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Cheap Flooring Ideas: 10 Best Low-Cost Alternatives to Hardwood Flooring

Flooring is one expense that can eat up a large portion of a remodel budget, but you don't have to sacrifice style for cost. These cheap flooring ideas are great alternatives and give hardwood flooring a run for its money!

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installing hardwood flooringPatryk Kosmider/Shutterstock

Cheap DIY Flooring: Laminate Flooring

Laminate is one of the least expensive choices for residential flooring, because it’s been around for so long there are many different avenues to try. When it comes to cheap flooring ideas, laminate is a good choice for people who are hard on floors, so if you have children and pets, it’s a smart selection. It’s also one of the hotter flooring options out there, make sure to check out the others. The new designs for laminate plank floors and laminate tiles have transformed into modern, on-trend designs. To make the choice easier take into account these ideas when choosing laminate flooring.

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bamboo floorsAnna Oleksenko/Shutterstock

Bamboo Flooring

Bamboo has become one of the most popular choices for flooring because of its price and durability. This option is not only cheaper than hardwood, it’s tough and can withstand a lot of abuse. Another benefit to bamboo flooring is that the planks look similar to hardwood. Check out this guide for how to care for bamboo floors. Bamboo is also great for repurposing, like these old blinds.

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Porcelain TilesESBuka/Shutterstock

Carpet Alternatives: Porcelain Tiles

If you want to try something other than vinyl, but still want something less expensive than wood, try porcelain tiles. Even if you don’t have any tile experience, you can tile a small room in a weekend and end up with a great looking, durable floor. We’ll show you how to save hundreds of dollars by installing the floor yourself. And if you lay the tile yourself the cost of the tile will be the biggest expense, making it an even better option when it comes to cheap flooring ideas.

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cork floorVanoVasaio/Shutterstock

Flooring Options: Cork Flooring

For those who are eco-friendly, cork flooring is a good option. Cork flooring is a natural, renewable product that’s easy to install yourself with basic tools. It’s also attractive, quiet under foot and easy to clean. It’s a great choice for living rooms, offices and even the kitchen. Easy-to-cut cork tiles and a homemade cutting jig make this a hassle-free DIY project. Most of the time when we think about cork, we’ve got wine on the mind, so while we’re at it, check out the 23 most incredible ways to store wine.

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minimalist fireplace concretePhotographee.eu/Shutterstock

Easy Cheap Flooring: Concrete

Design-wise, concrete has evolved over the past few years and is now incorporated into many aspects of a home, like this surprisingly elegant table or these more utilitarian designs with concrete blocks. Concrete floors and counter tops are just a couple of examples. This material is a versatile flooring option because it can be used in modern designs and in a rustic farm house. To ensure these floors last, take a look at these concrete finishing tips.

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carpet squares kids children playingFamily Handyman

Carpet Squares

If you think installing carpet is time-consuming and complicated, think again. Modular carpet, aka carpet squares, is one of the easiest floor coverings to install and one of the easiest cheap flooring ideas. You simply lay the squares on the floor; adhesive strips and the carpet’s heavy backing hold them in place. You can finish most rooms in a day, if not an afternoon. And you can use it anywhere. You can add whimsy to a kids’ playroom, like the brilliantly cartoonish furniture Judson Beaumont creates, or create an elegant look in a formal dining room. A carpet pad isn’t required for this flooring option and they can be repositioned or removed at any time. For more help on how to properly place carpet squares use these tips.

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Plywood Plankswk1003mike/Shutterstock

DIY Flooring Ideas on a Budget: Plywood Planks

Construction-grade plywood was once only reserved for subfloors and sheathing, but now it’s making a splash as an affordable residential flooring. There are two ways you can go with this flooring option: Remove the existing flooring and refinish the plywood subfloor beneath, or install new plywood, cut into planks or any creative design you choose, on top of an existing subfloor. Whichever route you choose, if you take your time and apply a hardy topcoat such as polyurethane that will stand up to everyday foot traffic, you can create a stunning, one-of-a-kind floor. Plywood’s great for a variety of projects, like some of these incredible headboards you should add to your bedroom.

The world of plywood is vast and complicated but once you learn the grades you can find the right plywood for the job.

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Peel Stick TilesU.J. Alexander/Shutterstock

Cheap DIY Flooring Ideas: Peel and Stick Tiles

Peel and stick vinyl tiles are one of the most inexpensive flooring options for homeowners. And if you’re good at measuring and are comfortable using a utility knife, you’ll have no problem installing a basic vinyl tile floor. This flooring is virtually indestructible, is often waterproof and is easier to install than most other flooring materials. Because of these features, this flooring is perfect for a basement or a bathroom. However, the best part about this flooring is the infinite number of designs you can create once you learn a few special techniques. If something does happen to your vinyl tiles, like a stain, check out these tips for how to easily fix them.

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Sheet VinylThe Home Depot

Sheet Vinyl

For a really inexpensive and simple floor option, vinyl sheeting may be your best bet. When installing sheet vinyl there are a couple of steps you don’t want to forget including; making a template of the floor size and shape, and making sure the underlayment is level. For help deciding on the type of sheet vinyl you want, don’t miss these tips.

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refinish hardwood floors sandingFamily Handyman

Update Existing Floors

If you’re lucky and already have wood floors to work with, there are ways to fix and update them without spending a lot of money. You will have to decipher whether a floor only needs a new coat of polyurethane or if it needs to be completely refinished.

When the damage to the floor is more extensive, this is when it needs to be sanded and have a new application of stain and top coat. Make sure you test a couple different stain colors on a small patch of the floor before committing. To learn how to fix scratches and nixes check out these ideas.

Jordan Spence
I currently write for a small daily newspaper in Northern Michigan. Previous to this job I reported at the Petoskey News Review for three years. At this publication I wrote, edited and took most of my own photos.