Kitchen Flooring No-Nos

There are many stages in planning your kitchen that are often overlooked, with flooring being a major one. So we thought it might be useful for anyone who is hoping to avoid the pitfalls, to list our top kitchen flooring no-nos when planning your new space…

Brampton Natural Limestone perfectly installed at the Weybridge Project

1. Installing your flooring before deciding on your kitchen colour scheme

One of the stages in designing your kitchen will be deciding which flooring to opt for – the surface, the tone and the finish, all being important factors to take into consideration. If we could give one piece of advice, it would be to avoid making the final decision on the finish of your flooring until a little later on in the process, ideally after you have chosen the colour palette of the rest of your kitchen.

Once you’ve settled on your cabinetry colours, it would now be a good time to think about what flooring finish might work within the room. Essentially you are trying to create a cohesive blend between cabinetry and flooring. Getting the flooring wrong can really throw the rest of the kitchen design off kilter.

If you decide to opt for a natural limestone flooring, which is a product quarried from the ground and subject to inherent and geological variations, all the stone samples, photos and descriptions in the world will only offer an indication of the variation in the stone that you receive.

As it’s a product of the environment, you need to be open to the markings, colour, patterns, texture and veining and should be considering the beauty of natural stone. You need to consider how these variations will work with your chosen cabinetry.

If the thought of fossil and fissure markings leave you wanting to run for the hills in the quest for a more uniformed look, a natural effect porcelain flooring may be a wise alternative. As porcelain is a man-made product, you can easily achieve that clean, unwavering look that you desire, whilst not foregoing substance or style.

2. Choosing the wrong flooring to suit your kitchen requirements

Another element to think about when choosing your kitchen flooring is how hard you need the tile to work. Limestone is perfectly suited for that classic english look which lends itself well to both a rustic or contemporary aesthetic. But remember that with limestone, comes maintenance. Firstly, given it’s a porous material, it must be sealed to ensure its longevity. Secondly, although natural limestone, once sealed, is extremely durable keeping your floor as free as possible of loose dust and grit is hugely important to ensure dirt isn’t compacted into the surface or joints of the stone.

If you prefer the idea of a more easy-going floor tile, consider natural effect porcelain. It doesn’t require sealing, which is one less item on the to-do list, plus being a man-made material, you can really put it to the test in a whole host of staining scenarios, be that your favourite glass of red wine, the children’s colouring crayons or the other half’s turmeric laden curry.

This doesn’t mean you’re off the hook when it comes to keeping it clean and pristine. There’s still the topic of cleaning products, but more on that below.

Brampton Natural Limestone | Weybridge Project

3. Choosing the wrong type of tile adhesive

This doesn’t sound like such an important point, but when it comes to your tiler laying your flooring, we would strongly advise them against using a dark adhesive. The BAL Rapid-Flex One, a rapid setting and flexible adhesive, which allows for faster grouting and therefore quicker laying of tiles is perfect for the job. It’s high quality and light in colour.

Here you can see the dark adhesive patches showing through the tiles

You wouldn’t think it, but the reason it’s so important to use a light adhesive is due to the natural porosity of limestone which draws up any moisture surrounding it. As you can see above, when a dark adhesive is used underneath a limestone tile, the pigment from that adhesive is drawn into the tile and in turn, moisture patches appear on the surface. This unsightly problem can be almost impossible to rectify without having to replace the tiles. Bonus tip is to ensure the tiler evenly ‘butters’ the backs of the tiles rather than the blob technique above.

4. Not choosing the right shade and thickness of grout for your flooring

It may not seem it but grout can really make the aesthetic of a kitchen. It can help make a space feel bigger if used in the right way, or unify the room by drawing on the different threads of colour within the cabinetry. Not only can it create the illusion of space, it can make a room feel rustic, or contemporary, depending on the thickness of the grout.

Brampton Natural Limestone with Ardex Flex FS Silver Shimmer grout

One grout we always recommend and have used throughout our showrooms is the Ardex-Flex FL. For a more rustic feel, we would advise a wider grout line, anything between 12-15mm. Anything under 12mm is more suitable for a contemporary look.

In terms of colour, we prefer Natural Almond which has the perfect neutral base. Alternatively, we also love Silver Shimmer, which is a much darker grey and can really bring out the cool tones within a tile. It is of course a personal choice and at the very least, should always enhance your flooring choice.

5. Installing cabinetry or furniture before flooring

We’re often asked if it is essential to lay your tile flooring before the kitchen is installed and the answer is a resounding YES.

Babington Natural Limestone installed at the Chelmsford project

For kitchens with handmade timber cabinetry, the flooring will need to be installed well in advance to ensure there is no humidity in the room caused by the adhesive under the tiles (humidity can cause cabinetry to warp). At H|M we require the flooring to be fully fitted across the room, regardless of where cabinetry is placed.

As mentioned above, adhesive has to be laid to the floor, for the tiles to stick to. This process is, of course, cleaner, quicker and easier if there aren’t any cabinets already installed. The same goes for sealant, if you’re having limestone flooring. As all natural stone floor tiles need to be fully sealed, with no existing cabinetry in place, this is a very quick and smooth process.

Lastly, tiles are often around 1.5cm – 2cm thick. Combine that with the layer of substrate, adhesive and sealant on top and you are looking at a depth of around 2.5cm. If the tile flooring is installed after the cabinetry, it will be butting up against the kitchen skirting or plinth and potentially losing up to 2.5cm in depth, which will ruin the aesthetic, all for the sake of not installing the flooring first.

6. Using the wrong floor cleaning products

When it comes to cleaning products, it all depends on the floor surface.

As mentioned above natural limestone, once sealed, is extremely durable but keeping your floor as free as possible of loose dust and grit is important. Regular vacuuming and sweeping will reduce dirt being compacted into the surface or joints of the stone.

For limestone, we always recommend using specialist products. Smart Seal tile and stone cleaner is a PH neutral, non-abrasive and eco-friendly chemical. We do not recommend using cleaners that are not PH neutral as they can permanently damage your stone.

We recommend you avoid using any of the substances below as they strip the sealant out of the stone which can cause further issues at a later date:

*Washing up liquids

*Degreasers

*Acids or alkalis

*General supermarket floor cleaners

*Steam cleaners

*Bleach based cleaners

It’s a similar story for porcelain flooring. Although it’s more hardwearing, designed to retain a pristine look for many years and requires much less maintenance than natural limestone, it is still important to bear in mind which products you use when cleaning.

Before cleaning, ensure you first rid the surface of any dust and dirt which has gathered. Again, we would always recommend Smart Seal tile and stone cleaner.  For more stubborn markings or build up, we recommend SmartSeal heavy duty tile and stone cleaner. Unlike limestone, the grout is not sealed with porcelain, so for grout cleaning we recommend SmartSeal grout cleaner.

We would recommend NOT TO USE any of the substances below as they can erode the surface of the tile and increase its water absorption rate over time. Corrosive chemicals can also erode the grout, which can loosen tiles:

*Ammonia based cleaners

*Acids or alkalis

*Bleach based cleaners

So there we have it, our top kitchen flooring no-nos. Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in contact us. You can always email us at info@hmflooringlibrary.co.uk or call us on 01371 821300.

If you’re searching for inspiration take a look at our instagram account @hmflooringlibrary, or stay a while and browse through the previous H|M Flooring Library projects on our website.