Inexpensive but very beautiful

Covering your floor need not break the bank

TRADITIONAL flooring is expensive. Tile, carpet, and even vinyl can all cost big bucks.

Add in the cost of installation and you can quickly use up most of your decorating budget. If you're strapped for cash, there are alternatives to traditional flooring.

With a little creativity and some DIY skills, you can cover a floor for less than the cost of traditional options.

Here are some ideas for alternative floor coverings.

Carpet samples: Many retailers will either give away carpet samples or charge only a nominal fee. If you want padding under the carpet, you'll have to pay for that. You can arrange the samples into any pattern and then stick them to the floor with glue. If you want something more portable, make an area rug by adhering the samples to a sheet or drop cloth.

Random materials: I've seen an entry way floored with old Scrabble tiles and a bathroom done in playing cards. Almost any material that will lay flat and can be covered in sealant is fair game.

Concrete: Concrete makes a cheap and indestructible floor. You can probably do small rooms on your own with bags of concrete you mix yourself. To jazz up boring concrete, stain it, create patterns in it before it dries or place glass, smooth stones, or tile fragments in it.

Samples-leftovers of hardwood or laminates: Since multi-coloured hardwood floors are now trendy, buy whatever the store has on the clearance rack and put it together in an interesting pattern.

Salvaged or clearance tiles: You can often find tiles on the clearance racks at home improvement centres or available in salvage stores. You may not get enough of one pattern to do a whole room, so buy several complimentary patterns and create your own look.

Remnant carpeting: Carpet remnants are often bigger than samples and can be used in bigger rooms. I know someone who got a large remnant and then trimmed the outside with carpet samples.

Rubber-foam fatigue mats: These fit together like puzzle pieces. You can get them in black, gray, or pastel and primary colours. You can even get them with roads and maps on them so kids can play with their toy cars on them. They make a good flooring option for recreation rooms, kids' rooms or utility rooms. They clean up easily and can be replaced quickly too.

Drop cloths, quilts or sheets: Any large piece of fabric can be used as a floor covering. Just lay it out and put some anti-slip matting under it to hold it in place. Paint your own patterns on them

Paint: If you have a concrete or wooden floor, pretty it up with paint. Just put some sealant over it to prevent chipping. -