9 Best Cheap Flooring Ideas That Look Fantastic!

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cheap flooring ideas

If you are looking to spruce up a room, or your entire home, flooring is usually something left out. Flooring can get expensive. Between the materials, tools and professional installation labor costs, floors get overlooked a lot.

However, a new floor can make a world of difference. If you aren’t afraid to think outside the box, you can have incredible, functional and attractive floors on a shoestring budget. Let’s look at the best cheap flooring ideas for today’s homeowner.

Best Cheap Flooring Options

Not everything makes a good floor, fabric, for example. However, there are conventional and non-conventional flooring ideas that can become incredible.

  • Laminate. One of the most inexpensive materials available. With DIY install options, laminate becomes even cheaper.
  • Vinyl. Vinyl can get expensive, but with patience and a little frugality, you can get LVP on the cheap.
  • Cork. Cork is a simple flooring medium and relatively inexpensive. It will need additional materials to finish the floor, though.
  • Pallet wood. With enough time and a truck, you can accumulate enough pallets for a new floor for almost no money at all.
  • Money. A new way to save. Using money (coins) to create a grouted floor surface is doable, and inexpensive.
  • Vinyl records. That old stack of LPs can be put to new use, as a cheap flooring option.
  • Paint. No need for a subfloor when you can paint directly on the concrete. The right paint can save you hundreds.
  • Artificial turf. Maybe not the best option for your living room, but artificial turf is cheap and easy to lay.
  • Carpet remnants. Who says your carpeted floors have to match? Get remnants cheaply and make your own floor.

 

Professional or DIY Installation?

One decision you need to make right away is if you are going to install the floor yourself or hire a professional. Each has its pros and cons, but I won’t cover them here. Hiring a professional gets expensive.

Since we are covering cheap flooring ideas in this article, I will stick to those that are DIY installs to save money (even if they take a lot longer).

That being said, don’t be afraid to call a few contractors and get quotes for the install. You may be surprised and find their cost outweighs your time and effort.

9 Best Cheap Flooring Ideas for Modern Living

best cheap flooring ideas

Below are the 9 best cheap flooring ideas. These modern living examples cover everything from the mundane and inexpensive flooring options to the plain bizarre. How daring are you?

1. Laminate

Laminate flooring has come a long way in the last 40 years.  The laminate planks are pretty inexpensive, and you can even score some decent types for under a dollar per square foot. 

There is a lot to go through with laminate planks, though, and while it is a DIY install, professional installation is available.

Materials Needed:

To install laminate planks in your home, you will need the following:

  • Boxes of the laminate planks.
  • Chalk line.
  • Bubble level.
  • Circular or table saw.
  • Square tool.
  • Underlayment (if not attached to planks)
  • Rubber mallet.
  • Crowbar.

Rooms Suited for Use

You can lay laminate in any room, though  it works best in low to medium traffic areas  such as bedrooms, hallways, closets and living rooms.

If you purchase spill resistant laminate, you can also install in the kitchen. However it is not advised to install in a bathroom as laminate isn’t waterproof.

Flooring Details

Laminate plank flooring is available anywhere you find flooring for sale. Home improvement stores and wholesale outlets are common places to purchase cheap laminate.

The install is a DIY project that requires a few tools, the most expensive being a circular saw. Most laminate is too thick for a cheap utility knife and if you don’t already own a saw, this could be an expense to consider.

Once installed, the floors look good and have an  average life expectancy of 2 to 15 years . Obviously, the cheaper the planks, the less time they will last. Going cheap here means replacing the floor again sooner.

ProsCons
Easy to InstallNot ideal for wet area install (bathrooms, etc.)
Planks are readily availableMaterials are cheap, but tools may not be
Low upfront cost 
Easy to maintain 
Most come with a warranty 

2. Luxury Vinyl Planks

Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP) is a step up from laminate. It is a bit more expensive, but there are still deals and sales that make the planks cost you less than $1 per square foot.

Vinyl is waterproof, too so you can install it in more places than laminate. Like the laminate counterpart, professional installation is available.

