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hardwood floor in kitchen

ASimon's picture

I was looking for people's experience with hardwood floor in a kitchen.  You look at decorating magazines and many show HW floors.  I have heard from a neighbour that she would not put a HW floor in her kitchen 'cause of scratches from dropping things, water splashes penetrating the grooves in prefinished HW.  My wife wants it in our kitchen, but I am wary.  What pros and cons have you noted?

Al Simon.


(post #176273, reply #1 of 31)

In addition to posting here, you may want to try posting at Breaktime (three to the left of House Chat above). Something like Pergo may work for a kitchen floor--snaps together so stuff can't really get into grooves and it has a very hard finish. The thing I found about such floors is they really show dirt--and if you walk on it barefoot, you can feel the grit. Of course, same with most other hard surfaced floors, and with carpet, the dirt (and more) is there, but you just can see it or feel it!

(post #176273, reply #2 of 31)

Go for it- choose something hard like cherry T&G. DON'T USE BAMBOO- I've ripped out 2 already. If you go with a laminate, it will last forever but you'll feel plastic under your feet all the time. Use the real thing if you have the money. Use only hardwood cleaners like Bona- never vinegar/water, etc.  If you have a skylight or bright direct sun, watch out- UV changes hardwood coloring!

have fun,


(post #176273, reply #3 of 31)

I'm curious as to why you say not to use bamboo--I heard that it was hard and durable. (I did not pose the original question, just saw your reply and was interested in your reasoning.)

(post #176273, reply #4 of 31)

If you are 100% diligent and don't allow ANY standing water on the floor, you would be OK. But the last TWO bamboo floor installations were train wrecks. Clients were on vacation. The plumber didn't install the dishwasher properly. Maid turns it on and water floods the floor. It sits there for, oh, two or three days. The glues holding the bamboo together delaminate and the untreated ends soak up water like a sponge. Water's held in place by the underlayment. Mold has a grand picnic on the laminating glue. The whole thing's buckled and moldy. Have to pull it all up and replace it.

I'd use bamboo in kitchens and bathrooms with you never plan on leaving home and don't have kids.


(post #176273, reply #5 of 31)

Thanks for the reply--good to know about bamboo and water. Doesn't sound like a fun time!

(post #176273, reply #8 of 31)

On the other hand, our solid wood floor buckled up with water as well when the roof hadn't been done properly, and we were home to watch it happen. It didn't take a visible flood to cause damage, just moisture in the wall.

I don't think any wood product is going to handle 2-3 days of flooding well.

(post #176273, reply #9 of 31)

Good point. About the only place I've seen wood do well (reasonably well, all things considered) in water is on a boat--and there the wood is well protected!

(post #176273, reply #10 of 31)

Not just flooding, but humidity!  Please let me add, if your area is experiencing high humidity, run the a/c.  If you open the windows for any extended periord, it could be trouble.

Case in point, nextdoor neighbor had parquet.  The housesitter left and left the windows open.  When we checked, it was all peaked and looked totally ruined - you have no idea!  We closed the windows and set the a/c at a reasonable level.   I think it dried out and settled, but you never know.  I don't know if there was a replacement, nor if one would see this with plank, but NOT something I would consider with any wood floor.  There was NO flood, just exteremely high humidity in the room caused by open windows during a few days. 

I'd keep the a/c on and the windows closed if I were gone.  The small amount in a/c cost is nothing compared to a new floor and the hassles one has to get that done.  Shut the barn door...., but then I'm on the more conservative side - preventive.  On the paranoid side, I'd never leave windows open when gone on vacation.   However, if I were at home and opened the windows for a few hours, I would not be overly concerned about the humidity for the floor if minimal, like when you get home from work, but closed before bedtime.  In this case, I think it was days of open windows - very bad idea.

Regular high humidity can cause issue is the point of this message.  Hopefully, other's will not experience this issue, but FYI...keep the humidity regular, you'll be glad you did.

(post #176273, reply #11 of 31)

Humidity is definitely a problem with wood. When we installed floors in our basement we went with engineered wood because it is more dimensionally stable with moisture. In one room, that engineered wood was bamboo, and it is still doing great after 4 years, even though we run a humidifier in that room all winter.

(post #176273, reply #12 of 31)

I used an alloc laminate in this remodel, works well.

