When renovating or rehabbing a rental property, it can be hard to know where to cut costs and where to splurge. A rental property is not like a residential property—it will inevitably see more wear and tear and possibly more traffic than your own home would. While you would use the best of the best in your own home, your rental property needs to remain cost effective but be able to withstand some elevated deterioration.
Flooring is one of the hardest decisions when rehabbing a rental property. While it isn’t likely in the budget to go with the top-quality material, you need to find a middle ground. Using the lower quality flooring material can lead to reflooring more frequently, so it is important to find something that both meets your needs while meeting your budget.
When it comes to rental property flooring, there are several suitable options that won’t break the bank, or your back. But, like everything, each material has its pros and cons.
PROS: Carpet is one of the easiest flooring materials to install and is often one of the cheapest options available. This flooring material is soft, making rooms feel inviting and comfortable, and is often a good insulator which can lead to lower utility bills. Another perk of carpet is the noise reduction offered by the padding underneath the top layer.
CONS: Carpet can trap odors and allergens, which can lead to issues with tenants down the road. The material often stains easily if not top quality and can be difficult to clean. Carpet tends to exhibit wear and tear faster than most other materials and therefore isn’t a good choice for areas of high traffic—such as hallways, bathrooms, and kitchens.
PROS: Hardwood flooring is beautiful to look at, but expensive to install. However, the biggest perk of hardwood flooring is that, with proper care, the material has the longest lifespan. Unlike carpet, hardwood floors are moisture resistant and are extremely easy to clean. Hardwood floor also adds to the value of a property’s final sale price, as well as its rental fee.
CONS: Hardwood can fade over time, especially with exposure to constant UV rays. The material can often be easily scratched, especially by features such as high heel shoes or pet nails. Although a hardwood floor has a long life with proper maintenance and care, improper care can shorten the material’s lifespan, as the wrong cleaning products can easily damage the flooring.
PROS: Tile flooring is easy to clean, extremely durable, and water resistant—all features you want within a rental property. As tile is available in a wide array of designs and options, it comes in all price ranges. Tile is often preferred for kitchens and bathrooms, but can be placed throughout the home for a solid appearance and cannot be scratched, stained, or worn down by high traffic.
CONS: Unfortunately, tile is not a good insulator and can leave a home feeling cold over the cooler months. As the material is a harder surface, it is also uncomfortable to sit or stand on for long periods of time and lacks any sound-proofing characteristics. A major downside to tile is that it can be extremely slippery when wet, as well, and can cause problems for landlords with troublesome tenants.
PROS: Vinyl seems to be the landlord’s flooring of choice in recent years. Resilient, yet affordable, vinyl flooring can be selected from a multitude of colors, patterns, and appearances—making it extremely versatile. Softer than tile, vinyl flooring is also moisture resistant and easy to clean and is a better noise reducer than wood or tile.
CONS: One downside to vinyl is that it can be ripped or punctured by sharp objects, such as heels or moving furniture. Vinyl can be complicated to remove and adds little to the resale value of the home. UV rays and rubber (ie: bathmats) can discolor or fade the material quickly.
Regardless of which material you opt to install in your rental property, it is important to remember that you will likely be repairing, replacing, or removing the flooring several times during the rental cycle of the home. What type of flooring and what quality level you choose will determine exactly how frequently these redos will occur over time, so do your research and choose wisely.