Materials Needed:

If you wish to install LVP in your home you will need:

  • The vinyl planks.
  • Bubble level.
  • Chalk line.
  • Utility knife.
  • Square tool.
  • Crowbar.
  • Rubber mallet.

Rooms Suited for Use

LVP can be installed in any room of the home. Because  there are waterproof planks available, they make easy flooring options for bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms .

Depending on the core type and thickness of the LVP, anything from low to high traffic areas are capable of having a vinyl floor.

Flooring Details

LVP is a cheap option in most cases, though if you aren’t careful the planks themselves can get quite expensive. However, if you stay on the low end of the price scale, you can still pick up some decent flooring.

The rest of the tools needed for install can be improvised or something you already have. With a DIY install, the cost remains low. Most planks will also come with a  warranty of at least 5 years in a residential setting . Of course, the more you pay for the materials, the longer the warranty will most likely be.

For the cheapest vinyl planks, you can expect your floor to remain usable for about 4 to 6 years. Beyond that, you will need to pay and have the floors redone again, in most situations.

ProsCons
Many styles to choose fromHigher quality planks get expensive
DIY install to save more moneyCheap planks may not be waterproof
Simple cleaning and maintenance 
Low long-term cost 
Installs in any room 

3. Cork

cork floor

Cork is a flooring material that has been used for centuries. However, most people overlook it as a residential flooring option. Like laminate, cork is not suitable for wet area applications, though it makes a cheap flooring option for the rest of the house.

Cork has also changed a lot over the last few decades, and like laminate and vinyl, is available in inexpensive planks or sheets. DIY install is a little more tedious with cork, but not overly difficult.

Materials Needed:

If you wish to install cork planks as a flooring option, you will need the flooring:

  • Cork planks.
  • Straight edge.
  • Chalk line.
  • Rubber mallet.
  • Saw or plank cutter.
  • Tape measure.
  • Spacers.
  • Tapping block.
  • Sealant.
  • Moisture barrier or underlayment.

Rooms Suited for Use

Cork flooring uses an MDF or HDF core so it won’t be waterproof. This means it isn’t ideal for wet areas like your bathroom or laundry room. With a clear-coat sealant, though, you can help the water resistance and install in a kitchen or dining room.

Anywhere else in the home is fine for cork flooring, and there are a lot of advantages.  Cork is naturally resistant to molds and bacteria , for example.

Flooring Details

Cork planks are a floating flooring option like laminate and vinyl. However, if you are going to install in a kitchen area you must also include a moisture barrier such as plastic sheeting, between the foundation and the cork.

You will also need to apply a clear sealant to ensure moisture, spills and splashes don’t get to the cork plank core. Both of these will add to the cost, but the floor will last a lot longer.

Most  cork flooring will have a 5 to 10 year warranty , though with proper care, and medium foot traffic, they can last much longer.

ProsCons
Easy to install yourselfExtra install materials can be costly
Absorbs soundsInstallation takes longer than other plank options
Naturally mold and bacteria resistant 
Soft and warm underfoot 

4. Upcycled Pallet Wood

What if I told you that you could have new flooring for the cost of a couple of tanks of gas and a box of nails? While not technically correct, it is true. Upcycling, or the repurposing of old items, is a green and common thing to do.

Pallets are sturdy, are  generally made of decent wood and can be used for a lot of things . One of those things is a new floor.

Materials Needed:

To get started on a pallet wood floor you will need the following items:

  • Pallets.
  • Wood screws.
  • Powered screwdriver or drill.
  • Moisture barrier or underlayment.
  • Waterproofing sealant.
  • Circular or table saw.
  • Floor sander.

Rooms Suited for Use

With the right treatment of the wood and underlayments, you can install pallet wood floors in any room of the home. However, it isn’t advised to use in bathrooms as it can be difficult to replace fixtures or repair water damage if it occurs.

Most pallet wood floors are found in entry ways, hallways and smaller guest rooms. Though extending this to a kitchen or dining room isn’t a bad way to go.

