The Impracticality of Hardwood Flooring

By Kate Riley April 10, 2019

My absolute hands down favorite flooring choice for a home is real wood, even more than engineered hardwood. I love the look and feel of real wood in a home, in family rooms, bedrooms, anywhere. Real wood has the warmest look and a softness underfoot that tile and vinyl can’t really compete with.

But today I’m sharing my tale of woe regarding my hardwood floors, specifically in my kitchen. My kitchen addition was eleven years ago and I at the time I chose more traditional style cabinetry. If I was doing it again now I’d go with a different cabinet style like Shaker and quartz countertops not marble but that’s not the point. The focus today is on the hardwood flooring, more specifically, it’s impracticality in kitchens.

Because I’m a lover of consistent flooring throughout downstairs community spaces, when we added this kitchen to the house eleven years ago I opted to continue the hardwood into the space for seamless flow. The truth is that over time we experienced water damage in this space on several occasions, first where that French door access has to the courtyard, next under the sink and dishwasher, and this month, under the icemaker.

I’m not alone in this experience, my parents chose hardwood for their new build fifteen years ago and when their icemaker leaked a huge section of the flooring had to be replaced at great expense. I’ve heard other stories of water damage from friends and clients too because hardwood flooring’s greatest foe is water.

Ever since I refinished my hardwood floors in a dark stain a year and a half ago I’ve been anxious about any water that spills on it, whether it’s from the dishwasher or the pet bowl or any moisture spill at all. Aaaaaand just last month, the icemaker started leaking and now look what’s happened to my beautiful floors… they’re buckling from moisture and I will need to have these boards replaced. This wood runs under under the cabinetry which means the cabinets and countertop next to the fridge have to be removed to adequately repair the floors. UGH.

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I have a client with a full house renovation right now and she also wanted hardwood in her home and for it to flow into the kitchen. When she asked what I thought I said to her “hell no!” Hardwood is great for foyers and living rooms and bedrooms and home offices or in any space where there’s little danger of water damage. However, hardwood is a terrible choice for kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, or basements and if you install it in those spaces, you’re asking for trouble.

Thankfully in these modern times we have really good alternatives that look just like wood!

I’m still in love with the wood look porcelain plank flooring in the Las Vegas fixer upper …

and I really love the look and feel of the luxury vinyl plank flooring in my upstairs studio rental (seen below).

So the two best and most practical choices for kitchen flooring are tile and waterproof luxury vinyl, and if you love the look of wood these days you can get it in those materials. (There is also the option of polished or honed cement flooring for those who like the modern or industrial look.)

But never ever ever again would I install hardwood floors in a kitchen. If you disagree tell me why! Do you have hardwood floors in your kitchen? Have you experienced water damage or have you been able to maintain them over time?

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87 comments

  1. I’ve lived in a lot of houses, and some have had hardwood in the kitchen. We have never had water damage though. I liked them, but I felt like they wore a lot because there are spills, splatters, and lots of traffic in confined spaces between the cabinets and island. I think my favorite kitchen flooring is tile even if it does break up the flow of an open space. But tile has its downsides too. Anything dropped on it will break, and the grout gets disgusting. Also, if it is real stone, it can stain. I’m not sure there is a perfect flooring for our hardworking kitchens. We currently have wood, but if we need new flooring for any reason, I’m going with tile.

    Sorry to hear about your floors. The do look so beautiful!

    • Thanks Sharon they look beautiful everywhere else in the house except that very visible spot!!

    • I have an oil finished hardwood floor in my house it was under 4″ of water and I shop back to it and it’s totally 100% fine I’ve done clients homes with engineered hardwood in their bathrooms For years no big deal if something gets wet you cut the tongue off the floor glue the boards back in and most of your quality engineered flooring has the same layer wear of a solid floor anf you can get them up to 16″ wide most custmers these days dont want the 1960″ look

  2. 100% agree with you! We moved into our current home 10 months ago and we’ve had to make repairs on the hardwood floors in the kitchen twice already!! First time due to a leak from the ice maker and second time due to frozen pipes in the the laundry room which caused water to seep under the floors into the kitchen. Beautiful floors but I hate them!

  3. We have hardwoods in our kitchen from the previous owner and so far no issues, I think they’ve been installed for about 7 years. I do like the look because our main floor plan is very open, it would look very silly to have a floor transition from our LR to the kitchen. But I totally understand where you are coming from and often wonder if we’re on borrowed time! We purposely selected a fridge without the door water/ice dispenser because I heard too many horror stories of those leaking and ruining floors. I’d love to see a post showing some inspiration/examples of houses that have a nice looking transition from wood-look tile/LVT in the kitchen to real wood in the rest of the house. With open floor plans, it seems like you have to compromise on the seamless look, but I’d love for you to prove me wrong with some beautiful examples!

