When you think about flooring you probably don’t think about your backyard.
However patios, walkways, decking and more are technically all flooring and your backyard can benefit from the right options.
Cheap Outdoor Flooring Options
- 1 Cheap Outdoor Flooring Options
- 2 Buyer’s Guide: Purchasing Factors for Cheap Backyard Flooring
- 3 Best Low Cost Outdoor Flooring Solutions for Your Backyard
- 4 Pros and Cons of Cheap Outdoor Flooring
- 5 Frequently Asked Questions
- 6 Conclusion
There are plenty of options to add flooring to your yard, but some are cheaper than others. Below are some of the most affordable options on the market right now.
- Natural Items. Stones and rocks are often used when found on site for steppers and pavers. If you dig up enough you can get a walkway or small patio area without spending any money.
- Stone pavers. When you buy in bulk you can get pavers for less than 50 cents each. This is a great savings for produced stone in shapes and designs.
- Composite decking. With it’s weatherproof and waterproof properties composite decking makes a great, affordable flooring option.
- Artificial turf. Fake grass and stone tiles or rolls are a great way to add ambiance on the cheap.
- Rubber tiles. You can place rubber tiles down to create walkways, seating areas and more, for low prices.
Buyer’s Guide: Purchasing Factors for Cheap Backyard Flooring
Type of Ground to Cover
One of the most important aspects of your outdoor ground cover is to know what type of ground you have. Grass and dirt have a different need than clay or sand. There are different base soils types and ground types from one region to another.
Knowing the type of ground you plan to cover with outdoor flooring will go a long way to helping you choose the right options
The layout of the land is also critical. Hills with valleys, flat yards, or even those infested with critters will have different requirements. You need to know if there are burrowing moles or chipmunks in your yard, or if your back patio area is where the birds love to hang out.
The terrain, layout and wildlife will all play a major role in what type of flooring you decide to go with.
Elements and Weather
Another major factor is the weather and the elements in your region. With current climate issues, it gets cold and hot in almost all areas. However, northern regions still have much colder winters with icy winds and long bouts of below freezing temperatures.
This will require different flooring types than southern states with higher humidity and long, hot summers. You know what type of consistent weather your region has and this will tell you which flooring types to look at closer and which to avoid.
Coverage Area Size
The size of the project is also important. Making a small 4×4 square foot table slab will require different types and amounts of materials compared to a full walkway with living and cooking spaces.
The overall size of the space will determine the amount of material you need to purchase. It also helps you know if you need any additional pieces, equipment or even help completing the project.
Your materials list can be as simple or complicated as you need it to be. Obviously you need the flooring, but you also need a way to anchor the flooring to the ground, tools, fasteners, and much more.
Depending on the flooring type you choose, the materials and accessories list will change. You need to know exactly what your chosen flooring type will require before you buy. Budget all parts and accessories as you learn what is needed so you are always prepared for anything that comes up.
Don’t forget to include things you may not have which are taken for granted, such as shovels, trowels and lawn care equipment.
DIY or Professional Install
One of the major factors to consider is how you will install the new outdoor flooring. Almost all options are DIY capable as long as you have the time, knowledge and desire. For most options there aren’t many specialty tools needed and you probably already have the few that are required.
If you don’t have the time, knowledge or desire, though, you can always hire the installation out. Finding a well vetted professional can be a hassle. Luckily we have a solution.
By partnering with Networx, we are able to bring you a free tool that does all the heavy lifting for you.
After you enter your information and needs, Networx scans their database for the latest information on properly vetted professionals in your area. You will get an email with up to 4 results of well reviewed, rated, licensed and trained professionals.
Cost and Warranty
Finally, the cost and warranty will be a major decision factor as well. Many pavers and items like outdoor rubber, tiles and stone won’t come with a warranty. These are generally bought in bulk for medium to large projects or as one-offs for smaller ones.
However, if you opt for things like pressure treated lumber, composite woods and pre-built options, a warranty may well be included. Make sure you check the warranty paperwork to know what is included, covered and for how long.