Flooring Details

You can find used pallets for pretty cheap. In most cases it requires driving around to various stores (or calling ahead) and asking if you can have their old pallets.

Other options include looking for postings on Craigslist or FB Marketplace where you can find people giving them away or selling bulk pallets for cheap.

Once you have the pallets, you need to pull them apart, measure your floor and start screwing. It is advised to use a fixed subfloor made of plywood to screw the boards to, but it isn’t a requirement.

You should also have an underlayment and moisture barrier to help prevent the wood from soaking up water, spills or humidity. Any deck treatment or sealant will also work well on the finished floor.

You can also rent a floor sander to make the finished floor smooth and even, before you treat the wood.

ProsCons
Materials are cheap and sometimes freeTakes a lot of measuring and cutting
Great for a rustic, non-uniform lookRequires constant treatments and sealants
Not required to wait 24 hours for settling 
Can be installed in any room 

5. Money

If you are going to spend money on your floor, why not use money as the floor?  Coins are a common flooring material that can give you a unique and eccentric conversation piece. 

When using coins, you can grout and seal them just like tile and have the same effect. This makes the installation a little easier, though it is tedious.

Materials Needed:

If you want to use money on your floors, you will need quite a few coins, plus other materials.

  • Coins.
  • Tile grout.
  • Sealant.
  • Underlayment.

Rooms Suited for Use

Coins don’t swell with water or humidity. You can use the coin flooring wherever you desire. Because of the time it takes to lay a money floor, smaller rooms like a bathroom, closet or small bedroom are better uses for this flooring type.

Flooring Details

Coins come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Pennies are obviously the most widely used. They are cheap (they only cost a penny each!) and are generally uniform in circumference and thickness.

However, you can use foreign coins, random pocket change, or even quarters if you like. You can make patterns or designs, too.

Depending on your skill with grout and laying tiles, you can use any coins and still achieve a flat, uniform surface.

The down side is collecting and transporting the coins for the project. You will need about 250 to 270 pennies to cover a square foot (depending on spacing). That obviously means you are spending $2.50 to $2.70 per square foot for the flooring material.

When you add in the epoxy or grout, your cost increases. However, the care and maintenance are low and you don’t have to worry about damaging your pennies.

If you are extra frugal, you can wander parking lots and other populated areas and collect pennies off the ground. If they are too damaged for use, you can exchange them, for free, at a bank.

While this may take a lot of time, you can eventually have enough coins to cover your area for free. Most penny floors, however, are bought by the box at a bank to save time.

ProsCons
Unique flooring optionCan take a while to get all the materials
Seals easily for use in all roomsFlooring will be heavy when completed
Only your imagination limits the patterns available 

6. Vinyl Records

vinyl records

Like the pennies, old records are also a unique and fun flooring option. If you don’t have your own collection of records (or do and don’t want to use them), you can get old records by the bundle for cheap prices.

Materials Needed:

To install a record floor you will need a few items and some time.

  • Records to cover the space.
  • Clear epoxy.
  • Glue.
  • Straight edge.
  • Utility knife.
  • Underlayment/Moisture barrier.

Rooms Suited for Use

The rooms you can use a record floor in are numerous. However it will matter what type of epoxy you use.

If you plan to use records for flooring tiles, make sure your glue and epoxy are waterproof. You should also use an underlayment and moisture barrier to prevent wet room leaks from damaging the floor underneath.

Flooring Details

Records make a fantastic floor in spare rooms or conversion rooms into a gaming or studio space. They are sure to catch eyes and start conversations. If you do the flooring right, you can even install record tiles in a bathroom.

You can pick up records at music stores. If you asked for damaged, scratched or otherwise “not for sale” albums, you might get them for free or at a huge discount. It is also worthwhile to check out estate sales and garage sales where you can haggle the cost down for taking all the records sight unseen.

The records themselves should be used whole where possible to minimize installation time. Along the walls, though, you may want to cut an edge straight to maintain a pattern or keep each row uniform.