    • I’ll look for some examples of nice looking transitions Katharine and do a follow up post!

  4. Hardwood floors in our kitchen, laundry and prefer room for 5 yrs, no issues except for a couple minor dings where we dropped things in the kitchen. Love the look and feel regret going with wood.

  5. I have hardwood in my kitchen (around 9 years) and my bathroom (3 years) and they look great! Have not had any of your issues, so although I can sympathize with your particular situation, I think it may be a bit much to conclude that they are “terrible” idea!

    • To be clear Monica I think wood floors look AMAZING but they come with the risk of what I’ve experienced —> water damage so to me they are not a good idea and I’ve had more success in kitchens that have tile or vinyl plank. :)

  6. I agree with your conclusion on hardwood not being a good choice for the kitchen. I don’t want to have to worry about spilling on the floor and causing damage that would be expensive to fix. We have luxury vinyl throughout our home and are very happy with it. It’s been easy to maintain and good for allergies (vs. carpet). I will say that several times, I’ve spilled big glasses of water on our living room floor and have been glad that the I haven’t had to worry about the floor being permanently damaged. Everybody’s needs are different, but luxury vinyl plank flooring fits our lifestyle.

  7. My thought so far has been rentals are getting the wood look porcelain tiles so I’m not worried about damage. I installed it everywhere except the bedrooms in one of our rentals in January ’18 and it was the first time I’ve gone with it. It was time to redo the flooring and I also like the one type of flooring thing. It looks great and I don’t have to wonder if my tenants are spilling been on a hardwood floor.

    I’m redoing another rental now and it’s getting the same thing in the kitchen, laundry rooms and bathrooms but for my own house I just can’t do it. We’re planning a remodel of our family room, breakfast room and kitchen and I wanted to go with a walnut chevron floor and was planning on bringing it right into the kitchen. My thoughts were than in the 16 years I’ve owned this house there hasn’t been a single leak so I really wasn’t worried. I figured the look of a hand sanded walnut floor with a persian rug on it justified the extra care. Isn’t there a way to seal it so it’s impervious to the water?

  8. Hi..I install hardwood floors and do alot of repair work.. depending on your situation and if you’re contractor has the right tools your cabinets and countertops do not need to come off in order to replace those pieces.

    • That may be so Danny but the damaged boards are underneath the adjacent cabinet so I’ll consult my previous refinisher but I suspect the cabinet may have to come out (and countertop) for adequate repair.

      • Hi everyone! I am a flooring contractor “18 years” and we specialize in custom hardwood floors. Agreed hardwood kriptonine is water. Be super glad that water shows in the wood because nine times out of ten it will lead u to your problem that can even be a much larger issue. When water gets under tile,LVT,LVW and any other floor u get mold, plywood failer, damage to basement drywall and paint. Hardwood the only floor thats timeless and when properly cared for will last forever.

  9. I have hardwood flooring in the kitchen . I had them redone about 10 years ago, so far no water problems.I. would say no matter the flooring , you always have be aware of water, just as a safety issue alone.

    • Also, that “waterproof” vinyl may be waterproof, but the floor under it isn’t. Hello mildew….

  10. Our house is almost 20 years old and it has the original hardwoods in the kitchen. We did have them refinished about 14 years ago because we added hardwoods to the rest of the house and wanted the finishes to match. We’ve had a dishwasher leak twice and the fridge once. The floors by the dishwasher did warp but we didn’t have them repaired, and with time they settled back into place so you only notice if you’re really looking or you stand right on the spot. There was no permanent damage from the spot at the fridge. It’s time for us to get the floors refinished again because the finish is worn in areas and the dogs have left scratches, (pushing it off until we can redo the kitchen in a couple of years) but to me it just makes it feel like some of the older homes we’ve lived in. I don’t mind the imperfections. But our house has kind of an older feel even though it’s not old. Some houses don’t wear the distressed look as well. So, I think it comes down to being a pretty individual decision. I do like all the alternatives you showed.

    • I too had a dishwasher leak on my bellawood Brazilian teak . Many boards buckled but I couldn’t afford to fix it. I left it alone and eventually they went back to normal! 😁

  11. I had hardwood floors installed in my first home and loved the warm look and feel. I did not have any water issues as I had a basic refrigerator with no icemaker or water dispenser and did not have a dishwasher. AH simplicity!!

  12. Life always teach us lessons the hard way and it hurts. I feel your pain. I also opted to install real wood planks in the kitchen. Although we haven’t had any major spills, I quickly realized I had made the wrong choice. The wood has noticeable traffic marks that even after refinishing the floor, I can trace the marks on the floor. I have been installing wood engineering floors for my clients in wet areas and I have been able to match closely the hardwood floors of the other areas n the house.
    You can check here some of the work I have done http://www.prostarhomeca.com I live in Northern California and this is where my clients are.

