You can find cheap flooring if you know where to look, and if you are willing to make some compromises.
01 of 07
Laminate flooring does not need to be expensive. The marketplace is flooded with cheap laminate flooring--if you dig deep enough.
Cheaper laminate flooring can be had if you accept a thinner product (usually below 8 mm) and you do not need extras like attached underlayment, extra-deep embossing, EIR (embossing-in-register), and unusual dimensions.
- Lumber Liquidators' Dream Home line always has cheap laminates available, including a paper-thin 2 mm laminate. To put this in perspective, premium... laminates are six times fatter: 12 mm thick.
- Online-only retailer BuildDirect typically carries cheap laminates in the 8 mm range for under $2 and even down to $1. The catch: you need to satisfy a minimum order quantity in order to get that low price.
02 of 07
Pick For 4 mm: TrafficMaster Allue
Is "luxury" vinyl plank a marketing angle to convince you to pay more for vinyl flooring? High-quality luxury vinyl flooring ranges up to 6.5 mm thick and its register embossing makes the product look amazingly realistic.
The more bargain-friendly luxury vinyl, though, tops out at 4 mm. By self-installing, you avoid expensive wood floor installers. As a floating floor, planks attach to adjacent planks, not to the sub-floor.
TrafficMaster Allure hits that... sweet spot--low, but not the lowest price, luxury vinyl plank that looks and behaves satisfactorily for use in all parts of your home. At 4 mm, Allure is thick enough to support embossing and click/lock joining system.
Pick For 2 mm: BuildDirect 2mm category luxury vinyl plank
Finding cheap plank vinyl means looking for any flooring in the 2 mm thickness category. This product is too thin for anything other than hair-thin embossing and self-adhesive attachment. BuildDirect is a good online source for low-cost 2 mm plank.
03 of 07
Carpet tiles are not the cheapest form of carpeting you can buy--wall-to-wall roll carpet has that distinction. But with carpet tiles you can easily install by yourself, avoiding installation fees (yes, even when carpeting companies advertise "free installation," the fees are still built in).
If you're willing to throw yourself into the arms of chance, choose "mix and match" style carpet tiles. These are remnants... that manufacturers toss together like a grab bag of super cheap carpet tiles, appropriate for kids' rooms or other fun, friendly rooms where a dance of colors is welcomed.
Unlike roll carpet, which requires specialized tools like a carpet stretcher, carpet tiles require little more than a square, a chalk snap line, utility knife, and a measuring tape. It doesn't get much easier than that.
04 of 07
If you don't like the idea of a melange of different colors and patterns, peel and stick berber carpet tiles come in dependable, if a bit dull, primary colors: beige, blue, burgundy, gray. These thin carpet squares adhere to any smooth, clean surface. While you'd never win an Architectural Digest award with these, they will serve you well when you need basic carpet and sound-absorption in a home office, hobby or sewing room, or... mudroom.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
Vinyl floor tiles are among the cheapest materials for your house. Not only are the materials cheap (between $.50 and $4 per square foot), but when you self-install, your installation costs exactly $0.00.
Solid colors have always been cheap in vinyl. But stone-look luxury vinyl tile is picking up steam, pushing both the top end of the premium LVF category as well as the lower, less expensive end of the spectrum. This... swanky slate-look LVF comes from importer Achim. Achim, a New York-based family-owned company, has been selling flooring for over the last half century. Founder Marton B. Grossman still helms the company, along with support from other family members!
06 of 07
Pick: Solid utility grade wood flooring from Lumber Liquidators
It's fantastically cheap and no one knows about it. Ask store employees and they'll scratch their head and say, "What? Never heard of it."
Alternately called utility grade, builder grade, or rustic grade, one thing is certain: it's 100% solid wood flooring. Many boards will be split or splintery. Often used in workshops, outbuildings, or in less-trafficked rooms of your house (especially if your house has more of a... rustic, cabin, or cottage feeling), it's not something you'd want in your kitchen or fine living room.
Lumber Liquidators can be either superb or awful, but one thing is certain: they do carry cheap utility grade flooring. Buck up and have a strong constitution when you open the box because, surprise, there will be some bad boards. Even if you were to cull out the duds or questionable boards entirely, this is still a cost-effective material.
07 of 07
Ceramic floor tile is truly schizophrenic. It can range from amazingly cheap to prohibitively expensive. With smaller tiles, your spectrum of design possibilities opens up. Somerville is a solid, dependable brand with plenty of stone-look ceramic and porcelain tiles, most reasonably priced.