cheap flooring ideas

Cheap Flooring Ideas: 5 Inexpensive & Popular Options

Did you know you can spruce up your home with new flooring even on the tightest budget?  These cheap flooring ideas will make you proud to parade through your home once again.

Whether you want something to cover the floors in your kitchen, living room, bedrooms, or bath, we’ve got you covered. And with ideas that won’t break the bank.

In fact, you may even have money left to buy some new furniture (or, at least some new accessories).

Especially if you’re looking to DIY most of the work.

Designer looks can be had on any budget. With a little research, creativity, and a willingness to make a few compromises, you can achieve the look you desire.

Many of the options that are available in cheap flooring are easy to install yourself (DIY). So, you can potentially save even more money.

Why spend a small fortune on floors if you don’t have to? Check out these cheap flooring ideas:

1. Sheet Vinyl Flooring

Pros:

  • There are many options that resemble both stone and wood.
  • It is extremely durable and water resistant.
  • It is very easy to keep clean and maintain.
  • An excellent choice to install over uneven or cracked subfloors.

Cons:

  • Sheet vinyl tends to discolor.
  • It is difficult to repair.
  • Definitely not one of your greener options.

For an extremely low-budget flooring, you can’t beat vinyl sheet flooring. Not only is it inexpensive, it is super easy to maintain.

It is extremely durable and water resistant. If taken care of, these floors can easily last 15 – 20 years.

Sheet vinyl can be installed over all sorts of subfloors, even those that are uneven or have cracks. Just make sure that the subfloor is clean and smooth before installation. Otherwise, you will see bumps on your floor from debris left underneath the sheet vinyl.

 

One downside to sheet vinyl is that it can stain or turn yellow. Rubber from floor mats or the bottom of your shoes can create a chemical reaction that may permanently stain the floor.

Overexposure to sun may also cause your floors to fade or yellow. You can find sheet vinyl that is resistant to discoloration, but you may have to spend a few extra bucks to do so.

It is also not a very green option. Sheet vinyl is made of PVC and may omit volatile organic chemicals. Check with your manufacturer for their statement on VOC’s.

Finally, sheet vinyl is not biodegradable. So, when you decide to upgrade your flooring, your old sheet vinyl may end up in a landfill somewhere.

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2. Luxury Vinyl Planks and Tiles

Pros:

  • Gives your floors a wood or natural stone “look” without the hefty price tag.
  • LVT and LVP can easily be installed over any type of subfloor.
  • It feels soft to touch and walk on.
  • It holds up well against moisture and humidity.

Cons:

  • It isn’t an eco-friendly choice.
  • Luxury vinyl can discolor from too much sunlight.
  • Sharp objects can scratch or gouge it.

Luxury vinyl planks (LVP) and luxury vinyl tiles (LVT) are really popular these days. And they are certainly one of the more affordable options.

The cheapest vinyl planks and tiles that still fit into the luxury category are often priced for less than $1 per square foot. Most of the options this cheap have a wear layer of 2mm or less in thickness.

If you are willing to spend up to $2 per square foot for thicker vinyl plank, you can find more options with a wear layer 3mm or 4mm thick.

LVP and LVT can give your home the look of wood or natural stone flooring for a fraction of the cost. And, unlike laminate, it feels good to walk on.

The downside is that most luxury vinyl has issues when it comes to the environment.

It’s not biodegradable and it can emit VOCs. So, if you have health concerns, LVP and LVT may not be your top inexpensive flooring choices.

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3. Laminate Flooring

Pros:

  • A variety of options to choose from that resemble hardwood, cement & stone flooring.
  • Laminate planks snap together and are easy to install.
  • Do not fade from sun exposure.
  • Laminate is low maintenance and easy to clean.
  • Mold and mildew resistant.

Cons:

  • It can wear out faster than another flooring, especially the more affordable varieties.
  • Laminate can sound hollow and “fake” when you walk on it.
  • Some laminates are made of formaldehyde and can release VOCs.

Yes, most laminate flooring falls into the moderate category of pricing. However, there are some very inexpensive options out there.

You can often find thin laminate for less than $1 per square foot if you are willing to make a few compromises.

Generally, the thinner the product, the cheaper it is. If you’re looking for a good/low price, look for laminate flooring that is less than 8mm thick.

To save even more money, consider installing laminate yourself to save even more money on your floor.

