How to Choose the Best Flooring for Rental Property

Learn about durable and low-maintenance flooring options that can enhance the appeal of your rental property and provide the best return on investment.

By
Nichole Stohler
|
Last Updated
November 17, 2023
How to Choose the Best Flooring for Rental Property

Ever dealt with stained carpets, warped hardwood, or rental floors that couldn't withstand daily wear-and-tear? As a landlord, you know the right flooring makes or breaks your property’s appeal to prospective tenants.

In this article, we’ll explore insider flooring secrets that will save you money, impress tenants, and give your rental a competitive edge. We'll overview the durable, budget-friendly options to invest in and the types of floors to avoid at all costs.

Follow this advice to create a property renters will be proud to call home. A strategic flooring investment pays dividends for years through reduced repairs, satisfied tenants, and maximized rental income.

What to consider when choosing flooring

Picking the perfect floors for your rental is akin to finding the right foundation for a house -- it's a big decision that impacts your property's value and your tenants' happiness. Let's look at key factors to keep in mind when shopping for the perfect floor:

  • Durability: You need floors that can withstand your tenants' everyday wear and tear. Seek out scratch, stain, and dent-resistant materials so you don't have expensive repairs down the road. Look for strength and resilience.
  • Maintenance: Choose easy-clean floors that need little upkeep. Avoid stain-prone materials that require special cleaners. Low-maintenance flooring saves you time and money in the long term.
  • Cost: Consider installation fees and ongoing care. Aim for longevity and quality while staying within your budget -- you want affordable options that will last for years.
  • Style: Flooring affects your property's aesthetic appeal to renters. Pick versatile, timeless designs and neutral colors that complement different decor styles. You'll attract more renters by appealing to a broader range of preferences.
  • Tenant needs: What flooring do your target renters want? Families with kids may prefer comfortable, safe floors. Young professionals may want something sleek and modern. Knowing your audience lets you choose rental property flooring that appeals most to them.
  • Noise reduction: Hard floors are loud and amplify sound, which disrupts tenants and neighbors. Look for noise-reducing materials to maintain a peaceful environment.

Top flooring options for rental properties

Now that we've covered key selection factors, let's examine some great flooring choices that balance sturdiness, affordability, and visual appeal. These cost-effective options can withstand extensive use while requiring minimal upkeep.

Luxury vinyl flooring

Luxury vinyl flooring, available in Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP) and Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) formats, offers a sturdy and economical solution for rental properties.

LVP and LVT differ slightly in their offerings. LVP closely mimics the appearance of hardwood planks, while LVT provides a broader style variety, imitating textures from wood to stone. This versatility allows for greater customization according to the rental property's aesthetic.

Pros:

  • This rental property flooring option is sturdy, resisting scratches, stains, and moisture.
  • Long lifespan, with LVT lasting 20-30 years and LVP 15-25 years under proper care.
  • Luxury vinyl is easy to maintain. Regular sweeping and damp mopping are sufficient for upkeep.

Cons:

  • It may lack natural hardwood or stone's premium feel and impact on resale value.

Laminate flooring

Laminate mimics the look of hardwood and stone without the high cost. Remarkably resilient to everyday foot traffic and activity, it can complement any rental property's interior design because of its wide range of styles and colors.

Pros:

  • Cost-effective initial investment and maintenance.
  • Easy to clean with regular sweeping and mopping using laminate-specific cleaners.
  • Resilient, lasting 10-20 years with proper care and maintenance.

 Cons:

  • Spills have to be quickly addressed because laminate flooring is susceptible to moisture damage.
  • It's not as long-lasting in high-moisture areas as some of the other options.

Porcelain and ceramic tile

Rental property owners highly value porcelain and ceramic tiles for their exceptional water resistance and longevity against frequent use. Advancements in technology enable porcelain tiles to imitate luxurious materials such as wood and stone convincingly, offering a high-end look at a more accessible price point.

Pros:

  • Exceptional resilience, ideal for high-traffic and moisture-prone areas.
  • It's low maintenance, requiring just regular sweeping and mopping with a mild detergent.
  • Tile can last for decades, making it a great long-term flooring solution.

Cons:

  • Installation can be more expensive and time-consuming.
  • The hard surface of tile flooring may be less comfortable in residential living spaces.

Engineered hardwood flooring

Engineered hardwood flooring merges the classic warmth and beauty of solid hardwood with added stability and resistance to moisture, making it a great choice for rental properties where tenant wear and tear is a concern. Its unique construction, featuring a cross-layered plywood core, boosts its hardiness and prevents damage from common stressors.

Pros:

  • Combines the elegance of hardwood with increased durability.
  • Resistant to moisture and temperature variations.
  • Easy maintenance, needing regular sweeping or vacuuming and occasional mopping with wood cleaners.
  • Typically lasts for 20-30 years, with occasional polishing or refinishing to maintain its appearance.

Cons:

  • Higher cost compared to laminate or vinyl.
  • Engineered hardwood may require refinishing over time to retain its aesthetic appeal.

Carpet flooring

Carpet flooring provides comfort and warmth, offering a cozy feel to living spaces. It comes in various textures, colors, and materials. Advances in carpet materials have led to more stain-resistant and durable options, catering to the diverse needs of different rental properties. Carpet effectively dampens noise, making it a good choice for multi-story apartment units where minimizing sound transmission is ideal for tenant comfort.

Pros:

  • Provides a warm, comfortable surface underfoot, ideal for living areas and bedrooms.
  • It can be more cost-effective upfront compared to hard flooring options.

Cons:

  • Prone to stains, wear, and trapping odors, making it challenging to keep clean.
  • Requires professional cleaning between tenants, which can be costly.
  • Can harbor allergens, potentially affecting tenants with allergies.
  • It is not ideal for high-traffic areas due to quicker wear and tear.

