Cheap Flooring Ideas: 5 Options that Keep Your Budget and Style
| Fact Checked By: Ashley De Zeeuw
Published: December 20, 2019 | Updated: November 30, 2020
It’s easy to ignore cheap flooring ideas if you want to avoid looking cheap. So how do you find flooring that is stylish and budget-friendly: do you sacrifice the work and design to keep a budget or break the bank for the sake of durable floors? Great news, you don’t have to choose!
Picture this: you’re redesigning a space and doing so on a budget. You slap a new coat of paint on the walls, find charming furniture to fill it with, and the plan seems to be coming together just as you imagined. Until you look down and see the flooring (queue the dramatic music here).
Have no fear! Peel and stick, sheet vinyl, luxury vinyl, cork tiles and planks, and laminate flooring have the guaranteed bang for your buck for your floors to make a statement and last, without wasting your budget.
Let’s explore these options in more detail to see how easy it is to install, and obtain dazzling, affordable floors.
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Peel and Stick
Ah, the most misunderstood and unappreciated flooring option in floor-land. When you hear “peel and stick flooring”, I’m sure your mind bounces from an arts and crafts project to flooring that’s doing more peeling than sticking. So why would I, your guide, bring this option up so early into this post? Let’s talk through it.
Installing Peel and Stick Flooring
But will it stick?
It is a common myth that peel and stick floors will eventually lift from the ground, supernaturally. The truth is, when installed properly, on a flat surface, this floor is durable and can withstand the test of time with an adhesive that’s engineered to last.
Simply peel it, stick it, and mind the edges of each piece for clean lines and voila, you’re done!
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Almost all flooring has peel and stick installation for a reason; in fact, you’ll notice it’s an installation option for some of the flooring mentioned in this post. This alternative can be used in several capacities, both basic and luxurious, and will stick around for a long time.
Pros and Cons of Peel and Stick Flooring
- Options on options: Do you want multi-colored tile, wood, artificial grass, or carpet? Peel and stick flooring has it. Yes, even carpet!
- Durability: Peel and stick floor’s improved technology has it in for the long-haul. With different levels of thickness, you can customize the comfort and durability of the floor, making it easily cleaned and maintained.
- Easy install: With peel and stick flooring, there’s no need to hire a professional when you can peel it and stick it, all on your own! Most peel and stick tiles and planks are waterproof, so it can also be installed on any flat surface with ease.
- DIY-friendly: DIY-ers unite! You can make peel and stick flooring a creative project by mixing and matching carpet tiles, or decorative tiles for a fresh, and funky style. You have the power!
- Subfloor Prep: If your subfloor has any imperfections, peel and stick tiles might highlight them after installation. It’s best to repair any imperfections before sticking it.
- It’s not the real thing: Even though this floor works hard to mimic wood or stone, it’s not the reality. You will not get the texture of these surfaces from peel and stick flooring.
- Removeable: While being removable is ideal for renters and landlords if the desired result is a permanent floor peel and stick might not be the best option, as it is made to leave the ground.
“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.” Jordan Spence- Family Handyman
This lasting and contemporary option is ideal for all lifestyles. Given its durability, it is great for both high and low traffic areas and can match the tone of any room with its different aesthetics, such as wood, ceramic, and stone. Another part of its charm is its effortless cleanup, and its ability to be installed in almost any type of home, office, or business.
Installing Options for Sheet Vinyl
Hold up- what about installation? How much work does it take to install sheet vinyl? I’m glad you asked!
This floor has you covered with two install options catering to different flooring scenarios that depend on the amount of foot traffic. With either method, hiring a professional to install sheet vinyl flooring is highly recommended to ensure the accurate size and shape of each sheet.
Modified Loose Lay:
This installation method is ideal for temporary flooring, and low traffic areas. This method might also be preferred if you would like to make this a DIY project, as it does not use glue, but a fiberglass backing and double-sided tape to secure the sheet from curling up.