(post #176273, reply #6 of 31)

I chose laminate flooring for my kitchen and adjoining family room.  I've had it down for many years now and love it.  I have an oak look version and find that it doesn't show soiling like a light colored vinyl (or laminate) and the maintenance is easy.  The darker colors are probably better at hiding soil, until you get around to it.

If you were to go this route, note that manufacturers offer a product that looks the same at different price points.  You do get what you pay for, so I'd recommend choosing the highest grade your budget allows.

A good underlayment will help deaden the "hollow" sound many folks object to.  The bonus I've found is that it is good with dog traffic/toenails.  Hardwood might be less so.  Since we keep the house on the cold side, I can't speak to the grit feel someone mentioned.  I would think a dry Swiffer run over it fairly regularly would help that.

Please note that laminate would be subject to many of the same flood issues as a hardwood floor, but water drips (from the dog's face) is not a big deal.  When changing homeowners insurance a few years back, they were very inquisitive about the flooring in various rooms and a second floor washing machine.  My guess is they've paid out on flood damage enough to know it will cost more in the likely areas of household flooding.

Hardwood, being a natural product, will expand and contract with humidity more than other types of flooring.  If you were to go with hardwood, you might look at an acrylic impregnated product, like Hartco offers.  It has been used (and still may be) in Outback Steak Houses and Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  Some of the prefinished hardwood would be more difficult to restore if the finish is worn/damaged, but the technology is probably better now than when I spent 15 years in the flooring distribution business.  I was aware of the complaints/claims of different types of flooring, and the key is choosing the right floor for the room, considering the wear level realistically, and GREAT installation.  With hardwood, in particular, if the recommended expansion space is not observed, you will likely see buckling, cupping, etc., from the installation itself.

I had a choice of all flooring types at discounted employee pricing and have never regretted the laminate.  My neighbor, using hardwood, had less satisfactory results.  It's a matter of preference, tolerance, and expectations.  Consider too, the traffic the area receives.  If the kitchen is lightly used, wood could work great.  If it is high-traffic, dogs, kids, wild cooks, etc., the durability of laminate might be better.  That's my more than 2 cents worth.  Good luck on your new floor decision.  I hope you are pleased with your selection whatever it is!

(post #176273, reply #7 of 31)

We've had wide-plank solid red oak flooring in the kitchen for five years.  It has been fine EXCEPT:  our flooring is "character grade", meaning it has knots and gaps in it.  The installer filled the knots and holes with some kind of filler.  Last year our dishwasher overflowed and water sat on the floor all night.  The floor was fine, but the filler in the knots swelled so that you could feel them raised up in the floor.  The filler hasn't fallen out or anything, but it has changed the texture of the floor.

We have solid oak flooring (2" wide) in our mud room, regular grade, with no knots.  This room is heavily used, and snow is tracked in (and usually not mopped up) five months out of the year.  On recommendation from the "Knots" discussion group here, I asked the installers to finish the floor with something called Moisture Cure.  Evidently it is used on bowling alleys.  That floor is flawless after five years of mud and water and boots and general abuse.

(post #176273, reply #13 of 31)

We've had 1.5" red oak HW floor in our kitchen for 3 years and counting

It's got high traffic in/out door to the backyard and we slurp water on it from the kitchen sink, from dishes in/our of the dishwasher, from spills from kids getting water and ice from the fridge

There is no issue, whatsoever, on scratches and so far we have no issues with water or wear and tear

You can (and should) look forward to periodic renewal (once every 5 years? could wait longer too) having the floors sanded and refinished which will bring them all the way back to beautiful

I don't know that any wood floor or wood component floor has ever been engineered to cope with standing water that remains in place for days on end

I do know that for our 1947 era house, hardwood floors + simple white cabinets + ceramic tile counters was and is classic, durable, and a genuine good value in terms of price/performance

(post #176273, reply #14 of 31)

I have cherry in my kitchen, and like your wife, I was concerned about nicks and scratches and marks. But you know what? My cherry floor, with almost 7 years of nicks and scratches and marks is absolutely beautiful. If you pick something with warmth and character, the marks won't detract from it at all. I remember the first one - a can of tomatoes dropped in front of the pantry and I almost had a heart attack. But the thing with wood floors is that they look great anyways. If you like the look of wood, I'd say go for it.