  13. I have had sheet vinyl, tile, and hardwood over the years in our kitchen. Tile is breakable, hard to stand on and anything dropped on it will break. Hardwood looks beautiful, but yes, I too had a refrigerator leak, buckled floors and a bad trip and fall during a dinner party! We had floors repaired and all the hardwoods refinished and they look great, but I treat them carefully. We recently bought a 2002 vacation home hardly lived in by the previous owner with mostly carpet I’d like to replace. The kitchen and bathrooms have sheet vinyl, and I must admit, they are so easy to care for! I would love to do hardwood throughout, but I’m hesitant with it being a vacation home if there is a power outage and refrigerator leak. I think the luxury vinyl tile may be the best compromise if I can find one that looks enough like hardwood!

  14. Always had wood, still a fan, because it’s repairable. Luxury vinyl used to be what people used who couldn’t afford true hardwood. It looks ok, but it’s not repairable in the way wood is. I’ve dealt with water damage and found it not to be a problem. As a builder I would put PVC flooring or laminate in a starter home but never in the homes I build. But hey, everyone likes something different , that’s why there are so many choices, just have to find what makes you happy

  15. LVP has become a very popular flooring choice for a seamless wood look. The product claims to be “waterproof” but this is pure nonsense. Water accumulating on the surface from a leak or spill will result in the water seeping under the material. Remember these floating LVP floors have a 1/4 inch gap for expansion around edges and this is typically covered with shoe molding……. not waterproof. Water damage occurs under this material and then it has to be removed and reinstalled. Tile is the best option for flooring in a kitchen. Hardwood is great option for areas away from potential water leaks.

  16. Thanks so much for such a precious advice !!
    Wood flooring IS NOT a good choice for places like kitchen and bathroom. Potencial for headaches and regrets.

  17. What about the waterproof wood laminate for kitchens? This new stuff looks like real wood to me…has anyone seen it used? I don’t like tile bc of the grout.

    • Some laminates are waterproof, some aren’t. Most of the luxury vinyl plank products are guaranteed to be waterproof and I’ve chosen it several times in remodels for that reason because it can flow into the kitchen and looks so close to the real thing these days.

  18. We in stalled wood floors in our kitchen 11 years ago. We have had spills and leaks, none of which destroyed the finish or look.
    We installed ourselves and took a little extra time to SEAL the edges of every board as it was nailed down. Being careful not to seal the bottom as wood needs to breathe some.
    After the finish and ALUMINUM OXIDE protectant are applied, we resealed the seams with a high quality concrete sealer in several light applications.
    I might add that the floor was installed on board subflooring, not plywood. This may have added to the breatheability of the floor.
    And we were careful to NOT over apply Liquid sealant in one application in order to prevent damage.

  19. I am a flooring contractor. I always recommend vinyl planls or laminate in kitchen and bath areas. Most customers heed my advice and some don’t. honestly I have only had 2 of my customers in the past 6 years have trouble due to water damage.

  20. We have ugly 80’s tile in the kitchen and hardwood everywhere else on our main level. We’re trying to decide what to replace it with. I hate the tile, it makes my legs ache if I’m cooking for a long time. We’re worried about putting in wood, though, for all the reasons you mentioned. Would love to find something that blends well with the wood and isn’t so hard to stand on.

  21. Oh no! We are planning our renovation project and planning to put wood in the kitchen because we are opening up the floor plan. We assume it will be too expensive to replace all the floors so we are extending and refinishing the wood floors. Thanks for the ideas about alternatives! How you suggest we create a cohesive look of we did a different floor in the kitchen?

    • That is a great idea for a post, look for a follow up next week on this topic of good looking transitions from hardwood throughout the house into the kitchen. :)

  22. Sorry about your water issues…how awfully frustrating. We replaced all our (combo carpet + vinyl) first-floor flooring last year. I had been toying with/researching engineered wood. A friend who had $$$ wood in her kitchen and family room— and premium vinyl plank in the most upscale craft room ever— told me she wished she’d gone with vinyl instead of hardwood. I was sold and have had zero regrets.

  23. I feel the same way about wood and laminate flooring which we had for 20 years and I was constantly checking for leaks and spills. I just installed luxury vinyl plank in a light wood tone throughout the entire downstairs and love it.

  24. I had reclaimed pine floors installed in our kitchen of our 100+ year old farm house about 12 years ago. They have held up beautifully. I think the secret is I have an 18 year old refrigerator that doesn’t have any fancy features. Just the good old fashioned ice maker in the freezer below. And that has even gone kaput. So I’m thinking maybe I should just let it stay that way. So sorry for your fiasco.
    Love love love your posts!

  25. We did a kitchen/first floor renovation in 2016 and decided to replace the old hardwood with wood-like laminate. Best.decision.ever! With kids, a dog, and a husband that doesn’t pay attention to ice and water spills, it’s been a God send! People always comment on the floors the second they walk in the door. They really do look like beautiful hand-scraped wood!! I was concerned about re-sale value at the time but not anymore!!

