Budget-Friendly Flooring: Choosing the Right Flooring for Your Wallet

Budget Friendly Flooring Ideas

Choosing the right flooring comes down to a handful of unique considerations. There’s the durability, the feel and, of course, the look. But even if you find a floor that ticks all of your specific boxes, if there’s one box left unchecked—budget—then you can chalk it up to a loss.

Luckily, as competition heightens and companies continue to make sharp innovations, flooring is becoming easier for consumers to access. Gone are the days when your two choices were hardwood and tile. Now, all sorts of materials are being used for luxury flooring without the cost of luxury flooring.

Cheap: Carpet, $1-$11 Per Square Foot*

Carpet can be one of the cheapest flooring options out there, but with caveats. The price of carpeting varies widely based on which type you choose, with economical carpet tiles ringing up for under a buck and luxurious wool and berber options costing over $10 per square foot. Therefore, carpet could arguably one of the cheapest or most expensive types of flooring on the list, depending on your preferences. You should install this type of floor anywhere you want a warm, comfortable, and cozy feel, such as the living room or bedroom, but it shouldn’t be installed in wet or humid environments.

Cheap: Laminate, $1-$6 Per Square Foot*

Laminate has gone out of fashion a bit in recent years, in part because of the rise of ultra-popular luxury vinyl, which is more water-resistant and may be more affordable, though the prices are very comparable. With that being said, many people still prefer laminate floors over vinyl because it’s closer in composition to wood and offers a realistic wood look. In fact, most laminate is actually a 99 percent wood product, made from multiple layers of high-density fiberboard and resin. It’s usually finished with a photographic applique layer that makes it look a lot like real wood.

Unsurprisingly, durable laminate flooring is also shown to bring a higher resale value than vinyl and offers a thicker, warmer and all-around more comfortable feel under-foot. Durability-wise, it can handle high foot traffic and will resist abrasions, so it’s an excellent pick for your pet- and kid-friendly living spaces. Although it’s one of the costlier types of budget flooring, laminate is exceptionally DIY friendly (think: Pergo), which means you can save a bundle on labor costs when you opt to install this type of flooring yourself.

Cheap: Luxury Vinyl, $2.50-$5 Per Square Foot*

Next-up: luxury vinyl flooring. The darling of the flooring world at present, luxury vinyl planks (LVP) and luxury vinyl tiles (LVT) bring beauty, style, performance, and affordability. Like laminate, vinyl floors are often made to look just like real wood and are DIY-friendly. Vinyl was once treated as the “for now” flooring option among budget-minded renovators, but this flooring type has really come a long way since it debuted in the 1940s.

Vinyl flooring is also exceptionally versatile, which means it generally works well in almost all design schemes and rooms. While wood-look luxury vinyl is probably the most popular, this type of floor also comes in stone or ceramic patterns, so it works well in all sorts of spaces. Last, there’s no denying the DIY-friendliness of vinyl, as most vinyl planks and tiles come in a click-lock design for quick and easy installation.

Cheaper Still: Sheet Vinyl, $0.50-$2 Per Square Foot*

Generally speaking, sheet vinyl offers the same performance benefits as vinyl planks or tiles, since they’re all cut from the same metaphorical cloth. The difference, of course, is in the format—sheet vinyl flooring comes in sheets or rolls, whereas tiles and planks are installed individually, like hardwood or ceramic tiles. The sheet aspect makes the materials bulky, less versatile, and less customizable. With that being said, up-front costs of sheet vinyl are lower, making it a viable option for those who are solely focused on budget.

There are some things you should know before you roll out the vinyl, though. First and foremost: Because of the nature of this type of flooring, repairs are more difficult. Unlike planks or tiles, you can’t easily replace a section in the event of a scratch, chip, or stain. If your sheet vinyl becomes too worn or dirty, it may need to be replaced. As a result, this means that this type of floor will probably be more expensive over time when compared with vinyl planks or tiles.

Cheapest: Plywood, Under $1 Per Square Foot

If you’re here to find the cheapest flooring option out there, look to plywood. Though it may not offer as much of the performance, comfort, and beauty as the above options, plywood flooring can still be a wonderful option for some homeowners. You’ll definitely lose out when it comes to longevity, with regard to plywood floors, as it’s not as long-wearing or durable as many of the above options. With that being said, plywood is ridiculously affordable, with some DIY-ers reporting that their complete plywood installation cost less than $200!

The Downsides of Going Cheap

Many of us don’t have the option to upgrade to higher-cost hardwood, but it’s important to note that no material will last as long as real wood floors, both engineered and solid. The reason behind this is that these floors can be sanded down and refinished multiple times—solid wood more than engineered, of course—and, therefore, can serve a space for many generations. With that said, the above floor types can still last for decades with proper care and maintenance.

Taking the time to think about what you want out of your floors will help ensure that you’re confident with your selection. Remember, you’ll have to look at your floors every day, so you want to make sure they make you feel happy and comfortable.

You might also like to read:
Is it Very Easy to Install Wood Flooring Yourself?
Different Flooring Options For A Kitchen
Differences Between Solid and Engineered Hardwood Flooring
Hardwood Floors Refinishing Guide

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