One of the best things about laminate is that it is very low maintenance. It cleans up well, resists mold and mildew, and it won’t fade from sun exposure.

However, if you use a cheap laminate in a high traffic area, it will wear out faster than other materials.

Note: even though it looks like hardwood, laminate often sounds & feels hollow to walk on. Some also complain that when you touch it, laminate floors feel “fake.”

However, if you are in the market for low cost flooring, you do have to make some compromises.

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4. Builder-Grade Hardwood Flooring

Pros:

  • This really is 100% solid wood flooring.
  • Wood floors look and feel warm and natural.
  • Real wood increases your home’s resale value more than any other flooring product.
  • These floors are low maintenance and easy to clean.
  • Wood looks good with most styles & décor.

Cons:

  • Some Builder-Grade boards may have splinters.
  • Expect to find up to 20% of the boards in your bundle unusable.
  • Knots, holes and other imperfections in the boards are common.
  • This grade of solid hardwood does not come with a warranty.

If you are really set on installing a hardwood floor but need a super cheap product, go with builder-grade hardwood. Depending on where you buy it, it is also called utility-grade or rustic hardwood.

This type of wood flooring is not finished, so be sure to factor in the price of finishing your hardwood into your overall budget.

Builder-grade hardwood is sold by the bundle (not the box) and is very rugged. You will probably not be able to use every piece that comes in your bundle.

Some will be broken or split, and some will have knot holes that you could stick your finger through to the other side. However, it is 100% solid wood, and it is likely the cheapest you’ll find if your heart’s set on hardwood floors.

You can find this type of hardwood for less than $2 per square foot. Sometimes you can even find builder-grade under $1 per square foot, but you’re really rolling the dice on quality.

There is no warranty with builder-grade wood. However, if you don’t mind a few compromises, this is likely your best-bet for installing solid wood floors extremely cheaply.

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5. Ceramic Tile

Pros:

  • Highly resistant to water and humidity.
  • Extremely durable.
  • Ceramic is easy to maintain and keep clean.
  • Tons designs to choose from.

Cons:

  • Can feel hard and cold to the touch.
  • Ceramic tiles are difficult to install.
  • Unglazed tile requires sealing.

When it comes to ceramic tile, you can spend a small fortune, or you can spend next to nothing.

Ceramic tiles can be found for as cheap as $0.50 per square foot. Even the tightest of budgets can afford them. However, similar to builder-grade wood (and any other type of flooring, for that matter), the cheaper you go the more likely you are to run into quality issues with your new floors.

Once installed, ceramic is easy to maintain and keep clean. Ceramic tiles are good for anyone suffering from allergies because dust and other particles do not penetrate the tile’s surface.

Even at the lower price points, you have many choices in color and style. Tip: go with a glazed option to avoid the extra cost of sealing and protecting your tiles.

Ceramic tile is inexpensive and durable, but it is also hard and cold. If you are considering tile in a room you plan to stand in often, keep this in mind.

While you may save on the square footage price, you will have to spend a little extra for installation. Ceramic tiles can be a difficult DIY project.

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Installation

Cheap flooring can save you tons of money. If done right, this investment can give your home a high-end look at a fraction of the typical high-end flooring shopper’s cost.

The key phrase here is “if done right.”  Cheap flooring can look like its more expensive counterparts if it is installed correctly.

Otherwise, it just looks plain cheap.

If you are doing the job yourself, be sure to factor in the cost of the proper tools and other materials, such as underlayment and trim, to your overall budget. Put simply, do not skimp on installation.

Or hire a professional to install your floors for you, especially for the more-challenging-to-install flooring types.

Of these cheap flooring options, the ones most suitable for a DIY project are luxury vinyl planks, luxury vinyl tile, and laminate flooring. They snap and lock together and can be placed on top of any type of subfloor.

Hardwood flooring and ceramic tile are simply better left to the pros. They require more tools and are considerably more labor-intensive to install.

Finally, sheet vinyl, while cheap to buy, can also be difficult to install on your own. As always, when in doubt, we’d recommend hiring a pro who can help make sure your sheet vinyl install goes smoothly.

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Which Rooms Do They Work In?

As with any type of flooring, some of these cheap flooring ideas are not suitable for every room in the house.

Builder-grade, or any other grade of solid hardwood, is not recommended for rooms with high humidity and moisture. You’ll likely want to avoid installing any type of wood in bathrooms or basements.

