Question: “Al, I’m starting on a kitchen reno project, and need some input on the choice of flooring. I’ve always had to deal with knee pain, and my worry is that installing a new tile floor (or something of a similar hardness) will add stress to my knees and feet. I live in my kitchen – it’s the centre and heart of the house. Is there anything I should know or consider before deciding on our new floor choice? The guy at the big box store said: ‘All floors are hard. It doesn’t matter what you pick.’ Is the outlook really that bleak?”
First, some good news! You do have options, and one flooring material is certainly not as hard as another.
Those clever Germans have been leading the world in the adoption of cork flooring, particularly in kitchens. Cork can harvested in a sustainable manner, meaning the tree isn’t harmed. This, along with its resiliency, natural sound proofing, and insulating properties makes it an excellent choice for a floor that is both environmentally and homeowner-friendly. The one caution is that cork floors tend to tear out a little faster than other materials when under heavy traffic; thus it is not an ideal solution for homes with small children.
Another fantastic option is to get the porcelain or ceramic floor that you love, and then to wear slippers or house-appropriate sandals that also offer orthopedic support. This gives the added benefits of improved posture and balance, while enjoying a delightfully beautiful floor. Finally, strategically placed stress mats are always an option – though often not as aesthetically pleasing.
In any case, it is recommended to get a biomechanical assessment to see what can be done to help those aching knees and feet all day long – not just while you’re enjoying your new kitchen!