7 Best Wood Flooring Options for Kitchens
The kitchen is the heart of the home, and likely one of the rooms you spend the most time in. As one of the most used areas in your house, finding the right hardwood floors that can withstand all that foot traffic while still maintaining their beauty is essential.
Regarded as one of the most desirable and upscale types of flooring, hardwood kitchen flooring can have a high impact on the design and feel of your home — and not to mention the added resale value they offer.
When you’re deciding on which hardwood floors are right for your kitchen, it can be overwhelming sorting through the wide variety of wood types, finishes and styles you have to choose from. To help narrow down your options, here are the top considerations to keep in mind when deciding on your hardwood floors.
Considerations for Choosing Hardwood Kitchen Floors
Before you think about styles, colors and finishes, first consider the two main types of hardwood — solid hardwood and engineered hardwood. The type of hardwood you choose will impact factors such as installation, cost and upkeep, so keep your lifestyle considerations in mind when comparing options.
Types of Hardwood Floors: Engineered vs. Solid Wood
Solid unfinished hardwood planks are one of the best options for hardwood kitchen floors because they can be sanded and refinished repeatedly over time. If you opt for unfinished planks, however, you’ll need to include the staining and finishing process into your installation plans.
Pre-finished solid hardwood planks are an attractive option if you want to reduce the amount of work required for installation. Widely available at most manufacturers, these planks come already sanded, sealed, stained and finished.
If you want the look of natural wood floors but need something more durable, engineered wood planks are a good choice. Engineered wood is more moisture-resistant compared to solid wood, and can withstand fluctuating humidity and frequent spills. Thanks to its plywood core, it also offers more stability —which is ideal if you have an uneven subfloor.
There are a variety of factors that go into choosing a hardwood floor — from the tree species to various stains, finishes and textures. Different wood species are better suited for different households, each with varying price points, and different stains and finishes will dramatically impact the overall appearance of your kitchen floors.
There are over 20 different species of domestic hardwood flooring, each with their own unique qualities, strengths and weaknesses. Keep in mind that the wood species you choose will mainly impact the cost and durability of your floors, while stains, textures and finishes will mainly determine the style and appearance of your floors — although the wood species you choose will still impact all of these factors to a degree.
When choosing a hardwood species in terms of durability, think again about your lifestyle and how much stress your floors will undergo. If you have kids or pets or you often host gatherings at your home, choose a hard species that can handle frequent traffic and activity — hickory, oak and maple are some of the most durable.
If your priority is the color and staining ability of the wood you choose, you might consider a softer species like pine, ash or birch, which tend to be lighter in color. A softer wood is better suited for homes with less activity, since they’re more prone to damage than a harder species.
The color of wood you choose will influence the overall look and feel of your kitchen, so start by identifying a color range that speaks to your preferred interior style.
Lighter species like oak and maple can brighten up your space and make small rooms appear larger, and also work well with more modern interior styles. If you prefer a more classic look, dark-colored woods like cherry and walnut offer a style that leans more traditional.
Your flooring finish is important for preserving the beauty of your floors, and can also enhance the overall color and appearance of the floors you choose — the same wood species can look completely different depending on its finish. Most finishes range between glossy, matte and satin.
Homeowners today have moved away from the once-popular high-gloss finish and are instead turning to more natural-looking matte finishes. For a clean and contemporary kitchen style, a matte finish is your best choice. If you prefer some shine on your floors, a satin finish is more subtle than high-gloss options while still adding dimension to your space.
Once you select a color and finish, you should think about the preferred texture of your hardwood floors. The texture you choose will also help enhance the overall look of your floors. There are four main types of texture: smooth, wire-brushed, hand-scraped and distressed.
A smooth wood texture is ideal for modern-contemporary interiors, and is one of the most widely used textures in homes. For something more subtle, wire-brushed textures add fine scratches in the wood to give floors a natural, lived-in look. To add more character to your floors, choose a hand-scraped or distressed texture for more prominent knots, scrapes and ridges.
