Many homeowners have questions about whether hardwood floors are the right product for their kitchen. They love the look and feel of a professionally installed hardwood floor. However, the unique conditions in the average kitchen leave them wondering whether solid wood floors are too susceptible to water damage.

Others worry about wood floors buckling, either from unforeseen accidents or over time. Questions like these can leave homeowners hesitating to buy new solid wood floors or schedule hardwood refinish projects. After all, why invest in something that you may soon have to replace?

Luckily, modern hardwood floors are designed to be durable. Even older floors can be tremendously strengthened through a professional hardwood refinish. Hardwood floors can be a great choice for kitchen floors that deal with marginal moisture from day today.

Your decision is going to depend on the traits of your home and family. But there are a number of factors you should consider when thinking about hardwood flooring in your kitchen.

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Can Hardwood Floors Withstand Kitchens?

While many people think that kitchen floors are prone to water damage, they actually tend to do fairly well. Basements and bathrooms are far more likely to be severely water damaged than kitchens. Kitchens typically deal with things like spilled drinking glasses or pots boiling over on the stove. These types of spills generally do little or even nothing to hardwood floors, especially if cleaned up immediately.

Bigger issues, such as broken water lines, refrigerator or sink leaks, and dishwasher connections, can be serious problems for floors of any kind. Professionally installed, quality hardwood floors stand up to buckling because they are sealed with a moisture-proof finish. Wood floor buckling and other water damage can be prevented as long as planks are installed tightly and properly sealed.

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Deciding on a Hardwood Kitchen Floor

Homeowners who opt for hardwood kitchen floors have two options: prefinished and unfinished flooring. If you choose unfinished hardwood, you can always finish it on-site once it is installed. However, until unfinished wood is sealed, its surface is raw and entirely exposed to moisture. Once the floor is installed, you can stain and seal it. This gives unfinished or “site-finished” wood floors a single thin layer of moisture protection.

Prefinished floors are made of individually stained and sealed planks connected by the same tongue-and-groove method. Unlike site-finished flooring, prefinished floors have no uniform sealant layer across the seams between planks.

Additional Considerations

Before installing a hardwood floor in your kitchen, consider a few variables. A number of factors can affect a solid wood floor’s life span. Weighing these considerations beforehand can help you decide if a solid wood floor is the right investment for your kitchen:

  • How much traffic does your kitchen get? The more often people are in your kitchen, the faster you will see wear and tear on your floor. Normal wear and tear can usually be sanded or buffed out of solid wood, but constant heavier traffic can cause damage.
  • Are you OK with floors showing some “character”? Wood floors can get dents and dings. If you drop or knock something over, it may become a small but permanent reminder!
  • Will sun-bleaching bother you? Wood floors can become sun-bleached over time. This can become noticeable if you move rugs or furniture. Spots that receive the most sun can be most noticeable.

The Hardwood Look for Less

You do have another option if you are not set on a truly solid hardwood floor. You can also consider engineered hardwood flooring. Engineered hardwood is stable plywood that is designed to mimic the look and feel of true hardwood. Engineered hardwood floors are even better at combating moisture than hardwood as long as moisture does not pierce the surface. In some cases, engineered floors outlast solid wood.

Engineered hardwood tends to be less expensive to install. They are also easier to maintain than solid wood flooring. This allows you all the benefits of solid wood flooring with lower costs and easier maintenance. While hardwood floors that are well maintained will usually outlast engineered hardwood, the difference in expense is enough to convince many homeowners.

For many people, engineered hardwood floors are close enough to the real thing that they feel the investment is worthwhile. No matter which type of professional wood floor you choose, you are getting a quality product. With proper care, your new hardwood floor is a wonderful investment that will last you a lifetime.