With no use of adhesive, installing loose lay vinyl is as simple as cutting the sheet to fit the area, laying it out, then using a clean push broom to smooth it down. The most important piece in this process is accurate cuts to the sheet to fit the room. This is where a professional comes in handy.
This option is more functional in commercial, permanent, high foot traffic settings. By spreading adhesive over the subfloor, the vinyl sheet is then placed over the area. This should be done carefully to avoid air bubbles and again, should be handled by a professional installer.
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Pros and Cons of Sheet Vinyl
Still not convinced of sheet vinyl’s ease, and durability? Let’s talk about the perks and potential blindspots.
- Durability: With a wear layer and topcoat protecting it from scuffs and scratches, sheet vinyl’s supreme durability is a huge advantage for lasting in high traffic areas.
- Various styles: Sheet vinyl has styles ranging from wood, stone, tile, and decorative tile, allowing you to find the aesthetic to fit any space.
- Water and stain-resistant: Now offering waterproof options, sheet vinyl is also highly water and stain-resistant, making it great for homes with kids or pets.
- Easily maintained: No waxing required! With its resistance to moisture, taking care of sheet vinyl is a snap.
- Resilient and comfortable underfoot: If you’re the type to be on your feet most of the day, resilient-vinyl floors are a must. This material is more comfortable and easier on your joints and feet than other hard floor types, such as tile.
- Potential for pro installation: While sheet vinyl has different methods of installation, given its need for precise cuts, and technique with the sheet, a professional may be required.
- Damage from the subfloor: When installing sheet vinyl, it is particularly important that you have a perfectly smooth surface to work on. Given the softness of vinyl, any imperfections, or grains trapped beneath the floor can wear down the material over time.
- Difficult to repair: Any scratch or gouge on the sheet would need to be either patched or replaced altogether.
- Discoloration: Even with its protective layer, sheet vinyl is still susceptible to discoloration over time.
Who here enjoy the finer things in life, without spending their savings? Luxury vinyl uses advanced technologies to imitate the look of natural wood or stone, all at a budget-friendly price. Take its look, and add the fact that some planks and tiles are 100% waterproof, and you’ll get a flooring hit to compliment any room.
I know what you’re thinking, how can something so luxurious be waterproof and be so attainable? Let me break it down.
This option comes in two forms: planks and tiles, both coming in styles ranging from wood, stone, and decorative tile with special features you’ll love. These features include multiple installation options, textures, waterproof options, and multi-faceted layers that keep floors strong for high traffic, kids and pets.
Luxury Vinyl Layers
Luxury vinyl is manufactured with multiple layers (number varies by manufacturer) to combat the rough and tough life of people stepping it on it, constantly. These layers include:
- Wear layer: The cherry on top! Your floor’s protector from heels, scratches, work boots, and wheels. You can also opt for a thicker wear layer to have your back!
- Printed vinyl layer: Where all the magic happens! This mimics natural wood or stone to give you a premium appearance.
- WPC or SPC core: A solid, waterproof core that won’t ripple, swell, or peel no matter the amount of liquid.
- Backing layer: The sturdy backbone of the piece.
With the proper care, this floor can be life-proof, and save you money.
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Installation Options for Luxury Vinyl
Alright, cool, this flooring is versatile, but it’s probably a pain to install, right?
Wrong! Luxury vinyl installation is more catered to the DIY-ers, as it can be installed using a click-lock method. There are also other familiar installation options included, such as loose lay, and glue down. Check it out!
Click and lock
Interlocking technology allows the flooring to float over most hard surfaces. That’s right, this floor can be installed virtually anywhere, without an expensive leveling company to fix the imperfections of the previous floor.
If you want the appearance of stone, without actually purchasing stone, you can use groutable luxury tile and grout them as you would with stone. How nice is that?
Again, loose lay installation is best suited for low traffic areas. Both planks and tiles can be installed by laying them out and allowing the backing to grip the subfloor. If the amount of traffic varies, use double-sided carpet tape to secure pieces in place.
Similarly to sheet vinyl, luxury vinyl can also be glued down for a more permanent outcome. Using an engineered adhesive, you can glue down planks and tiles to subfloors. Given the adhesive, a hired professional is always handy with this method.
