floor may dent.  Think of the all of the things that get dropped: cans, pans, bowls, lids, knives… none of which are good for hardwood.

  6. Do you have a pool?

    Do you have to cross your hardwood to get from the pool to the bathroom?  We are back to water again.  Chlorine and water are worse than water alone.  If you have a pool, make sure you have a good way to get from the pool to the bathroom without crossing the hardwood floor.

  7. Is your home on a slab?

    Generally, it is recommended (and often required) that engineered hardwood flooring is used when installing hardwood on a slab floor.  This is because water vapor will move through concrete and can deleteriously affect solid hardwood flooring (and sometimes engineered flooring).

  8. Do you travel?

    Often when people go on vacation they turn the furnace way down, turn the air conditioning off, shut off the lights and lock the door.  With hardwood flooring, fine cabinetry, wood doors, woodwork etc., variations in humidity are a bad thing.  When a homes’ heating and cooling system is turned off or down, humidity will fluctuate with the temperature and with the weather.  This is why you see many vacation homes with hardwood floors that ripple. Solid floors are more susceptible to this than engineered floors.

Hardwood floors might be the right choice for you and your family. Just be sure to do your due diligence, so that whatever floor you choose will be the right one for you for a long time to come. Here is a gorgeous example of a large and bright Lafayette, CA kitchen with hardwood floors.

Kat Mullen

Kat and her husband, Scott Westby, own and run MSK Design Build, an award-winning design-build firm located in the San Francisco East Bay. With over 10 years of experience in design-build construction for high-end remodels, Kat enjoys sharing her knowledge, experience and expertise. Kat's favorite part of the design build process is hearing her client's vision for their home and helping to make their dream into reality.