Continuous running and walking, filthy shoes, animals, spills, and dropped dishes cause damage to flooring and premature aging. But installing new hardwood planks, tiles, and other expensive materials just isn’t an option for many people. Everyone’s budget is different, so we’ve investigated some of the least costly and most creative ways to add new life to the floors beneath your feet. You won’t see wall-to-wall carpeting or high-end ceramic floor tiles here, and none of these projects require professional installation.
Some of these upgrades won’t take very long, while others will take more time and planning. You might be able to finish one in an afternoon, but otherwise, set aside one or two days. All of these upgrades are merely cosmetic and cost-effective; they don’t alter the fundamental design of a floor. However, for the majority of them, preparation is required. Keep an open mind because some may initially seem surprising. And once you’ve chosen and finished your inexpensive floor upgrade, don’t forget to keep people and animals from tracking dirt on it. Sweep, mop, and vacuum often, and keep your pets’ nails trimmed, and your upgrade won’t need to be upgraded again for a long time.
Refinish Hardwood Floors
A significant investment is required to install new hardwood floors. Refinishing the surfaces can help you save money, but you’ll need to rent some tools and follow the right safety procedures. Once the furniture is removed, sweep and vacuum the floor. To mop the floor, mix 1 part white vinegar with 10 parts fresh water in a bucket. To protect the walls, you should then use painter’s tape to seal off all the edges.
While the rest of the floor can be polished with a floor buffer equipped with a buffing pad, the edges can be hand-sanded with 180-grit sandpaper. Then, the dust can be removed with a floor vacuum and dry-tacked microfiber cloths. A water-based polyurethane can now be applied to the floor. Using a small paintbrush to fill in the edges first, a long-handled paint roller is then used to apply the remaining paint. Open windows, turn on fans, and put on a face mask because this finish has a strong smell. It takes three hours to dry, but for the best results, don’t return your furniture or rugs to the room for seven days.
Paint Or Stain Wood Floors
Do you not like the color of your hardwood floors? You can paint or alter the stain on them as opposed to replacing them. Compared to paints, stains are less expensive and simpler to use. It’s a good option if you want to bring out the color of the wood or give the floor a more contemporary hue. A type of stain called whitewashing can brighten floors significantly; it works best on surfaces made of pine. Other hues are intended to enhance, not overpower, the natural wood.
You won’t require as many coats of paint because paint is thicker than stain. More colors are available, and the finish will be more uniform. Additionally, stains will fade earlier whereas paint has a higher propensity to peel and chip over time. The best method for selecting a stain or paint color is to get a few samples and test them in discrete places before committing.
Before starting, you’ll need to clean and sand the floors. Primer is not necessary for stains, which can be applied with lambswool applicators. If you paint the floors, an all-purpose paint primer needs to go down first. You can begin painting after that has dried for 24 hours. 24 hours should pass after the initial coat has dried before the second is applied.
Stencil Your Floors
There are so many options for this. The surface should be prepared as previously mentioned for the best results, and then a base color should be applied by painting or staining the surface. You can get the stencil(s) ready while the coats are drying. Companies like Royal Design Studio sell precut stencils that can be used on walls or floors, or you can make your own. To do the latter, draw an original or find one you like online. This can be printed out, adhered to a thick piece of foam core, and then carefully cut out using a sharp object like a hobby knife. Create several and use them to precisely cut out multiple stencils.
Try out the pattern on a piece of cardboard by varying the paint’s application, then paint the stencil and assess the result. Move onto the floor once you’re feeling secure. If you plan on covering a large area with the pattern, measure out and mark rows with a tape measure. As you work, use paper towels to wipe away excess paint from the stencil. Apply the same amount of paint and pressure to each area. When finished, give your work some time to dry before applying a layer of water-based polyurethane to protect it.
