What is the best flooring for a rental property?

The first step: Think about what you are trying to achieve and who will be living in it.

If you are going to rent to families or allow pets – think waterproof long-term flooring. Vinyl plank is a great option. It is beautiful and can stand up to a lot of wear and tear. I recommend at least a 12-mil wear layer if you want it to last. If this is for an apartment building, there are also great choices for sound dampening in vinyl flooring. WPC is great for sound but remember that it will dent easier. SPC will stand up to dents much better (WPC – wood-plastic core / SPC – stone-plastic core).

If you need sound dampening, I recommend installing a loose lay with a sound dampening underlayment. It will last forever and the people who live under them will thank you for it. The other reason it’s perfect is if a plank or two is damaged you can easily replace the one piece by warming it up with a hair dryer – pulling the piece out and setting in a new one. A little more expensive up front but tremendously more economical in the long run! If there is no one below you can save money by installing a floating floor (click lock) but remember it is very difficult to replace a plank if one is damaged. There are ways but it is not cheap, and it takes a professional with the right tools.

The trend is LVP everywhere except bedrooms and stairs. Carpet typically still goes into bedrooms and on steps. A low pile nylon is going to last the longest on your steps. I recommend spending a little more on the carpet for your steps for two reasons. 1) It will last longer, and steps are usually a high traffic area 2) steps are often a focal point of your house. If you spend a little more and put in better flooring on the steps it can enhance the look in the entire house, and since it doesn’t take a tremendous amount of carpet to do the steps – it’s a semi-cheap way to drastically improve the look of the home or apartment.

If your bedrooms are going to be for families – their preference is usually a frieze (soft carpet), or if it’s someone older and has a more difficult time getting around the preference is usually a low pile carpet (Berber, patterned etc.). Nylon will usually last longer (depending on how many times it is cleaned. Cleaning nylon can break down its stain protectant. Stain master nylon does not break down as easily but will have a higher cost up front). PET (polyester) carpets have come a long way, and are excellent for stains, but will show traffic patterns faster than nylon 100% of the time. Polyester feels softer to most.

What is right for your rental might be different than mine because I have a certain type of tenant. I have families, and in some of them I allow pets. I put in LVP (luxury vinyl plank – specifically COREtec) in them because it will stand up to abuse. It has a 20-mil wear layer, and a lifetime residential warranty. I put in Dream Weaver polyester in the bedrooms because many of my tenants are hard on the carpet. Dream Weaver (engineered floors) uses a solution-based dye that will hold up better than any other polyester that I have seen out there. They have many cheaper options, because I do not plan on having the carpet more than 5-10 years anyway before needed to replace it. The carpet I install is usually around $1 a sq ft, and the pad is the best you can buy. A memory foam with waterproofing. It can be used over 3-5 carpet installations without replacing the pad, saving money in the long run, and it makes the carpet feel so much nicer.