Paralysis of overchoice, kitchen flooring edition
August 3, 2016 12:09 PM   Subscribe

We're looking to replace the hard surfaces on the first floor - basically, the foyer, hallway, half-bath, laundry closet, pantry, kitchen, and breakfast nook. We think we want tile, and even picked out a porcelain tile sample we like. But there are so many choices of materials that we're overwhelmed! Fellow MeFites, what flooring material do you have, what do you like/dislike about it, and what advice do you have to offer us?

If it matters, we'll be replacing 14-year-old laminate that looks like 8x8 tiles. Needless to say, this is a high traffic area we're talking about and the laminate has numerous nicks and chips to show for it. There are not, nor will there be, any children in the house while we own it, but it's hard to imagine we will ever be without a small-to-medium sized dog. Oh, and we'll have professional installation - no DIY for us!
posted by DrGail to Home & Garden (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Lino is great. We have marble tiles in the kitchen on the first floor and it is like walking into a refrigerator every morning. We put lino down over our 19th century wood floors and they have markedly improved our heating. No smell either.
posted by parmanparman at 12:18 PM on August 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

My company's flooring person really likes vinyl plank for high-traffic areas. It goes in easy, looks good, and is tough as nails.

But tile is good too! Nothing wrong with good ol' porcelain tile. Honestly, there are lots of suitable flooring materials for a hallway. If you have picked one that you like, why stress about all the other possibilities? Get what you like.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 12:39 PM on August 3, 2016

We've gone for tile which looks like wood. Looks warm, but is really durable and easy to look after. Depending on your colour choice (ours is a chestnut brown), you may find that it can get quite dirty without looking it - this is a good thing in my book!
posted by car01 at 12:46 PM on August 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Lino/vinyl is probably the best option. With traditional tile, you're forever having to get ketchup out of the grout grooves, and everything you ever drop will *definitely* break, you will never get lucky. When I had tile, I ended up putting a thick doormat in front of the fridge because it was even shattering the Gladware, plus I had a thing with a jar of pickles and opening the door abruptly and...that's a smell that lingers.

The rent house we live in now has cheap laminate everywhere, which is fine, but also the kitchen, which is a nightmare. Don't ever do that.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:01 PM on August 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Our old apartment had (very nice looking) tiles in the kitchen and we were breaking 1-2 dishes/glasses every month. I would avoid ceramic tile.
posted by quaking fajita at 1:21 PM on August 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

I love my kitchen tile. It's a porcelain type of tile and has super thin / no visible grout lines. I don't like much grout, especially when it is a contrast to the tile. The tile we have is super durable and easy to clean. It was a little hard for our dog to walk on when she got old though. But the wood floors were no better for this.

Go with the tile you picked. You can customize your bathroom if you want... We added a border around the perimeter. Something like this, but we used glass circles. The tile shop we went to offered a free in home consultation, which helped orientate the tiles and choose the grout color.

Apparently porcelain is a better long term tile because the color is throughout the tile, whereas with ceramic, if you chip off from the top, it's just white underneath.
posted by hydra77 at 1:22 PM on August 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

When we bought our house it had 12" sq white ceramic tile. It was the worst. Always cold, if you dropped anything it was guaranteed to break. It always looked dirty. The happiest day was the day we took it all out and had some Bruce engineered lumber stuff put in. It looks good, it's a little quieter.
posted by fixedgear at 1:22 PM on August 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Tile is really good. If you can, floor heating makes life better - not least for the prospective dog. I have a rough unglazed tile with floor heating in the entrance and kitchen and a porcelain tile in the bathroom. In bedrooms and living rooms there are painted wood floors. I have never regretted. We have rules that when one passes from tile to wood, the slippers go on, which is a good thing during winter.

I also love linoleum, but maintenance is a tiny bit more complicated. With tile, you can do everything wrong and then remedy it. With linoleum, you have to stick to the rules.

Get away from vinyl, the vilest flooring you can get.

Wood is beautiful, if you can maintain it properly, which can be a bother.
posted by mumimor at 1:36 PM on August 3, 2016

Hydra77 is right about porcelain tile, if you go that route.

I have a combination of hardwood, laminate (due to concrete subfloors beyond my control), terrible marble tile (due to previous owners beyond my control), and porcelain tile. My sister has wood-look porcelain tile all the way through her condo, and it is awesome--pretty much indestructible, easy to maintain, and attractive. If I'm in this house long enough, I'm going to replace the laminate/marble with that stuff.