  26. Every day I wish I had tile in my kitchen but it’s an open floor. I’m still thinking about it though. We have real hardwood. Years ago we had laminate and while on vacation, ice maker leaked and ruined floor. The refrigerator company knew about the leak, failed to tell us and they had to pay us to replace floor for entire downstairs. We just put gorgeous Laura Ashley tile in our master bathroom. It always looks beautiful and clean and I wish it was in my kitchen still.

  27. I love the look as well but would never install them in the kitchen again. we put hardwood in the living and dining rooms first, a few years later we decided to do our kitchen reno and were able to obtain the last 100 sq ft of the flooring from the manufacturer….we felt lucky. It looked fantastic. Two days after we installed the floors we dropped a glass cutting board from above the fridge which left a 1/2 inch deep gash in the floor…two months later the dishwasher leaked, now two years later the floor looks “loved”. Nope I wouldn’t put it in again.

  28. I have been in the flooring industry for over 20 years. The alternative (wood looking tile) is even worst. Most people dont realize the amount of mold and mildew growth in the grout joints and under the tile. At least with wood, if there is damage, you can see it and repair it. I’ve know people to get really sick by breathing in mold from their tile for years and they never knew it.

  29. As someone who sells floorcovering, I take issue with your first sentence. Engineered hardwood IS real wood! Unless I’m reading it wrong, I think what you are trying to say is that you like the look of SOLID hardwood over ENGINEERED hardwood…they’re both real. Laminate and vinyl are not real. Not to be nit-picky, but my job is to educate the consumer, and all of the false information floating around the internet makes my job harder.

    On the other hand, everything you pointed out about hardwood and water/moisture is true! Some people will take the risk anyway, some will opt for tile, vinyl etc. A good salesperson will discuss the pros/cons of hardwood so the consumer can make an informed decision for their household. For my own house, I chose vinyl plank, because I just didn’t want to have to worry about it. We have pets and grandchildren and a swimming pool, I garden, my husband works construction, we don’t take our shoes off, and we entertain a lot. Hardwood is beautiful, but does not fit our lifestyle.

    Shaw just introduced a line of hardwoods impregnated with their Repel technology…supposedly these products are almost as water resistant as vinyl plank! We’ll be seeing a lot more of this in the world of hardwood as the hardwood industry fights back for it’s share of the market, lost to vinyl and ceramic due to the moisture issue.

    BTW, Most of the repairs/replacements we do on hardwood in kitchens are due to refrigerator water lines leaking, usually because it wasn’t installed right. If at all possible, have your plumber install them, not the appliance people (unless it affects your warranty).

  30. Great post. I have hardwood floors throughout my house, adding them to the kitchen 9 years ago. Mine are also stained dark to differentiate them from surrounding rooms (older home – good flow but not open floor plan). Never had any buckling on them, or in any other ones in the house.

  31. Both Shaw and us floors a division of Shaw are coming out with real wood vaneer in a multilayer format that is water proof. That is the future for keeping floors uniform through out the home. Wish it existed when I redid all my floors 18 months ago.

  32. I had fir flooring in my kitchen and loved it. But, the house was built in 1887 and the wood took water damage well. I would never put in an ice maker or leave the dishwasher running when not at home. Different lifestyles require the right product on the floor.

  33. I have hardwood flooring throughout my home (except for the bathrooms) and love it. We recently had a leak from a bathroom that affected the floor in a bedroom…causing some cupping and raised edges. After drying and ignoring it for some time, it has settled back and is not noticeable anymore. To me, it’s worth the risk. Nothing looks or feels as good as real wood. I second the idea of avoiding refrigerators with in door ice and water though. Those just fail too often and I don’t want to tempt fate!

  34. This was kind of a hilarious post to me. I can’t imagine not putting hardwood floors in a kitchen for that reason. I think it might be a regional difference. I live in the Midwest, and I grew up in an old house, and the three houses we’ve owned since we were married were all around 100 years old too, with the original hardwood floors everywhere, including kitchen and bathrooms. I’ve never had a dishwasher or refrigerator leak, and my floors all look great! You have to refinish them every 15–20 years (we don’t have dogs or wear shoes in the house), and they last literally 100’s of years. My current house was built in 1890 and has all original hardwood in every room, and it adds so much to the warmth and character. I think it would be criminal to replace it with LVP or engineered wood! That said–tile in a kitchen or bathroom can be gorgeous and is certainly on trend right now. If I were doing a new build I would tile my bathroom floors, but probably not the kitchen. Midwest winters are COLD…even the perceived warmth the wood floors give is helpful. :)

    • Ha love reading this perspective! Tile can always be warmed by radiant heating but that’s an additional expense and monthly cost for sure!

