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Amanda Harvey
Amanda
Harvey

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10 Affordable Flooring Materials

10 Affordable Flooring Materials

Last modified: 2018/06/27 | 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 of 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!

RenoQuotes.com is here to offer 10 options of affordable flooring for your next renovation project!

1- Laminate Floors

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 mold 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

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.

Aside from all of these excellent pros, it is offered in a variety of colours, styles and tile sizes. Cork has a few minor disadvantages. The installation process can be difficult and tedious, so it is recommended that you consult a professional to install cork floors. Also, if you own a cat or dog, this type of flooring is not recommended, as it is susceptible to scratching easily.

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

Affordable flooring - 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

When properly taken care of, linoleum floors have an incredible life span. 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 luster. 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

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 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

Affordable flooring - concrete floor

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 it's 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

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, 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 carpet floor: approx. $3 to $6/square foot

8- Rubber

Although rubber flooring is often found outside, it is slowly making it's 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 

Affordable flooring - Bamboo

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

If you'd like to see more prices for other types of flooring materials, consult our Price Guide: Flooring Materials and Kitchen Floor Price Guide.  

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.

Cover photo: Miserv

Author: Amanda Harvey

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

Engineered wood

$4 to $9  per square foot

Linoleum

$5 to $12  per square foot

Vinyl floor (tiles)

$4 to $12  per square foot

Vinyl floor (sheets)

approximately $5  per square foot

Concrete floor

$1 to $12  per square foot

Carpet or carpet tiles

$3 to $6  per square foot

Rubber

$2 to $12  per square foot

Bamboo

$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

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