Cheap Floors

Get more for your money with these ideas for cheap floors - with DIY tips to brighten up your existing kitchen floor or lay new inexpensive flooring!

Flooring is a big visible element in your kitchen, so it has to look good...but new or updated flooring needn't cost big money.

First of all, what flooring is there now? Here's a list of the usual suspects:

  1. Hardwood
  2. Tile
  3. Concrete or terrazzo
  4. Vinyl - sheet vinyl or self stick tile

A great solution when you want cheap floors that look good is to restore fresh life and beauty to the flooring you've got...OR give it a whole new look!

Here are some ideas to inspire you:


Scuffed hardwood? Give your wood floors new life with products like Rejuvenate Floor Restorer.

I designed a kitchen for homeowners with worn oak flooring. After the remodel was done, they treated their floors with Rejuvenate...the results were amazing!

Paint your hardwood floors. Use tough latex paint made especially for floors and porches. Sand the wood with an orbital sander...enough to rough up the surface. Then prime and paint with a brush or roller.

Go for the shabby chic look for cheap floors that look charming and lovingly used. Read this how-to article on floor painting, shabby chic style.

Get creative with paint - "stencil" on a rug, hand-paint a border or cut a sponge to create diamonds, bricks or other shapes.

Refinish the floor. Big time labor-intensive but the cost is low and the results beautiful! Rent a sander, and then stain and seal (or just seal). Cheap floors + weight loss - it's a win-win!


Tile - ceramic, porcelain, etc.

To remove tile is a tough job. Ear-splitting jackhammers, dangerous flying debris, a really big mess! Instead, renew your tile with products like Rejuvenate (see link above).

Is your tile in good shape but grout is the problem? You can remove the old grout and re-grout. Buy an inexpensive grout removal tool and run it back and forth along the grout lines. Take care not to chip tiles, especially at "intersections."

Vacuum and wipe with a damp rag to remove all the dust...if your new grout mixes with old dust it can result in a different color!

Clean the grout - rent a grout steam cleaner, then re-seal the grout (2 coats) to keep it clean.

OR stain the grout to a beautiful new color! Grout staining in a color similar to your tile makes a kitchen look larger! Tile specialty stores sell stain kits and can advise on tips and techniques.

HORROR STORY: My husband and I remodeled and "flipped" the home pictured below a few years ago. We had all the floors tiled and chose pale beige porcelain tile and a grout color to match.

Unfortunately the tile guy we hired was a complete idiot!

He and his fellow idiots at the tile store decided to substitute another grout color - without consulting us! - to a dark gray that would "hide dirt." The ugly grout color actually made the finished floor look dirty!

After MUCH resistance, the tile store sent out a little gal with a few bottles of stain and a paintbrush, and she proceeded to stain the grout in a color close to our original choice. You can see the results - beautiful!

Want to lay new tile yourself? It's a great DIY project and not super-expensive! For complete instructions, see How to Tile a Floor.

Concrete or terrazzo

Concrete can be painted - or stain concrete for a mottled stone of the best cheap floors solutions to give yours an expensive, classy look! Acid stains are best applied by a pro, but water-based ones are DIY friendly.

Terrazzo, an aggregate of marble chips laid over concrete, is highly susceptible to staining. Try a stain removal product and then refinish. Consider covering problem terrazzo with another type of flooring.

Vinyl - sheet vinyl or self-stick tiles

Sometimes you can restore the shine to old vinyl floors. Armstrong makes a floor polish called Shinekeeper, and Rejuvenate (see link above) restores vinyl as well.

The top coat on vinyl is all there is - the color doesn't go all the way through. For nicks use a colored touch-up pencil or putty stick.

Self-stick tile is one of the easiest DIY projects - and it's the best way to get NEW cheap floors!

Cheap floors CAN look beautiful - check out the latest in self stick patterns. One new style is wood-look tile sold in strips that you lay in random length patterns like real hardwood.

Commercial grade 12" x 12" vinyl tiles are great for comfortable cheap floors...about 1/8" thick and the color goes all the way through. Not self stick - takes a special adhesive (VERY sticky - wear old clothes & shoes!). These tiles are a perfect choice for a retro checkerboard pattern!

Self stick tile tips:

  • Best to remove old self stick tiles rather than doubling up. Rent a long-handled floor scraper and get a can of mineral spirits. For stubborn tiles, soak a rag in mineral spirits and wet down the spot. Wait a few minutes and then scrape.
  • You can measure the room and snap chalk lines to figure out how your tiles will work out. I myself like the next method better (less thinking!).
  • Lay out your tiles in a close-to-exact "dry fit." Lay out a crisscrossed line the length and width of the room. This will tell you where your cut pieces will fall.
  • Try to put cut pieces against a wall. If you'll end up with skinny pieces, redo the dry fit starting with half tiles up front to make the cut pieces against the wall larger and easier to lay.
  • To cut a tile, score it a few times with a utility knife and a straight edge. It should break right where you want.

Here's a magic trick to get exact cuts along a wall or cabinet toe kick:

1, Stick your last (in the row) full-size tile to the floor.

2. Line up a second tile right on top of the first (leave the paper backing on!). Fold the backing paper under a bit to be sure this tile sits EXACTLY on top of the first.

3. Lay a third tile firmly against the wall over the double-stacked tiles. Using the edge of this tile, score the loose tile on top of the one stuck to the floor.

4. Remove the tile you held against the wall. Lift the tile you scored and break/cut it. The piece will fit perfectly. MAGIC!

Move Your Cabinets

How to Refinish Kitchen Cabinets

Cheap Cabinets

Tiling Countertops

Kitchen Lighting Ideas

Back to Cheap Kitchen Makeovers

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Thinking of remodeling?

Keep a notebook or scrapbook of notes, clippings and ideas.

Kitchen magazines are expensive - look through them in the grocery checkout line. If you see pix of a kitchen you really like, buy that magazine.

Stop in at home centers and pick up any free cabinet manufacturers' catalogs.