LVP and LVT are extremely versatile and can work in just about any room in the house.  They are easy to walk on and since they resemble wood and natural stone, they look good in any setting.

Laminate also looks good in any room; however, it does have a few limitations (especially cheap laminate). Since inexpensive laminate is often quite thin, it can wear down easily in high traffic areas. And if you install laminate in a bathroom, it is always best to lay a moisture barrier between the planks and the subfloor.

Ceramic tiles are highly durable and easy to maintain. From this standpoint, they can work in any room. But tile is hard and cold. So, if you are thinking about installing ceramic tiles in your bedroom (for instance), you may also want to invest in a large rug.

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Where Can You Find These Options Cheaply?

You can find cheap flooring products at most of your major home improvement and flooring stores.

Home Depot and Lowe’s will often offer clearances on boxes of overstocked inventory. So, if there is enough of what you are looking for to cover your floor, this can be a great deal.

BuildDirect offers many of these flooring options at extremely cheap prices, but you must order a minimum amount to get the best deal.

Lumber Liquidators (LL) is a great place to find cheap laminate and builder-grade solid hardwood. They offer options in both of these flooring products for under $1 per square foot.

Note: LL also has cheap versions of luxury vinyl plank flooring.

And for really cheap ceramic tile, you might consider the options available through Floor & Décor.

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In Conclusion

When you need new flooring in your home, but your budget is tight, there are still plenty of options.

And though you may not get exactly what you dreamed of, if you are willing to make a few compromises, you can get pretty close.

If you like the look of hardwood flooring, go with realistic looking luxury vinyl planks, laminate or a sheet vinyl that resembles wood. Or, you can even get the real thing by choosing builder-grade solid hardwood.

For a nice, stone look, choose from an array of styles in ceramic tile, luxury vinyl tile, or sheet vinyl.

Whatever option you choose, affordable options exist to help you add a fresh, new look to your home that you can enjoy for years to come.

What are some other ways to save money on flooring?

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Jennifer Lester

About Jennifer Lester

Jennifer Lester is a freelance writer, blogger, and home improvement finatic. She loves to write about things that will transform your house into your dream home. Jennifer is a graduate of Texas A&M University. LinkedIn.

8 thoughts on “Cheap Flooring Ideas: 5 Inexpensive & Popular Options”

  1. Avatar

    Installing laminate flooring is relatively easy, but when we have to install through a doorjam and such, that’s when the hardest part came. Homeowners need professional to deliver a great job.

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    As a man who’s been in the floor covering industry not only as a salesman but an installer as well for a decade and a 1/2. This article is hilarious. Very misleading. Sheet vinyl is the worst floor you can ever put down over an uneven subfloor… other than VCT ( Vinyl Composition Tile ).. and any other glue down vinyl floor. You must have a smooth surface with no sudden drops or lifts… like uneven plywood sheet subfloor seams… or cratered concrete.. or drywall mud droppings on the floor.. I have been told. If you were to use normal sheet vinyl and glue it down, if you laid a nickel in between the luan and the sheet vinyl, the next day you could tell if it was up heads or tails. So let me tell you. Sheet vinyl will absolutely conform to whatever is underneath it.

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      good point for a room you don’t care about like a basement and kids ruining it it is a good option and just replace it every few years, sadly but just the facts. The laminates are not so great, we had one over a decade a go by pergo, we got rid of it for a new look, wow Pergo’s new stuff is trash, could not handle any length of water at all.

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    I love that you listed the pros and cons for each of the flooring ideas. I personally love ceramic tile floors and concrete stairs. not just because it’s very durable but it’s so easy to maintain and clean, unlike the others. It’s more expensive but it’s worth it. It’s pretty hard to DIY it much better than if you hire contractors to do the work for you!

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    I had engineered hard wood flooring installed in my kitchen and family room. I was told to use a soft mop and only Bono Floor Cleaner. I find that using this cleaner on the floor shows all marks after its dried. Foot prints, fingerprints etc. It looks like it has a greasy film on it. What else is a good floor cleaner for these types of floors?

    1. Avatar

      Armstrong laminate and wood floor cleaner.. but, you need to get off the film that the bono has left. Check with your wood floor manufacturer.. but vinegar and water may be ok to use. It will definitely do the job unless it’s really bad.. just not sure if it will hurt your finish.

  5. Avatar

    Concrete can be another affordable option. Refinishing concrete floors to be visually appealing can be done for a fraction of the cost of installing new flooring.

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