Kitchen Flooring: Wood or Tile-Which is Better?

“Should I put wood or tile in my kitchen?” It’s a common question we hear, and for good reason. Both hardwood and tile look great in a kitchen. Wood floors add a warm, natural look. Tile floors add interest and uniqueness to the heart of your home.

When choosing between wood and tile for a kitchen, it’s the practical details that make wood or tile the right floor for a kitchen. (And the answer may be different for every homeowner!)

Wood vs. Tile in a Kitchen


Wood Tile
Durabilityin High-Traffic Rooms Yes-some wood floors may scratch Yes-tile floors are harder underfoot
Moisture-Resistant No-though there are wood floors that tend to be better suited for high-moisture kitchens Yes
Pet-Friendly Yes and no-softer wood floors may scratch under pet nails Yes
Easy-to-clean Yes (but don’t leave puddles!) Yes and no-tiles are easy-to-care-for, but grout can be hard to clean
DIY Installation Yes and no-engineered wood and laminate is easy to install Yes
Value Yes-most wood floors add value to a home (except for laminate flooring) No
Longevity Yes-wood floors can be sanded down repeatedly (not all laminate and engineered wood can) Yes and no-tile floors can last many years but need to be replaced
Cost Yes and no-wood is typically more expensive, though laminate is incredibly budget-friendly Yes and no-some tile products are as expensive as wood flooring

Durability

Both wood and tile floors are durable enough to be installed in high-traffic kitchens. Tile floors tend to be more durable than wood; wood floors are softer underfoot, leaving them susceptible to scratching. This is especially visible when a path that family members and pets use starts to show wear.

The softness of wood does feel much better underfoot (especially when standing in the kitchen for a long period of time) when compared to tile. Tile floors are harder floors which is why dishes break when dropped. This flooring can also feel incredibly cold under bare feet, but that chill can be alleviated by installing radiant flooring under the tile.

Moisture-Resistance

The ability of tile floors to handle water in kitchens without damage is what sets this floor apart. Wood floors can be damaged by puddles, which may or may not be a concern for homeowners. (Any snow or ice tracked in should also be cleaned up promptly). If the homeowner dries up puddles promptly, the risk of water damage is fairly low.

The risk of water damage to wood floors is higher than tile floors for leaks that aren’t immediately visible, such as when the refrigerator or dishwasher leaks. Most tile floors, especially when sealed, can handle the moisture of a kitchen and even standing puddles.

Pet-Friendly

Our pets are part of our family and home—especially if a pet begs or eats and drinks in the kitchen! For this reason, a pet-friendly floor is a top priority for pet owners. For the most part, both wood and tile floors can handle the traffic of a pet (or even multiple pets).

Wood floors, especially softer woods, can be scratched by pet nails. This damage can be hidden by purchasing a textured floor that doesn’t show scratches as easily. Lighter wood and tile floors are also a good match for kitchens with pets, because they can hide the fur that tends to fall from dogs and cats.

If pet accident clean-up is a regular occurrence, pet owners should evaluate the risk of damage to wood flooring. When pet accidents are left on wood floors, the floors can warp and stain from pet urine and standing moisture.

Easy-to-Clean

Both wood and tile floors are fairly easy-to-clean and only require a regular sweep or vacuum. A regular sweep or vacuum removes debris and lowers the chance of scratching. For deep cleaning, wood and tile floors should be mopped with a manufacturer-approved cleaner.

Because wood floors are susceptible to damage from moisture, wood floors should never be cleaned with a steam cleaner. Steam cleaning wood floors can void the warranty and damage the floors. Being careful about standing water also applies to occasional wood floor mopping; wood floors should be dry after mopping with no standing water.

Tile floors can be more difficult to clean than wood floors, because grout is usually harder to scrub. Unfortunately, dirt tends to build up in tile grout.

DIY Installation

Do-it-yourselfers appreciate how easy it is to install tile flooring (and these tile installation directions spell it out). Diagonal tile patterns can be more complicated (i.e. herringbone, diagonal, etc.) and does require some research.

Solid wood flooring is not as easy to install, though laminate flooring and engineered wood is fairly easy to cut and piece together. When installing laminate and engineered wood floors, DIYers should bring in the flooring to acclimate before installation and also leave an expansion gap around the edge of the flooring. (These tips also ensure a smooth engineered wood install.)

Value and Longevity

Tile and hardwood flooring are a long-term investment (if care for), though wood floors tend to last longer. Solid wood flooring and some engineered wood floors can be sanded down and refinished periodically over the life of the floor.

Because of its universal appeal and longevity, solid wood floors (not laminate flooring) in a kitchen can add value to a home. Tile flooring does not come with this benefit and should be replaced when there is a lot of wear and tear.

Cost

Typically, tile floors are a cheaper kitchen flooring option—but not always. Some tile floors are more expensive, making them just as expensive as some wood products (a more complicated tile installation can also make the cost similar). For an exact cost, homeowners should visit local flooring pros and get a free quote (for the product and installation or just for the product for a DIY installation). If wood flooring is a top kitchen flooring choice, ask the flooring pros for wood floors that are moisture-resistant and can handle any occasional water spills or leaks in a kitchen.

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