Published at Saturday, 19 January 2019. Kitchen Floors. By Gerda Andersen.
Linoleum, cork, and vinyl composition tile (VCT) are historically correct for kitchens in homes built from the late 19th century to the 1950s. Durable and easy on the feet, resilient floors can last for decades. Since the pattern goes all the way through the material, they also help conceal dirt and damage. Available as tile or sheet goods, all three also offer unlimited scope for patterns, from simple checkerboards to intricate inlays.
Not all species and cuts of wood will adapt well to a radiant retrofit. Most vulnerable are soft woods like pine and hickory, especially if they are flat-sawn. If you are installing new flooring over radiant, opt for strip flooring rather than plank, and allow plenty of time for the wood to acclimate to the setting. Installing wood flooring with a high percentage of residual moisture over radiant heat can lead to early failure. For best results, look for a radiant product that puts out heat at a low, gentle setting, such as a low-voltage membrane.
Homeowners were at first content to varnish their beadboard or other wooden walls, but as concerns with sanitation grew at the turn of the century they covered kitchen walls with glazed white tiles, usually 3" x 6" subway tiles. White tile was frequently used behind coal-burning ranges, where it made the wall easier to clean, so it was logical to extend the tile to the sink area. Painted or sculpted tiles played an important decorative role early in the 20th century, primarily around the fireplace, but weren't common in the kitchen until the late 1920s.
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