Refinish existing hardwood or cover with carpet?

11 Replies

Hi BP,

My husband and I purchased our first rental property and have been renovating it. It's a twin that was built in 1928 and has existing hardwood (or it may be softwood one contractor mentioned?) floors that are currently completely covered with old wall to wall carpet that we'll rip up once reno is done. The question is - do we cover with new wall to wall carpet or refinish? It will be a rental so wondering what is the cheapest and best option over the long run. 

- There will be tile in the kitchen and bath, decision is for the dining/living area, stairs/hall and bedrooms.

- Property is in Pennsylvania so there will be snow. 

- Long term goal would be to sell down the line so would hate to have the tenants trash the hardwood. 

Any guidance and advice from veteran landlords would be greatly appreciated!!

Thank you!

@Monica Evans one refinishing of the floor should last you at least 4x carpet replacements. I'd find out for sure what type of wood it is. Oak vs. pine for example wear very differently. Also take into consideration how nice of a tenant you're trying to attract. 

Also consider if your baseboards have shoe moulding, how high your jambs are cut, etc. You may end up with a sizable gap if you just leave the wood floor that will be noticeable to your eventual buyer (renter, not so much).

Good points from Jason. Another idea is to only refinish the staircase and cover the rest of the hardwoods with floating vinyl plank - we have done this in cases when it was cost prohibitive to refinish (due to required patching). The vinyl is attractive, more durable than carpet, and protects the hardwoods in case you ever wanted to refinish later on down the road.

@Monica Evans my move would be to always cover the wood floors with something (carpet, vinyl plank, etc). Reason is renters will likely have kids or pets or both, all of which can be very hard on floors. I'd wait until I was planning to exit that property, then refinish the floors and let them sell the home for you. Just a thought. Best of luck.

We are prepping our first investment for rental as well. Ours has hardwood that has previously been painted, however, they were not sanded before painting and there was no poly put down over the paint. So the paint was peeling badly. We had to do something.

The floors are not quite level with a slight bowing here, or sagging there. So we didn't think that vinyl plank would work for a diy.

So...
We are almost done stripping the paint. Unfortunately, the floors are in rough shape and need some patching. We will make the needed repairs. Then we will properly sand, paint and finish the floors.

It's not my favorite solution, but we don't want to get caught putting more work into it than is necessary, as it would not bring any more rent even if the floors were perfect.

I would post a picture, but I don't know how.

@Chris Jensen Im of the same opinion. Carpet/other preferred alternative, and refinish when ready to sell because you can only sand that wood down so much!
Originally posted by @Jason Hirko :

@Monica Evans one refinishing of the floor should last you at least 4x carpet replacements. I'd find out for sure what type of wood it is. Oak vs. pine for example wear very differently. Also take into consideration how nice of a tenant you're trying to attract. 

Also consider if your baseboards have shoe moulding, how high your jambs are cut, etc. You may end up with a sizable gap if you just leave the wood floor that will be noticeable to your eventual buyer (renter, not so much).

 the floors are not made of pine, but rather of oak

I am pretty anti carpet unless it is bedrooms or stairs and even then I am hesitant. Every situation is different but although carpet will be the cheapest option I would not resort to it unless I had to. Floating vinyl plank will not ruin the wood floors if you or someone else wants to redo them later, it is pretty cheap, and very easy for a DIY project. Home depot sells pergo and trafficmaster which you can get for as low as $1/sq ft. Order underlayment off Amazon for cheaper than you can get in the stores.