01 of 05
Rules for Good, Inexpensive Kitchen Flooring
You can easily spend $20 to $30 per square foot on luxury flooring for your kitchen, but if you are willing to shop around and tackle the installation yourself, a new kitchen floor can cost well under $1 per square foot. However, it’s important to note that price is not the only consideration. The material also must be a good candidate for the kitchen environment. Any legitimate option must agree with two basic rules:
- It must be DIY-friendly. If you have to hire out the installation, it won’t be a cheap floor.
- It must be durable and easy to clean. If you have to replace the flooring in a few years, either because it’s too dirty to look at or it’s falling apart, it’s not a bargain.
Given these rules, the four most realistic options for cheap kitchen flooring are ceramic tile, vinyl, laminate, and cork. That's actually a fairly broad list, considering that all of these are available in a wide range of styles. They are all pretty good performers in the kitchen.
Note: The costs given below are recent prices from a national home improvement retailer. They are subject to change and do not include underlayment, adhesive, grout, or other installation supplies. Consider those additional costs when evaluating any flooring.Continue to 2 of 5 below.
02 of 05
Vinyl Flooring Is Easy-to-Install in Tiles, Sheets, or Planks
Price: Starting at $0.50/Sq. Ft. for vinyl tiles; $2.00/Sq. Ft. for vinyl luxury planks
Vinyl is the easiest kitchen flooring material to install. If your subfloor is in good shape, vinyl is also the cheapest because you can usually install it right over the subfloor (or suitable existing flooring), avoiding the expense of new underlayment. Vinyl comes in several types, so you can shop based on price, look, and/or installation method. The most inexpensive type of vinyl tends to be peel-and-stick tile, followed by peel-and-stick planks and sheet vinyl.
The best all-around DIY option is the luxury plank, which is usually thicker than standard vinyl tile and can be installed as a click-together floating floor. Prices for luxury planks start at about $2.00/sq. ft.
- One of the most inexpensive flooring materials
- Resilient surface is easy on the feet
- Easy to clean
- Vinyl can be gouged or scratched rather easily
Installation tips: For tiles: dry-lay a full row across the width and length of the floor to establish a layout, then draw perpendicular layout lines to guide the installation. For sheet vinyl: Create a perimeter template with butcher paper, and cut the flooring in one piece—a no-glue method (using double-sided tape in select areas) is easiest.Continue to 3 of 5 below.
03 of 05
Laminate Flooring Comes in Many Styles
Price: Starting at $0.49/Sq. Ft. for regular and $1.79/Sq. Ft. for water-resistant laminate
Laminate has a rightful place among cheap kitchen flooring options, but it must be said that it's not the most durable choice for this room. The hard resin surfaces of the planks are plenty scratch- and stain-resistant for kitchen traffic and abuse, but the seams between planks are vulnerable to water damage. A leaky dishwasher or forgotten spill can cause the planks to bulge along the edges, so you must be mindful of standing water, and avoid wet-mopping altogether (occasional damp-mopping is OK).
Installing a laminate floating floor in the kitchen is a doable day-long project, and many people don't seem to notice that it's not really hardwood. If you’re willing to spend more, you might look into “water-resistant” laminate, which is guaranteed to resist standing water for a specified period (such as 24 hours).
Can convincingly mimic wood, ceramic tile, stone, and other premium floor coverings
Installation is surprisingly easy
- Not ideal for areas where moisture is an issue
- Can be scratched
- Underlayment and trim pieces can add substantially to installation costs
- Cannot be cleaned by wet-mopping
Installation tips: Be very careful with the plank edges during installation; they break easily. Plan the plank layout so you don't end up with a really short piece at either end of a row or a really narrow strip at either side of the room.Continue to 4 of 5 below.
04 of 05
Ceramic Tile Is Durable and Easy to Clean
Price: Starting at $0.29/Sq. Ft.
Ceramic tile gives you the most bang for your buck because you get an essentially indestructible floor that’s easy to clean. Well, at least the tiles are easy to clean. The grout joints can be like grease traps, but they are much less trouble if you seal them carefully (as soon as recommended after laying the tile).
If properly installed, bargain tile lasts forever, just as long as expensive tile. Styles may be less trendy, but if you go for a clean, simple style no one will be the wiser.
- A very elegant flooring surface
- Extremely durable—can last for decades
- Surfaces are easy to clean
- A very hard surface that lead to fatigue; dropped dishes may shatter
- Can be a cold surface on the feet
- Grout joints are prone to trapping dirt and stains
- A more complicated installation than most other types of flooring
- Additional materials needed can significantly add to the overall cost
Installation tip: Install the tile over a layer of cement board, which helps stiffen the floor (to prevent cracking) and isn't affected by moisture that gets through the tile.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
05 of 05
Cork Is Comfortable, Visually Pleasing, and Easy to Install
Price: Starting at $1.99/Sq. Ft.
Cork is at the higher end of inexpensive flooring options, but it's a comfortable and visually pleasing material that's easy to install. It offers more cushion underfoot than the others and is quite long-lasting. You might have to shop around to find cork as low as $1.99/sq. ft., but it is available.
Cork is most commonly sold as snap-together planks or tiles for a floating floor installation, similar to how laminate flooring is installed. This makes cork a good DIY option, and many types of cork do not require the foam underlayment that is necessary with laminates.
- Very comfortable to the feet
- Easy installation
- A bit more expensive than other flooring options
- Not as durable as ceramic tile
- Can be damaged by high heels, sport cleats, and pet claws
Installation tip: Plan the layout of the planks so you don't end up with a really short piece at either end of a row or a really narrow strip at either side of the room.