10 Affordable Flooring Materials
Last modified: 2018/08/31 | Approximate reading time 12 mins
Floors are an integral aspect of any home. They hold our furniture, carry our feet and are our foundation. Since floors support so much physical and figurative weight, they need a modern update every once and a while. Redoing the floors in your home is, more often than not, a costly project.
Luckily, with the advances in modern technology, and a little bit of advice from RenoQuotes.com, there are plenty of options for affordable flooring that is both stylish and long-lasting!
10 options of affordable flooring for your next renovation project:
1) Laminate Floors
Photo: Flickr Floors Msk
Laminate is an excellent alternative to expensive hardwoods as well as parquetry flooring, as it is often made to mimic the look of wood. Back in the day, laminate had a bad reputation for being low quality, fragile and not so easy on the eyes. However, it has come a long way. Modern laminate is higher quality while still maintaining a reasonable price point and now comes in a variety of colour options, finishes and textures.
Laminate is easy to install, and can even be installed over existing floors, helping to save both time and money. An important added bonus, it is also mould and bacteria resistant. Laminate's disadvantages lie in its lack of changeability, as it cannot be refinished or sanded. It can also become permanently damaged by standing water. However, it is a viable option to consider!
- Average price of a laminate floor (material only): approx. $1 to $7/square foot
- Price for the installation process of a laminate floor (labour): approx. $1.50/square foot
2) Cork Floors
Photo: Flickr Nicolás Boullosa
Cork is a beautiful and renewable material that is an innovative and multifunctional option for the floors of your home. It is soft to the touch, making it a great alternative for homes with children. It is incredibly insulating, a natural soundproofing material that keeps rooms both warm and quiet. The material is also anti-microbial, fire resistant, and impermeable to gas and liquid.
- Average price of a cork floor (material only): approx. $5 to $10/square foot
- Price for the installation process of a cork floor (labour): approx. $2/square foot
3) Engineered Wood
source: Flickr, rinacaja
Another hardwood alternative, and often compared to laminate, is engineered wood. It is much closer to hardwood but with a significantly lower price point. Not only is engineered wood cost-efficient, and prefinished, but it is an environmentally friendly option, a contemporary and important aspect of home renovations.
Engineered wood is resistant to humidity and moisture, so it is quite versatile in terms of placement within the home. Unlike laminate, and dependant on the thickness of the veneer, engineered wood can be sanded and refinished. However, like laminate, thinner veneers cannot be refinished and sanded, decreasing the longevity of floor quality. Regardless, this option not only looks good but feels good on bare feet!
- Average price of an engineered wood floor: approx. $4 to $9/square foot
4) Linoleum flooring
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
When properly taken care of, linoleum floors have an incredible lifespan. Linoleum is easy to install, is durable and low maintenance in terms of cleaning. Naturally, it is an anti-microbial and anti-static material. It comes in a variety of colours, and will not show the mark of time as easily as some of the other options listed.
One of the downfalls of linoleum flooring occurs after the installation process when linseed fumes are emitted, and this can last anywhere from one week to one month. Linoleum floors need to be sealed as well as frequently polished in order to maintain the look of lustre. Unfortunately, they can suffer from sun damage or show wear when poorly maintained, so if this is the option for you, make sure to take constant care of your linoleum flooring!
- Average price of a linoleum floor: approx. $5 to $12/square foot
5) Vinyl flooring
Vinyl is one of the cheaper materials on the market for flooring projects. It offers an excellent bang for your buck, remaining widely popular as a result. Not only is it cheap, but it is one of the easier materials to install. Most vinyl floors come with self-adhesive backing, making the installation process a breeze. Like laminate, vinyl can be installed over the pre-existing flooring. It is quiet, as it shields sound, as well as being flexible and durable. It is an exceptionally low maintenance material, resistant to dirt and water as well as being easy to clean.
Disadvantages of vinyl floors include potential unevenness; if there are any bumps in the surface underneath it may become difficult to install or there may be bubbling in the floor itself. Further, it scratches easily, and therefore, does not have the best longevity. Also worth mentioning is that most vinyl flooring isn't environmentally friendly, as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is used in the manufacturing process, which emits volatile compounds.
- Average price of a vinyl tile floor: approx. $4 to $12/square foot
- Average price of a vinyl sheet floor: approx. $5/square foot
6) Concrete flooring
source: Flickr, sacha_stingray
Polished concrete is an environmentally sustainable material that is growing in popularity for homeowners. Although it is usually found in basements, it can now be tinted and styled to the taste of the individual, making it a sought-after option. Concrete is incredibly durable, and almost never requires replacement. It can add some sleek edge to an otherwise plain space.
