While premium hardwoods, marble, and slate may be all the rage with designers and contractors when it comes to discount flooring, there are some beautiful discount laminate flooring options that will leave you with enough money left in the bank to still make your mortgage.

Wood alternatives.

If you like the look of hardwood, but not the price tag, you could go with laminate wood flooring. Laminate wood floors are made from resin and fiber board topped with a photographic applique layer that mimics real wood, and then coated with a protective layer. Laminate is more durable than real hardwood, requires less upkeep, and is easier to clean.

Laminate can be found for less than one dollar per square foot, while the cheapest real hardwoods can’t be found for less than three dollars a square foot.

If you don’t like the idea of fake wood, you could also opt for cork or discount bamboo flooring. While not considered traditional hardwoods, they do provide a wood look without a hardwood price. Cork starts at about $1.50 a square foot, and bamboo can be had for less than two dollars a square foot on sale.

Marble alternatives.

Ceramic tile is the simplest alternative to marble, and many manufacturers offer ceramic tile alternatives that mimic marble without the hassles of marble maintenance. While marble starts at four dollar per square foot, tile manufactured to look like marble can be had for two dollars per square foot, and you can clean it with normal household products without ruining it.

Tile can also be manufactured to mimic slate. Slate starts at about four dollars a square foot, while tile made to look like slate starts at about two dollars per square foot. One caveat though, tile imitates slate less well than marble because of slate’s unique texture.

Linoleum, concrete, and wall-to-wall carpeting.

Linoleum gets a bad rap. I suspect that’s because so much linoleum was installed in the 1960s and 70s, when home design and color aesthetics were quite different than they are now. But, like many other things, linoleum has come a long way since then. Starting at less than two dollars per square foot, linoleum can imitate wood, marble, or tile, with none of the cleaning or maintenance issues. It’s also one of the easiest discount hardwood flooring materials to install.

You can even get custom linoleum room designs, but prices quickly escalate for these custom jobs.

If you have unfinished concrete floors, and like the look of finished concrete, you can get them cleaned and coated for about $2.50 per square foot. There’s nothing more durable or easier to clean. Just don’t drop your dishes.

Wall-to-wall carpeting, once an American staple, has fallen out of favor in recent years, but with every color and texture imaginable, carpet can be an attractive affordable option for some areas of your home. Wall-to-wall carpeting starts at less than one dollar per square foot, but prices are higher for shag or specialty carpets. Most major carpet retailers offer significant discounts on installation. Some even offer free installation during special sale periods.

Cleaning is always an issue with carpets, so try to find one that has already been treated with Scotchgard by the manufacturer. Regular professional cleanings will also help maintain the beauty and prolong the life span of your carpet.

Look at your lifestyle.

Choosing which discount wood flooring material is right for you isn’t easy. Once you decide what materials you like the look of and you can afford, take a look at day-to-day life in your home. If you have kids and pets, wall-to-wall carpeting probably isn’t for you. If you’re older and afraid that you or your spouse might fall, you may not want a hard surface like cement or tile. But, once you take a look at the different materials, you’re sure to find one that suits you and your lifestyle.

Do it yourself, or hire a professional?

A major portion of your flooring expense will be installation. Exactly how much the installers charge per square foot depends on the price of labor in your area, but it averages about five dollars per square foot. It can go as high as $10 per square foot in some areas, and it’s even more expensive for custom installation jobs. Some major retailers do give a discount on installation when you buy your discount vinyl flooring from them.

If you have the expertise to do the installation yourself, you can easily cover the cost of upgrading to a more expensive discount carpet flooring material.

Whatever material you choose, whether you install it yourself or not, you’re sure to enjoy your new floor.

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