Best Wood Flooring Options for Kitchens: 7 Ideas
The best wood flooring for the kitchen is unique to the needs of your home and the interior style you want to create. While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to choosing the right floors, there are a few tried-and-true options that function well in the kitchen and suit a variety of styles.
Whitewash White Oak Wood Flooring
For a coastal-contemporary interior theme, go for white oak wooden floors with a whitewashed stain. The light-colored tones help reflect natural light across the room, which lends a bright and airy feel to your kitchen and highlights the wood grain in an organic, understated way.
Amber White Oak Wood Flooring
If you want the durability of white oak wood but your style leans more traditional, a warm-toned amber stain could be what you’re looking for. Often used to recreate the original flooring of historic homes, this classic hardwood floor style can complement colonial architecture and also makes a great backdrop for neutral home decor.
Brown-Toned White Oak Wood Flooring
For lovers of farmhouse-style interiors, white oak wood floors in a brown-toned stain can offer a beautifully aged appearance that adds warmth and authentic charm to your kitchen. For a more laid-back style, opt for a distressed texture with features like knotting. Aside from its classic beauty, the pronounced grain pattern of oak is great for hiding scratches and general wear and tear.
Dark Hickory Wood Flooring
Hickory is a go-to choice for wood flooring in the kitchen thanks to its superior hardness and shock resistance. This highly durable wood species is perfect for active families and busy households where high foot traffic is a given, especially in a busy area like the kitchen.
For a contemporary style with subtle elegance, choose a gingerbread stain that allows the wood’s natural variation to come through. This stain is perfect if you want your hardwood floors to have some character without looking too rustic.
Hand-Scraped Maple Wood Flooring
If durability is your priority, maple is a long-wearing wood species that works well in high-traffic areas such as the kitchen. While maple is generally lighter in color, it absorbs staining well and can be stained in darker colors if preferred. A hand-scraped texture adds dimension and character to your floors, and maple wood flooring is versatile enough to work with a variety of interior styles.
Distressed Pine Wood Flooring
If you want to create a lived-in, rustic look, distressed pine wood flooring is a popular choice. While it’s a softer wood species than something like oak, pine fibers compress over time and yield increased hardness and density. The inconsistency of the distressed texture is the perfect way to add charm and character to your kitchen floors.
Ash Driftwood Wood Flooring
Ash wood flooring is an excellent choice if durability is top of mind. This wood species is commonly used in the construction of baseball bats, which speaks to its superior resistance to impact and dents. Aside from being highly functional, it’s also quite versatile when it comes to styles and finishes and works well with virtually any type of stain. Choosing a driftwood stain can give your kitchen a modern feel with a prominent grain that adds depth and character.
Does Hardwood Flooring Belong in the Kitchen?
While hardwood flooring in the kitchen was frowned upon in decades past, it’s made great strides over the years as flooring technology has advanced. Today, they’re an increasingly popular choice for kitchen floors not only for their natural beauty but also for their functionality.
While hardwood floors are known to be more high-maintenance than other flooring types, they’re still widely sought-after as a kitchen flooring of choice. With proper treatment and care, hardwood floors can last a lifetime — and they can be refinished or restained if you want to freshen them up after a while.
Consider Your Lifestyle
Since kitchens fall into a semi-moist category when it comes to moisture-prone areas, it’s certainly possible to make hardwood flooring work in the kitchen — it just depends on the nature of your home and lifestyle. When deciding on which hardwood kitchen flooring is right for you, consider your home’s layout and your family’s everyday habits.
Do you have a busy household with pets and children where spills and messes are common? If so, consider your capacity for staying on top of frequent upkeep and maintenance, which will be necessary to keep the floors in good condition.
Hardwood flooring is a beautiful and long-lasting choice that looks great in the kitchen, and choosing the best wood floors is ultimately a matter of function and personal taste. For more in-depth resources on how to choose the right flooring that suits your unique needs, our flooring experts are available to answer any questions you have and offer personalized recommendations.