Choosing A Durable Wood Floor For A Kitchen


I am in the process of remodeling a kitchen. The kitchen is 120 square feet built in 1941 with a 3/4″ fir floor. I don’t believe the fir has ever been exposed as there is a layer of tar paper on top of the fir from which I took off many layers of linoleum etc. Can I have this fir floor refinished and will it come out ok? Or should I have a new floor installed and if so should I buy a 3/4″ or an engineered floor with a 1/8″ wood veneer? I am leaning towards maple as my wood of choice.

Thanks, Steve


Dear Steve

I really don’t recommend any type of wood floor in a kitchen. The water spills, excess moisture, and hard wear and tear makes this a really bad place for a hardwood floor. Water molecules are like little octopi they will slither past the tightest seam, with the best finish, swell the wood, lift the finish, and turn the wood grey in time.

Now that I have read you the riot act, I have installed dozens of kitchen floors, and all are in various states of deterioration depending on the care people take with them. Please read my article available in the search box at the top of this web page about wood floor maintenance. It should say it all, about new floor finishes.

But in your case I wouldn’t bother with the tar covered fir floor. The tar could be asbestos cut back adhesive, and would be a great and deadly health hazard to remove, or sand off.

And as to a new floor, stay away from prefinished floors. They are so full of exposed seams. They will age very badly in a kitchen. These floors will get gunk caught in the edges, and they will never clean as well as a site finished floor.

But maple is a good choice, but please use one of the recommended finishing systems suggested in the floor maintenance article. The engineered floor is the very worst choice you can make for such an area. Don’t believe the manufacturer’s claims about being able to sand and finish these floors several times. In the real world when prefinished floors are sanded for the first time, they need the beveled edges removed and the floor needs flattening for the first time. A slight hump in the floor, and even the professional floor mechanic can sand through a 1/8″ veneer layer. I know I’ve done it.

Use a solid wood, select or clear grade of maple in 3/4″ by 2 1/4″ size. The narrow boards NAILED tightly will make tighter seams than wider boards.

Don’t use floor staples!!!!!