Peel and Stick
Wait, what? Does luxury vinyl have a peel and stick installation option? Yes, yes it does! Because of its adhesive nowadays, the peel and stick technology can be considered luxurious. The process is simple: choose your peel and stick friendly plank or tile, then peel, and stick.
I know, it all seems too good to be true. But with its multi-layered design and its simple installation options, this floor is not only going to last and turn heads, but it’s also going to stretch your dollar in all the right places.
Are you in for luxury?
Pros and Cons of Luxury Vinyl
- Durability: Between its ability to be completely waterproof and its protective layers, this floor is a durable, cost-effective option.
- Install anywhere: A floating floor with click-lock technology, luxury vinyl has the capability to be installed over any subfloor. Low-pile carpet, tile, damaged floors alike, luxury vinyl can cover it.
- So many installation methods: Not confident in one of the installation options? That’s okay, you can try one of the many other installation methods luxury vinyl offers.
- A style for every room: Vinyl planks are available in numerous styles designed to mimic the look of all the most popular flooring options including wood, natural stone, cement, large plank formats, and more.
- Low-maintenance and easy to clean: Vinyl planks are easy to clean and maintain. They can be vacuumed, swept, or mopped to keep looking beautiful for a long time.
- May off-gas VOCs: Some vinyl floor products may emit gasses called VOCs (volatile organic compounds). To protect yourself, look for products that are FloorScore certified.
- May Fade Slightly in Direct Sunlight: Over time, many floor types may slightly fade in direct sunlight, including vinyl and wood. Consider a wood-look tile if the area will be exposed to lots of UV.
- Can be Dented: Not all vinyl planks are created equal. Some can be dented by heavy furniture or dropped items. Consider an SPC or rigid core product if you have these concerns.
- Difficult to Remove: If you choose the glue-down method of installation the planks or tiles will be more difficult to remove in the future.
Cork Tiles and Planks
Who says all flooring begins and ends with hardwood, and vinyl? Let’s add a little personality with cork flooring!
Although cork might seem limited to a certain color scheme, this flooring is unique and eco-friendly. It’s also a perfect option for a DIY flooring project with easy installation options. Cork’s resiliency is a refreshing choice, that doubles as a conversation piece. How many people can actually say their floor is made of cork? Not many.
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Installation Options for Cork Flooring
Looking for a new DIY-friendly project? Most cork flooring is catered to the DIY-ers, so you can call off the search! Similar to luxury vinyl, cork tiles and planks use a click or interlock method that can be done with ease.
Of course, cork flooring also has a glue-down installation, in which you would use adhesive to secure each piece to the subfloor.
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Think about it: you can have an insulated, stylish, modern conversation piece, and Earth-conscious floor right under your feet. Please form an orderly line to get your sample.
Pros and Cons of Cork Flooring
- Eco-friendly: Cork is a sustainable resource, making your floor stylish and kind to the earth.
- Resiliency: Don’t be fooled, cork packs a mean punch, making it an extremely durable flooring.
- Easily installed: With simple click-lock technology, cork can be a great DIY project and can be installed above, on and below grade.
- Mold and mildew resistant: Being that cork is moisture resistant, it also protects itself from mold and mildew.
- Provides insulation: Cork is also used as an underlayment and insulation for other floors, so if you use cork the underlayment and insulation are built right in!
- Soundproof: Heavy steppers, rejoice! Cork is quiet underfoot, making it an ideal option for homes with kids.
- Not 100% waterproof: Cork is waterproof, but the backing piece is not. If you are renovating a space with high moisture, such as an outdoor patio, or a washroom, cork floors might not be your best option, as cork floors are moisture-resistant, not moisture-proof.
- Cork is sensitive: Consider cork’s feelings because it can scratch and indent, but don’t fret! If you maintain it, this floor will last. Plus, most cork flooring has a lifetime manufacturer’s warranty, so you are covered!
