Cheap Flooring Solutions: Seagrass, Painted Floorboards and More

Seagrass matting is available in a variety of styles
Seagrass matting is available in a variety of styles

Floor coverings are probably the single most expensive decorator item you will purchase but it's also the one thing that can really transform your home. However not everyone can afford lush pile carpet, ceramic tiles or expensive polished floorboards. This article is designed for for those on a tight budget and will explore some of the cheaper options available.


Seagrass Matting

Seagrass matting has long been touted as a cheap flooring option, but it does have a serious disadvantage, as we will see below. This style of flooring has been a popular floor choice in many Asian countries for generations -including China, Japan, the Philippines and Korea. The matting comes in squares as well as by the metre and the squaresin particulur, are quick and easy to install.


Seagrass is moisture resistant, which makes it less prone to staining but it also means it is difficult to dye, thus it almost always comes in neutral colours only. By far the biggest drawback to seagrass matiting is its propensity to trap dust - tons of it and it's almost impossible to suck it all up with a vacuum cleaner. squares can lifted and taken outside and beaten until the dust escapes but this is a tedious job for anything but the tiniest area.


Pros
• Planet Friendly
• Cheap
• Easy to install
• Available in a variety of designs
• Made from natural fibre
• Has a nice earthy feel and look
• Versatile


Cons
• Hard to clean
• Collects way too much dust and traps allergens
• Not as aesthetically appealing as sisal.


Sisal flooring
Sisal flooring
Sisal is both attractive and hardwearing
Sisal is both attractive and hardwearing

Sisal

Sisal owes its name to the Mexican port of Sisal, as most of the woldwide exports took place there in the 19th century, though Brazil is now the chief exporter.


Unlike seagrass, sisal is not moisture resistant, which makes it easier to dye but more prone to staining and dampness.


Pros

  • Natural fibre
  • Hardwearing
  • Looks great
  • Cheaper than carpet
  • Doesn't require underlay
  • Makes for a firm floor - good for furniture with castors.
  • Tough


Cons

  • Poor resistance to moisture
  • Stains easily


Carpet squares are a versatile flooring solution
Carpet squares are a versatile flooring solution | Source

Carpet Squares

Another option for a quick easy floor with low installation costs is carpet squares, which can range in price from very expensive down to reasonably cheap. The squares can also be mixed and matched to create interesting designs.

As with most flooring solutions, the more expensive versions tend to be the most attractive but still, if you're prepared to hunt around, there are some good, aesthetically appealing ones to be found - even second-hand, as carpet squares are far more conducive to being transferred from house to house than regular wall-to-wall carpet.

Pros

  • Cheap to install - you can do it yourself
  • Second-hand options are available
  • Stained areas can be moved around to less obvious areas, ie; under a couch
  • Generally less expensive than wall-to-wall
  • Good for high traffic areas

Cons

  • The cheaper versions may not have that rich and bouncy carpet feel - they can feel a bit flat
  • More expensive than some of the other, non-carpet options

Inexpensive carpet tiles are easy to lay
Inexpensive carpet tiles are easy to lay | Source
Simple, painted floorboards can be beautiful  from livingetc.com
Simple, painted floorboards can be beautiful from livingetc.com | Source
Image by Tim at Flickr
Image by Tim at Flickr

Painted Floorboards

If you have floor boards in poor condition, painting them can be a much cheaper option than carpet or sanding, staining and polishing. They can also look very attractive and colours can be cordinated to perfectly match interiors.


The important thing to remember when painting floorboards is to to use the correct paint. Ordinary paint wont cut it due the regular wear and tear the average floor receives.You will also need an undercoat. Some experts advice mixing the topcoat with 10% turpentine to increase absorbtion into the wood. Discuss this with your local paint specialist - they should be able to put you on the right track.


Unless your floorboards are in perfect condition they may require some sanding and possibly filling here and there. The beauty of painted floorbards is the options they give you - you can go from pristine white to a deep, rich black and a rainbow of colours in-between.


Pros

  • Cheaper than carpet
  • Attractive
  • Lots of colour options
  • Doesn't trap dust like some other floor coverings
  • Relatively easy to clean


Cons

  • Requires preparation
  • Makes for a noisier floor than matting
  • Not ideal for high traffic areas

The stunning effects of decorated concrete Photo from concretenetwork.com
The stunning effects of decorated concrete Photo from concretenetwork.com

Painted or Polished Concrete Floors

Bare concrete is perhaps one of the ugliest floors there is. Nor is bare concrete very practical as it holds stains, collects dusts and traps grime. There are two options with concrete floors - painting or polishing. Polished concrete can look great but ideally requires that there be some decorative agregate in the concrete, such as river stone and basalt. Failing that, the concrete can be cut and sanded down to reveal the natural aggregate or another thin slab can be poured on top, containing the requisite aggregate but there goes the cheap flooring idea.

While a concrete floor is best decided on before the house is built, so you can inform the builder of your intention, you can still do it if you're prepared to grind, trowel and sand and then coat it with an epoxy coat. Advantages of a polished concrete floor include:

Pros

  • Beauty - a polished concrete floor can bring out the natural beauty in the aggregate and look stunning
  • If done while the house is being built it's very cost effective
  • Hardwearing
  • Easy to maintain and low allergenic
  • Lasts a lifetime


Cons

  • Very hard - if you drop anything it will break
  • Can feel cold on your feet
  • Harder to retro-fit a polished concrete floor
  • Usually requires expert help


Painting concrete floors are an easier, cheaper option that you can do yourself. See the linked blog for pictures of a house with DIY white painted concrete floors..they look quite amazing:

Paint me white

The concrete does have to be properly prepared prior to painting and of course, a special concrete paint must be used, otherwise it will be very likely to peel off and that's not a good look. You'll need to first thoroughly clean the concrete, patch any irregularities and coat with a concrete primer - very important for getting your paint job to endure you'll then have to wait at leat 24 hours for the primer to dry before rolling on the top coat.To ensure lasting shine, easy cleaning and to minimise scratches and damage, a top sealer is recommended. You can also incorporated designs into your paintwork if you want to get fancy. One more thing..if you're concrete floor is new, you'll need to use an etching product so the paint will adhere.

Pros

  • Cheap
  • Low allergenic
  • Can look really good
  • Easy to change if you get sick of it

Cons

  • Tedious to do
  • Hard on feet
  • Cold


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