Flooring is one of the highest reoccurring expenses for a rental property. Depending on the quality and amount of carpet needed, you can expect to pay $5,000 and up for a 1,100 square foot house. For that cost, you can expect the carpet to last between 5 and 7 years. That comes to about $20,000 for carpet over 20 years. You may think a new 20-year roof is your most expensive cost, but that roof is only going to come to about $5,000. That makes carpeting (or other floorings) one of your biggest expenses for a rental property. Still, carpet is usually your least expensive option…
Real estate investors need to balance the cost of flooring with the potential return on investment. While carpeting is less expensive and has a faster depreciation expense, hardwood and tile flooring may add more value to a single-family rental home in the long run. The good news is that flooring products have come a long way over the years with advanced technology and innovations. Today, landlords have more choices than ever.
One of your first considerations is the type of rental property you have and the type of tenants you want to attract. If yours is a high-end rental, you’re going to need a higher quality product and replace it more often than the average rental. One of the easiest decisions is the color. A neutral color is always the answer for a rental unless you are remodeling for a high-end tenant that has signed a 5-year lease. But there are more factors to consider.
The climate at your location is a factor to consider. For instance, in humid southern states, installing more tile or vinyl is often appropriate. These choices help keep the home cooler and are resistant to moisture. These are also easier to clean against mold growth and musty odors. In northern climates with winter slush and snow, a tile entryway to remove shoes can open onto a fully carpeted room that better insulates cold floors.
Pet-friendly rentals have different needs. Pets have four feet and spend all their time on the floor. That means more wear and tear. A good solution is low maintenance and durable flooring such as tile, hardwood, or laminate.
Think about the unique needs for your rental such as a four-bedroom house that will have lots of children versus a one-bedroom cottage most suitable for a senior citizen. After those unique decisions are made, the landlord of an average rental wants to focus on the cost of the materials, the cost to install, the cost of maintenance, and the durability. Materials worth considering are:
- Floating wood tiles
- Vinyl sheets
- Vinyl tiles
Tile and carpet are the most common. Tile comes in several variations with ceramic, porcelain, or stone being the most practical. The advantages of tile over carpet are that tile is easy to clean, durable (lasting well over 10 years), and water-resistant. It’s also available in all price ranges. But every floor covering has disadvantages.
For tile, one disadvantage is that it is a poor insulator that may not be desirable in colder climates. It can also be scratched when moving furniture around, cracked if something falls on it, or the adhesive can come loose. Replacing damaged tiles requires skill and time. Tile grout also needs to be cleaned and sealed regularly (preferably annually). Less often, the tiles themselves need deep cleaning and to be resealed. However, in the long run, tile is more durable and will last much longer than carpet. Tile isn’t appropriate everywhere. It’s seldom, if ever, used in bedrooms or living rooms. It is a good selection for bathrooms, kitchens, and utility rooms. It’s also good in common areas and many basements.
Carpeting is the most common flooring in rentals for living rooms, bedrooms, and stairways. It’s also suitable for finished basements if moisture isn’t a problem. Carpet can be the best choice in multi-unit buildings when floor noise from upper units is an issue. Carpeting also makes a good insulator in colder climates. It gives living rooms a softer and welcoming feeling. All of these can be further enhanced with superior quality padding under the carpet.
However, carpeting must be shampooed often and doesn’t wear nearly as well as other floorings. Using too low of a grade carpet can mean replacing it almost every time a new tenant moves in or at least professionally cleaning it. Stains can be permanent as well as carpet can harbor allergens, odors, dust, and even small pests like bugs and fleas.
When deciding on the type of flooring for a rental property, landlords have many factors to consider. These include cost, durability, ease of cleaning, and resiliency to wear and tear. Regardless of which you choose, select a neutral color and texture. No tenants want the jungle green carpet that would go perfect in your personal wild safari room.
What are your thoughts about flooring for rentals? Please add your comments.
Also, our weekly Ask Brian column welcomes questions from readers of all experience levels with residential real estate. Please email your questions, inquiries, or article ideas to [email protected].