You don't have to break the bank to enjoy good-looking floors. These 10 affordable flooring materials let you lay fashionable foundations for comfortable living in a wide array of design styles.
Innovation Kitchen

Boasting the same attributes as sheet vinyl (minus the seamless part), vinyl tiles expand one's design options and are easily installed by novice do-it-yourselfers. Generally bought as 12x12-inch peel-and-stick forms, the inexpensive tiles are available with embossed patterns; in ceramic tile, natural stone, and wood-grain looks; and solid versions that can be mixed to create distinctively patterned vinyl-tiled floors.

Cons: Can suffer from gouges but, unlike sheet vinyl, damaged sections/tiles can be removed and replaced. Also, if not tightly fit, water may seep between the tiles and damage the subfloor and the tiles.

Best places: Kitchens, bathrooms, mudrooms, play spaces, recreation rooms, and basements.

Sheet Vinyl

Sold in rolls, sheet vinyl is one of the cheapest flooring options out there. It is available in a range of styles, patterns, and colors. It is easy to clean; is impermeable to moisture; feels soft and warm underfoot; and supplies a seamless look, even in large rooms.

Cons: Because it is soft, its surface can be gouged by sharp objects; repairs are nearly impossible.

Best places: Kitchens, bathrooms, mudrooms, play spaces, recreation rooms, and basements.

Resilient Vinyl Planks

These 6-inch-wide by 36-inch-long planks supply the look of a wood floor for less. The planks simulate traditional hardwoods, come in distressed and washed finishes, and are available in a range of colors, including on-trend shades of black and gray. They offer all the money-saving attributes, ease of installation, and durability of vinyl tiles. The floating flooring can be installed over most existing surfaces.

Cons: May suffer from gouges, but damaged planks can easily be replaced.

Best places: Kitchens, bathrooms, mudrooms, play spaces, recreation rooms, and basements.

Wall-to-Wall Carpeting

family room

Carpeting -- no matter its texture, pattern, or fiber makeup -- always adds a layer of warmth to public and private spaces. Low-pile commercial-type carpeting is easy to clean and offers good value for affordable prices. Highest performing carpet fibers include triexta, nylon, olefin, and blends of those fibers. Opt for the thickest padding you can afford to extend the life of less expensive carpeting.

Cons: Since it's a magnet for dust, grit, moisture, and pet hair, carpeting can adversely affect people with allergies. Easily stained by spills and foot traffic, carpeting requires deep cleanings a few times a year.

Best places: Bedrooms, living areas, and rooms where people are likely to sit on the floor.

Carpet Tiles

Sold as easy-to-install squares, which are commonly available in 18x18-inch and 24x24-inch sizes, carpet tiles come in a range of colors, textures, and patterns. The tiles can be laid in a manner that creates a seamless wall-to-wall look or be configured to create a variety of kicky patterns. Their best attribute? Damaged tiles can be pulled up and replaced in a jiffy.

Cons: Many carpet tiles have a utilitarian look not suited to formal interiors. Carpet tiles are not the best choice for households suffering from allergies.

Best places: Casual living areas, recreation rooms, and kids' play spaces.

Laminate Wood Floors

Kitchen island

Wood-grained laminate wood flooring is a highly durable, inexpensive alternative to solid or engineered wood flooring. It is stain- and moisture-resistant and easy to clean. Interlocking laminate planks that emulate birch, walnut, maple, hickory, chestnut, oak, mahogany, and exotic woods generally measure about 5 to 9 inches wide by 5 feet long. Depending on the style, the planks showcase various board shapes in different widths and configurations.

Cons: Faux wood finishes won't look better with age like solid wood floors do. Laminate wood floors can't be refinished, but scratches and dings can be filled with laminate repair crayons or markers.

Best places: Highly trafficked rooms, including kitchens and bathrooms, living spaces, bedrooms, and basement and below-grade rooms.

Laminate Stone and Tile Looks

Mirroring the appearance and texture of terra-cotta, slate, limestone, travertine, and marble tiles, laminate stone and tile-look wood floors are sold as planks, squares, and tiles with interlocking tongue-and-groove assembly. Some showcase tidily aligned 4x4-inch tile shapes, while others sport checkerboard or random brick or paver-stone patterns. Many styles can be puzzled together to create distinctively patterned floors.

Cons: Good-looking copycats, laminate tiles don't always read as the real thing, which may not please those looking for an authentic look. Unlike real stone and tile, they can be gouged or dented. Can be slippery, so look for options that are treated with a slip-resistant finish.

Best places: Anywhere you would install tile or stone; a very good choice for entries, kitchens, bathrooms, and sunrooms.

Porcelain Tiles

Credit: Mandi Summer Rapisardi Whole House

Denser, less porous, and more durable than traditional ceramic tiles, porcelain tiles stand up to foot traffic, extreme temperatures, moisture, and spills. Through-body porcelain tiles have color throughout; more affordable glazed porcelain tiles are colored on the surface. Just like ceramic tile, porcelain tiles come in an array of colors, sizes, shapes, finishes, and natural stone looks.

Cons: Grout lines are easily stained and difficult to clean. Tile floors are rock hard and can be hard on a chef's joints and will likely cause dropped china or glassware to shatter.

Best places: Kitchens, bathrooms, and entries. Also, because porcelain tiles work inside and outside, the tiles can be used to create floors that provide seamless transitions between interior rooms and connecting patios and pool sides.

Ceramic Tile

A versatile and economical flooring category, ceramic tile creates durable and easy-to-clean surfaces that stay cool underfoot. Ceramic tile stands up to traffic, is stain- and moisture- resistant, and available in smooth and textured surfaces in a wide range of styles, sizes, shapes, and faux-stone looks. Stained or broken tiles can be replaced with a little elbow grease and a few specialty tools.

Cons: Grout lines are easily stained and difficult to clean. Tile floors are rock hard and can be hard on a chef's joints and will likely cause dropped china or glassware to shatter.

Best places: Kitchens, bathrooms, sunrooms, and entries. Choose 12x12-inch and 18x18-inch ceramic tiles for areas where you want minimal grout lines and nearly level floors. Use smaller tiles and mosaic tiles to create fetchingly patterned and textured floors in baths and powder rooms.

Wood-Look Tile

blue kitchen

A red-hot flooring option, wood-grain tiles are reasonably priced, easily maintained, very durable, and made from ceramic or porcelain. They are most commonly sold as 6x24-inch rectangles, which have the look of wood planks. Available in most every type of wood grain and finishes from fine to distressed, wood-grain tiles allow you to enjoy the look of wood floors in high-moisture areas.

Cons: Grout lines are easily stained and difficult to clean. Because they are either ceramic or porcelain, wood-grain tiles are hard on the feet, can be slippery, and may cause dropped breakables to shatter.

Best places: Every room in the house.


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