My oak hardwoods have stood up nicely to multiple cats-with-claws.
posted by thomas j wise at 1:50 PM on August 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

For the record, all porcelain tile is not through-body (same color all the way through the tile) as hydra77 mentioned upthread. Any tile that is glazed is not through-body, and many porcelain tiles are glazed.

That shouldn't be a huge selling point for through-body tile anyway, since any tile that has chipped, through-body or not, will collect dirt on the rough surface of the chip and make it stand out anyway.
posted by rachaelfaith at 1:56 PM on August 3, 2016

Best answer: I hate stone and porcelain tile (looks good, but is cold in winter, hard on the feet/back, and everything breaks on it when you drop it.) I just put in Core-tec "luxury vinyl planking" flooring in my kitchen/dining. It is marketed with the promise that it is so waterproof that it can be submerged for 6 months without warping. It looks amazingly like wood, and I don't worry about spills (I mean obviously I eventually wipe them up but it's not a big deal.) I drop Corelle plates on it and they just bounce (I used to have travertine and it was terrible when anything dropped on it, glass and ceramic would explode in a million shards.) It has a cork layer in it, so my feet, legs and back feel much better. It hasn't scratched yet. On the downside, it is quite textured (to look like wood) so it's a bit of a rustic look, but overall I'm very happy with it.
posted by fingersandtoes at 2:18 PM on August 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Tile is fine for non-kitchen areas, but in the kitchen, I prefer high-end vinyl or wood. Having anything that's breakable shatter when it hits tile gets really old. It's also hard on my feet/legs/back when I'm in the kitchen working for an extended period, which sucks because I love to cook. I've only chosen tile for the bathroom. I have hardwood in the rest of the house and vinyl flooring in the kitchen.
posted by quince at 3:05 PM on August 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have 6" white tile in the laundry room/bathroom, and HATE it with a passion. No matter how much I clean it, it always looks dirty. By comparison, I have cheap stick-on tiles in my kitchen (haven't gotten around to replacing the floor yet), and I secretly love it. Dishes don't break, it's easy to stand on for relatively long periods, and it is easy to keep looking clean, because it's got a subtle white/gray/beige pattern.

I've looked into replacing it, and a friend highly recommended sheet vinyl. So maybe check that out?
posted by instamatic at 6:03 PM on August 3, 2016

Real linoleum (not vinyl) is the bomb. Soft, solid core (so a nick won't show), things don't break, cleans beautifully. Mine was often mistaken for slate.
posted by cyndigo at 6:35 PM on August 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

Oh and one more thing re Core-tec: all that "wood" texture also makes it much less slippery than tile or stone when wet, which is a big safety plus.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:35 PM on August 3, 2016

One author writes: "no vinyl, and that's final."
posted by salvia at 8:37 PM on August 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

We had ceramic tile in the kitchen and bathroom of our previous house, and have composite stone tile in the bathroom now. I agree with everyone about the fact that tile is cold, everything you drop breaks, and it's hard underfoot. I find the vinyl tiles in our kitchen now are much kinder to living generally, but if we were to redo the kitchen floors I would choose real linoleum.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:05 PM on August 3, 2016

I would also chose linoleum, at least for the kitchen/bath/laundry, if I could. Or cork! Cork floors are pretty and comfortable.
Our house has mostly hardwood floors and we love them. Previous owners put tile in the mudroom and bathrooms and it's nice because it's heated, but if the heat's not on, it's COLD. And hard. I wouldn't put it in my kitchen. It is nice and waterproof though. Previous owners also put some kind of composite plank in our kitchen...we don't love it because it's buckling a bit where we had a leak from the dishwasher, but otherwise it's comfortable. We just laid down sheet vinyl in our 3 season porch. It was kind of our last choice but also our only affordable option. It's fine but I wouldn't go with it if we didn't have to.
posted by john_snow at 8:04 AM on August 4, 2016

We have marmoleum in our kitchen--it's essentially high end linoleum. We've had it in two kitchens now and I love it. Gentle under your feet, easy to care for and some of the patterns available really hide the dirt. It's never cold underfoot and I hadn't thought about it until now but when we drop dishes on it they don't break. The caveats are: a) it can be kinda spendy and b) you'd want someone with lots of experience to install it.
posted by purple_bird at 9:22 AM on August 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

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