  35. When we put in new flooring on the main level of our house, I swore up and down I was doing hardwood. The woman came from the flooring company with hardwood, laminate and vinyl and we discussed the pros and cons of all. I decided that at this point in our lives, luxury vinyl was the way to go. I have a husband and 10 year old daughter who are not the neatest people and then with our mudroom right off the family room, I just thought no, not doing hardwood. I get tons of compliments on it and it is so easy to maintain.

  36. Agree 100% , I am hardwood floor professional and tell my customers all the time not to install hardwood in the kitchen. Why ? Because when damages occur they call me back to do repairs, which are not easy to do ,just like you experienced. Not only the kitchen area experiences the highest traffic ,which causes wear of the hardwood finish, but also people drop utensils or drops of water which damages the wood. On top of that you have leaky fridges and dishwashers. Wood floor looks good in the kitchen only in a designer magazine but not after couple of years of use.

  37. Have to agree with Jill I am also a retailer of flooring and the misconception that engineered timber is not real timber is a fallacy. Most people I deal with daily would not know the difference between the solid timber and engineered alternative unless I told them.

    The reality is that an engineered timber looks exactly the same as solid and when coupled with quality underlay gives excellent acoustic performance and very good feel underfoot.

    The other upshot to engineered timber is that it gives you options for repairs. Forget removing bench tops and spending huge dollars you simply remove the kick panel at the base of the kitchen bench and unclick the boards. My installers do it with regularity in water damage scenarios. The cost is in the hundreds not the thousands. Usually sorted with the installers minimum charge and a box or two of timber.

    People need to understand the limitations of the flooring product they are buying. Every product has pros and cons, none are the perfect solution so do your home work and work out exactly what is most important to you in the flooring you want. Dont buy timber if you are worried about surface damage like scratches and dents and equally dont buy a laminate or vinyl plank product if natural look and variation is the most important feature you want but understand you cannot have both it is one or the other. Also keep in mind the floor that gets installed is only ever as good as the surface it is being layed on.

    • Totally agree —-> “People need to understand the limitations of the flooring product they are buying. Every product has pros and cons, none are the perfect solution so do your home work …”

  38. I agree to disagree. We have had 2 water issues.
    One with hardwood. Same buckling on solid maple hardwood. BUT we always buy extra material for issues in the future. Yes the maple aged colors. the area of replacement was about 100 sq ft
    We had a bit more leakage on tile which lifted the tile and wreaked havoc on the underpayment. But the difference was the ceramic popped intermittently and all had to be replaced including removing the island
    SO depending on the water leakage any floor can be affected as well as the underlayment. My husband is a floor installer and repaired the wood and replaced the tile. But there is no fool proof answer. The beauty of real wood solid or engineered vs the less maintenance of ceramic. Ps we have dogs and the hickory beats all in standard wood we also have Acacia very dent free

  39. We have hardwood throughout the first floor of our Cape – kitchen and powder room included. They’re due to be refinished, but with a 1 & 4 year old it feels like I need to hold off a bit. I don’t know how we’d install something different in our kitchen, based on the layout of the first floor. I’d love to see a posts with photos and design using flooring transitions!

  40. I feel the exact opposite! I hate my tile kitchen floor (which was beautiful when it was installed 6 years ago), not just because it breaks up the flow of my first floor and it’s cold and hard underfoot. The main reason I hate the tile floors in my home are because of all the cracks that have shown up from us dropping something, and possibly from the house settling. We had a self-inflicted flooding incident (thanks to a lovely 3yo) that obviously didn’t destroy the tile, but it did destroy the subflooring in certain areas, where the tiles and grout have become loose, and the repairs have not been adequate. I CAN’T WAIT to replace all our tile floors! When we renovated our basement we did a lot of research on all types of flooring options. The most useful thing we did was a submersion test, where we took all the samples of our wood-type options and submerged them about 1/3 in water for 1 hour, and then measured the difference in thickness between the submerged side and the dry side. Laminate- total bust; engineered hardwood- failed (because it has a layer of real wood bonded to an MDF type backing, the MDF expanded at least twice as much as the wood part); but fossilized bamboo- wow! after an hour submerged the was hardly ANY measurable difference in thickness. Obviously that’s what we went with, with an underlayment of DMX that has a rigid egg carton-type structure that provides about 1/2″ of airspace underneath, which would also act as a channel for water if there were another minor flooding/leaking incident. The result is warm and gorgeous dark wood floors in an area of our home that used to be cold and ugly. We’re working on an addition to our house now, and we have absolutely no question that we will use the fossilized bamboo with DMX underlayment everywhere, including the bathrooms and laundry/mudroom.
    Technically, it is not hardwood, but a grass, but in a discussion about hardwood alternatives I feel that it should be included and considered by anyone struggling with the choice between warmth, looks, and durability.
    As a side note, I also have a rental property that I used laminate wood flooring in the living, dining, and foyer, and luxury vinyl flooring in the kitchen and bathrooms. The laminate has been destroyed by pets, and the luxury vinyl still had to be installed over a subfloor, which swelled and popped up the luxury vinyl tiles when the tenants spilled water repeatedly at the kitchen sink. After these tenants move out, we’re redoing everything in fossilized bamboo there too.