(post #176273, reply #15 of 31)

Initially, I was not convinced that hardwood was a viable option for kitchen flooring - no matter what the design mags show.  Having viewed your experiences and the pros and cons, it sounds like it should not be a problem.  So now the issue with my SO(significant other) will be type of wood and colour.  As I was more concerned with practicality, she can choose.  Its to go into a open concept kitchen/greatroom/dining area.  Knowing her, this may take a while :-) 

Thanks for all the advice.     Al.

(post #176273, reply #16 of 31)

We rebuilt our kitchen about 3 years ago using wide oak boards and are very happy with it.  I really don't like any of the fake products out there for floors or countertops (chose granite).  When water spills, I just wipe it up.. I haven't had a lot of water left on the floor for a long time, so I don't know what would happen.

(post #176273, reply #17 of 31)

For 20+ years I had parquet flooring in kitchen and in part of a basement area plus Bruce flooring in hall & foyer with no problem.  I did have to be careful of spills, etc., using rugs at range & sink but I never felt the floors were truly clean down to the cracks.  And we even had a major kitchen sink leak which did not affect the parquet (must have been quality?)  So with recent new home, I chose to have contractor install (but not in kitchen/bath/laundry) white oak wood floors with a clear polyurethane finish which will be less penetrable to spills.  This wood selection was perfect though I anticipated floors would be too white - they are not - just a warm brown color.  A lighter floor shows fewer ####, etc. than one which is much darker, a mistake many friends have made by selecting the deep, beautiful dark colors & then realizing the darker the floor, the more dust one can see.

Though I just learned that I have been seeing too many beads of water when mopping so need to have a less damp mop & not to use vacuum beater brush to avoid damaging surface.  Need to utilize that Swiffter mop instead!

Note:  New home with tile flooring in the kitchen for ease in cleaning & love being able to swipe up a spill even though I know I will be wearing socks all winter long as will be much colder than my old woodfloor.

(post #176273, reply #18 of 31)

What is wrong with a few scratches?
The beauty of natural materials like hardwood for flooring is that they tend to take wear and tear in stride because the character is more than skin deep.
Even when real damage occurs (like a deep split that could trip someone)
you can chisel out a board, replace it, and it's good as new.
Try doing that with sheet vinyl!

(post #176273, reply #19 of 31)


We installed a hardwood floor in our new kitchen about 5 years ago, and I must say I wouldn't do it again. It does dent if you drop something heavy or pointy on it (like a knife), and we have several small gouges in it by now. We also have dogs and kids, and I'll admit that we're not the world's most fastidious housekeepers. All of that put together and most of the time the floor looks less than perfect. If the sun hits it just right, I can see lots of scratches, and the finish (we went with middle-gloss) just doesn't keep its shine without constant care. We do wipe up wet spills quickly, so we haven't seen water damage as a result of regular use, but our main drain from the HVAC backed up once, creating a minor flood, and we do have some separation of boards and a little bit of warping from that episode. 

All of that being said, some of the decision about this should depend on your family, lifestyle, and personal fastidiousness. We still love the look and feel of real wood when it's dry and clean :)

Hope that helps!

(post #176273, reply #20 of 31)

I have to second the thought that dings happen.  Wood flooring dings are not much different than wrinkles on our face or the physical scars we may carry.  Both are evidence of our living life and sometimes a good thing.  I suspect most folks with natural wear and tear will enjoy that aspect.  I somehow, wonder if the newer folks to wood floors see this aspect.  Patina, wear, etc., is part of our history and is important.  When you have something new, you want to keep it pristine.  Life is not pristine by any means.  I appreciate both view-points.

Our home has height lines of former children living here on the edge of a door.  I think that is a wonderful thing to have.  We are creating history everyday and someday, someone else will witness what happened before.  I think that adds character and charm!  Being interested in genealogy has created a greater respect for what we happen upon and causes me to wonder.  My house does not fit the category of an historical house, but the whole idea interesting to me none-the-less.

