Cheap Laminate Flooring Buyer's Guide

  • 01 of 08

    Cheap Laminate Flooring is Within Reach, But Know What You are Getting

    Laminate Flooring in Modern Kitchen 182901991
    Laminate Flooring in Modern Kitchen. Getty / huseyin turgut erkisi

    Some people say that all laminate flooring is cheap--compared to pricier types of flooring like solid hardwood and engineered wood flooring. And there was a time when "cheap" and "laminate flooring" were synonymous.

    But with flooring manufacturers improving the quality of their laminate and the product gaining acceptance even in higher-end homes, laminate prices have slowly been creeping up. So, we decided to take a look at inexpensive laminate, and we played by these rules:

    • Pay...MORE Under $3 Per Sq. Ft. - Laminate manufacturers price flooring both by square foot and by carton. To compare apples to apples, we convert everything to square footage. Because prices fluctuate, you'll need to drill in and get it. But suffice to say that all flooring in this guide hover around the $1 to $3 range.  If it's more than $3, we don't consider it cheap.
    • Ignore Unnecessary Marketing Features - We do not take most of their silly gizmos into consideration. If they tout a 100 Year Titanium Wear Layer, we pretty much ignore it because it's not something you need to pay for anyway.
    • Not Favoring Name Brands - All manufacturers are on the same playing field. Some of these are no-name manufacturers. Are you bothered by that? Let's hope not. This list has both big names and smaller ones. 
    Because you can't have your cake and eat it, too, you'll need to accept fewer features.  Here are some things that you get--or more accurately, don't get--with these less expensive offerings:
    1. Thinner Product - Usually thinner than 8 mm.
    2. Shallower Embossing - This goes with the territory when you get a thinner product.  It's impossible to deeply emboss when you have thin materials.
    3. No Attached Underlayment - Though increasingly we're finding this even on the cheaper floors.
    So, read on...
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  • 02 of 08

    Quick-Step's QS 700 Series Is Basic, Unspectacular, But Cheap

    Quick-Step 3 Strip Cherry
    Quick-Step 3 Strip Enhanced Cherry. © Quick-Step

    First, the Quick-Step brand has traditionally been about as basic as you can get.  But in recent years, they have stepped up their game to gain some of the premium market, introducing such things as 54 inch planks Collections featuring longer plank lengths include in their Sculptique, Modello, and Eligna series.

    But for cheap, you'll need to look at their dependable and unfussy QS 700 series, with prices ranging from $1 to $2 per square foot, but hovering more around the $1.20 range.

    Shown...MORE here is their QS 700 Enhanced Cherry Three-Strip.  All 700 series floor coverings are of this "3-strip" type, which means the illusion of three floorboards contained within one actual floorboard.

    All 700 series planks are 47 1/4" long, 7 1/2" wide, and 7 mm thick.

    Shop Direct - Quick-Step QS 700 Series Laminate Floor

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  • 03 of 08

    Dream Home Laminate:  Impossible Combination of Low Prices + Features?

    SmartClick Laminate Floors
    SmartClick Laminate Floors. © SmartClick

    At first, you look at Dream Home laminate floors and scratch your head, wondering how you can get all these features packed into one cheap product...

    It's 10 mm (say again?).  It has an attached underlayment.  It looks good.  It has a 25 year warranty. 

    Then, when you see that Dream Home is bargain flooring retailer Lumber Liquidators' house brand, you begin to understand why.

    The Dream Home series tends to run about $1.30 per square foot, truly a low-cost offering.

    Shop Direct - Dream Home...MORE Laminate Flooring

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  • 04 of 08

    Bringing Down Prices With Bruce 12 mm Park Avenue Laminate Flooring

    Bruce Laminate Flooring
    Bruce Laminate Flooring. © Bruce Flooring

    Bruce is a name that you find in big-box home improvement stores, like Lowe's. Yet it's also a flooring manufacturer that has been pumping out hardwood flooring for ages, and is well-respected.

    This Bruce laminate edges up to the top range of our stated $3/sq. ft. maximum (around $2.50).  But I think it's worth it to get this 12 mm product--twice the thickness of a majority of other laminates.

    Shop Direct - Bruce Laminate Flooring

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  • 05 of 08

    BuildDirect's Low-Price Offering: Its Own Lamton Laminate Floor Line

    Lamton Bala Tan Laminate Flooring Wide Plank
    Lamton Bala Tan Laminate Flooring Wide Plank. © BuildDirect

    BuildDirect is an online supplier of cheap laminate flooring which you can trust (though see the caveat below).  The floors look super and you get thicker products for lower prices.

    The caveat is that they often have weird, gradated minimum product ordering specs.  So, a floor like this Bala Tan, at the low price of $1.49, must be ordered in quantities of 923 square feet or more.  So, read BuildDirect's price list carefully.  If you do happen to be in the market for whole-house laminate, then...MORE you can score a pretty good deal with them.

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  • 06 of 08

    Alloc Monaco Stone Glueless Laminate Flooring

    Alloc Monaco Stone Glueless Laminate Flooring
    Alloc Monaco Stone Glueless Laminate Flooring. © Alloc
    That's right, we know that not all laminate flooring looks like wood. That's why we have included this Alloc Monaco Stone in our Buyer's Guide. The "tiles" actually come four-to-a-strip. Lay down one strip, and instantly you've laid down four tiles. How neat is that?
    Continue to 7 of 8 below.
  • 07 of 08

    Mannington iCore Seconds Laminate Flooring

    Mannington iCore Seconds Laminate Flooring
    Mannington iCore Seconds Laminate Flooring. © Mannington

    Within our Buyer's Guide, Mannington is the "namest" of the name-brands. Mannington is a respectable manufacturer of many types of resilient flooring. This iCore offering is totally waterproof, so you can use it even in very moist areas such as basements or kids' bathrooms. You will have to glue the seams, though. Note that this is a "seconds" product, so it may have some minor flaws.

    Continue to 8 of 8 below.
  • 08 of 08

    Artisan Floors Varnished Walnut Laminate Flooring

    Artisan Floors Varnished Walnut Laminate Flooring
    Artisan Floors Varnished Walnut Laminate Flooring. © Artisan

    Most laminate flooring tries to downplay the shine. But this Artisan Varnished Walnut does have a bit of a shine to it.

    One neat thing: this flooring supplier will send you a sample pack of up to 5 types of laminate. Yes, there is a small "shipping charge," but you'll find that everywhere, and they do refund it if you place an order.