There are a number of home improvements nearly anyone can do in their home, but one of the best and easiest is right under your feet. Flooring does a great deal to offer both style and comfort. From gorgeous hardwood to deep pile carpet, not only do your eyes wander to what is on the floor, but your feet can feel the difference as well.
So when you look down, what do you see? Then what do you envision? Here are 7 flooring home improvements you can do on nearly any budget.
Have an older home? You might be shocked by what is hiding under your carpet or other flooring. In some cases, getting great hardwood floors is a matter of pulling up carpet or tile, cleaning, sanding, and refinishing. This might sound like a lot of work, and it can be, but it is often better than going out and getting new flooring, and it is easier on your budget.
However, sometimes if you want a hardwood floor you have to lay it yourself. This can be costly, from $8 a square foot to $14 for high end woods to $3 to $5 a square foot for soft woods like pine. Installation is extra of course, unless you can do it yourself.
What can you do? Sometimes you can find flooring at a discount when other people have over ordered. Some batches, with small flaws that you can buff out and refinish yourself or even cover up can also be found at a discount. If you really want hardwood, you can probably find a way to afford it on nearly any budget.
A less expensive option is laminate. This is almost always much less expensive material wise than the materials it imitates, like stone and wood. Laminate varies in thickness and quality but is usually under $5 a square foot for most types. Installation is usually cheaper if you can’t do it yourself, but easier even if you can.
Laminate is quite durable, with warranties from 15 to 30 years longer. However, even with a foam pad underneath, laminate is hard underfoot. It can be installed over old flooring, but cannot be sanded or refinished when it wears out.
For many homeowners, laminate offers a great look at an affordable price, and can be done on nearly any budget depending on the look you are going for.
Tile is quite desirable for flooring in kitchens and bathrooms. It is easy to keep clean, durable, and individual tiles can be replaced if something happens to one. The durability largely depends on the material you choose, and the middle of the road choices for most people include ceramic or porcelain.
The real budget savings will be if you can install tile yourself. While a little more complex than installing laminate flooring, it is still possible for most savvy DIYers. The few tools you will need are not too expensive, and if you need extensive tile cuts, you can often have them done at a DIY store like Home Depot for a small fee.
You can also rent some of the equipment you might need like a tile saw. Learning to lay tile is a valuable skill for any homeowner to learn, and if you choose the right materials and are a little creative, tile is affordable for most budgets.
Of course, the most common type of flooring in homes is carpet. It is comfortable and easy to clean if you have the right type. You can match almost any room color or décor, but neutral colors are the most common.
There are two big variances in the cost of installing carpet. The first is the carpet itself, which can be rather expensive on the high end, and extremely affordable on the low end.
Typically, you get what you pay for, but most homeowners choose something in a middle range carpet. It is durable and easy to clean, yet still affordable. Stain resistance is a must if you have children or pets and is a big consideration.
The second factor is the cost of installation. You can install carpet and pad yourself, and at least you can pull old carpet to prep the area even if you are not comfortable stretching and laying the new flooring.
Professional carpet layers vary in cost too, and one factor is how easy your area is to lay carpet in. The more obstacles like pillars, half-walls and inserts you have to work around, the more the installation will cost.
One of the easiest ways to change the look of a room and improve the flooring is an area rug. Area rugs, much like carpet, can vary in cost and quality. A high-end rug will look and lay better, be easier to keep clean, and will wear better and last longer. Other rugs will not last as long or wear as well and are often not resistant to stains and other issues.
Installation is of course easy, but there are best practices about how rugs should be placed and where. Consult an interior designer, or there are diagrams and ideas online for how to best place rugs in your home.
Since you are doing the placing, the only cost is that of the rug, and depending on the look you are going for and how long you plan to keep the rug in that location will depend on how much you want to spend.
Cork flooring is a great option and is available in a variety of styles and shapes, from planks to tiles. The cost will range from $3 a square foot to $8 a square foot averaging about $5. However, it is relatively easy to install, and even if you pay someone the process is pretty inexpensive.
Yes, cork floors are durable, but above all they are comfortable. They give when you step on them, and depending on the thickness, they can be quite desirable. However, the cork is susceptible to damage, even from things like high heels and dirt, so cleanliness is a must. Even pets can cause damage, and while easy to repair, can be inconvenient.
Vinyl or Linoleum
One of the final options for flooring is vinyl or linoleum. While they are often thought to be interchangeable terms, they are vastly different substances, including the way they are laid or installed.
First, vinyl is pretty inexpensive, ranging from $.50-$2.00 a square foot in sheets. Installation is relatively inexpensive and easy, however, if you are doing it yourself cutting around obstacles and laying sheets correctly so there are no bubbles can be tricky, so hiring a professional is not a bad idea.
Linoleum though, comes in tiles that click together and are easy to install. For the same reason that sheets of vinyl can be tricky to handle, so can linoleum tiles, but they are often easier, and mistakes are not as costly for DIYers.
Typically, linoleum is a little more expensive per square foot, but both linoleum and vinyl are a bit softer underfoot than hardwood, durable, and easy to clean. This makes them popular choices for kitchen and bath.
Linoleum is also easier to repair: a single tile can be replaced rather than trying to patch a sheet, something that can itself be tricky.
Flooring is an improvement that you can do yourself, and depending on your budget, there are a variety of materials to choose from. Do your research, gather your tools, and choose the flooring that is right for you and your home.