Why wooden floors are a good option in the kitchen

Article 12 - kitchen

Wooden flooring is an ever-popular staple of Australian interior design. The warmth, elegance and practicality of timber floors are at the heart of living rooms, bedrooms, studies and dining rooms nationwide. But what about the kitchen—an area where the floor can be subjected to heavy treatment underfoot and spillages, not to mention moisture and humidity as a result of cooking?

Not only does wood provide a classically beautiful, or perhaps rustic, look and feel, there are also a number of more practical reasons why timber can work well as kitchen flooring. This marriage of aesthetics with functionality makes timber a highly attractive option when compared to tile or vinyl.

In most homes, the kitchen is the hub of everyday life: a place that goes beyond merely the preparation of food and becomes a space for socialising and entertaining. The flooring, therefore, matters, with solid timber leading the way for a number of reasons.

Convenience

As an organic material, solid timber floors do require a certain amount of care and maintenance to maximise their benefits. This is more than cancelled out, however, by the practical advantages of timber flooring in the kitchen.

Some people may fear that wooden kitchen floors will all too easily absorb liquid from spillages. However, this isn’t always the case: a hardwood that is well sealed will see fluids bead up and become easy to wipe off.

A hardwood floor is also generally softer than tile, meaning that should you accidentally drop breakable items, there is a chance they will survive the fall rather than shatter.

Finally, sealed timber floors are regarded as the best option for those who suffer from allergies, due to the fact they are easy to clean and maintain. Some tile surfaces—particularly those that are textured or porous—do not always offer this advantage.

Longevity and durability

When looked after well amid the moisture and humidity of a kitchen, flooring can last a lifetime. As far as robustness and resilience is concerned, there really is no comparison between timber and synthetic materials.

That said, the aforementioned softness can mean that dings, dents and scratches can impact the smoothness of a kitchen's timber floor. This is not necessarily a bad thing: sometimes these 'blemishes' can add to the rustic, homely, country feel of a much-loved kitchen. Better yet, depending on your surface texture, mild bumps can seamlessly blend into the natural contours and patterns of hardwood.

Sustainability

As timber is the only genuinely renewable building material around (thanks to new growth of replenishing trees that are felled for wood), solid timber flooring is the most ecologically responsible option.

Any wood that you choose for kitchen flooring should always be sustainably sourced and certified, as advocated by Planet Ark's Make It Wood campaign. Sustainably sourced, certified timber also plays its part in combatting climate change, in that approximately 50 per cent of wood's dry weight is carbon which is then stored for the life of the product; wood also has low embodied energy compared to other building materials.

Which wood?

A number of renowned Australian timber species are perfect as solid timber flooring in the kitchen. Beyond old favourites like tallowwood, brush box and wormy chestnut, the interweaving colours of wormy chestnut make for a beautiful finish, while for a lighter colour, Tasmanian oak and Victorian ash are good options. The regal spotted gum also provides a dashing appearance, thanks to its wide colour range and fetching grain patterns.

Blackbutt is another popular option, partly due to the fact it generally grows quickly in regeneration and is widely available as a result. You also might consider merbau and other imported species, always keeping in mind that responsible sourcing and certification are both essential in making an environmentally sound selection. In the end, this ensures you’re dealing with the best quality wood and validates the environmental credentials of your chosen flooring.

Photo Copyright: Willem Rethmeier