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Kitchen Flooring Choices – A Walk on the Wild Side

Kitchen Flooring Choices - Going beyond exotic names

Kitchen Flooring Choices | Hardwood Floors in Kitchen

Pecan, Cherry, Gum, Hackberry … they sound exotic enough to eat. But this delicious ‘menu’ is actually a fresh sheet for the North American hardwood kitchen flooring choices appearing in homes across the continent.

The North American hardwood market is growing and expanding, with many builders and renovators seeing hardwood floors replacing carpeting in many areas of the home.

Designers at Kitchen Solvers are happy to help clients who have questions about weight, strength, and durability of hardwood flooring in kitchens.

And, as part of an ongoing series on kitchen flooring choices, here are a few of the most common questions our kitchen design and remodeling experts receive …

A walk on the Wild Side

Should you pick an exotic wood? Exotic woods have never been easier to find and their newfound popularity in homes – including kitchens – is a welcome change from the predictable standards of oak, fir, and maple.

Some imported exotics can work well in high-traffic areas such as kitchens. But don’t forget there are hundreds of North American hardwood varieties that are just as diverse and durable as exotics. The hardest commercially available hardwood is North American hickory, which is five times harder than aspen, one of the “soft” hardwoods.

The American Hardwood Information Center warns that the hardness of woods varies widely: “…Certain hardwood species are not recommended for kitchen flooring choices because they are not hard enough to withstand heavy wear and tear.”

The center’s website offers a comparison of American hardwoods, softwoods, and “often-misused” tropical hardwoods and their appropriate flooring applications.

When in doubt about the type of wood to select for your cabinetry, kitchen flooring, or millwork project, the center suggests becoming familiar with the Janka Rating System, which measures the relative hardness of woods. A Kitchen Solvers expert can help decipher the many options as well.

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

Be aware of fake hardwoods – “exotics” with names like Chilean Oak and Rose River Gum may actually be soft eucalyptus, pine, or rubber tree wood.

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but don’t be fooled,” warns The American Hardwood Information Center, which has the goal of promoting the use of American hardwood products.

“Certain tropical and temperate hardwoods, and even grasses not native to the United States, are masquerading as traditional homegrown favorites and being marketed with names that play on the rich heritage of domestic hardwoods like cherry, maple, and oak,” says the center.

Talk to your Kitchen Solvers design expert about all your available kitchen flooring choices.

The Bottom Line

Hardwood floors can range from $5.00 per square foot to $30.00 per square foot or more, depending on the species, finish, and installation techniques. Naturally, the better quality, more expensive hardwoods tend to be better investments.

Remember, your hardwood kitchen floor is a highly visible part of any renovation or construction, so ensuring you have a quality product (not all brands are equal) is important.

Did You Know?

Hardwood: A description applied to woods from deciduous broad-leafed trees (Angiosperms). The term has no reference to the actual hardness of the wood.

See Kitchen Remodeling – Your Opportunity to Go Green! for some new eco-friendly flooring options.

And be sure to research kitchen remodeling costs and their return on investment if you may be considering a remodeling project as part of your overall kitchen flooring decision.


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