Flooring-Cheap carpet or Cheap laminate?

Landlord Forums & Rental Property Questions 15 Replies

I plan on moving and keeping my current residence as a rental.
It is time to replace the carpet and I am wondering if I should just put cheap carpet back in it or put in cheap laminate, as I believe laminate would hold up better? The laminate I am looking at is swift-lock from Lowes it's not the cheapest it's slightly above it at about $1.50/sf I plan on installing it myself(only about 550/sf total) or I could get cheap carpet and have it installed. Any advice on which I should install or anybody that has experience with the longevity of laminate would be greatly appreciated.

I would suggest an inexpensive durable tile. It will last A LOT longer than either carpet or laminate. If there is wear and tear over a 3-5 year period, you will replace both carpet and laminate...not tile.

Tile is fine....in someplaces, installed over a rock solid subfloor, preferably a concrete slab. But it's just not appropriate in some places. I couldn't see having a tile living room.

Laminate is cheap and quick and it stands up well, assuming it is not abused. I have it in my bedroom and am happy with it. But, a careless tenant can ruin it quckly with gouges or leaving spills to soak into the cracks.

My recommendation would be good old oak hardwood. Lasts damn near for ever, puts up with abuse, is an acceptable floor surface in pretty much any room and if you can lay it yourself, the price is not that far off other floorings. Assuming this is a place you plan on holding for awhile, I think the extra dollars are a wise investment even if you hire an installer.

Remember, contractors are looking for work in the current economy, so they are likely to give you very reasonable estimates.

is a good place.
real wood flooring does require periodic maintenance.
but a good HARD wood floor is hard to beat.

i guess it depends where you are installing this flooring...tile is great for all high traffic areas..ie Kitchen, bath and hall. Bedrooms is really dependent on the property

There is NOTHING you can put in a rental that the tenant won't destroy (including tile). Therefore, I would install the cheapest dark color commercial carpet you can find WITHOUT A PAD and simply replace it as necessary. I can do remove and replace a large room of carpet in about one hour (leaving the original tack strips in place).


Mike makes a good point and for a low end multi family, I might follow his advice. I believe however that you said this was a SFR?

If so and it's a decent one, I suspect you are catering to someone a bit higher up the tenant food chain whom might appreciate higher quality flooring. Also, being a SFR, you may someday move back or sell it. What flooring would you or a prospective new owner want.

As for hardwood not being tenant proof, yeah, I guess nothing is, but, hardwood comes awfully close. Simple carelessness or neglect will not ruin it. You might need to refinish it now and again, but, if you can do the work and have access to a sander, it is fairly quick and quite inexpensive. And if you have one of the newer large orbital models, it's reasonably close to being idiot proof!

Oak floors are my favorite. Easy to clean, hard to ruin, can refinish and they look brand new, and they last.

Mike I agree with you on the carpet. But I hear carpet last longer with a pad. Not true?

Mike's point is that you asume the tenant will wreck it no matter. Therefore, why bother with the extra expense.


Carpet may very well last longer in a pad if the occupants of the house are normal people. However, most tenants are not normal people. They are on the lower rung of the ladder because they consistently make poor decisions. Many of these people live like pigs! The reason that I don't install carpet pad has nothing to do with money. The problem with carpet pad in a rental is that it holds/traps liquid (water, soft drinks, beer, pet urine) that the idiot tenants are not smart enough to clean up. After a relatively short time, a wet carpet pad will begin to break down and will adhere to the floor. If left in place longer, that pad will completely break down and will be stuck like concrete to the sub-floor - requiring a sander to remove it.

As for hardwood floors - I agree with Pete that they're the best floor you can have and will last the longest in a rental. In fact, we paint the hardwood floors in all of our low-income rentals and they look GREAT, even with some of them being over 100 years old. I didn't talk about hardwood in my original post because the original post was about laminate vs. carpet. Laminate is light years different as compared to hardwood.


As a property manager I find that the best way to reduce long term maintenance costs when it comes to floors is to get rid of carpets when they've lost their useful life and replace them with linoleum tiles. They last a very long time and they are easier, quicker and cheaper to clean when tenants move out. Ripped/broken tiles can also be easily removed and replaced individually - which is why every one of my apartments has exactly the same type/style/color linoleum tile.

Tony D'Anzica, JD
DynaMax Realty, Inc.
Property Manager

Tony and Mike,what rent price range are you using linoleum tiles and commercial padless carpet in? Or phrased another way, do you stop using the low end durable materials when you are flooring your higher end units?

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I agree with the linoleum or cheap tiles that you can usually find on special at ANY tile stores.Carpet always looks good for what....the first 3 weeks haha so save a buck and go with tiles.

You can get a different opinion from different investors (as you have here) but the factor that is missing here is what type of rental area is your unit in? In a higher end place, tenants will want the warmth and comfort of nicer carpet, in low income areas, you want the chepaest and most durable items possible. There is also a happy or sad medium between those two extremes. So the answer really depends on what type of unit you have.
You now have several opinions on several differnt investments. Go with what fits your biz.

Medium be logoWill Barnard, Barnard Enterprises, Inc. | http://www.barnardenterprises.com

Or phrased another way, do you stop using the low end durable materials when you are flooring your higher end units?


I use the same commercial carpet (about 59 cents a square foot) in all my rentals. It is beautiful when installed in any type of house. It just lasts longer in the SFHs with better tenants.