Designers Share Their Top Choices for Kitchen Floors

by Bryan Anthony

When it comes to selecting a material for the floors of their latest kitchen projects, these designers tell us it’s hard to beat the look and timeless quality of wood and wood-look vinyl. However, for those projects where tile is a must, a durable porcelain is hands down their favorite material for the job. And when it comes to laying down a kitchen floor, these pros suggest a herringbone pattern as a stylish way to go.

1. White Oak

Designer Joe Human of Designs by Human tells us that wood is the top material choice for kitchen floors. “Our most popular choice in recent years for kitchens is actually not tile but real wood. In most cases wood is very durable if you select the right type and finish,” Human says. “It looks timeless and is able to merge many styles and aesthetics.”

When it comes to selecting wood, Human says many of his clients are drawn to white oak. “You can get white oak with more knots for a little more industrial look or with less grain for a cleaner, modern look,” the designer says. Human recently used white oak planks for the kitchen floor in this Manhattan penthouse.

Architect Karen Smuland says she typically doesn’t use tile in a kitchen project because the hard surface isn’t ideal for standing on for long periods. “Wood is highly preferred and I recommended it for this reason,” she says.

Smuland used a wide-plank rift-cut white oak for the floor in this kitchen in Bend, Oregon. “Durability is key for every client,” she says. “White oak is hard, barely scratches and it looks great in modern and traditional styles.”

2. Wood-Look Vinyl

A popular alternative to wood that many designers on our panel recommend is wood-look vinyl flooring. “It’s softer on the foot than hardwood or engineered wood and it’s incredibly durable,” designer Barbara Milner of South Hill Interiors says. “It also has acoustic qualities that make it suitable for apartments.”

Milner covered the floor in this Toronto kitchen with a gray wood-look vinyl that she continued throughout the rest of the apartment. “The vinyl flooring is used throughout this studio apartment to avoid breaks in the flooring that would make the space feel smaller,” she says.

James T. Norman of Kitchen Magic is also on the wood-look flooring bandwagon. “It’s gaining traction due to its durability and innovative color options,” he says. “Expect to see this floor style become huge in 2020.”

The design team used gray wood-look planks for the floor in this Connecticut kitchen. They went with gray to provide a nice contrast to the white Shaker-style cabinets.

3. Herringbone Pattern

Whether it’s wood or wood-look vinyl, many of the designers we spoke to said that laying the material in a herringbone pattern is a stylish way to go. Frankie Castro of Square Footage says that “herringbone floors provide a classic look that began in the 16th century.”

Castro’s design team laid white oak planks in a herringbone pattern in this Toronto kitchen. “The resurgence of this luxury flooring pattern will stand the test of time,” Castro says.

Designer Kate Roos of Kate Roos Design used a whitewashed wood-look tile for the floor in this Minneapolis kitchen and laid it in a herringbone pattern. “A lot of my work is in older, turn-of-the-century homes and the wood-look planks laid in a herringbone pattern ties in nicely with the flooring in the rest of the home, which is almost always hardwood,” she says.

4. Porcelain

While wood and wood-look vinyl were the top choices among our designers, when tile was being used for a kitchen floor, porcelain was the leader of the pack. Designer Jena Bula of Delphinium Design covered the floor in this New York kitchen with a stone-look porcelain tile. “Porcelain tile is durable and it doesn’t chip easily,” she says

Designer Lori Brazier of House of Brazier is also a fan of porcelain. “It’s durable and comes in a variety of styles that can be used for almost any design and space,” she says.

Brazier used a hexagon porcelain stoneware tile for the floor in this recent Sacramento, California, kitchen project. “We used the tile to provide a distinct aesthetic that worked well in this remodeled Spanish casa,” the designer says.