DIY Farmhouse Planks
You can incorporate the appealing DIY floor planks that are still popular in the farmhouse style into your home. Companies like Barnwood USA offer the materials for sale online in a variety of sizes, or you can purchase your own from a lumberyard. Buy larger planks and cut them to size to save even more money. One option is to purchase sheets of pine planks that are 4 feet by 8 feet and cut them into 1 foot by 6 foot pieces. This is a reasonable option because each sheet costs about $20. Either you or the store can complete this task. Each board should be hand-sanded, and the edges should also be softened. Precut pine plywood also functions well and is more affordable than thick wood.
Drill holes in the planks and fasten them to the floor with nails or wood screws to construct this upgrade. Not the subfloor, but the floor joists should receive those. For a more distinctive appearance, you can stagger the seams and use planks of various sizes and hues. Once they are secured to the floor, sweep and vacuum the surface. Then, you can finish with a wood stain that brings out the wood’s natural grain. Be sure to paint over the screws or nailheads to prevent dirt from getting into them.
Self Adhesive Wallpaper
This option can work well on laminate and vinyl floors, and uses wallpaper with adhesive backing or contact paper. Be careful when choosing your wallpaper because it must withstand foot traffic and stains or else linens and other natural materials will be damaged. (Read More: 10 Best Mop For Laminate Floors – Best Ways to Clean)
Cut a wallpaper sheet to fit the floor space you want to cover after taking measurements. When flattening the wallpaper, make sure there are no air bubbles and press one edge up to the point where the floor meets the wall. Trim the edges with a hobby knife and check that the patterns are even throughout.
A word of caution, however: Be very careful when selecting peel-and-stick wallpaper and contact paper, as some brands come off very easily while others will damage your floors. It’s crucial to do your homework and read reviews to learn how simple it is to remove these. Megan from The Homes I Have Made had to clean up sticky residue after removing wallpaper from a tiled bathroom floor, but was able to clean it up with Windex. RoomMates, NuWallpaper, and Target are a few wallpaper manufacturers she suggests. For recommendations on wallpaper brands, you can also look up DIYers on YouTube or TIkTok who have tested various wallpaper brands on floors.
Epoxy Your Floors
Epoxy floor coatings, which are made of resin and hardeners, have a more industrial appearance. If you’re drawn to the look, there’s no reason you shouldn’t try it in your kitchen and other rooms. This works beautifully on basement and garage floors. It adheres to the surfaces and can be poured on top of concrete, tile, and wood. The result is a hard, thick plastic coating that can withstand almost anything.
You can DIY with an epoxy kit or hire a flooring professional to complete this task. Applying a primer coat after the floor has been cleaned and allowed to dry is necessary. Before applying, the epoxy needs to be mixed, and decorative components like metallic pigments can be added. Use a unique roller (nap) made to not shed its fabric covering to apply it to the floor evenly. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the drying time, then seal the floor with an epoxy sealant product.
Add Area Rugs to Cover Floors
Area rugs are available in all sizes and shapes to fit any type of floor. Get a rug that reaches the walls, leaving just a few inches of perimeter around the edges, if you don’t like how your floors look. If it reaches too far, it will look out of place and can bunch up awkwardly. Floors can also be transformed with smaller options, and any size rug can hide floor damage like stains and scratches. They also protect floors and inject warmth and design interest into your decor.
Consider the functions an area rug must perform before purchasing. Larger rugs can elongate small rooms and highlight particular areas of a room. Contrast is desirable in terms of color and pattern. Use neutrals, pastels, or red on darker floors and richer, deeper colors on lighter floors. If you have small children or animals, it ought to be soft yet stain-resistant enough to withstand use. But even when placed on carpets, always keep in mind to place non-slip rug pads underneath to avoid trips and falls. The rug doesn’t have to be expensive either; check out HomeGoods, TJMaxx, Target, and yard sales.