    • So GREAT to read such a positive review of fossilized bamboo!! I will research this further and consider it for future projects!!

  41. I live in a great room house so taking the flooring throughout was the best look. After nine years, I have no complaints, other than the occasional cutlery drop leaving a ding. Knock on wood!

  42. I love hardwood in a kitchen! In our hundred year old house in St. Louis, we had oak flooring throughout (except kitchen and bathrooms). When the guy who refinished some of it for us came across a stash of very old flooring of that era, we had him replace the terra cotta tiles (cracked; ugly grout) in the kitchen. It was beautiful, and it easily survived a dishwasher malfunction, because we were home to wipe it up and used big fans overnight to dry it out. (Because of that experience, we turn off our water whenever we’re going to be gone overnight.)

    We have factory-finished wide-plank oak flooring throughout our farm house (except bathrooms), and it looks great after nearly ten years. We did order two extra boxes of planks (~40 SF) in case we ever need to replace any of it, because we have a cool, dry place to store it. That came in handy when we remodeled and removed a wall.

  43. I got luxury vinyl tile planks in our kitchen. The dishwasher was broken one day and I had someone come look at it. When he was ready to leave after thinking he fixed it, he kept on talking about putting a towel down when I started it again so I didn’t ruin my floor. I finally said it’s vinyl, and he got down on his knees again to feel it and look at it. He was laying on it and looking at it while fixing my dishwasher and had no idea it wasn’t wood. I say that to mean while YOU would know it’s vinyl, other people may not know until you tell them. I am so very, very happy I went with the LVT in our kitchen/dining room with kids and dogs. I use a Magic Eraser pad to get occasional scratches out, and it looks as good as new. Best product ever, and we are going to replace our carpet in our living room with it soon too. To the person who wants to see pictures of a transition from LVT to hardwood, there is a difference is size between the two. The LVT is thinner, so there would be a ridge between the two. Just something to think about.

  44. We installed hardwoods on our entire first floor, including kitchen, powder room and front door entry, about 5 years ago (they are also heated). I’ve always had hardwoods in previous homes without any trouble but this time has been a disaster with water stains, scratches, etc. I’m wondering if a more resilient finish would have helped?

  45. I’ve had hardwood in my kitchen for 8 years now…I don’t worry at all about drips and spills, in my experience these kinds of everyday water exposures don’t do any damage! Maybe it depends on the finish you have…

    I have had buckling like in your pics, from icemaker leaking and water issue in the bathroom. However, I’ve found that it goes away in time…i think the wood needs a chance to really dry out and shrink back down to regular size…like maybe 3 weeks or a month? Perhaps give it some time before you jump to replace and see what happens!

  46. I would love brick floors in my kitchen but I can’t find much good info about it. Maybe you could do a post sometime on that…

  47. I’ve been in the retail flooring business for 36 years and it is rare when we sell/install hardwood in kitchens. yes it looks nice when it matches the rest of the house but it isn’t practical when water is involved. If someone has to have the wood look then Vinyl plank is usually the answer unless they are not concerned about water.
    Btw, solid wood and engineered wood look the same so it wouldn’t matter which you put down for the visual.
    Most prefinished hardwood these days are very tough with 7-8 coats of the latest technology in finishes so they should perform well regardless of where they are. They will show scratches more just because it is the highest traffic in the house.
    Hardwood does have a value to it but if you want a worry free floor you won’t ever fret about then a premium vinyl plank or tile is the answer.

  48. I’m surprised to hear about your problems. We’ve had hardwood in our kitchen for almost 15 years (original to the house), and haven’t had any problems. That said, we live in a very dry climate, so water is not likely to seep in and cause the damage you have in your kitchen. My mother-in-law had a parquet entry that was damaged by a water leak (in Kansas City, which is very humid). They let them dry for a few weeks, sanded them, and voila! Good as new.

  49. To me the issue here isn’t your hardwood flooring, it is your ice maker :) When we were shopping for a new fridge the salespeople (and the 100s of reviews I read) said that the #1 thing to go out on fridges is the in-the-door ice maker. It causes water damage like you experienced. So we went with a fridge that has the water dispenser on the inside of the fridge and the ice maker in the drawer of the freezer below; nothing in the door. This type of fridge has a longer life-expectancy and won’t ruin my floors. Now bathrooms are a different story. I would never put wood in a bathroom.

