To Carpet or Not to Carpet. That is the Question.

67 Replies

I just bought my first rental in Omaha, NE. It's a 3BR 1BA with 1900sqft. I'm putting about $6k into renovations, including rebuilding the bathroom from scratch and new kitchen vinyl floors. The house has about 1000sqft of gross carpet that is probably from the late 80s. A couple people have looked at the house and asked me if I am replacing the carpets. Our plan was to spend our money on the updates we are doing, and replace the carpets in a couple years using cash from rent. Should we stick to our plan and wait a couple years to update the carpet, or spend and extra grand on carpets now?

Depends on your foundation.  For example:  all my properties are on cement slabs.  I do ceramic tile, 100%.  I accept almost any pet w a $500 non-refundable pet deposit with no worries about my floor.  These are ‘forever’ houses or I would have a different strategy.

Brian,

As with everything in rentals...go back to the numbers.

Is replacing the carpets now going to be financially worth it? By that I mean that if you spend $1000 now on new carpets will you recoup that in a couple years (I guess let's say 2 to make my point?).

You have to consider how much the super old carpet will effect your monthly rent. Let's say your ran the number and are hoping to get $1000 a month on your house. If you think you can get that despite the current carpet status then you should not replace the carpet. However, if we are looking at spending an extra $1000 in a two year or 24 month time period then that comes out to a cost of about $42 a month. 

That means that if the old carpet forces you to reduce rates by more than $42 dollars a month, than you should replace the carpet. Or if you think that the new carpet will allow you to increase rent by more than $42 a month then you should also pay for new carpets.

*I am obsessed with finances and investments, so my above number ares not perfectly true. If you look at the opportunity cost of investing that $42 a month in let's say that stock market as opposed to the carpet, then the number are different. Assuming a $42 investment each month for 2 years with an interest rate of 7% compounded annually would would result in $1,043 dollars. So in this case the rent difference is actually closer to $43.50.

Also depends on the grade of the house. For example is it a C property or an A property. considering its a 3/1 I would probably change the carpet now so that its easier to find a renter.

In KC I can get carpet for 1.20-1.50/sqft installed with pad. Removal/disposal is 2.00/sq yrd.

Other flooring was 2-4 bucks sqft installed plus cost of materials. So really I'm looking at 3-4 bucks sqft easy for cheap flooring that probably won't last all that long (but longer than carpet maybe).

Difference in rental rate between carpet and hardwood style floor for me is unknown, but the old carpet was deal breaker for nearly all people. 

Carpet has one of the shortest lifespans for flooring. If it is almost 30 years old, it needs to be replaced because it is well past its useful life. If the floors are level, look into doing vinyl instead. It may be slightly more but it should last longer than carpet and will hold up better than carpet factoring in tenant use and neglect. 

@Brian Washburn If your renting it out , without a question get rid of the carpet and do vinyl plank flooring instead . Renters ( especially renter kids) and carpet don’t mix well

Vinyl plank is the way to go if the floors are level.  You are going to get a better pool of applicants with updated flooring.  It's worth the extra spend for its durability and aesthetic.

Never put carpet in a rental. Replace it with laminate or Vinyl flooring now.

Someone walk me through the math on how this wouldn't make sense or something I'm missing.

New carpet:

12-1500 (at 1.20-150/sqft). 1200-1500

Let's say that it has a useful lifespan of 5 years... So that's 240-300/yr.

So if renter destroys carpet upon move out, they are charged a portion of that cost. If they stay longer than the 5 years it'd be considered normal wear and tear.

New vinyl..

Let's assume product cost of 2.00/sqft which is probably on the cheap side. This would account for the overage, trim, and install material like underlayment or adhesive etc.

Labor, let's assume boring easy to install non Craigslist special and someone who's actually insured etc. 2.00/sqft.

So we're at 4.00l/sqft or 4,000. Useful life is probably 15 yrs Or 266 yr.  

But does this product really hold up 15 years? Would you really still be commanding a premium in 15 years or will it be outdated and need to be updated prior to that ? Let's say every 10 years to keep with "current" trends. If it's every 10 years that's 400/yr cost.

Now, this is assuming you're not doing the labor your self and would have to pay to have it done. This also assumes there isn't a huge premium paid for vinyl rather people just want "new" flooring vs old outdated floors...

