C.S. asks from Minneapolis, MN on August 27, 2009
Hard Wood Floor or Slate in Kitchen?
We are about to embark on a kitchen remodel and I am trying to decide on flooring. Our house is 1917 home in South Minneapolis with beautiful original woodwork and built-ins. The main floor has oak hardwood floors throughout. The kitchen right now is a bad 80's remodel that is completely out of character with the house and has terrible white tile that is impossible to keep clean. My husband does all of the cooking and is a messy cook so I want a floor that doesn't show everything. Our contractor is a proponent of hardwood matching the rest of the main floor and our kitchen designer is a proponent of tile. Our cabinets will be darker stained wood (quarter sawn oak to match our built-in in our dining room) so our designer thinks all of the wood is going to get too heavy. I've seen our contractor's kitchen in his house and he has wood cabinets/wood floor and it looks nice, however his trim work in his house is all white and ours is stained so maybe that keeps it lighter. If I go with tile, I am drawn to slate and was thinking the multi-color and organic qualities of it would be good dirt hiding features. But slate is bumpy and there's also grout lines, so I'm wondering if it's hard to sweep and keep clean-looking. I don't want to trade one frustrating tile for another. I had maple flooring in my previous house and I did like that (it did wear though by the sink, but I never used a rug so could have prevented it) and I'm assuming maple is probably what was original to our current kitchen. What do you think is the best option??? Surprisingly, hardwood will be less expensive.
C.L. answers from Minneapolis on August 28, 2009
I think slate is too hard for the kitchen--it's hard on your knees and feet if you are standing to cook, wash dishes, etc. It's probably cold in the winter too. It's also less forgiving if you drop a dish or something breakable. I also wonder if it's slippery when wet. I went through this two years ago and ended up with a wood laminate for the kitchen. That probably wouldn't work for you since you already have a lot of hard wood in the house. I have mixed feelings about the laminate, but for the most part it's worked for us. If you went with a lighter wood like a maple it would keep things light as you mentioned. Good luck with the remodel.
J.L. answers from Minneapolis on August 28, 2009
I'd go about deciding using the following criteria in this order; 1. easily cleaned and maintained, 2. comfort, 3.esthetics.
1. Slate and natural stones are hard to keep clean, and do stain easily. We found that using a steam mop was the best way to maintain the floor, but we still battle dirt in the natural crevices, not so much the grout. Cleaners make it look dull.
If you do choose slate, tile or stone, I'd try to keep smoother tile for the kitchen, unless you can find a good mock-slate tile that cleans easily.
2. If you are in your kitchen alot, and love to cook, or socialize there, consider flooring with "give". Professional cooks, and restaurants invest big bucks in flooring that has "give" because tile, and sometimes wood floors can wreak havoc on your feet and knees. While there are lots of products out there such as special rugs and mats to combat this problem, nice environmentally conscious alternatives such as cork and bamboo flooring instead of traditional hardwoods/tiles can provide the best of both worlds.
3. If you're trying to up the value of your home, hardwoods are always a surefire way to go. Wood adds warmth and character. The best part, no matter what changes you make in the future to your decor, it will always match. Wood is a classic, whereas stuff like slate, and tile can be iffy. Some tiles are trendy as materials and color choices change in popularity and availability. Right now slate and natural stone is very popular, but it might be trendy depending on the house and overall decor. If your home is not newly built, but older, the stone will seem like a "trendy" update years from now, instead of just reflecting the style of architectural character and era of the home. If it's a 1930's bungalow, slate was not a regular feature of a house from that era, so it may look out of place down the road when popular taste and trends switch to chrome (ha-ha) or something we can't imagine today. Whereas a home built in 2009 would look just fine years down the road, because architecturally speaking, slate floors is a common design feature to homes built today. I guess what I'm saying is, will this floor still be "cool" or "classic" years from now, no matter what?
A.C. answers from Minneapolis on August 28, 2009
We put cork in our 1920s south Minneapoolis bungalow and love it. It's warm in the winter, soft on the knees/feet and washes up beautifully with water and vinegar. The rest of our house is hardwood and it fits in beautifully. The only drawback is that we choose a really dark brown which shows nicks/dings easily. (I just touch up those with a matching Sharpie.) The med. to light tones in theory would be better for this reason and also because the dark shows crumbs more. (Might just need to get a dog to take care of that.)
M.S. answers from Minneapolis on August 28, 2009
REtail wise, yes, hardwood can generally be cheaper. But, I was at BMO a few weeks ago and they had boxes and boxes of slates at what I remember to be 10x10 (?) and $5 (?) a sp ft. It's Builders Materials Outlet on Hwy 55, just north of the 149 junction, by the ULine warehouse. You can also google search them. Anyone can go in and buy, but it's a crapshoot, they may or may not have it or enough, but it can make a dent in the final price, even if you have to buy some at retail or through your contractor. Personally, I like mixed media and would go for the slate. Good luck!
K.T. answers from Minneapolis on August 27, 2009
I lived with my dad years ago and while I was there he remodeled much of the house, including having a slate floor done in the kitchen. Slate is absolutely beautiful and definitely makes it harder to see dirt, but you're right about it being hard to clean. If you sweep, it all gets caught in between the tiles, on the grout. So you have to sweep, and then go back over all of the grout and all of the edges. If some kind of liquid or something sticky spills on the floor, it is even worse because it travels along the grout lines and the grout is porous so there is no way to completely remove it. Even while doing dishes- if you get a little water on the floor, it sticks around on the grout and then you unknowingly walk over it and get wet spots on your feet or socks which then collect more dirt and you constantly have dirty socks [although you will have dirty socks with hardwood floors anyway]. Also, the slate is always cold. In the winter I hated going from the neutral hardwood floors to the ice cold slate. I suppose there are different kinds of slate tile, and different kinds of grout so maybe you would have a different experience- but I personally think you should go with wood. Slate would be great in an entryway where it doesn't matter so much if it is wet and/or dirty but it is just not very practical for the kitchen.
R.R. answers from Minneapolis on August 28, 2009
we redid our kitchen 2 years ago and had the same issue. we ended up going with marmoleum- after looking at slate, wood, cork, tile, etc. It's earth friendly, easy to clean (can't see seams), huge variety of colors to choose from and, easy of feet and hides spills/crumbs, etc quite well!!! with a 3 year old and infant- it's a great choice for us!!! couldn't be happier!
J.W. answers from Minneapolis on August 28, 2009
We had ceramic tile in our kitchen when I was growing up - and every time you drop a dish, it breaks. No second chances. (My parents now have slate in a different room, and like it very much, but don't ever bring glassware or mugs or anything in there - my dad is clumsy, and they'd just forever be sweeping up glass/crockery.) I would always choose a slightly softer flooring for a kitchen.
A. answers from Minneapolis on August 28, 2009
Of the two, I'd definitely go with wood. But have you looked at cork or marmoleum? Cork has a lot of resilience so it's easier for you to stand on. Marmoleum is natural lineoleum (that is, made with linseed oil and natural materials) and would be period-appropriate for your house.