Which Type of Flooring is Best for a Rental Property?

Jan 4, 2017 10:56:00 AM / by Brent Silberbauer

flooring optionsThe life of flooring in a Chico or Redding rental property can last anywhere from a few years with low grade carpet to decades with high end tile or hardwood floors. Typically, if you’re a long-term rental property owner, odds are you’ll have to replace flooring in your rental. As someone in the rental property management industry, many owners ask me which flooring solutions are the best for rentals. The answer is – it depends. 

When considering which solution is best for flooring in a rental there are a few options: carpet, luxury vinyl planking (LVP), laminate, tile, and hardwood floors. Let’s look at some pros and cons of different flooring options

Carpet

Carpet is great for many common area uses. Obviously, you don’t want to put it in a kitchen or bathroom, but it’s a great option for living areas and bedrooms. Carpet is nice for cold weather climates, because other options tend to feel cold in the morning. It also helps reduce noise; hard surfaces can cause an echo or make a room feel loud. 

Usually people prefer carpet in the bedrooms because it’s nice to put your bare feet down on a warmer surface in the morning as well as create a quieter space. For rentals, we recommend a mid-grade carpet because it lasts longer and offsets the cost of frequently needing to replace a low-grade carpet. Also, in the rentals managed by Hignell Property Management, we purchase a Stainmaster option which allows the carpet to resist stains and clean easier. 

Luxury Vinyl Planking (LVP)

Luxury vinyl planking and its popularity has been exponentially multiplied over the past few years.  There are a lot of reasons for this. Although LVP can be 30 to 50% more than carpet, it can last 200-300% longer. You don’t have to be a math genius to know that’s a much better ROI.

Also, after a year of carpet, even if you clean it, it won’t look or be as clean as when you first installed it. With LVP, even if you have a tenant with pets or assistance animals, you just run a swifter over it and it looks new! It’s better for allergies and is water resistant. We had a flood at one of our apartments and the new LVP flooring held up like a champ. Carpet could of never done that.

Another reason that LVP is gaining in popularity is the ability to repair easily. Hignell Property Management uses an LVP that doesn’t have a tongue and grove system, which can be very difficult to repair. With LVP that has a pressure sensitive glue system you can repair damaged planks very easily with the proper tools and training. Typically, you can find LVP with a residential use warranty for 15 years.

Laminate

Laminate flooring is a synthetic product made of several layers that are sealed together in the "lamination" process. Unlike LVP laminate is not as water proof. LVP can sit in a bathtub full of water for days and not change, but laminate is more subject to expansion under moist conditions. It also can be harder to repair than the glue down LVP which makes it less desirable for us to use in our rentals. 

Tile

Tile is extremely durable, but often can have a hard, cold effect that can leave a room feeling a bit stale. Don’t get me wrong, in the right situations tile is great. I’m a fan of tile in some kitchens and bathrooms, but for a Chico or Redding rental property manager, the cost vs. return typically makes it a less desirable option. There are some LVP tiles that look great and could also be a great alternative to ceramic tile. 

Hardwood floors

For a rental, we would recommend you stay away from hardwood floors. They are beautiful, but expensive and can be subject to water damage. The average renter doesn’t typically appreciate a hardwood floor enough to pay more in rent for one. Unless you’re going for a high-priced luxury unit, you won’t get the ROI from hardwood floors that is going to make sense.

Summary

Our favorite set up that’s typical in most Chico and Redding rental properties is to install an inexpensive LVP in the common areas and carpet in the bedrooms. The bedrooms get less traffic so the carpet will hold up longer. Also, most people prefer carpet in the bedroom for reasons such as noise reduction and being able to put their feet down on a comfortable surface when they get out of bed in the morning.

Whatever flooring you decide to go for in your rental property, remember, this is an investment, not your chance to make it as an interior designer. Stick to the basics and run the numbers. If it pencils out and makes sense for your investment then, go for it, but if it doesn’t don’t be afraid to wait or invest in a cheaper alternative. 

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Topics: Property Maintenance, Residential Property Management