The epoxy will protect the floor, fill in gaps and when set, make the floor level and smooth. You should note, though, that there is no heat retention here, so these floors are going to be colder underfoot than you may like.

ProsCons
You can collect the records for cheapTime consuming to lay
Functional flooring in a studioCan get cold underfoot
You won’t need a lot of records to cover a floor space. 

7. Painted Cement

Finished basements or rooms with a bare concrete floor may be unappealing. However, with a few cans of paint and a paint brush or roller, you can give that old floor a new look.

Knowing how to  shop for the right paint can save you a lot of money , too. Depending on your expectations, this may be done for free.

Materials Needed:

To paint a concrete floor you will need the following items:

  • Paint.
  • Brushes and rollers.
  • Paint thinner.
  • Clear coat.

Rooms Suited for Use

The only rooms you cannot paint the floors on are in rooms where the floors are not suitable for paint. For the most part, a bare concrete floor is only found in basements or add-on rooms. This is where you will want to focus your attention.

The floors can get extremely cold underfoot, so a living room, kitchen or bathroom may not be the best rooms to paint the floor.

Flooring Details

Finding paint is easy. You can get gallons of it almost anywhere. However, if you want to do it cheaply, you can get great deals on certain paints, if you are willing.

If you aren’t worried about the exact color, for example, most paint shops will sell their mistakes at a huge discount. When these companies color match, sometimes, the color is wrong. Instead of tossing the paint out, they will put it on a clearance rack for a quick sale.

Don’t discount trial sizes, either. While a lot of chain stores charge for their half-pints of tester paints, some still give them away for free. If you collect enough of them, you can get enough paint to cover your floor for the price of nothing.

Painting the floor can also be a family project. Getting the kids involved to draw their own designs or pictures will make a fun day of having a new floor installed.

Once the paint is dried, you should use a clear coat finish to top it off and protect the paint (and memories) for a longer time.

ProsCons
Easy to applyPaint can get expensive
Anyone can paint a floorConcrete floors will need rugs to stay warm
Designs, murals or simple single colors all work 
Imagination is the only limitation 

8. Artificial Turf

Artificial turf is a great flooring when all things are considered. While you may not want it in the bedroom or kitchen, it makes a great addition to a garage or other small area.

 Turf can be used indoors or outside and makes a great, inexpensive flooring on top of almost any other surface. 

Materials Needed:

When you install turf flooring, you don’t need a whole lot of materials. Different areas will require different types, though.

  • Rolls of turf.
  • Glue.
  • Underlayment.
  • Utility knife.

Rooms Suited for Use

Artificial turf doesn’t wear quickly, even under heavy foot traffic. It is also waterproof and can be washed off with a hose. However, unless it is in the sun, drying can take a while leading to bacteria growth.

For this reason it is advised that turf not be installed in wet areas like bathrooms. The ideal situation, of course, is on a patio or deck, or in a basement or game room. However, this is up to you.

Flooring Details

You should note that there is a small difference in artificial turf and artificial grass. Make sure you shop for the right materials. On average turf isn’t that expensive. While some will come with an attached padded underlayment, raising the cost, you can save money by looking for the ones without this feature.

Underlayments should be used, but you can lower your cost by up to 50% buying the two separate. Turf also comes in large rolls, further reducing the price since you aren’t buying it by the foot.

To lay the turf is simple. Once the underlayment is down, you just need to dab the glue to the underlayment and to the turf as you unroll it. When you get to an edge or a wall, you just have to cut the excess, move to the nest row and start again.

ProsCons
Easy DIY installNot suitable for an entire home
Perfect for a finished basement or game roomCan hold water which can mold or mildew
Fairly easy to clean and maintain 
Lasts up to 20 years or more 

9. Carpet Mosaic

carpet mosaic

Wall to wall carpeting can get expensive. However, if you are willing to forgo traditional carpeting, you can save a lot of money and have a lot of fun making your own floor covering.

Carpet remnants and odd pieces make great patterns, designs and are unique to each room. Plus, once they are laid, the cleaning is simple.

