Inexpensive and Durable Flooring Alternatives

A low-cost alternative to flooring is something I've been pondering lately. Everyone knows about tile and hardwood flooring, and knows how expensive they can be. As I look at the prospect of home ownership, I contemplate the expenses, and conveniences of different types of flooring.
Hardwoods and tiles are amazing because of their cleanliness. They don't retain smells or stains and are very easy to clean. They last for a long time, far longer than carpet which is also more expensive to clean and maintain. So I wonder, what type of hard flooring can I get which is clean and lasts as long as tile or hardwood, without the expense? Here's what I found:

Polished Concrete

Well I am practically in love with the idea of simple concrete floors. They are under most subfloors and flooring in a standard basement to start with, so they make a wonderful flooring option for a basement. Even if you want to finish your basement, concrete floors can look amazing. If you rent some common tools for a hardware store, you can buff, clean, polish, and seal it yourself in 1-3 days and have results that will last your lifetime.
Concrete is porous, but if you seal it with a few layers it becomes extremely sanitary.  Concrete is arguably more sanitary than tile or hardwoods as it has absolutely no cracks for allergens, dirt, or other matter to gather in.
I was feeling slightly deterred from concrete, thinking about how slippery it must be once it's finished. I had already planned to throw some nice ornamental area rugs over it, but I still wouldn't want anyone slipping elsewhere. I was pleased to find that there are non-slip sealants out there, that while still looking glossy, have added texture for friction. Amazing!

Acid Stained Concrete

This is the same as the regular concrete flooring. However this adds in an extra step which, although it doesn't affect the floor's functionality, makes it completely different. By adding in some acidic, colored stains, you can get a faux marble look. You can stain concrete any color you wish (most common is brown), or enhance the natural grays. The end result is truly beautiful. It looks like a marble floor that costs far less than most other options, and will last your whole life!

Recycled Glass Tile

Though this can still be expensive, glass tiles usually run less than ceramic tiles. They are also found to be more durable in many cases because of the way they are created. You can find them in solids, dapples, and print designs or colors. The most wonderful thing about these is that they are recycled and reused glass, which means one small victory for mother earth.


I've already written about using pennies as a form of cheap alternative flooring in a past blog. I love this idea, though it does require a particular design to be pulled off right. But if you're feeling daring, try a penny floor. They will look best in a room with a lot of natural light, or pure artificial light. for $1.44 a square foot, you can't beat the price. The only other costs are the adhesive to glue them to the floor, and the sealant. Oh, and some Advil for that back pain after laying 500 pennies.

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