I mean even at 1500 and you had say 2, 2 year tenant. That'd be 375/yr. Deduct or have them professional cleaned upon move out and redo to "new" again if the second cleaning doesn't work and your at 375/yr, cheaper than vinyl every 10.

Plus if the economy tanks and construction stops or slows in the future like some predict wouldn't that make for a great time to update for affordable prices vs now at peak pricing?

We've been taking out all carpeting in our houses in Omaha and putting vinyl plank flooring instead.  We are able to get it installed for $3 a sq ft for labor and material.  Saves big in the long run since you have to either clean or replace the carpet every turnover.

@Owen Dashner @Peter M. Thanks for the input. The house was built in 1896 so the floors are not the smoothest underneath, and there is some sloping/slanting in some of the rooms. How does that effect your answer to my dilemma? Owen, I like what you said about it improving my applicant pool. It's at 42nd and Center, listed for $1300 and I feel like I am only getting bites from applicants who could not afford to make rent. I was hoping the closeness to VA and UNMC would get me some better applicants. Thanks again guys!
Originally posted by @Mark Maly :

We've been taking out all carpeting in our houses in Omaha and putting vinyl plank flooring instead.  We are able to get it installed for $3 a sq ft for labor and material.  Saves big in the long run since you have to either clean or replace the carpet every turnover.

 Isn't this getting deducted from security deposit? 

Also how's the vinyl hold up, I've heard mixed reviews on the cheap stuff but I have no experience with it. I can see the appeal from stain resistance, but fear heavy furniture during move out would be a problem.

The vinyl plank flooring holds up really well.  Its the same flooring used in many commercial places and hospitals. 

Its not that much more then decent carpet to install it upfront and not have to worry about replacing/cleaning the carpet. 

You definitely can take money out of the deposit for carpet cleaning or replacement. Just the headache of coordinating and having it done and turn over taking longer to get this done everytime.

Originally posted by @Matt K. :

Someone walk me through the math on how this wouldn't make sense or something I'm missing.

New carpet:

12-1500 (at 1.20-150/sqft). 1200-1500

Let's say that it has a useful lifespan of 5 years... So that's 240-300/yr.

So if renter destroys carpet upon move out, they are charged a portion of that cost. If they stay longer than the 5 years it'd be considered normal wear and tear.

New vinyl..

Let's assume product cost of 2.00/sqft which is probably on the cheap side. This would account for the overage, trim, and install material like underlayment or adhesive etc.

Labor, let's assume boring easy to install non Craigslist special and someone who's actually insured etc. 2.00/sqft.

So we're at 4.00l/sqft or 4,000. Useful life is probably 15 yrs Or 266 yr.  

But does this product really hold up 15 years? Would you really still be commanding a premium in 15 years or will it be outdated and need to be updated prior to that ? Let's say every 10 years to keep with "current" trends. If it's every 10 years that's 400/yr cost.

Now, this is assuming you're not doing the labor your self and would have to pay to have it done. This also assumes there isn't a huge premium paid for vinyl rather people just want "new" flooring vs old outdated floors...

I mean even at 1500 and you had say 2, 2 year tenant. That'd be 375/yr. Deduct or have them professional cleaned upon move out and redo to "new" again if the second cleaning doesn't work and your at 375/yr, cheaper than vinyl every 10.

Plus if the economy tanks and construction stops or slows in the future like some predict wouldn't that make for a great time to update for affordable prices vs now at peak pricing?

 Your first mistake would be to put some trendy floors down. With all my renos I try to go with a timeless look. I've been using Lifeproof flooring for my units and have only 2 years of use on them but they look just as good as the day I installed them. Only time will tell how well they will hold up.
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1NRvtBFvJIaddDfwC5...
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1MbQLk4eZka2kTbc_j...
1st pic is them in a kitchen 2nd pic is in a basement unit

Originally posted by @Brian Washburn :
I just bought my first rental in Omaha, NE. It's a 3BR 1BA with 1900sqft. I'm putting about $6k into renovations, including rebuilding the bathroom from scratch and new kitchen vinyl floors. The house has about 1000sqft of gross carpet that is probably from the late 80s.

A couple people have looked at the house and asked me if I am replacing the carpets. Our plan was to spend our money on the updates we are doing, and replace the carpets in a couple years using cash from rent.

Should we stick to our plan and wait a couple years to update the carpet, or spend and extra grand on carpets now?