P.S.  I'm not fastidious either.  My guess is that fewer of us are less fastidious than we would like to be, but life happens and our housekeeping good wishes fall into place with the priorities at the time.  My dear M.I.L. (83) has recently learned that her regular weekly dusting day is not needed as there is nothing with dust. Don't I wish!!!  (But! in my house if you don't move anything, and keep the lights low, it is not too obvious....until I can get to it!)

(post #176273, reply #21 of 31)

Pros- looks good and easier on bare feet  Cons- dings, dents, and the risk of water damage. Our engineered wood floor has a few small dings mostly in the kitchen area despite the use of throw rugs. Still looks good- you have to look close to see the dings but if you had dogs/ kids I'd think twice about using wood in the kitchen.

"There can be no doubt that Socialism is inseparably interwoven with totalitarianism and the abject worship of the state…Socialism is in its essence an attack not only on British enterprise, but upon the right of ordinary men and women to breathe freely without having a harsh, clammy, clumsy tyrannical hand clasped across their mouth and nostrils"  -Winston Churchill 

pre-purchase evaluation by consumer (post #176273, reply #22 of 31)

We were considering wood for the kitchen floor, so we gathered a dozen samples and mistreated them.  We did not find any brand that survived our damp test (Put each sample in a separate baggie with a tablespoon of water and wait a week).  Unfortunately, they all changed shape, and some even delaminated and got moldy. 

I didn't test every brand.  Do you think there is a brand that would pass the test?

Fine HomeBuilding magazine explained this month why they test tools but not materials - it is hard to do as good a job as the manufacturer.   Maybe so, but there are some tests that are easy and worth sharing with the readers.

odd test. (post #176273, reply #23 of 31)

In a sealed bag, no chance for evaporation.  Would you expect your kitchen to be treated in such a manner?

Delaminated suggests you used an engineered wood in the test. 

Just curious why you used the method.

A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.

Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.


excellent testing! (post #176273, reply #24 of 31)

I took a scrap piece of hardwood and put it in my cement mixer with several shovelfuls of 3/4" stone. I let it run for 8 days straight.

The conclusion? The wood got chewed up quite a bit. I will not ever, ever, recommend any homeowner or contractor use any sort of hardwood strip flooring to line the interior walls of a cement mixer. Steel barrels are still best.

On the flip side, I've had wood flooring in my kitchen (stressful) over radiant floor heat (stressful) for the past 15 years. It still looks fine, and it's a heavily used kitchen. To add to the negativity, my wife steam cleans it with one of those goofy little bisell steam cleaning thingies a couple of times a week.

There are 10 kinds of people in this world; those who understand binary and those who do not.

Ahhh. (post #176273, reply #25 of 31)

Went to the smart aleck school of comparative responses I see.

I tried the diplomatic reparte'.

I think you got the point across easier than I.

A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.

Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.


thanks! (post #176273, reply #26 of 31)

Very seldom does anyone use the word "smart" when describing on one of my posts.


There are 10 kinds of people in this world; those who understand binary and those who do not.

Mongo my boy (post #176273, reply #27 of 31)

As we get up in years, there's always something................

A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.

Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.


Thanks for taking the time to (post #176273, reply #28 of 31)

Thanks for taking the time to reply.

Calvin -

1) You seem offended that I kept the flooring samples damp for a week.  I was simulating a worst case where water got under the wood flooring.  I bet it would still be wet after a week.  Water penetrates quickly but leaves slowly.  Furthermore I did say that I "mistreated" the samples.  After all most stress tests are accelerated.  I was not particularly proud of my test - it was a quick bounding exercise to see which types failed first.

2) This forum helps members learn from the bad experiences of others, usually after an installation.  My main point is that another way to learn is to conduct our own tests on materials before installation.  Also I was hoping the editors of FHB would revisit their decision to not test materials.

Mongo -

1)  Got a bad case of cognitive dissonance?  Don't worry - your floor will be fine.

epauc (post #176273, reply #29 of 31)

Your test would have been more "realistic" had you nailed off some flooring to some subfloor suspended over a mocked up joist system.

Then flood with water (on the surface only)

Now normal drying could take place and you'd be left with a test that might mimic real life.




A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.

Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.


As per my personal opinion, (post #176273, reply #30 of 31)

As per my personal opinion, hardwood floor in the kitchen is not a bad idea. I've had hardwood kitchen floors in my house and haven't had any problems. These are much more comfortable to stand on than tile.