All About: Rubber Kitchen Floors

Kitchen Flooring Spotlight

If you've already renovated a kitchen or are just beginning the process, you know how overwhelming the details can be. Our Fittings and Material Spotlights are quick guides to basic kitchen fixtures and materials to familiarize you with terminology, pros and cons, and relevant reader reviews. Today we look at the pros and cons of rubber flooring in the kitchen:

Material: Rubber

Origin: Virgin rubber comes from latex, the sap of rubber trees, which typically grow in tropical areas. While Asia is the world's largest provider of natural rubber, many rubber floor manufacturers, particularly in the US, make their products from recycled rubber (sourced from car tires and the like). Recycled rubber flooring is usually more affordable and durable than virgin flooring.

Leading Brands: Dalsouple, Nora, Expanko, and ACTIVA from Pirelli

Pros: Naturally sticky, so it can be installed without adhesives; provides great support and cushion underfoot; highly durable; great sound insulation; relatively easy to clean; water- and- fire-resistant; slip-resistant; fully recyclable.

Cons: Can be expensive, mild "rubber" smell which irritates some people; fats (oil, butter, grease) can stain rubber floors and are difficult to remove.

Installation: You can buy rubber flooring in either sheets or interlocking tiles. Tiles are easier to maintain if there is damage (just swap out a tile if you need to make a repair), while sheets will give you a seamless look. Make sure to install a moisture-resistant sub-layer before installing rubber floors.

Cleaning: Rubber floors should be polished with a water soluble wax to make them more resistant to damage and discoloration from the sun. For general cleaning, a mop and warm clean water should suffice.

Price range: Starts at around $2 a square foot, excluding installation, but higher quality rubber can reach up to $12 - $15 per square foot, making it comparable to wood flooring.

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Kitchn Reader Reviews:

Rubber floors are very easy to clean, come in a great assortment of colours (textures too, but plain is easier to clean). They are not shiny unless you coat them with a product to make them shiny, and are not slippery (even with the product - at least ours aren't, and if you check the technical specs of different rubber floor manufacturers, you will find that the slip resistance is excellent, and even enhanced when wet). In common with true linoleum ("battleship linoleum", "Marmoleum", etc.), they are antibacterial, a property that emanates outwards for a few inches. They are very, very durable (great with kids, pets, people who wear shoes inside, and people who drop heavy objects a lot! :-)). That is what makes them great in kitchens -- you drop glasses and plates, and they are extremely unlikely to shatter. But most of all, they are super comfortable to stand on for long periods! My legs don't hurt during the annual almost-all-nighter Christmas cookie baking session. The best colours are from The best colours are from Dalsouple, which is the product London Urchin has in her home...Really, can't say enough great things about rubber floors! - MsChatelaine
We have white rubber tiles in our kitchen. We got them from Roppe. We have had them in for just over a year now and we are loving them. More about them here. - Creede
For you rubber floor wanters, you might take note that fats degrade rubber. You might not ever cook enough to notice, but if you're big into fired chicken or something, it could be an issue. - Lemonadefish
After working in commercial architecture for 10 years I decided to install rubber tile in my kitchen when we renovated it last year. This was one of the biggest mistakes that I have ever made! if you are thinking about it, reconsider. The product, as I found out, is made for commercial use. And it is a great product when used in the right application. However living in an apartment in nyc I cannot afford to have my floors commercially cleaned, waxed and or buffed daily and this is what this product needs to stay clean. I love the color, and I love the way that it looks in my space, which is why it pains me not to recommend it. The manufacturer concurred that this product was not intended to be used for residential use as well. At the moment we are sticking with it, but I must emphasize how much I hate to mop and this product needs to be cared for daily. Next floor will be forbo linoleum for sure! - Sugar Rae

Do you have rubber floors in your kitchen? Tell us what you think!

Related Kitchn Posts:
Rubber Floors in the Kitchen
Forgiving Kitchen Floors
Survey: What Kind of Kitchen Floors Do You Have?

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(Image: 1. Open Studio Architects, via The Kitchn; 2. HousetoHome)