The price will be the total cost of the project, out of pocket, up front. This will cover your materials, tools, accessories, installation and labor fees and more. When making your budget, though, make sure you also include future costs such as cleaning supplies, maintenance and replacement options.
Best Low Cost Outdoor Flooring Solutions for Your Backyard
While any weather-resistant material can be used for outdoor spaces, some are better than others. Instead of wasting your time covering every possibility just for the sake of doing so, we will focus on the best options.
1. Composite Decking
Composite decking is a combination of wood and plastic. It requires virtually no maintenance and will last for decades. One of the highest selling points is that while composite decking is expensive upfront, it has a near zero dollar long term cost.
Composite decking is also rated for direct-ground contact. This means that you can use the composite wood for building a deck or for making patios, walkways and sitting areas. You will also find that composite has the most style and color options.
Being processed and dyed at the factory means that composite can come in a wide variety of colors. You will find everything from natural wood tones, stone and rock tones and even vibrant and unique colors.
Best of all, composite decking comes with a warranty (between 20 and 50 years depending on brand and application). It is advised to have composite professionally installed, but with the proper tools and time a DIY install is possible.
Concrete has a lot of uses and it is often overlooked as a flooring option. Primarily because we tend to think of concrete as sidewalk material or as a subfloor. However, concrete can be an inexpensive and decorative answer to your outdoor flooring needs.
Concrete is generally a professional installation only, especially if you have never poured and troweled concrete before. If you don’t know what you are doing you can end up with a lumpy, uneven or pot-marked mess.
Aside from the difficult install and high initial purchase price, concrete can last for decades without needing much more maintenance than an occasional spraying off with a garden hose.
The downside, though, is that once the concrete is set it cannot easily be moved or re-positioned. It will also weather and fade so adding to the original pour later on will have some interesting color differences.
You are also quite limited on color and design options, though you can get paver stencils to make patterns in the surface before it dries and give a unique look to your flooring.
3. Artificial Grass Tiles
Artificial grass is a little different than the turf found on playgrounds or on school fields. It is lush, plush and has a long infill that looks just like real grass. You can find these in 12×12-inch tiles and the grass can mimic a real grass type or be colored almost any vibrant color you wish.
These tiles are great by themselves as they offer a DIY-friendly alternative to an actual lawn or the need for expensive flooring alternatives.
You can even use them in conjunction with concrete or ceramic tiles of the same size to make paths, patterns or designs in your backyard. Because the tiles are artificial they are recyclable and offer very low maintenance.
The downside is that while an individual tile can be low priced, buying enough to do an entire backyard setting can add up quickly. For the same price, composite decking or stone pavers will give you a lot more coverage.
However, if you are looking for something to add a splash of greenery where it otherwise wouldn’t grow or couldn’t be maintained, these offer an ideal solution. If you get tired of the design you made you can even move them around without a lot of fuss.
4. Outdoor Carpeting
Outdoor carpeting is a low pile carpet designed to get wet and dirty without breaking down. It can still grow mold, though so regular cleaning and treatments are needed. However, the trade off is that it is one of the cheapest options available.
The biggest downside, though, is that carpet wears out a lot faster than the other options. Instead of 20+ years, you may get 5 years out of the carpeting. However, because you can clean it with a broom, vacuum or even garden hose, the maintenance is relatively low and the price is highly affordable.
Carpet is also the softest solution underfoot and comes in almost any color, style or design you can imagine. There are even brands out there that will custom make your carpet to match your color schemes and décor.
Carpet does fade quickly if exposed to direct sunlight and it holds up better in warmer, drier climates. However as a quick, easy to put down and affordable option, outdoor carpet is hard to beat.
5. Natural Stone
Natural stone comes in many forms and you can get stone slabs, bricks, or pavers. Some homeowners find enough stone and rock on their own property to build walkways, small patios and more.
