Flooring- what would you do?

22 Replies

We are renovating a smaller unit that needs new flooring in the bedroom/living room (about 350 square feet of flooring). It currently has carpet. We were tempted to glue down vinyl plank (we had luck with pressure sensitive glue in another rental), but it seems like that will require us to add a subfloor. We don’t have the time or talent for that. We did look into click tile, but a great sales rep talked us out of that. He explained the pad wears out and eventually we will need to replace that, as well.

This is an interesting unit. It has a great layout and outdoor space, but it is small is square footage and has a tiny bedroom. It won’t rent for much (maybe $700), so we don’t want to go too crazy with our flooring budget.

Thank you!

I've had good luck with the floating click together Luxury Vinyl Plank. Similar to glue down vinyl plank, just without the glue ;) 

What's the flooring like beneath the carpet? A nice plywood/OSB subfloor would be ideal for the click together LVP, but it works pretty well over any surface. The only issue is if there are irregularities that are too severe, they may eventually cause a joint to fail and a board could stick up a little bit at a seam. Something to consider.

Personally, I would never use any kind of glue down any more unless you are talking about the type of industrial/commercial tile that's glued down and used in office buildings - with regular waxing it will literally last forever. Outside of that I would use a floating floor of some type. I also prefer the floating lock-together vinyl floors. 

The click together vinyl can be purchased at under $2/sqft and will probably last through a few tenants. Click together laminate can be purchased under $1/sqft and will last a while as long as the tenant doesn't spill too much water on it. I sometimes lean towards the cheaper laminate because when they move furniture on the $2 stuff it sometimes still gets ruined.  Laminate is easier to do yourself than carpet and lasts a little longer so I usually lean that way. I'll put the stick down vinyl planks in the kitchen and baths over the old vinyl sheeting unless I feel like doing tile.

I personally am a fan of the "peel and stick" laminate. It has been durable, can stand up to water, looks great, and is inexpensive. Some of these lock-together planks have compressed wood/particle board under the first layer....so they will not last long up to typical renters. Just a small spill of water and the finish gets messed up. My peel and stick laminate in the entryway of a C-class property is still going strong years later. 

Tip: My contractor does use extra mastic when installing the peel and stick. I think most pros do.

I know Walmart sells the peel and stick tiles for about 0.30/sqft and I put some down recently in a low end rental. They are easier to replace later versus actual tile when that gets destroyed. If there's old hardwood under the carpet then I would just paint it and go with that. Walmart also has recycled paint online which hides pretty well for 13/gal.

@Dan Kelley This is really helpful. We only pulled back part of the carpeting to find a very old wooden floor, but we will rip it up to look for trouble spots.

@JD Martin We did use a nice commercial glue and commercial grade plank leftover from a job (my husband’s family has a general contracting company). With our first property we were able to use up really high quality odds and ends we had, but that isn’t realistic for future priorities. With this next property, I’m looking to find materials that are easier on our time and budget.

I’m also in charge of these residential properties, and it is probably clear I have much less technical knowledge than they do!

I would never use a glue down of any sort, not only does it require more prep and better subfloor than floating, but removing it is a bear. A floating floor you just pul up the toe moldings and disassemble it. I just removed a peel and stick floor in a kitchen and replaced it with click vinyl, nasty sticky work. In non-kitchen areas I use Costco laminate. If it survived my son from 3 till he went to college, it can survive most tenants, and has. I tried cheaper brands that failed, and water is a problem. I don't know why they can't come up with a waterproof fiberboard. But I find the real laminate is easier to install and looks better than the click vinyl.

@Jamie Brayton ,

I don't deal with anything but ceramic wood-looking tile in rentals due to the it's durable nature.    It's cheap, easy to clean, looks great, and holds up to tenant use like no other!   Definitely check it out.    Personally, I wouldn't do a peel and stick because of the ongoing maintenance, I'd rather do it once, do it right and completely forget about it!  

+1 on staying away from glue down. I've personally installed over 300sqft of it and its a mess. Lowes/Home Depot has click pergo that looks great for around $2sqft. Also I've noticed lately that my local builders supply has lots of pergo for > $1.99 sqft in smaller quantities. 

Just did the HD Lifeproof LVP click together in our rental...pretty easy to do with very basic tools. W did buy the higher end stuff at $2.79 sq/ft....it has the underlayment on it already..... we choose the LVT because its waterproof and just as/if not more durable than pergo/laminate. The water proof was the big seller...

Looks great and hopefully will last a long long time...

Trafficmaster Gladstone Oak laminate @ $0.68/sqft + underlayment @ $0.28/sqft = $0.96sqft = $288 + $20 install toolkit, just over $300 all-in if you install it yourself.

@Jamie Brayton


When you pull up all the carpeting, can you take a few pics and post them here?

Originally posted by @Matthew Olszak :

Trafficmaster Gladstone Oak laminate @ $0.68/sqft + underlayment @ $0.28/sqft = $0.96sqft = $288 + $20 install toolkit, just over $300 all-in if you install it yourself.

 How thick is that product? I wouldn't install anything less than 8 millimeter and it's rarely that cheap.

Originally posted by @Johann Jells :
Originally posted by @Matthew Olszak:

Trafficmaster Gladstone Oak laminate @ $0.68/sqft + underlayment @ $0.28/sqft = $0.96sqft = $288 + $20 install toolkit, just over $300 all-in if you install it yourself.

 How thick is that product? I wouldn't install anything less than 8 millimeter and it's rarely that cheap.

 7mm. Based on what I interpreted from the seller's original post and rent amount, I figured we weren't going for the highest quality. @ $300 + maybe a day of your own labor, even if it had to be changed out every other year I don't think that's a big deal.

I wouldn't glue it. If you do you could damage the wood underneath trying to replace the flooring down the road. We put down an underlayment for insulation and cushion and put the pergo click together flooring and it looks great and is $1 a square foot in the right places. A good underlayment will allow your flooring to last longer.

@Matthew Olszak Good quality laminate will last far longer than that, my son's room is now 15 years on and in no need of replacement.  Costco's is ~$1.30-1.80 depending on specific sales. They also have entirely changes to the type with beveled edges, which shows flexing less. The only laminate I've used that actually had a surface failure was some cheap 7mm I tried and hated.

@Johann Jells I don't disagree about the trafficmaster being lower quality. But if you are on a tight budget and have low rents, this is a good alternative to a higher priced floor that could get destroyed by bad tenants just the same but at almost half the cost.

If I had the money and rent levels that would support it, I'd put in terrazzo in my rentals. That'd beat your laminate any day.

I actually have 70 year old Terrazzo in my kitchen, it's death to dropped plates and was cold till I installed radiant underneath.

@Matthew Olszak This is definitely a lower end unit. We’ve been learning how to DIY a ton of projects, and learning to install something like this is next on my list.

You are all SO helpful. These replies helped us pick flooring for this unit and others!

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