Replacing the flooring in my rental.

38 Replies

hello everyone,

So I got my first rental property and one of the many things that I’ve thought to replace was the flooring. The place came with very old fashioned laminate square which are not very appealing. 

I was wonder from your experience what do y’all think would be the best option such as tiles, laminate, or vinyl flooring? Considering low cost/durability/tenant proof 

There's a lot of posts on BP with people recommending Allure vinyl plank flooring for rentals. 

Hey Gilbert,

I would check out local comparable rental to decide what flooring to put in. You should find something relatively inexpensive, that will also keep your monthly rent high.

If you are working with a property manager, they should be able to help you with finding your ideal flooring.

Thanks!

@Gilbert Lugo

This is one of those things that people seem to wildly disagree about. We do our own flooring installations in low-cost units, and it's been six years since I've done anything other than triple-polyurethaned hardwood and high-strength (PEI 5) tile.

This is not worth doing unless you handle your own flooring installations AND handle your own maintenance AND you plan on holding the rental for a long time. If these three things are true, tile and hardwood are absolutely the best way to go. It took me a long time in this business to understand this. PM me for details.

Laminate on sale at under $1/sqft.
Hire someone to lay it down at $1/sqft.
Pray they’re clueless and don’t charge you the market rate for doing the stairs.

I'd recommend vinyl plank flooring. I've been slowly installing it in all my rentals when the opportunity arises. Most of my units had carpeting in them and as soon as a tenant would leave, I'd see how trashed the carpet was & my mind was made. Vinyl plank is pretty easy to install and is damn near renter proof.

I’ve been leaning towards the vinyl flooring since it seems to be the easiest and most durable from other threads that I’ve read but each have pros and cons.  

@Gilbert Lugo

I put laminate flooring in ALL of my rental units. To be specific I use the Toffee Oak from Lowes because it is only 88 cents per square foot. They have some that is 68 cents but its always hit or miss as to whether or not they have it in stock in my local area. 

I recommend getting the good/decent underlayment. If you have time and are even remotely handy then you can easily do this yourself. I do it 100% solo in all of my units. If I'm lucky my wife will come for a day here and there to hang out and help me. 

I use the vinyl plank flooring as well except I go with a little higher grade. That and fresh paint helps me raise rents every time.

Agreed vinyl plank flooring, stay away from the dirt cheap stuff I wouldn’t trust anything under a buck a square foot to last very long. It’s easy to install and easier for someone else to install lol

As an installer and flooring shop owner I would do lvt with rigid core. It’s waterproof and not effected by sunlight. Hope everything works out for ya.

I have always sworn by the nice cheap .79 sq.ft. trafficmaster laminate Lakeshore pecan. It comes out beautifully in our rentals and it is held up fine in the last 2-3 years.

On our 2 newest renovations we used the allure vinyl planks... it really is the easiest flooring to install. It is my new absolute favorite and much easier to work with compared to laminate.

Btw- the stuff is very resilient :)

Thank you everyone for all your ideas and input. I think I have a good grasp in which direction to go. 

I used to use Allure, but found that the thick sheet vinyl at Lowe's and HD mimics the plank look really well.  It's easy to install because it doesn't tear easily like other sheet vinyl.  That's what I use now on rooms less than 12 feet wide.  We did one wide room with a seam and I'll see how well it lasts at the next turnover.

I use to be a big fan of ceramic tile.  Now I only use it in small rooms like bathrooms.  Its just to unforgiving if the slab heaves or cracks.  Tired of having to hire people and rip out tile and all the mess that goes along with that.  Experimenting with vinyl plank now.

After selling flooring for 3 years I'd highly recommend vinyl plank as many others have stated. All in all it'll hold up the best to whatever the tenants throw at it. it's basically waterproof, isn't going to fade from sunlight like hardwood, and the good ones look great almost like real wood. Some laminates look better, but the durability isn't comparable. It takes a lot of abuse to mess it up, and if you have a good installer they'll be able to replace individual planks if they get damaged (you'll need some extra planks for that so find one you like and use it everywhere.) It'll last longer than laminate and you don't have to worry about it expanding/contracting which could make gaps over time in laminate or wood. 

Carpet is for sure the cheapest, but it'll get destroyed by tenants pretty quickly. Replacing carpet after tenants moved out was something I dealt with in sales almost weekly. I'd rather pay a little more for something that'll last for many years than have to replace the carpet every time a tenant leaves. 

Vinyl tile (the hardy stuff that looks like real stone/ceramic tile and gets grouted in, not the multicolor squares you'd find at the gym) are great for areas where you don't want a wood look. Basically the same strength and durability as the planks and they won't crack like ceramic tile can under stress, be it the subfloor shifting or dropping something heavy. 

Some vinyl planks and other kinds of flooring have a "lifetime warranty" or a "20-50 year warranty" but that's just a marketing gimmick. Warranty only applies to an owner occupied personal residence, you need to have it professionally installed and professionally maintained, and just about anything that you do will void the warranty. 

Now that I work with accelerated depreciation on commercial and rental property I know another good thing about the vinyl planks is you can depreciate it over 5 years as long as it's a floating installation and not glued down. Flooring that's considered permanent and structural like solid hardwood and ceramic tile have to use the 27.5 year schedule, so if it's a big project thats a pretty significant tax benefit. Another thing on that is if you install it yourself you can only write off the material costs while if you pay someone to install it you can write off the material and labor costs. 

Shop around a bit and get a good deal, but remember you get what you pay for. Find a good independent installer with fair pricing, purchase the materials yourself unless the installer can get a better discount and will pass those savings onto you. You'll likely pay half the installation charge that way rather than getting a "package deal" from a bigger company or a "free installation" Note: I worked for a bigger company and the install charge and product markup were ridiculous. 

@Gilbert Lugo it doesn't need to be all or nothing.

Vinyl plank is great in the kitchen, dining, living room and hall. It wears nicely and is mostly water proof. Carpet is nice in the bedroom because it is not a high wear area and feels better on your bare feet in the morning. Tile is great in the entry ways and bathroom because it is water proof, lasts forever and is a small area so cost is minimal. Use a good quality Berber carpet on the stairs.

I use allure  or a LTP in all my rentals

@Gilbert Lugo Depends on your clientele. If upscale, you may need to see what all the other units are offering. If not, keep it neutral like an apartment home. Good luck! 

Lowest cost will be be laminate but most durable will be ceramic tile. Between those 2 I'd base my decision on what's your budget, we always put in tile in low income apts as well as high end homes.

Allure looks great. Thanks for sending the photos

Depending on the subfloor you're working with, vinyl plank is probably your best bet. Porcelain tile is very tough and cleanable, but will cost more to install. Plan on replacing any carpet every time a tenant moves out.

I’ve thought about the stained concrete since it is on slabs. Thank you I will look into it. 

Originally posted by @Elizabeth Wilson :

@Gilbert Lugo -if by chance the house is on slab, we've been doing stained concrete.

Those look amazing. I can see why a lot of investors are using them. Thank you for the pics

Originally posted by @Patrick M. :

I have always sworn by the nice cheap .79 sq.ft. trafficmaster laminate Lakeshore pecan. It comes out beautifully in our rentals and it is held up fine in the last 2-3 years.

On our 2 newest renovations we used the allure vinyl planks... it really is the easiest flooring to install. It is my new absolute favorite and much easier to work with compared to laminate.

Btw- the stuff is very resilient :)

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