What is the Best Flooring Option for a Rental Property?
Flooring is a significant part of your rental income plan. You want to achieve three important goals when you replace or install your rental property flooring:
- Your tenants need to like it.
- You want it to last a long time.
- It needs to be cost-effective.
Those sound like simple objectives to accomplish, but flooring needs to do more than just look good. Italian marble is pleasing to the eye and will last a long time, but it certainly won’t help keep you profitable. Make sure you’re choosing an option that gives you the benefits and value you need. The ideal flooring option for a rental property should make your tenants feel comfortable and at home, be easy to maintain, and it should be cost-effective, not a budget breaker.:
Happy tenants will stay longer, improving your bottom line, and new renters will be willing to pay more if the flooring is impressive. It makes sense to consider more than just price when selecting your floor covering. In this article, we’ll cover the various types of flooring for rental properties, including luxury vinyl tile.
Features of the Best Rental Property Flooring
Renters can be hard on your property – especially the flooring. The last thing you need to add to your to-do list is floor sanding, waxing, buffing, or flea treatments. Regular maintenance usually means that all the furniture needs to be removed from the home which will not be pleasant for your tenants. The ideal floor covering should only need to be swept and damp mopped occasionally to preserve its beauty.
Attractive means more than pretty or good-looking. It’s emotional as well. The flooring needs to give your tenants a sense of security – it makes the home complete and is part of a well-thought-out design. They should feel like they can’t wait to take their shoes off and get comfortable. If they have children, you want them to be relaxed when their little ones are playing on the floor.
For property managers/owners, affordable should be defined as value-sensitive. You are in the business of making money so there is a budget to consider. However, if you need to replace the flooring every few years, or it requires expensive maintenance to keep it looking good, the money you save upfront could be forfeited shortly after your purchase.
Flooring for rental properties should be able to withstand heavy foot traffic, dog paws if you allow pets, and a lot of furniture moving. According to a recent study, renters move on average every 2-3 years and a move puts a lot of stress on the flooring. Your decision should take this into account.
6 Options for Rental Property Flooring
1. Luxury Vinyl Tile
Vinyl flooring is available in a number of designs and styles and has become the overwhelming choice among homeowners, as well as landlords. It caters to most tenant’s desires and needs because it is:
- Attractive. It can mimic stone, hardwood, and ceramic and some may have a textured surface.
- Easy to maintain
- Mostly waterproof and stain resistant
- DIY friendly
- Can be installed over most subfloors, including concrete.
Vinyl flooring is constructed of a dense WPC (wood plastic core) that makes it waterproof, in most cases. The heavy-duty clear protective layer above the image layer protects against heavy foot traffic, scratches, and makes the flooring stain resistant, while the soft cushion pad on the bottom removes the need for an additional layer of underlayment and adds to its comfort when walked on.
Common areas with lobbies, hallways, recreation rooms, and gyms are great candidates for luxury vinyl flooring.
Bamboo is a relative newcomer to the rental flooring market compared to most other flooring options. Interest in the product is due to a newer manufacturing process called “strand woven” which produces flooring that is stronger than red oak.
Bamboo flooring is a beautifully engineered product and comes in varying colors and patterns, making it adaptable to a wide variety of decorating ideas. It is competitive with other engineered hardwood flooring and is considered eco-friendly and sustainable.
Bamboo is installed like other wood flooring products so if you can glue down or nail regular tongue and groove flooring or snap together click-lock flooring, bamboo can be a DIY installation. Like other wood floorings, bamboo should not be installed below-grade or in areas of high moisture content. It is water-resistant, but not waterproof.
One of the easiest mistakes to make when choosing a carpet is to pick the least expensive option. Carpet is budget-friendly upfront, but if you replace it in 5 years due to wear, it will end up costing you more money over its useful life. There are a number of different styles and colors of carpet on the market, including:
If you allow children or pets into your rental program, you should pay extra attention to the stain resistance of your carpet. Polyester is the hands-down winner here, and it is generally the most stain-resistant. Nylon carpets resist dirt, mold, and mildew, but do not resist moisture well. Berber can be a good choice for your rental properties since it is made from olefin fiber, better known as polypropylene, making it an economical alternative to other styles of carpet.
