The Best Flooring for Flipping Houses
Flipping houses is about maximizing profits, so every part of the renovation needs to be budget-conscious. The main concern is buying the right house in the right neighborhood for the right price at the right time. No easy feat! Add to that list — being able to sell the home quickly when you are finished.
In a house flipping process, you will formalize a budget for each phase of the renovation. Attention to detail is important as you analyze what part of the renovation gets the most attention and what parts can be minimized. One of the first things a potential buyer will see when they walk into your new listing is the floor, so you know you will need to put a good portion of your budget into the floor.
5 Factors to Consider
Since you are in this business to make money, we are going to cut to the chase and list some factors to consider and best practices for flooring your flip.
If the roof and foundation of your house flip are in good condition, one of the next areas to get attention will be the flooring. Let’s use a 1,400 square foot home as an example. Assume all of the flooring needs to be replaced.
About 30% of the home will be bedrooms. At a rounded price of $5 a square foot, estimates will require a budget of at least $2,100 for an average grade.
The kitchen usually makes up about 12% of the house and this area is a premier space in a home, used frequently. In other words: forget the budget here. Consider the neighborhood you’re in and think about the best house in that neighborhood. What flooring would be in the kitchen? Put that flooring in your kitchen.
We’ll say you’re in a moderately-priced subdivision and luxury vinyl plank tile would be the best choice. The average price for tile and installation will be about $7 a square foot, so that will take up $1200. Bathrooms will take up about the same area as the kitchen so you can add another $1200 to the budget needs. The flooring cost in your house flip could be almost $5000 or more depending upon your choice of flooring and barring any unforeseen issues.
2. Ease of Installation
The prices quoted above assume that you would be using professionals to install the flooring and for some, that will be your only option. If you are DIY-inclined, you may be able to install some flooring options yourself.This could save you a good bit of money that can be applied elsewhere in the budget. Some floor coverings will be harder than others to install and some may require expensive tools and equipment to do the job correctly. Make sure that is part of your research before you purchase.
Ceramic and porcelain tiles are very heavy, require additional underlayment on top of your subfloor and you will need a good bit of experience to get the hang of spacing it properly for straight grout lines.These tiles are also susceptible to breaking if dropped or cut incorrectly.
The friendliest DIY flooring will be the peel and stick tile (not usually recommended), engineered wood, and luxury vinyl tiles that snap together. They are manufactured in such a way as to make the basic connections almost fool-proof. You will still need skill in making the cuts and you might need some specialized tools (table saw, mitre saw and oscillating saw) to get the job done right.
3. Aesthetic Consistency
One of the mistakes inexperienced house flippers make when it comes to choosing new flooring is not ensuring that the look, or aesthetic feel, is maintained throughout the home. Consider your layout. Does the home have an open floor plan? If so, you can use the same flooring throughout the open areas giving the home a more spacious feel.
You also want to make sure that you don’t radically change the texture of the flooring from room to room. This can create a compartmental feel — more like an office building than a home. The same thing can happen if you make drastic color changes from one room to another. The best option for a house flip is to stick to neutral colors with minimal textures. You want the flooring to stand out because it’s beautiful, not because it’s awkward.
Some floor coverings require a specific substrate or subfloor to be installed over and therefore can add time and extra expense to your flipping budget.
For instance, ceramic tile must be installed over a cementuous base. If your subfloor is plywood or an OSB type product, you will need to install a backer board before installing the ceramic or porcelain. Hardwood flooring prefers a clean wood subfloor especially if the product has to be glued and nailed. The best solution is to choose a flooring that can go over any type of subfloor — especially concrete.
5. Insulation & Radiant Heating Compatibility
Heated floors are very popular today and if you are flipping a house that has a radiant heat system you need to be aware of what works best for these systems. Ceramic, porcelain and natural stone work great as they are wonderful conductors of heat, but they are expensive and time consuming to install.
Engineered wood and laminates can be used as well because of their cross-layer construction reducing their contraction and expansion. The best budget option however, is luxury vinyl tile. With its solid core and ease of installation, LVT will give your radiant heat system a fresh look in minimal time and on budget.
Carpet may be the warmest of the floor coverings but it is usually the least desirable option in a home. Engineered wood, real hardwood, and luxury vinyl tiles are great choices for a warm and comfortable floor.
Types of Flooring for Flipping Houses
Engineered hardwood flooring is an excellent option if you want the high-end look of real wood without the high price. It is manufactured by layering real wood in opposite directions to give it structural integrity and the top layer is real hardwood. If you are flipping in an area of high dollar real estate but your budget won’t allow solid hardwood, this is an excellent alternative.
Laminate flooring got its start as an economical floor covering that provided the look of wood flooring at a fraction of the cost. It is made by using waste wood products so it is an eco-friendly flooring product. The new designs do an excellent job of mimicking stone as well as hardwood. The downside of laminate flooring is that it will not do well in areas of high moisture or humidity so it shouldn’t be used in laundry rooms or bathrooms.
Luxury vinyl tile and planks are the hottest product on the flooring aisle today, and for good reason:
- They are easy to install.
- They are essentially waterproof.
- They give the look of real wood and stone.
- They are kind to the budget.
The product is made in 4 layers. The bottom layer is waterproof and prevents mold and mildew from forming. The next layer is a solid vinyl core that gives the flooring its strength and flexibility, and it is also waterproof. The third layer is called the decorative layer and this is what you see as the finished product, even though there is another layer on top of that called the wear layer.
It is a clear layer of protection that prevents scratches, stains, and fading. All of these layers are combined together in a heat process that results in the most beautiful and economical floor tiles on the market.
Ceramic and porcelain tiles are an excellent option for houses at the higher end of the market. Porcelain is stronger than ceramic but is also a little more expensive. They are both beautiful designs and can be installed in almost unlimited patterns. A ceramic or porcelain tile floor can be cold without radiant heat so it is an excellent option in warmer climates.
The Best Flooring Materials for Flipping Houses
The price range of the home you are flipping will place certain restrictions on the type of floor coverings you will be able to use, but the best all-around floor covering is luxury vinyl tile and planks. They are available in patterns that look like real hardwood, ceramic tile, and stone, and the patterns vary from box to box so you don’t get the look of old-style vinyl flooring. Many upscale homes use LVT and LVP throughout the house because they are beautiful, durable, and waterproof.
In addition to their design flexibility, luxury vinyl tiles and planks can go directly over any subfloor — including concrete, making them the most versatile floor covering for a house flipper — saving you both time and money.
Laminate flooring can be used over any substrate, but requires a vapor barrier/insulation layer to be installed prior to laying the flooring. If your budget is tight and you don’t have much time, stick with LVT.
Where to Buy the Best Flooring Option for Flipping Houses
BuildDirect is your one-stop source for luxury vinyl tiles, ceramic and porcelain tile, hardwood and engineered wood floor coverings, and many other building materials. We have hundreds of designs and patterns to choose from and many of our selections are available with free shipping. We understand the needs of the professional flooring installer as well as the real estate investor and we have tailored our products to help you make great decisions and more profit.
Our PRO Rewards program gives you tools and services that are customized to your operation, and we have customer service representatives available Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 7:30 PM (EST) and Saturday 10:00 AM to 6 PM to answer your questions about all things flooring. Get free samples today and discover the joys of working with BuildDirect.