Materials Needed:

Laying a carpet mosaic is more difficult than installing a full roll. You need enough pieces to cover your entire floor, plus the materials to keep them attached.

  • Carpeting remnants or squares.
  • Subflooring.
  • Carpet padding.
  • Carpet glue.
  • Carpet tacks.
  • Utility knife.

Rooms Suited for Use

Any room in the home you can install carpet can also be used to install a carpet mosaic. Wet areas are not a good option for obvious reasons.

However, depending on the types of remnants you collect, this type of carpet laying looks good in any other room of the house.

Flooring Details

A carpet mosaic is made by gathering bits, pieces and flooring example squares and placing each piece individually on the floor.

It is a time consuming process, especially if you are attempting a repeated pattern or design. However, acquiring these pieces can be done for relatively cheap.

One of the best methods is to visit your local flooring companies. Each year new carpeting is released and the samples and showroom pieces from last year’s models are tossed in a back room.

Asking to buy these example squares and remnants will often result in a truck load of carpet pieces for little to no money.

You can also look for carpet installers and ask about their haul away or discard pieces. Many times, the extra little pieces they had to cut to fit the install just end up in the trash, which can go in your trunk instead.

Installing takes a bit of time and you will need to prep the floor, lay the carpet pad and tack down the subfloor first.

From there, you simply find a piece of carpeting you like, glue it in place and move to the next.

ProsCons
Can get enough carpeting to cover your entire home for almost freeTime consuming process
DIY installDifficult to accomplish patterns and designs
Fun for everyone to get involved 
Low maintenance and upkeep 

Cautions When Finding Materials

flooring materials

I want to mention a few things before you head out to gather your new flooring materials. Mainly you should always know what you are getting, where it came from and where it has been.

When you do gather your supplies, make sure you store everything outside, clean it well and do all prep work to the pieces outside your home.

A lot of the free pick-up items are probably stored outside until you come to collect them. Pallets are a great place for bugs to burrow and hide. You don’t want to bring that into your home.

Carpeting is easy to acquire but you should refrain from taking old carpet from someone’s home. Mold, mildew, pet stains and odors as well as the possibility of bed bugs should all be considered before you load up your remnants and pieces.

If you are buying your carpet, check out this guide to carpet costs.

Always wear your safety equipment when cutting, dismantling pallets, or using the hammers, saws and knives to get the perfect sided pieces.

When working with glues and epoxies, you should always be well hydrated and working in a ventilated area.

Frequently Asked Questions

flooring faqs

Below are a few commonly asked questions about cheap flooring. If you have other questions, feel free to use the comment section below.

Q. Will unique flooring detract from the home’s resale value?

  1. Most flooring will never raise the value of a home, should you decide to sell. The one exception is hardwood flooring. However, a unique floor, like coins, paint or carpet mosaics can turn off potential buyers. Overall, though, they won’t decrease the value of the home.

Q. What is the best way to get flooring cheap?

  1. Online shopping through garage sale sites like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and the like are ideal for finding great deals on flooring materials. Don’t discount your local stores, though. Many stores only carry limited supplies and current models. Last year’s examples and pieces are tossed in a warehouse taking up space. Talking to the right manager may get you the older pieces for a cheap price, or even free.

Q. Will a professional install a coin floor?

  1. Some contractors won’t touch anything that isn’t conventional. However, there are many that love working on one of a kind projects. The best bet is to get a list of flooring contractors in your area and call them for an estimate. As long as you are upfront about what you want done, many of them will work with you to get the best price available.

Conclusion

Cheap flooring ideas come in many different methods and at weird times. Don’t ever discount something as a flooring option just because that wasn’t the original intent.

Modern living is packed full of green or upcycling ideas for flooring and other home projects and you never know what may spark your interest for your next flooring project.

Photo of author

AUTHOR

Nora has more than 5 years experience in the floor covering industry, acquiring vast knowledge about installation and material selection. She now enjoys working as a writer and an interior decorator. Her work has been featured in The Spruce, Homes & Gardens, Southern Living and Real Homes. See full biography here.

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