BY JOHN KOLBASKA, OWNER
The abuse suffered by kitchen flooring can be some of the worst out of every area in your home. High traffic, heavy appliances, clumsy chefs, the high risk of spills, and leaks from the sink, refrigerator, or dishwasher make this room a tough place to be a floor. That being said, solid hardwood and strand bamboo are still viable options as kitchen flooring to achieve the unique or trendy look you’re after without sacrificing durability and peace of mind. In this article we will discuss some of the technical aspects involved in deciding which material would make the best choice as kitchen flooring.
Two important factors when considering solid hardwood or strand bamboo as your kitchen flooring are density and stability. To determine the density of a material, we use the Janka test. This test is done by forcing a metal bearing half its diameter into the material to be tested. The amount of pressure needed to do this with different species of hardwood is listed on a chart known as the Janka scale. The more dense the material, the more wear resistant and durable it will be. For kitchen flooring this is especially important as there is normally a lot of traffic and opportunity to drop heavy objects such as pot as pans. Exotic hardwoods and strand bamboo rank very high on the Janka scale and will be able to withstand the trials of a busy kitchen.
Stability, put simply, refers to how well the material resists changing due to fluctuations in moisture and temperature. Natural materials will expand or contract depending on the moisture content of the air around them and the site they are on. While all solid hardwoods and strand bamboos react to the environment, more stable products will need to endure more drastic changes to be prompted to do so. Kitchen flooring needs to be able to withstand spills, regular cleaning, boil overs, and leaks. No solid hardwood or strand bamboo is waterproof, but choosing one that is more stable will likely reduce complications and damage that could happen to your kitchen flooring.
Another factor in deciding what kind of floor would be best as your kitchen flooring is the installation type necessary. Solid hardwood can be nailed down so running it underneath your cabinetry and appliances is not a problem. Strand bamboo can be nailed or glued as well. If you opt for a floating floor with a click and lock system, you will likely run into problems with separating at the seams if you install it under the cabinets and appliances. The only solution is to run the kitchen flooring up to, but not under, these objects which may cause problems with clearance.
After keeping all this in mind and selecting a material, there are still precautions you can take to protect your kitchen flooring further. Mats under the sink and dishwasher can help keep water from standing and affecting your floor. Felt pads can be affixed to the legs of tables, chairs, and other furniture to prevent the scratching and gouging of your kitchen flooring when they move. Regular cleaning with the proper products will protect the finish and prevent issues caused by wet mopping such as warping or the development of mold in expansion gaps. Even the hardest of materials will need some tender love and care to remain beautiful for years to come.
In the long run, the material that best suits your needs will be determined by your lifestyle and site. Tile and vinyl are the traditional choices for kitchen flooring, but solid hardwood and strand bamboo are excellent options as well. There is no need to sacrifice the look your were trying to achieve in order to have durable kitchen flooring. With a little research and consideration for the right details, you can successfully fulfill your kitchen design dreams.
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