If, however, you don’t have large stones or not enough, you can also buy them at any home improvement store. Usually the natural stone will be sold by the piece, and there tend to be discounts for buying in bulk.
Natural stone, though (and depending on the type and size or the stone or pavers) is one of the most expensive options out there. However, we added it to the list because of its total cost over time.
Stone won’t wear down, fade, or lose stability. Once you pay for the stones and have them installed, you have a flooring for life. It also has virtually zero maintenance or upkeep so you won’t spend any more money on this investment.
For a higher initial cost, you actually end up saving money in a few years and it continues to accumulate total savings the longer you go, making it one of the greenest and most economical solutions around.
At a Glance
The top outdoor flooring all have their draws and options, but let’s take a quick glance at how they compare to each other. Please note the cost is an average of all available styles, options and purchase locations around the country. Your actual costs will vary slightly.
|Type||Difficulty||Styles||Install Method||Life Expectancy||Cost|
|Composite Decking||Medium||Many||DIY/Pro||25+ Years||$8 to $15 per sq. ft.|
|Concrete||High||Few||Pro||50+ Years||$10 to $15 per sq. ft.|
|Grass Tiles||Low||Some||DIY||5 – 10 years||$10 per sq. ft.|
|Outdoor Carpet||Low||Many||DIY||3 – 7 years||$1 to $4 per sq. ft.|
|Natural Stone||Medium||Many||DIY/Pro||Lifetime||$15 to $35 per sq. ft.|
Pros and Cons of Cheap Outdoor Flooring
Outdoor flooring comes in a lot of styles with a ton of options and many different uses. Raised decking, for example, or even on-ground walk-way tiling. The type of material, how it is used and where it is installed are all factors that can make or break your decision.
But do you even need outdoor flooring? What benefits do they offer? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of installing flooring outdoors.
The most obvious benefit is having a firm, solid foundation to walk on when you go into your yard. You won’t have to worry much about soggy grass or mud after bad weather and you can even set up patio furniture and a barbecue or fire pit for entertainment.
From walkways to full decks, outdoor flooring gives you a space to enjoy the outdoors right in your own home. The one obvious downside is that it costs. Both time and money need to be spent to accomplish what you want.
While there are cheap and affordable options, you also have long-term costs like resurfacing, cleaning, maintenance and repairs. On top of the initial costs, some flooring options can actually double, triple or more the initial cost over time.
Frequently Asked Questions
In this section we will give answers to the most commonly asked questions about outdoor flooring. If you have further questions or concerns, please use the comment section below.
Q. Will outdoor flooring fade in the sun?
- Many flooring options for outdoor flooring are susceptible to UV penetration and fading. Woods like Ipe and Cuamru are sometimes left to fade as their beauty can increase. However for composite wood and standard lumber, you will need to look for options with a UV resistant coating.
Q. Can I recycle my outdoor flooring?
- Some materials like artificial grass can be recycled, but the amount and limitations will vary by region. Backings and infills for these recycled materials aren’t accepted by all facilities though, so you need to call your local recycling department and find out before you buy.
Q. Can wood be installed in contact with the ground?
- Pressure treated lumber comes in various grades, some of which are rated for in or below-ground install. The same is true for composite wood, which is rated for above, at or below ground install. Some types are even installed in wet areas or underwater, making them ideal for poolside flooring. Read more about pressure treated lumber ratings here.
Q. What is the most eco-friendly outdoor flooring option?
- Easily the most eco-friendly option is natural stone. While they can be sourced directly from your land, even those that you buy at your local home improvement are cheaper, go through less processing and require minimal treatments, maintenance and effort.
Finding low cost and durable backyard flooring is something that isn’t always easy to do. There are a lot of factors that vary from location to location. Things like typical weather and temperatures, layout of your yard, rodent and pest issues and even size all play a role.
All told there are over 2 dozen options for outdoor flooring to choose from, plus countless styles, features and even colors. The best option for you may have a price tag attached to it, which it does for many homeowners. Hopefully this article has helped you identify some of the more affordable and long lasting options out there.