A comprehensive guide to picking the right kitchen floor

One of the most overlooked and taken-for-granted elements of kitchen design is the choice of flooring in your commercial kitchen. Choosing the wrong material for your kitchen floor or having it installed improperly could lead to catastrophic consequences that require costly repairs and lost time and income for your business as your kitchen will often need to close for several days to fix the issue. 

From durability to slip-resistance, aesthetics and of course, adherence to local health codes, there’s a lot to consider when choosing the right floor for your restaurant. In this article, we will go over some different options for the finished surface of your kitchen floor and some of the pros and cons from our experience. 

We will arrange this list in terms of easiest/most cost-efficient to more involved and higher cost.

Contracting Construction
BjornBar Restaurant

Option 1 – Concrete grinding and basic clear coat finish

Concrete grinding and applying a top sealant or “clear coat” is one of the most cost-effective and quickest installation options when it comes to finishing a kitchen floor. With this option, your existing concrete floor would be ground down, and a clear topcoat of a liquid product would be applied to protect the floor against basic wear and tear in a restaurant. There are many options with different functionalities available for a clear top coat finish on concrete

Pro: This option has one of the lowest initial costs and one of the quickest processes to complete.

Con: The wearability of the clear coat is usually not suitable for a heavy-use restaurant with additional layers of thesame coating needing to be reapplied periodically. Also the clear coat surface can become slippery when wet orgreasy. You cannot use this product on the baseboard area of the wall to connect to the floor (as per healthregulations) so a health approved baseboard product will be needed.

Option 2 – Concrete grinding and Epoxy type finish

A step above a concrete grind and clear coat would be using an epoxy-type finish instead of a clear coat. Epoxy is a very specific type of floor finish but within this colloquial term we will also include other types of finishes such as urethane, polyurethane, resin flooring, etc, essentially any poured/liquid floor that will provide a functional surface. There are dozens of performance features to these floor types.

Pro: The benefit of this floor type is that different layers of “epoxy” coating create a more durable floor than just a clear coat. There are also options to use specific industrial and kitchen-specific non-slip epoxies. This product provides a solid budget-friendly option for your kitchen. You can also create a cove mold with this product up the wall of your kitchen, creating a seamless cleanable finish as per health regulations.

Con: The downsides of epoxy are similar to clear coats as overtime, especially with the wear, spills and chemical cleaning agents often found in commercial kitchens, the floor does wear down. These floors will need to be inspected and potentially refurbished every few years to maintain the water sealing and anti-slip texture. Also, getting a good bond to the subfloor is essential with Epoxy floors. A common failure is the bubbling and lifting of the epoxy floor due to a bonding issue. From a construction perspective, you need to have everyone cleared out of the space to install this product and allow it to have time to dry and set. During a busy construction this can be difficult to arrange.

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BjornBar Restaurant

Option 3 – Safety Floor

The next step up would be using a type of applied vinyl or safety floor, for this we recommend a product called Altro Safety Floor. Basically how this works is we take rolls of safety floor and lay them out across the length of the kitchen, using epoxy to glue it to the floor below. After heat wielding the seems, as well as performing a similar treatment up the base of the walls, this creates a water-sealed floor. While applied vinyl is generally going to be more expensive than epoxy, the benefits are that it is more durable, and much less likely to have failure points created during an install. 

There are a wide range of products to choose from, ones that are resistant to grease, acids and cleaners as well as many options for the grit or feel of the non-slip surface. While this option is far more durable than the first two, it does wear down over time and will eventually need replacing.

Pros: Our opinion is that you should use epoxy glue to secure this product to the floor so you avoid any bonding issues with this product. A big benefit is that this product is very durable, it’s easy to cut out and replace a small section if damaged and it is essentially bulletproof for restaurant use. Also, during construction, you can have other trades in the space while installing and the minute it is installed you can walk on it. This is a great benefit when working under a tight construction schedule.

Cons: This is a significant investment, much more than the first options presented. Depending on the sub straight/sub floor, there may be significant prep work required to properly install this product. If you do not use epoxy “glue” there is an increased risk of the whole installation not bonding to the floor beneath, resulting in having to replace the whole floor.

Option 4 – Tile/Quarry Tile

This style of ceramic tile flooring is known for its ability to withstand even the toughest kitchen environments. Coming with similar non-slip options as safety floor, if properly maintained you probably will not have to ever worry about replacing your quarry tile flooring .

Of course, with quality comes a price as quarry tile does end up being an investment as much or more than the safety floor option. Since each individual tile needs to be set this option takes longer to assemble than the other options listed above. However, if you are looking to have a kitchen floor that will withstand the test of time (and a budget to afford it), you can’t go wrong with quarry tile, especially if you use epoxy grout during your installation.

Pro: Very durable, slip-resistant, looks great.

Con: Significant investment, longer installation time, and as with other floor options significant floor prep work may be required prior to installation.

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BjornBar Restaurant

Option 5 – Concrete topping overlay

There are multiple concrete overlay options that have been specifically designed for heavy-use commercial and industrial applications. This option can give you the best of all worlds as it can simply pour over the top of your existing floor and it can give you a very attractive finished product that is very durable. These options tend to be more costly to install but the final product is great if your clientele see your kitchen.

This option also allows for a multitude of colour tinting options on both the overlay itself and also with an optional top coat.

Pros: Not much floor prep is required, the new concrete product can flexibly pour over everything. This option looks great, lots of colour options.

Cons: Significant cost.

Essentially, with flooring for your commercial kitchen, the old adage is true, you get what you pay for. The biggest risk of floor damage which will result in having to close the entire kitchen down for repairs, or health hazards to your staff if not fixed in a timely manner. From our experience in restaurant repair and maintenance, this option usually ends up the most expensive in the long run. 

At the end of the day, we just want you to be able to make an informed decision when choosing your kitchen floor. Building restaurants over the years means that we have come across all sorts of kitchen floor treatments leftover by previous owners, we have seen the financial damage a floor replacement can do to a business.

Of course, when it comes to building a restaurant you don’t have to do this on your own. Reach out to us and our team of industry experts will help make sure that you make the right choices and avoid common mistakes when building your restaurant. We are always happy to help!

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