Q: We are beginning a bathroom and kitchen remodel next month. We can’t seem to decide on the floors for durability, easy maintenance, etc. We have five indoor cats so we need something that will hold up with two litter boxes, and food and water bowls.
We like the look of wood and are considering bamboo. But because of durability and ease of maintenance, we are also looking at tile and Marmoleum. We would be grateful for any suggestions you guys might have.
A: Years ago we gave Mom a puppy for Christmas. We did a little research and decided that a miniature schnauzer would fit the bill. We found a breeder and went to check out her dogs.
When we entered the house we found the entire floor covered in ceramic tile, all sloping gently to a central drain. Odd, we thought. But when the breeder opened a door and called out "puppies," we were surrounded by 20 romping schnauzer pups.
In their excitement, more than one had an accident. It didn’t take us long to realize that tile was the best choice for this professional dog breeder.
For durability and easy maintenance, a glazed ceramic tile floor is by far your best bet — especially in the kitchen. Glazed tile is impervious to water, won’t stain and is not easily damaged. Cat claws won’t damage it. Cleanup is with a broom or vacuum cleaner followed by a once-over with a damp mop.
If you drop something heavy, you may crack or break a tile or two, but repair is a relatively simple and inexpensive process.
We recommend a maximum 1/8-inch grout line and at least two thorough coats of grout sealer to repel the occasional dribble of wine or other liquid that might stain it. The downside of tile is that unless combined with a heated floor it can be cold and not comfortable underfoot.
Our second choice for the kitchen is Marmoleum. This material, made up of linseed oil, rosins and wood flour and embedded onto a natural jute backing, has been a mainstay floor covering for more than 100 years.
Marmoleum is tougher than vinyl and is highly resistant to heavy rolling loads and foot traffic. Exposure to air over time hardens it, increasing its durability. It cleans with broom and vacuum followed by a damp mop. Water won’t damage it, and it is stain-resistant.
There are downsides. It’s susceptible to dents, scuffing and scratches. Repair is not easy and should be done by a pro.
We don’t recommend any kind of wood for a kitchen floor — especially one that is frequented by pets with claws. Wood is too soft for heavy use and won’t stand up to water.
The bathroom is a different story. Although tile is still our first choice, a laminate floating floor will perform well provided not too much water gets on the floor. If you plan on using the tub to bathe kids or cats, laminate is out.
If you choose tile, go with a slip-resistant material. Most manufacturers use a rating system developed by the American Society for Testing and Materials, which measures slip resistance by the tile surface’s coefficient of friction (COF). The higher the COF, the more slip-resistant the tile. Look for R-11 or higher. Remember to seal the grout.
So tile is our hands-down choice for maintenance and durability. A floating laminate floor will work in the bath. Avoid solid wood of any kind.