The Best (and Easiest) DIY Kitchen Floors

kitchen with beautiful wood floor

New kitchen floors can be one of the simplest ways to transform an ugly kitchen—and it can be fairly easy, too, with these DIY kitchen flooring ideas. Every one of these kitchen flooring options look great, but they do come with some important pros and cons.

Kitchen floors are notoriously prone to water spills and leaks, so do-it-yourselfers should think about whether they can clean up any spills quickly. If the answer is yes, then engineered wooden floors are an option. In a busy household, those beautiful wood floors may not be the best choice (though there are flooring options that resemble wood). Wood and laminate floors can warp and stain from sitting puddles.

Before ripping out those unsightly, old floors, there is some pre-project prep that guarantees a smooth floor install. Because kitchens are the sight of numerous water spills, the subflooring should be inspected to ensure that there are no soft spots or serious rotting. Any damage should be repaired, and subflooring should be level before kitchen flooring installation. If the subflooring is not level, tiles and planks can crack or warp.

In addition to prepping subfloors, new flooring should also be brought into the home before installation. Ideally, flooring should be in the home for 3-4 days before install. This simple step allows the kitchen floors to acclimate to the home’s humidity and temperature. The new kitchen floors can be kept in boxes or taken out. If flooring is not acclimated, the kitchen floors may buckle, cup, or shrink.

Some DIY flooring options also require an underlayment; it is important that homeowners ask local flooring professionals what underlayment is recommended by the flooring manufacturer. If the underlayment is not installed, the manufacturer may consider the warranty voided.

Many floors, especially wood, require an expansion gap. Even if floors are acclimated, kitchen flooring can expand during certain times of the year. When the flooring has nowhere to expand into (such as into an expansion gap), the flooring can buckle and need to be replaced. DIYers should always ask local flooring professionals about the recommended amount of expansion gap before installation.

Tile

Pros: Tile floors are durable and moisture-resistant, making them ideal bathroom and kitchen floors. Modern tile flooring is beautiful and comes in a variety of colors and styles; the variety of styles fit with almost any cabinets and décor. In homes with radiant in-floor heating, tiles are a natural conductor of heat.

Cons: Even when warm, tile floors are hard. If dishes or other items are dropped on the floor, they can break easily. Some stone tiles are softer, meaning they can be damaged and may need to be resealed periodically.

Installation Tips: DIYers should always order extra tiles in case a tile is damaged during installation. Before installation, the subfloor should be prepped and carefully cleaned. Most tiles require cement board, so DIYers should always find out the thickness recommended and review steps for cement board installation.

Vinyl Plank

Pros: Vinyl plank flooring, also known as luxury vinyl plank (LVP), is a water-resistant and fashionable flooring option for kitchens. Many LVP floors resemble wood without any of the concerns about standing water. Vinyl plank floors are easy-to-clean and install. LVP floors can be installed with an adhesive or as a floating floor (without adhesive). Many vinyl plank floors can be easily interlocked and pieced together.

Cons: LVP flooring can scratch and fade when installed in direct sunlight. A flooring professional can give more information about each vinyl plank product and specifications.

Installation Tips: When ordering LVP flooring, DIYers need to order extra planks for installation. The subfloor should be carefully prepped and leveled before laying down any vinyl planks.

Laminate

Pros: Laminate flooring resembles wood flooring so closely that it’s hard to tell the difference. This floor is ideal for busy households because it can handle heavy traffic from families and pets and is easy to clean. Because laminate floors can be installed as a floating floor, installation is easy and fairly straightforward.

Cons: These floors are susceptible to water damage (just like wood floors) from standing puddles and leaks. Laminate flooring is fairly hard, which may mean that DIYers have to buy a specific saw blade for installation. For homeowners who want the look of wood but have a tight budget, laminate floors are a fairly inexpensive DIY kitchen floor.

Installation Tips: Just like other DIY kitchen floors, installers should have extra boards on hand during installation. Subflooring under laminate flooring should be clear and level. Laminate flooring should be brought into the home well before the day of installation.

Solid Engineered Hardwood

Pros: Solid engineered hardwood floors add warmth to a kitchen and look stunning. Some engineered hardwood flooring can be sanded down and refinished (ask a flooring pro if the floor is thick enough for refinishing). These floors are fairly durable and easy-to-clean. Many engineered hardwood floors are manufactured to be installed as a floating floor with no adhesives or nails.

Cons: This wood flooring is prone to water damage from spills and leaks, so any water should be immediately cleaned up. Some soft wood floors can be scratched or gouged. Solid engineered hardwood floors are typically the most expensive DIY kitchen flooring option.

Installation Tips: Solid engineered wood floors should always be installed with an expansion gap because they typically expand and shrink as the weather changes. Extra boards should be ordered for a smooth and easy installation. Many engineered wood flooring products require an underlayment.

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