When considering flooring, a lot of folks spend tons of time debating whether hardwood or carpet is right for their space (and budget). But there are plenty of other flooring options out there, many of which are surprisingly affordable. Here are six that you might not have thought of.
Concrete floors, whether just polished (as seen up top, in a Scandinavian interior spotted on Dustjacket Attic) or finished with a sealant that makes them shiny (as seen above, from Lovely Life) are beautiful in contemporary spaces, and can be a nice way to add a bit of an edge to a traditional space as well. Depending on the treatment you may save a little money over other floor options, as well. After all, chances are good (if you live in a house with a slab on grade foundation, or in a much larger building with steel construction) that you already have a concrete floor.
Cork flooring (as seen above in a space from A Cup of Jo) looks beautiful underfoot, with a warmth and movement similar to wood. Plus it has a little bit of springiness that makes it easier on your feet, which is especially nice in places like the kitchen where you'll be standing for long periods of time. You can read more about cork flooring here.
Rubber flooring is already quite popular in Europe, although to Americans it may draw up a sort of 80s-industrial sensibility. But it can be quite attractive, and it's also exceedingly practical — easy to care for, incredibly durable, and nice and forgiving underfoot.
Tile (and not just in a bathroom or kitchen).
You may think of tile as something that only goes in wet spaces, but lately we've been seeing lots of beautiful tile designs that are just too pretty to hide away in the bathroom (like the ones in this gorgeous space from Poppytalk). Encaustic tile is especially nice in the right living room or dining room, and if you live in a place where it gets particularly hot during the summer its coolness will be wonderful to have underfoot.
If you've ever been an architect you'll know that VCT (or vinyl composite tile) is cheeeeap. It's almost always the budget flooring option in any project, the one you go to when you are really trying to squeeze money out. I wasn't totally sold on the idea of using VCT in a home, as opposed to an elementary school classroom, until I saw this kitchen remodel from The Art of Doing Stuff, where this inexpensive flooring looks like a million bucks. It's pretty hardwearing, too.
Carpet tile gets used a lot in industrial buildings, for obvious reasons — it's easy to install, easy to clean, and can be replaced one section at a time in the event of stains. There are manufacturers that make carpet tiles for residential applications, too (FLOR comes to mind), and they come in a huge variety of patterns and colors that are anything but office-building boring. You can configure it into all kinds of interesting patterns (like the ombre design above, spotted on Martha Stewart), and it comes in a huge variety of low-pile options that read a lot more sophisticated than traditional wall-to-wall.