    • You’re right about the bathroom, absolutely not! And you’re right about the icemaker, it’s a 10 year old appliance and has broken down somewhere internally. We experienced the same thing with the dishwasher too, that’s the danger of appliances that run water!

  50. I have stayed away from wood in my kitchen b/c I am the world’s sloppiest cook, married to someone who washes his hands and then drips dry as he leaves the sink. And I’m not big on maintenance. Don’t like tile b/c standing on hard surfaces gives me a back ache.

    The solution is sheet vinyl. We have a floor in our kitchen that has sheet vinyl on it and no one who comes in can tell it isn’t gray/white checkerboard on a diagonal. It’s truly lovely, and so kind to feet and to dropped items (which bounce rather than breaking). Easy to clean.

    I love it!

  51. We have hardwood floors (yellow pine) in our entire house. The icemaker hose sprung a leak about five years after we moved in and they buckled a bit but after a couple of days they went back down. My husband who is not a plumber tried to fix a leaky tub faucet and water went all over the bathroom and out in the hall, but the warping went away there also. Our entire house flooded in hurricane Florence and we had to have a complete reno. We went back with the same floors has before. They held up beautifully before and I expect them to do the same again. We love them. I don’t know if the pine because it is soft makes the difference with the warping. Sorry you have had bad results with yours.

    • Could be Mary! Wide plank pine may be a better option, I have narrow plank oak.

  52. We have had hardwood in our kitchen for 20years and never had an issue. My parents have too and no issues either. Sounds to me the problem is with a bad plumber. Also am wondering if you are on a slab and not a raised foundation. On a raised foundation the buckling you have experienced many time disappears after the floors have time to dry out. So possibly hardword floors and a concrete slap foundation don’t mix well.

  53. The extensive damage comes from water getting into the wood at the plank seams. The practical solution to this is to finish in place so there is a continuous coating to prevent that. Owners should expect to maintain their wood floors periodically with a light sand and recoat when needed.

  54. We have hardwood in our kitchen from previous owners. We have four kids and four dogs which leads to spills, pee, throw up… you name it. I will never put hardwood in kitchen or anywhere else from here on out. If you have time to maintain and keep watch of the floors great. If not it’s just too hard to keep them looking good.

  55. Ooh, a hot topic! Yes, do a follow up post on alternates and transitions – here’s what we did after much consideration. Hubs would not put wood in a kitchen for love or money which I pouted about briefly but knew it was wiser and practical. I am of the school that thinks fake wood next to real wood looks even faker, so we did a brownish tan striated tile in the kitchen that isn’t hugely different from the mid tone brown hardwoods elsewhere. Thankfully they ended up exactly the same height and I was able to do NO TRANSITION STRIPS of any sort- woohoo!!! just some tonal caulk instead of grout on that edge. We put engineered hardwood in 3/4 of our open/vaulted living space (picked a good one with the hardwood veneer bonded to plywood layers, NOT swelling-up mdf because of water damage fears… it took a lot of looking to find what I wanted in terms of looks and quality under $4/ft but I found it at last!!). The 1/4 of the space that is kitchen has a wall around the corner, sort of a floor to ceiling enclosure that holds the fridge and pantry, with mounted tv and built in bookshelf on the opposite/living room side, so thankfully we had the two wide openings either side of that as a natural place to change the flooring to tile. No it’s not totally seamless but it is wonderful for my peace of mind, given what ends up dripping in the kitchen and the scrubbing it sometimes takes to get dried food bits off. Anyway I’m about to potty train my 3 year old and I am sort of freaking out over accidents on the wood floors. Engineered hardwood has tiny gaps between each board unlike finished-in-place hardwoods with a solid coating sealing the top. Wish me luck!!

  56. I am an hardwood installer/Refinisher for 16 years now an 90% of my business is in upper middle class/ upper class homes! With today’s products theres not any reason to not put hardwood in kitchens! Yes, water can damage flooring but if its noticed fairly quickly there’s no damage depending on the installers use of a excellent sealer an how many coats of finish! I agree with Danny, any decent repair guy can fix that without moving any cabinets or counters! An there is a difference between repairing wood floors an installing wood floors! Repairs are an art in which the newly installed planks need to look exactly as the others! I’ve fixed plenty of “reputable” companies repair jobs! Half baths can have hardwood installed whereas full bathrooms are an absolute no no!

  57. We had oak hardwood floors put into our Kitchen about 22 years ago and no problems so far! Our house is75 years old and has the original oak floors in main living areas. Many years ago we had the sprinkler on overnight and someone put it on our front porch and the dining room and entrance was flooded and the wood buckled greatly. We had just had the floors refinished at that time and were advised to just wait it out and they would flatten out again. And they did! You would never know it had happened. There is a heritage house near us (Vancouver, B.C.) that was used as a hospital during one of the wars (not sure which) and it fell into disrepair and the basement was flooded and under water for a long time. Apparently the floors buckled up to 12 inches and today you would have no idea it ever happened. So, I am in favour of using real oak hardwood.