A bonus of concrete is that most homes with a slab on grade foundation, or larger buildings with steel construction, already come equipped with this type of flooring, Therefore, the sole cost will be in the money spent polishing and refinishing this durable material. Disadvantages of a concrete floor include its feel on bare feet; it is hard underfoot and can be considered uncomfortable. There is also the possibility of moisture migrating from underneath the slab, so proper sealing is required.
- Average price of a concrete floor (including materials and installation): approx. $1 to $12/square foot
7) Carpeting or Carpet Tiles
Photo: Flickr- Emily May
Carpet has several options and varies in style, colour, and installation preferences. Carpet tiles are significantly easier to install than wall-to-wall carpeting, and this installation can even be completed by the novice among us. Carpets are a cozy alternative to the hardness of other flooring materials, and this material is primarily found in the bedroom or living room.
Like cork, it is both soft and insulating, and this helps to contain noise. However, carpeting is not an option for your bathroom or kitchen, as it absorbs moisture, leading to bacteria and mildew growth. If this occurs, it is important to remove the material immediately.
Luckily, carpets are easy to replace and install. It is worth noting that carpet can cause allergies or lead to respiratory problems, and is unfortunately not a great option for homes with pets, as it stains incredibly easily and can be a challenge to clean.
- Average price of a carpeted floor: approx. $3 to $6/square foot
8) Rubber flooring
Photo: WIkimedia Commons Jacklee
Although rubber flooring is often found outside, it is slowly making its way into homes as an affordable alternative to traditional materials. Made from recycled tires, a rubber floor is a long-lasting option for its water-resistant properties. Rubber is best suited to high traffic or wet environments, as it is incredibly resilient, nonporous, as well as fire and burn resistant. It is low maintenance in terms of upkeep.
A drawback of rubber is the price, as it can get expensive when it is of higher quality, with prices sometimes comparable to wood flooring. However, if you buy lower end rubber, it can be an inexpensive option. Also, rubber can easily stain, and certain products can discolour its surface. Something to keep in mind when doing your rubber flooring research!
- Average price of a rubber floor: approx. $1 to $12/square foot
9) Bamboo flooring
source: Flickr, CQ Flooring
Made from natural vegetation, bamboo flooring is a sustainable option for any home and an alternative to hardwood floors. Since it hasn't quite caught on yet, bamboo is relatively inexpensive. Bamboo is stylish, as it varies in grain and has a wide array of colours available for customization. It is a durable material, as un-carbonized bamboo can be as strong as oak.
Further, it is easy to maintain and can be finished if the homeowner desires such a thing. The drawbacks to owning a bamboo floor include its potential for water damage, as well as its proneness to scratches. The material is also sensitive to humidity, which leads to cracking, so it would be best to avoid using bamboo in your bathroom!
Also, certain types of bamboos contain toxins which can be emitted into the home, so make sure to do your homework before installing this type of floor.
- Average price of a bamboo floor: approx. $3 to $8/square foot
10) Ceramic Tiles
Ceramic tiles are made from clay or inorganic materials which have been hardened by oven-firing. It is incredibly durable, easy to clean and does not aid in the production of germs or microbes. Therefore, this is an excellent option for a kitchen or bathroom. This material comes in different variations of hardness, ranging from 1 to 5, and when purchasing ceramic tile this should be noted. It is very versatile, though it isn't without disadvantages.
Depending on your tile supplier, the tile itself can range in size and colour, making it somewhat inconsistent to work with. It's hardness and lack of warmth play a role, as again, ceramic tile isn't particularly suitable or comfortable for the bedroom.
It is also slightly difficult to install, as it is very heavy and requires a specific set of tools. Therefore, the installation process is easier left up to a professional rather than undertaken as a DIY job!
- Average price of a ceramic tile floor (low-end tiles): starting at 60 cents/ square foot
- Average price of a ceramic tile floor (mid and high-end tiles): approx. $2 to $7/square foot
And for more about flooring renovation projects: 4 ways to save money on flooring renovations, 7 floor covering materials (that are alternatives to wood), How to choose your kitchen floor covering.
Summary table of flooring material prices
|TYPE OF FLOORING MATERIAL||PRICE $/SQUARE FOOT|
|Laminate (material only)||
$1 to $7 per square foot
|Laminate (labour only)||
approximately $1.50 per square foot
|Cork flooring (material only)||
$5 to $10 per square foot
|Plancher en liège (labour only)||
approximately $2 per square foot
$4 to $9 per square foot
$5 to $12 per square foot
|Vinyl floor (tiles)||
$4 to $12 per square foot
|Vinyl floor (sheets)||
approximately $5 per square foot
$1 to $12 per square foot
|Carpet or carpet tiles||
$3 to $6 per square foot
$2 to $12 per square foot
$3 to $8 per square foot
|Ceramic tiles (low-end)||
starting at 60 cents per square foot
|Ceramic tiles (mid-range or high-end)||
approximately $2 to $7 per square foot
Cover photo: Miserv
Author: Amanda Harvey
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