Solid hardwood flooring

Solid hardwood flooring is a premium rental property flooring choice known for its natural beauty, warmth, and longevity. Available in diverse species, stains, and finishes, it can complement any interior design, from classic to contemporary. Hardwood flooring is often valued for its eco-friendliness, as it's sourced from natural, renewable resources and is recyclable at the end of its lifecycle.

Pros:

  • A hardwood floor adds significant aesthetic appeal and can increase property value.
  • Long-lasting: a solid hardwood floor can endure for decades with proper care.
  • This rental property flooring option can be refinished multiple times to restore its appearance.

Cons:

  • Higher initial cost compared to other flooring types.
  • Susceptible to scratches, dents, and water damage, requiring more careful maintenance.
  • It can be impacted by humidity and temperature changes, leading to expansion and contraction.
  • Requires frequent refinishing in high-traffic areas to maintain its look.

Best flooring for different areas in rental properties

As easy as it would make things for property owners, one-size-fits-all flooring does not exist for rental spaces. To choose the right match for your space, consider each room's unique needs:

Living rooms

With heavy daily foot traffic, durability is key in living rooms. Luxury vinyl is a strong choice, because it withstands constant use, activity, and wear and tear in high-traffic areas. The scratch resistance and simple cleaning requirements help preserve this flooring option's appearance in these frequent-use areas. Other rental property flooring options for living rooms include carpet, engineered hardwood, laminate, or solid wood floors.

Bathrooms and laundry rooms

For bathrooms and laundry rooms, you need moisture-resistant flooring. Luxury vinyl repels water and prevents warps, damage, and mold in these wet areas. Textured porcelain tile is also a great option, since it provides grip in bathrooms to prevent slips on wet floors.

Bedrooms and dining rooms

For bedrooms, warm and soft materials such as carpet and laminate flooring are ideal, enhancing livability and comfort for your tenants. Carpet is cozy and absorbs noise, making it perfect for bedrooms. In dining rooms, laminate flooring is a great rental property flooring choice. Laminate's resistance to wear and its ability to dampen sound make it suitable for dining areas and high-traffic bedroom spaces.

Entryways and kitchens

Tile is easily cleaned with minimal upkeep, making it perfect for busy kitchens and traffic-prone entryways. Due to its waterproof characteristics, luxury vinyl is also a great option for kitchens prone to spills.

Focusing on each room's functional needs allows you to match it to the best flooring for your rental property.

Installation and maintenance tips

Choosing the right flooring is just the first step. How do you make sure your flooring looks great and lasts for a long time? Follow these best practice installation and maintenance tips:

Professional installation

Have your flooring professionally installed for the best results and longevity. Trained installers have the expertise and tools to properly assemble the subfloor and install the flooring correctly, minimizing the risk of future issues. It will save you time and potentially costly repairs in the future.

Overseeing flooring installation

Knowing best practices for installation can help you choose qualified professionals and ensure the work meets your standards. When beginning the installation process, require and verify that proper subfloor prep is done. It helps avoid problems like unstable flooring or moisture damage down the road.

For laminate flooring, the subfloor must be leveled and cleaned, and the installer must add a moisture barrier before the planks.

With tile, proper prep includes checking for moisture issues, applying cement backer board, and using manufacturer-recommended thin-set adhesives.

Regular cleaning

Consistent cleaning is required to maintain your rental property's flooring. Depending on the flooring type, ask your tenants to sweep, vacuum, or mop regularly.

Provide your tenants with the manufacturer's instructions for recommended cleaning products and methods for their specific flooring material. Ask tenants to clean any spills promptly to prevent permanent stains.

Moisture control

Every type of flooring needs protection against moisture. Place doormats in your rental property entrances to trap dirt and moisture before they reach the flooring.

Regular inspections

As part of your rental property maintenance checklist, include regular inspections of the flooring to spot any signs of damage, wear, or potential issues. Look for loose tiles, cracks, or areas that require cleaning or repair. Addressing these concerns quickly can help prevent further damage and protect the safety and satisfaction of your tenants.

By following these installation and maintenance recommendations, you can prolong the lifespan of your rental property's flooring and minimize the need for expensive repairs or replacements down the road.

Best flooring for a rental home

Selecting the perfect floors for your rental goes beyond just style -- it's about making a smart investment that benefits both you and your tenants.

The right flooring makes your rental successful by being long-lasting, low-maintenance, and visually appealing. It turns your property into a coveted space renters will proudly call home.

By following the guidance in this article, you'll be able to find the best flooring for your rental property that balances function and aesthetics. Remember to seek options built to handle rental wear and tear while radiating a timeless, inviting style.

Your floors are the foundation of your property, so choose them wisely!

Best flooring for rental property FAQs

What type of flooring is easiest to maintain?

Luxury vinyl and tile are the easiest flooring types to maintain. They are durable options that resist stains and moisture and require simple cleaning routines.

Can you put vinyl flooring in an apartment?

Yes, you can install vinyl flooring in an apartment. Vinyl flooring is popular due to its resilience, cost-effectiveness, and wide range of styles. It's especially suitable for rental properties or apartments where quick installation and low maintenance are priorities.

What type of flooring is the best return on investment?

Luxury plank and luxury vinyl tile often provide the best ROI for rentals. They have reasonable upfront costs combined with extreme longevity that avoids frequent repairs. They're both affordable flooring options that can allow you to justify higher rents, given their visual appeal and functionality. Both flooring types maximize return on investment.

Nichole Stohler

Nichole co-founded Gateway Private Equity Group, with a history of investments in single-family and multi-family properties, and now a specialization in hotel real estate investments. She is also the creator of NicsGuide.com, a blog dedicated to real estate investing.

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