Interior Flooring

The 7 Best Low-Cost Alternatives to Hardwood Flooring

Are your floors scratched, worn, or out of style? In the past, there weren’t many affordable alternative to pricy hardwood floors. Today, though, budget options abound. Read on for our favorites.
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Fantastic Flooring Alternatives

Are your floors scratched, worn, or out of style? In the past, there weren’t a lot of options for replacing your flooring, as the primary materials were beautiful—but expensive—hardwood or costly carpeting. Today, however, this project doesn’t have to be a budget-buster. There are a number of reasonably priced flooring options that will give you a fashionable floor at a fraction of the cost. Many of these options mimic the look and texture of solid wood or other natural materials, but without the high price tag. Read on for more popular and inexpensive flooring options.

Related: 7 Countertop Materials You Can Actually Afford

Natural Bamboo

Flickr via designbuildinhabit

Bamboo is not only environmentally friendly, but also a real wood alternative to hardwood that results in a similar look—without the steep cost. Bamboo is a fast-growing material, making it a “green” renewable resource, and its easy-to-clean characteristics and streamlined style add to its overall wow factor when installed in any modern home.

Related: 10 Reasons to Love Bamboo Floors

Long-Lasting Laminate

Laminate is attractive, inexpensive, and durable. It’s available in a wide variety of styles and colors, including versions that faithfully reproduce wood, stone, and other natural materials. Resistant to moisture and stains, laminate is ideally suited for high-traffic areas like bathrooms, kitchens, and hallways.

Related: Get the Look of Wood Floors for Much Less—7 Laminate Picks

Pretty Porcelain

Porcelain tile is a perennially popular flooring material and comes in a variety of sizes, colors, and designs, many of which mimic natural stone, marble, and even wood-grain textures. In general, tile is durable, easy-to-clean, and water-resistant, making it ideal for bathrooms and kitchens. Plus, large-format tiles serve as a dramatic decor element, and can visually expand a room due to minimal grout lines.

Related: 17 Tiny Bathrooms We Love

Wood-Look Vinyl Planks

Sometimes a copycat can be just as flattering as the original, and vinyl plank flooring serves as a perfect example. This affordable and attractive alternative mimics the appearance of hardwood plank flooring to make a similar style statement for less. Although this material is prone to scratches and offers a somewhat limited color selection, the pros well outweigh the cons of this durable and easy-to-clean flooring option.

Related: Vinyl Renaissance—10 Flooring Looks You Won’t Believe

Comfy Cork

Sustainably harvested and environmentally friendly, cork flooring can inject much-needed texture and color into any space. Plus, this natural material is resistant to insects, mold, and mildew, while also providing noise-reducing qualities. Although it may not be durable enough for all high-traffic rooms, cork’s cushiony surface and insulating properties make it a solid choice for spaces where you spend time standing, like the kitchen.

Related: 9 Ways to Use Cork Around the House

Painted Plywood


Because nearly all houses feature a plywood subfloor, creative DIYers may want to take a page from historical homes: skip additional flooring and simply paint the subfloor. Painted or stenciled designs have been used to add interest to flooring since the 1700s, and often patterns were designed to emulate wood grains or marble textures in a process called trompe l’oeil. Keep in mind that plywood is susceptible to water damage, so if you decide to go with this classic flooring alternative, you’ll have to apply a waterproof sealer.

Related: Be It Ever So Humble—12 Amazing Things Made with Plywood

Classic Linoleum

Linoleum—the classic and inexpensive standby—is coming back in style with its wide variety of designs and colors, including options that simulate wood or stone. Durable and comfortable underfoot, this easy-to-clean material makes itself at home in almost any room of the house.

Related: Kitchen Flooring—8 Popular Choices