Experiment With Peel-and-stick Tiles
Peel-and-stick tiles do not come in sheets, in contrast to wallpaper with an adhesive back, and many of them are made specifically for floors. Some are even made to resemble wood planks, and others are cut from carpets. A strong adhesive backing that won’t harm your floors is what you want to look for. Research the brands and make an informed decision, just like with peel-and-stick wallpaper. Additionally, you do not want to purchase vinyl peel-and-stick tiles, which are merely transient vinyl decorative stickers. On hardwood floors, stay away from using adhesive-backed products like these because the residue may damage the floors.
These come in a wide variety of colors and patterns; all you need to install them are a measuring stick, carpenter square, and utility knife. Like with any tile, you’ll need to trim a few of them to fit the walls and corners of the room. These tiles can be installed directly on top of the current floors and are especially effective in kitchens, bathrooms, and utility rooms. Even different colors and patterns can coexist on the same floor. Simple, fast, and awesome!
Paint Vinyl and Linoleum Flooring
Are you sick of looking at your linoleum or vinyl floors, which have become stained and faded? You can paint over them if they are not severely damaged. Wood floors require similar preparation. Then you must clean and sand the floor after removing everything, protecting the walls. However, you might get away with using an electric palm sander and 180- to 220-grit sandpaper rather than renting a large floor buffer. Then, carefully look over the floor for deep scratches and small holes. Caulk can be used to fill these in; make sure to spread it evenly. One more time, sweep and clean the floor, then let it air dry.
Use a semi-gloss or glossy flooring paint to cover the floor after applying one or two coats of a standard wall primer. Additionally, paint with a built-in primer can help you save time. You can save even more time by carefully pouring the paint onto the floor and using a long-handled paint roller. Due to this, dipping the roller into the paint tray is no longer necessary. Oh, and did I mention that you can stencil designs directly on top? Linoleum floors can be painted in the same way, with similar results.
Work New Life into That Carpet
Carpets look old and dingy before their time when dirt and grime are allowed to penetrate the fibers deeply. So long as your carpet doesn’t have a ton of holes and has a still-vibrant pile, you can revive it using a few ingenious tricks. Comb it out is the first thing to do. You can use a regular rake or comb as long as it’s very strong, not too sharp, and has metal or plastic teeth, or you can use a carpet rake. Beginning by the wall, gently comb it in the direction of your body. For best results, move against the pile direction. Repeat this over the entire carpet, and then vacuum. Trim any protruding fibers with scissors if they are too loose or long.
Spraying shaving cream on stains is one way to remove them. Other homemade carpet cleaning remedies include baking soda, vinegar, hairspray, and club soda. Let the solution rest for 30 minutes and blot it away with clean cloths. After taking care of those, you can sprinkle baking soda over the entire carpet and vacuum once more. Does the carpet still look dirty? Renting a carpet steam cleaner is cheaper than hiring a carpet cleaning company or buying a new carpet. And if all else fails, throw an attractive area rug over it to hide it.
Strip the Wax Off
There are benefits and drawbacks to waxing floors, and occasionally it causes more damage than good. Because they are porous and the barrier will keep moisture out, hardwood floors should be waxed on a regular basis. Vinyl composition tile (VCT) and terra cotta should also be waxed for protection. The pre-finished nature of engineered hardwood, luxury vinyl tile, and wood laminate flooring, however, means that they should never be waxed. Because they are impermeable and require air to breathe, stone and ceramic tile floors shouldn’t be waxed either. (Read More: Vinyl vs. Laminate Flooring – Pros & Cons to Compare)
Waxing does protect some floor materials, but over time it stains and traps dirt. This is more frequent on vinyl and other shiny floors. Apply a fresh coat of paint after using a hardwood wax remover product if a hardwood floor exhibits comparable symptoms. Renting a floor buffing machine with a polish stripper pad may be the best option for other surfaces. Only when the grime and wax buildup are out of control is this labor-intensive procedure necessary. If not, add half a cup of ammonia and two gallons of hot water to a bucket. Use this and a mop to clean the floor, scrubbing until the shine returns. Because they can scratch floors, abrasive cleaning tools should be avoided. Feel free to add a fresh coat of wax after the old wax has been removed and the floor has dried.