Once upon a time, linoleum was used in kitchens up and dovvn the land, but it has since been superseded by a variety of other, harderer – wearing materials. Cheap Iinoleum is still available in tavvdry designs, but although it does not show the dirt in this form and is easily washed clean, its wearing properties are bad. lt can only be considered as a makeshift and temporary surface.
Heavy-duty linoleum is another matter for kitchens. Best laid by an expert, it is generally available only via contractors and not at the DIY shop (though manufacturers have recently been trying to rectify this constriction). lt must be set on a smooth, nail-free surface and then will provide a soft, quiet, hardwearing floor. lt is principally available in plain or flecked colours, the former showing dirt and scuff marks more than the latter, and can be simply washed clean.
Housework addicts should resist polishing it if they want to avoid nasty accidents. This is an underused and underrated material that could easily make a comeback in kitchens if manufacturers were to come up with some dramatic colours. Vinyl lt is vinyl which has superseded Iinoleum to a large extent, in both sheet and tile form. Sheet vinyl is easy to lay, though again the under-sheet vinyl, and in addition, can be individually replaced in the event of damage. Also, it is possible to make patterns, including chequered effects, plain-coloured borders and so on.
This flooring was originally intended for industrial use because of its excellent wearing properties. But these are no less appropriate inthe home and since it is also quiet and soft to walk on, waterproof, non-sIip and reasonably easy to wash clean, several manufacturers are now making a Iighter-duty version, sized 600 x 600 mm (2 x 2 ft), in excellent plain colours which look superb inthe kitchen setting. High tech kitchens are nearly always floored in rubber. lt should be laid by an expert and must go on smooth, clean, dry underfloors. Concrete screed is fine but a wooden sub-floor would probably need to be overlaid with ply or hardboard.
Cork tiles look and feel warm, they are quiet to walk on, come in several pleasant shades of brown and can be laid on any floor surface provided it is dry, clean and smooth. They do not show the dirt, are easily washed clean and are reasonably non-sIip. But they are not waterproof and are best sealed with polyurethane lacquer which will remedy this deficiency up to a point (though not in the event of flooding from a defective dishwasher, for instance). A better option are cork tiles with a vinyl skin surface. Only a fraction of the cork�s natural beauty is lost, but the tile is instantly much tougher in wear, never seems to look dirty and is swiftly cleaned by wiping with a damp cloth. More expensive than, for instance, vinyl, this kitchen flooringis one of the best looking and most practical available.
These, in their various forms, look very beautiful in the kitchen. They are hardwearing, but they are also hard on the feet and noisy, and they are most suitably laid on a solid concrete sub-fIoor. Consult a manufacturer before laying them on a suspended wooden floor. Sometimes it is possible, but in this case a relatively inert material like blockboard must be put down first and a specially strong adhesive used. Ceramic tiles come in two main types: Quarries which are beloved by followers of the farmhouse kitchen style. They are available in various natural colours from pale cream to deep brown and look their best when polished, though some people prefer just to seal and wash them. A word of warning. From personal experience, I can tell you it is virtually impossible to seal the pale cream ones against the ravages of oil and grease. The stains made seep through the seal and are permanent thereafter. They can be treated with linseed oil but obviouslythis darkens them considerably and the whole point of the lovely cream colour is lost.
Glazed ceramic tiles are perfect in several respects: lovely colours, some beautiful designs (particularly the italian ones), absolutely impervious to stains from grease or any other thing likely to be used in the kitchen, waterproof and easy to wash over. But they are expensive, noisy and some people find them hard on the feet. Consider your priorities.
This is another splendid material for kitchen flooring which is not so noisy as ceramics, and can be laid in several handsome patterns such as herringbone and basket weave (by an expert) as well as good natural colours. The bricks must be laid on a concrete sub-floor, though. They are rather hard to walk on and expensive, but can be sealed and washed or polished.
This is expensive, hard and cold and must be laid on a concrete sub-floor. But, conversely, it lasts a lifetime and looks beautiful. lt does show the dirt though (fluff and breadcrumbs, if it is dark, mud and shoe scuffs if it is pale) and stains easily. But everyday dirt is easily washed away.
This is similar in most characteristics to marble, and is best for kitchen use with a non-slip riven surface.