- Costly: Being eco-friendly does come at a price. Cork is easy on the budget, but it is not the most inexpensive flooring on the market.
Made to imitate solid hardwood, laminate is one of the more popular and underrated flooring options out there. Laminate also serves us with versatility, style that won’t quit, and durability with its multi-layer design, all at a lower price point. Yeah, that’s right, more layers!
What are Laminate Planks Made of?
Most flooring has some sort of protective layer, which makes sense seeing as floors are meant to be stepped on, but what kind of layers make up laminate floors? There is more than meets the eye, trust me.
- Wear layer: The big, strong bodyguard. A layer of resin sealant protects the plank from scratching and surface moisture.
- Pattern layer: The goods! This is known as the photographic layer because the patterns and colors depicted are highly rendered photographs of natural materials such as a hardwood surface.
- Substrate (core) layer: The stress ball. This layer is comprised of high-density fiberboard, which absorbs the stress of footfalls and other forms of impact, such as falling objects.
- Backing layer: Holding all of the layers together, the backing layer stabilizes the board, giving it the strength that is needed to provide a sturdy flooring surface.
“Laminate makes for an extremely durable product because of its multi-layer construction. Laminate is resistant to scratch, fade, and is easy to clean. Laminate’s durability allows for the absorption of heavy traffic, making it an ideal flooring choice for active families with kids and pets running around.” –Flooring America
Laminate’s Standard Rating System: AC Rating
Atop laminate’s multi-layer design, it also has its own rating system to assist in determining the durability in commercial and residential areas; this is called an AC rating. Ranging from AC1 to AC5, you can see a floor’s ranking and make an informed decision when shopping.
AC1 is suitable for lighter, more infrequent traffic, e.g. a bedroom.
AC2 is suitable for general residential use in living rooms and dining rooms.
AC3 can be applied to more varied locations, such as small offices and other light commercial locations.
AC4 can be installed in higher traffic commercial areas such as boutiques, busier offices, and restaurants.
AC5 is more durable still and can withstand the traffic of heavier commercial areas such as department stores and public buildings.
How to Install Laminate Flooring
Installing laminate floor is a drop, click and snap away- literally!
Laminate flooring uses an interlocking system similar to luxury vinyl, making it DIY-friendly. Think of it as a large puzzle, as in most scenarios the boards use the “click-lock” or “snap-lock” system.
When installing laminate flooring, follow the instructions from the manufacturer and make sure you have the necessary tools to be successful.
If the laminate is being installed in a more commercial, high-traffic area glue can be used to secure the planks. Glue creates a seal between the planks and also makes it a good choice for moisture-prone areas. This process is more involved than a DIY project and could require a professional’s expertise.
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With laminate’s variety and durability, what’s not to love? The money you can save, or the style your project is guaranteed to have?
Pros and Cons of Laminate Flooring
- Durability: With supreme durability, laminate flooring is a great option for high traffic or homes with kids and pets.
- DIY Installation: Thanks to its click-lock technology, laminate is a DIY-friendly option and can be installed above, on and below grade.
- Can be installed over radiant heating systems: You won’t find this feature with most hardwood flooring options.
- Easy to clean and maintain: Simply mop or sweep up messes as needed. No floor waxing is ever necessary.
- Can be floated over carpet: If you want to float laminate planks over carpet you can! Simply lay plywood over thick carpet, then install the planks with its tongue and groove installation. Without the plywood, all carpet and padding should be removed before installing laminate; otherwise the carpet will put too much pressure on the joints leading to excessive “squeaking” and “creaking”.
- Not 100% waterproof: Although you can buy waterproof laminate, if you buy laminate that is not waterproof it’s a different process to ensure a moisture-resistant floor. These processes include underlayment and a special sealant to go between each plank.
- Sound: Improperly installed laminate floors can create some hollow, empty sounds. However, following installation instructions and using a good underlayment can help avoid this.
After going through each option, are you relieved? You can finish that project with dazzling floors, and with your budget still intact. The next step is to find out which of these unique, and cost-effective options is right for you.
The only question is, what are you waiting for?