 The carpet is past it's life. Replace the flooring.

Originally posted by @Sam L. :
Originally posted by @Matt K.:

Someone walk me through the math on how this wouldn't make sense or something I'm missing.

New carpet:

12-1500 (at 1.20-150/sqft). 1200-1500

Let's say that it has a useful lifespan of 5 years... So that's 240-300/yr.

So if renter destroys carpet upon move out, they are charged a portion of that cost. If they stay longer than the 5 years it'd be considered normal wear and tear.

New vinyl..

Let's assume product cost of 2.00/sqft which is probably on the cheap side. This would account for the overage, trim, and install material like underlayment or adhesive etc.

Labor, let's assume boring easy to install non Craigslist special and someone who's actually insured etc. 2.00/sqft.

So we're at 4.00l/sqft or 4,000. Useful life is probably 15 yrs Or 266 yr.  

But does this product really hold up 15 years? Would you really still be commanding a premium in 15 years or will it be outdated and need to be updated prior to that ? Let's say every 10 years to keep with "current" trends. If it's every 10 years that's 400/yr cost.

Now, this is assuming you're not doing the labor your self and would have to pay to have it done. This also assumes there isn't a huge premium paid for vinyl rather people just want "new" flooring vs old outdated floors...

I mean even at 1500 and you had say 2, 2 year tenant. That'd be 375/yr. Deduct or have them professional cleaned upon move out and redo to "new" again if the second cleaning doesn't work and your at 375/yr, cheaper than vinyl every 10.

Plus if the economy tanks and construction stops or slows in the future like some predict wouldn't that make for a great time to update for affordable prices vs now at peak pricing?

 Your first mistake would be to put some trendy floors down. With all my renos I try to go with a timeless look. I've been using Lifeproof flooring for my units and have only 2 years of use on them but they look just as good as the day I installed them. Only time will tell how well they will hold up.
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1NRvtBFvJIaddDfwC5...
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1MbQLk4eZka2kTbc_j...
1st pic is them in a kitchen 2nd pic is in a basement unit

 My house (and many others) have "timeless" wood covered up.... 

for those of you w/ the LVP (note examples are based soley on thickness, not brand/color/type)

how does something like this hold up? 1.5mm

https://www.lumberliquidators.com/ll/c/.Corn-Silk-...

I'm assuming not nearly as well as something like 5mm

https://www.lumberliquidators.com/ll/c/Golden-Teak...

or is there a point of diminishing returns w/ respect to thickness where something like this wouldn't make sense 8mm

https://www.lumberliquidators.com/ll/c/Old-Dominio...

Vinyl plank flooring with out a doubt...the floor looks good...is easy to install and can withstand any tenant u put in the house.
@Brian Washburn If the carpets are gross like you say, spend the money now to either replace or put in other flooring. Bad carpet will (1) affect your ability to get it rented, (2) affect your ability to get market rent even if you do get it rented, and (3) depending on how bad it is, may affect the smell of the unit and/or sensitivity to allergies of your tenant(s). If you can afford it. Replace with hard flooring (tile, wood laminate, etc.) which is more expensive, but will last longer. My only caution with laminate is that moisture/water will damage it...so keep away from wet areas. If you do replace with new carpet, make sure there is a clause in your lease requiring the tenants to have the home professionally cleaned when they leave....or there is a charge to do it for them. Hope this helps! Regards, -Linda

@Brian Washburn of course replace it, or put down laminate  Vinyl,  hey charge them 50 bux a month more, they are not going care about 50 bux.  Good luck, 

Get rid of the carpet, it stains to easily and since its 3 bedroom 1 bath I am assuming they will have kids in the property which means a lot of foot traffic and possibly food and juice stains. I would say go with a durable flooring material or if you lucky when ripping up the carpet you may have hardwood underneath. 

Originally posted by @Alan Grobmeier :

Depends on your foundation.  For example:  all my properties are on cement slabs.  I do ceramic tile, 100%.  I accept almost any pet w a $500 non-refundable pet deposit with no worries about my floor.  These are ‘forever’ houses or I would have a different strategy.

 Like Alan, my rentals are in Phoenix and are all on concrete slabs.  I go 18" tile throughout and carpet in the bedrooms.

I've gone back and forth on tile in the bedrooms, but go back to carpet.  I'm a buy and hold investor and invest for the long term - maybe to my detriment.

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