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With so many beautiful flooring options available, how do you choose what's right for your kitchen? Start by becoming aware of what you want and expect from your floor: style, feel, cost, durability, maintenance, and other general characteristics. Once you have a handle on your preferences, use the Checklist for Choosing a Green Floor to understand what green means when it comes to flooring. Then turn to the descriptions of flooring materials to learn more about what's best for your kitchen.
Wood & Bamboo Floors
You can't beat wood floors for their beauty, natural look and good feel underfoot. There's a wood floor to complement every style of kitchen, whether it's blond maple in a contemporary townhouse, warm cherry in a suburban colonial, or hickory planks in a rustic weekend retreat.
Wood floors are available to suit a wide range of budgets, although the greenest options-such as antique floorboards or FSC-certified products-generally cost more than the low-price products available from home-improvement centers and conventional flooring retailers. Be aware of potential hidden costs of some of the less expensive options, such as urea formaldehyde glues offgassing into your home, or environmental damage resulting from unsustainable or even illegal logging activities.
If your budget is limited and you can't afford an FSC product or refinished antique planks, don't despair. Check under your existing floor covering: many owners of older homes are pleasantly surprised to find beautiful old fir or pine floorboards hidden beneath their existing kitchen floors. Assuming the floorboards aren't badly deteriorated, they can be sanded and finished at relatively low cost. Also check local building reuse centers: many sell bargain-price floorboards that were removed from deconstructed old homes, gymnasiums and warehouses; while the labor to refinish and install the old wood may be considerable, if you're a well-seasoned DIYer it could be an economical option.