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If you're looking for new kitchen flooring, get ready to choose from more options than you ever thought possible.

Choices run the gamut from vinyl to ceramic or porcelain tile to concrete - with a lot of materials in between.

The number one flooring trend is natural material, which helps create a relaxing retreat and expresses your personality while meeting your specific lifestyle needs, according to Kate Schwartz, editor of Kitchens.com, an online consumer resource on kitchen design and remodeling.

Materials such as large marble (especially tumbled marbles like travertine), porcelain tiles and exotic woods (bamboo and darker woods like cherry and mahogany) are all popular choices in natural colors with earthy feels, she says.

"Keep an eye on bamboo. It's quickly catching on as an attractive and environmentally friendly flooring choice," Schwartz says. "Solid bamboo can be stained any color. And Nevamar has just introduced bamboo laminates in patterns and wood grain designs, including extreme green, dragon red, and Xanadu blue ¾ all vibrant takes on the traditional look."

Schwartz suggests considering your preferences before choosing flooring materials. Do you like natural or man-made materials? Do you want a consistent color? Whatever you decide, your options abound.

Other important considerations both Schwartz and the World Floor Covering Associationrecommend include:

  • Comfort. Consider what feels best under your feet. If you spend the majority of your day on your feet in the kitchen, you might opt for something that leans more toward comfort, like trading tile for vinyl or linoleum.
  • Safety. Will children or elderly family members be using or coming through the kitchen? If so, be sure to avoid marble or waxed woods.
  • Clean-up. Is quick and easy clean-up a priority? Do you want to be able to clean up spills without worrying about stains or water damage? If so, vinyl, laminate, and linoleum are good choices.
  • Current flooring. If you're remodeling, be sure to consider what's under your current flooring. How will this material affect the choice of your new flooring? Does the old flooring need to be removed? Wood and laminate can often be installed right on top of existing flooring, which means no additional preparation costs. Vinyl, linoleum, cork and tile, on the other hand, will depend on what's underneath and the condition.
  • Cost. Consider the cost of installing the floor as well as the purchase price of materials. Most retailers will estimate your costs with or without installation. Even though most professional floor covering retailers will send experienced personnel to your home to measure prior to ordering material for installation, bringing a rough drawing with dimensions on your first store visit will assist in approximating the cost of your particular flooring options.
  • Style. The type of floor you choose will contribute to the character of your home - for example, you may choose flooring to complement a style or a period look, or to make a bold individualistic statement. The color and texture of your floors will have a dominant effect on your overall decorative scheme. A light color will make a room appear larger. Rich, darker tones will absorb available light and create a warmer, more intimate environment in a large room. A small pattern works well in small rooms or rooms where an island or other furniture visually interrupts the pattern. However, a larger pattern can actually expand a room visually.

    Schwartz says common mistakes first-timers make are not remembering that the kitchen floor needs to stand up to wear and tear more than almost any other room in the home ¾ and beyond that, that the floor should be comfortable.

    "Flooring is an important investment. It's certainly possible to get stylish, comfortable, and durable flooring whatever your price range, so be sure to do so,'" she says.

    According to the WFCA, prices can range from $1 to $5 per square foot for vinyl, linoleum is about $4 per square foot, cork runs $5 and up, ceramic is $1 to $6, natural stone is $3 to $10 and above, wood is $4 to $10, laminate is $2 to $7, and concrete varies by contractor.

    Schwarz adds that it's important to remember that your flooring can truly add to or unify your kitchen's style, so your flooring should receive as much consideration as any other component of your kitchen.

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