Even though carpet is probably the most common type of flooring for rental units, it is considered non-permanent flooring for tax purposes and can only be depreciated over 5 years. The flip side is that it is easy to install and inexpensive to replace. The carpet does require regular maintenance and should have a deep cleaning every 12-18 months to ensure allergens are kept to a minimum.
Laminate flooring is often used as an alternative to real hardwood flooring because it mimics the look almost perfectly. It is much less expensive and it is easy to install. Laminate is made of multiple layers and the top transparent layer will determine how durable your flooring will be.
The top layer is rated on an AC (abrasion criteria) rating scale to help you choose the best option for your needs. The rating system starts at AC1 (1 person household) and goes to AC5 (public buildings with heavy commercial traffic). Your rental units should be using laminate with an AC3 or higher rating to ensure you’re getting a product that is durable and will provide good value for your investment.
Laminate flooring is water-resistant, but not waterproof. Therefore it is not recommended for installation over concrete or in areas that are susceptible to high moisture.
5. Porcelain Tile
Hard ceramic or porcelain tile will perform well in a rental property since it is extremely durable, resists stains, and is mostly waterproof. There are many design options and it is easy to find tiles that look like wood and natural stone – often at a lower price. Porcelain tiles work well in basements, bathrooms, laundry rooms and are even finding their way outside in areas that don’t experience freezing weather, like south Florida.
There are some good reasons to install porcelain tile in your rental unit: Porcelain and ceramic tiles are easy to clean. If you break one, you can easily replace it instead of ripping up the entire floor, and it is readily available in most markets.
However, tile also has some disadvantages: It is not a good insulator, the surface of the tile is easy to clean, but the grout can be challenging to clean and can be to be replaced. Porcelain tile is not as comfortable to walk on as other flooring choices.
6. Engineered Hardwood
Engineered hardwood provides the benefits of laminate flooring with the real beauty of solid hardwood. It is more stable than solid hardwood because of its unique construction that incorporates hardwood layers positioned in a different direction from the previous layer and the surface layer is an actual piece of hardwood. This construction allows the flooring to be installed in high moisture areas as well as below-grade in basements.
Engineered hardwood is available in many species, colors, and plank sizes, imitating real wood flooring but without the high cost and the excessive maintenance requirements. Some engineered hardwood can actually be sanded one or more times depending upon the surface layer thickness.
If your rental property is in an area that requires hardwood flooring, then this product is an excellent alternative to solid wood, giving you the elegance of real wood, while also saving you money.
Our Pick for the Best Rental Property Flooring
Luxury vinyl flooring is our choice for the best flooring option for a rental property. The selection of styles, designs, and colors allows you to cater to most tenant types and ages without sacrificing durability or breaking your budget.
It is more comfortable to walk on than other hard flooring surfaces, highly resistant to stains and moisture, and economical to purchase and install. If your properties have children and pets, luxury vinyl flooring will be more forgiving when heavy items are dropped on it and it will resist scratches from pet traffic. It is easy to maintain for both the tenant and you, making it an excellent long-term choice for your rental properties.
Where to Buy the Best Luxury Vinyl Tile
We are BuildDirect and we offer our customers a wide variety of styles, colors, and designs in luxury vinyl flooring, solid hardwood flooring, engineered hardwood flooring (including mostly waterproof options), ceramic, and porcelain tiles, laminate flooring, and carpet tiles.
Since 1999, we have been serving customers like you with quality flooring, experienced customer service assistance, online videos, and articles to help you choose the best flooring for your next project and get it installed. We buy directly so we can pass those savings directly to you. If you are managing multiple rental properties or you’re a professional installer, we always have free samples available so you can see your selection before your purchase.
For the professional flooring installer, we offer the PRO Rewards Program that customizes your experience with us. It’s easy to join simply by becoming a verified BD PRO. Once you join, you will enjoy:
- Up to 5% credit on qualified purchases
- Flexible on-site delivery
- A dedicated sales concierge
- Our 30-day money-back guarantee
Our professional customer service department is available from 9:00 AM to 7:30 PM Monday through Friday and on Saturday from 10:00 AM till 6:00 PM (EST). Contact us today to start the process of becoming a verified BD PRO.