Best flooring material for a rental

14 Replies

Bought a duplex, living in one half, renting out the other (potential for a third apartment above the garage) and I'm looking at doing some updates to the first apartment while I'm living there while also making plans for the third apartment space. What flooring is best for a rental- I don't mean cheapest or most attractive or even easiest to install- I want something that's going to last, something that is 'tenant proof' as far as damage. If it costs a little more or is a little harder to install then it's worth it to me IF I get my money's worth in the long term. 

I will likely keep the carpeting in the bedrooms but is there something I can do to further protect them like laying down a vapor barrier between the carpet and the carpet pad? (I had a cousin who had to rip out the carpet, carpet padding AND subflooring due to previous occupants who had dogs who peed so much in the house they had to gut it to the joists and start over.)

@Beth Blank

We put bamboo in the floor of an office building we had and it was really sturdy.  On top of that, it was relatively inexpensive and went down right over concrete.


Luxury vinyl planks. Waterproof. Looks like wood. Can put in kitchens and bathrooms as well.

Tile will last forever. has some 15 year commercial warranty luxury vinyl plank for really cheap. We used it on a 6500 sf commercial project. Most people thought it was wood! Virtually indestructible. I have no affiliation with builddirect btw ;0) I am with claude on the vinyl plank though.

Ozonators are amazing to get the smells out as well. Flipped a nasty home. After two days of ozone generation you could barely smell anything.

First question is what is in there now.  Hardwood?  If so, can it be refinished?   Painted and polyurethaned (I've done that with several of our older houses with hardwood floors that could not be sanded due to some "cupping" of the wood; I'd have to sand the wood down too far).

Allure vinyl planking is tough stuff.  25 year warranty.   Wears well.  Looks like wood.  We've used the product with the glue strip, not the "click" type.   Home Depot carries this.


Are use the Allure luxury vinyl plank sold at Home Depot in all of my apartment buildings.

@Beth Blank tile tile tile! A little context though: I live in south Texas and it's hot so tile helps. But you basically can't destroy it! I choose high quality and the large 18"- it looks better.

If this property is in PA I would go with wood or vinyl planking. Like @Andrew Acuna said, tile is fantastic when it's hot, but not where it gets cold. I also would rethink carpet in the bedroom- I'm doing this for the house I just bought to flip but with renters you want NO CARPET. Renters can buy an area rug if they want any carpet. When it comes time to turn the rental, you will be so relieved that you don't have to deal with carpet stains, smell, etc. 

@Beth Blank ,

Without  a doubt-- wood looking ceramic tile is our favorite!   Exactly as @Andrew Acuna said!    We have done everything, laminate, luxury vinyl tile, bamboo, and 100% of the time-- we always say-- ceramic tile is our go to!  It's indestructible!    Tenants can get rugs if they want, but it's super easy to clean, looks like hardwood, waterproof, and tenants love the look!   No chance in heck I will ever do anything other than tile in my rentals! 

I have the luxury vinyl planks in my personal kitchen and sun room that I did pre- investors day, and I'm disappointed, it looks cheap compared to the tile.   IMO it stains easily,  and you run the risk if it's not 100% perfect, it will crack or bow up, no thanks!      Absolutely worth the $$ if you want long term flooring stability!

We did luxury vinyl planks, and it comes out great and is very resistant to wear.  Buy a high quality LVP and it won't looks cheap or wear out from normal use.

Wood look tile is my next favorite, but it is expensive to have installed and looks awful if installed badly.

I think epoxy is long lasting and cheap

@Beth Blank I only use hardwood in flips or rentals.

There are a few reasons for this. Buyers want it in the flips in my area(Westchester)Hands down any agent in my area will say that all the buyers want hardwood everywhere. Even the kitchen.

In my rentals I also use hardwood. The renters in that area(brooklyn) also want hardwood. The agents tell me that if I don't have hardwood I'll have a much smaller tenant pool. And in the higher end of the market no one wants till anywhere except the bathroom.

LVP is great. I use it in basements bc you come do hardwood.

Tile is not indestructible. Neither is wood. I do gut rehabs a few times a year. I look at 5-10 houses a week. Most of these house are rally beat up. Sometimes I get lucky and I can keep the hardwood saves me a bunch of money. I look for these houses. So does everyone else.

I cannot remember a house that was beat up that I could salvage tile, save for one. It was a house owned by a famous yankee built in the thirties. It was tiny marble squares that were so well done they would last forever with a cleaning and sealer

In my experience tenants don't make the distinction between hardwood and nice laminate in ~$1600/mo units. I can't say if they were double that. I've mostly installed 8-10mm regular laminate, using the click plank type only in wet areas or hallways. I've found it trickier to install, easier to damage tapping into place.

As for durability, the oldest laminate I've installed was in my son's room. If it can survive a boy from 3-18 and look perfect, it can survive anything.

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