  58. Keep in mind that LVP/LVT/Rigid Core- It is all fake wood and has a pattern repeat. You’ll have the same wood visual on tons of boards. I would never do that in the main areas of a high end home. Engineered hardwood is “Real Wood.” It is constructed to be more dimensionally stable than a solid hardwood allowing it to hold up to minimal amounts of moisture. The best practice is to always maintain the moisture levels in your home with a central dehumidifier and humidifier, and have a plumber check your ice maker line, dishwasher, and sink connections for signs of wear annually just like you would a car, your furnace, or other items that could require servicing instead of fixing them when a problem arises. Hardwood floors in a home requires much care and proactive efforts to prevent damages. An engineered wood is not fake at all though and you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between it and a solid if you’re comparing quality products. WATER MAKES TREES GROW, LACK OF WATER MAKES THINGS SHRINK. It’s really as simple as that- Water/Moisture is the only thing that will make your wood floors expand/contract.

  59. As a carpenter who’s installed many a floor of every type and at least as many cabinets, this article is a relief to read. Engineered laminate flooring products are not just more stable, resilient and reparable, not to mention ecologically responsible, they are actually even better to walk on, with built in layers of cushioning. They’ve become visually indistinguishable from solid wood flooring to even the experienced eye. A few weeks ago I had the great pleasure of touring a large sample of his many projects from the past five decades with one of the foremost architect/developers in my city. He was known for his modern designs featuring wood in a way that has once again become all the rage. He told me at the end of the day that if he was building his own house today he would use laminate flooring.

  60. Several years ago when I relocated my kitchen to where two small bedrooms were, I kept the maple floors in my 90 year old house. The flooring folks did a great job of repairing and refinishing the floors and the floors are a show stopper. However, if I were starting from scratch I would have used tile because I had it in the old kitchen and loved it. It hadn’t cracked and was still pristine after 30 years. My complaint about the maple flooring is that the humidity in the winter ( upper Midwest) is significantly lower than in the summer. The maple floor boards shrink to open big spaces between them. In the summer they close up again. This does not happen with the oak floors in the rest of the house. My old kitchen space is now the mud room.

  61. I had real oak hardwood installed in kitchen, dining, entrance and hallway bath 25 years ago. The last 7 years it was converted to a rental with 3 different renters with pets and small children. The floor also experienced leaky toilet and 2 incidents of refrigeration failures. It buckled up and settled back down. In a process of refinishing first time ever after 25 years considering that it has scuffs and scratches which doesn’t bother me as much bc the house has been lived in vs just me by myself for many years. The house is an open floor plan with 2 story ceilings. I just recently replaced the carpet in livingroom, bedroom and sunroom (installed over original white tiles) with Luxury Vinyl Planks and will try to refinish the 25 year old oak floor to match with the LVP. Side note, also had upstair carpets replaced with LVP. Current tenants love it! But not sure what to do with the upstair bathroom flooring yet as is currently in the original white tiles. Dilemma

  62. We lived in a cute 1950 home that had Terrazzo tile that was amazing! It was a beast! The dishwasher line broke and we were not aware until water covered the kitchen, hall, and laundry room. It would have killed other flooring. I used Bona products on it and it looked new again. So easy to care for and no grout lines to get dirty. Why do I not see Terrazzo being used?

  63. Vinyl flooring contains carcinogenic compounds. Wood-look porcelain tile ends up costing more than real wood when you factor in all the install costs. I’ve had them all. I love hardwood the most. I’ve had it in the kitchen for decades. Never had a problem. But, always stayed away from ice makers. My kids even rode riding toys over the wood, and we had pets.

  64. I’ve had vinyl, tile and hardwood. I would choose hardwood every time for the kitchen.
    Tile is hard and cold, and the grout stains and will eventually look dirty. Vinyl is fairly low maintenance, BUT – if you have a water leak it may not seep in directly into the surface, but it WILL absolutely underneath at the perimeter – hello mold and mildew. Not to mention the subfloor is not waterproof. I know this from experience! Wood will alert you to a problem (pipe leak/burst) much faster than tile or vinyl, and you’ll have to make repairs either way.
    The wood floor in our kitchen is 35+ years old, and has never had any water damage that required replacement. Plus I HATE the look of floor transitions in an open style house.

  65. I’ve had hardwood floors in two different kitchens over 12 years of home ownership and never had any issues. I think the potential of having to replace a few boards due to water damage once every 11 years is worth it to have a seamless flooring flow throughout your house. When we finish our basement this year, we are going with luxury vinyl plank, though. I think the general moist-ness of a basement doesn’t lend itself to real hardwoods. But I’ll choose hardwood for the kitchen every.time. What a polarizing subject, who knew?! lol

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