Last Updated: February 2023
Flooring is one of those basic pillars of renovating a rental property. Whenever a tenant moves out, Landlords usually first consider swapping out flooring. Cost and longevity strategy can vary depending on Landlord preference. Some apartment owners choose to continually change out carpet after every tenant turnover, while others choose to pay the premium in advance and install tile throughout the unit to avoid floor changes for many years to come. Below we explore the top 5 flooring types for rental properties based on 5 different factors that landlords and property managers should consider when determining which flooring type is best for their rental property investment.
Table of contents
- Best Rental Property Flooring
- Rental Property Flooring FAQ
- Explore More Rental Property Building Products
Best Rental Property Flooring
Vinyl flooring is a 100-percent synthetic material that is composed of several layers. They come in several different types such as luxury vinyl plank (LVP), luxury vinyl tiles (LVT), vinyl composite tiles (VCT), and vinyl sheets. It has very similar characteristics as laminate with custom printed designs on a hard surface, however, vinyl is thicker and has a longer lifespan.
Why We Like Vinyl Flooring
For the purposes of rental real estate, vinyl flooring is the best option to check all boxes for a landlord – durable, waterproof and reasonably priced.
The modern carpet industry dates back to 1791 and is the most common flooring type throughout modern North American houses. While this fan favorite flooring material is widespread, it is not always the best option for rental real estate due to the fact that it wears out.
Why We Like Carpet Flooring
Although it wears out over time, carpet is economical and creates a familiar sense of comfort for rental properties such as residential units and office suites.
Although usually used in kitchen and bathroom flooring, tile is also used throughout a rental property in areas such as living rooms and hallways. Popular styles are “stone look” or “wood look” which mimics the same as a hardwood floor design.
Why We Like Tile Flooring
Tile is the most durable option for rental properties, but is also the most expensive and labor-intensive to install. If you are thinking long-term, tile flooring is the way to go.
Laminate is made from high-resolution photos of actual hardwood grain, stone, or any other design. It is then printed onto a fiberboard backing and covered by a scratch-resistant topcoat. The beauty of laminate flooring is that it can easily be bought at any local building supply retailer and installed relatively quickly.
Why We Like Laminate Flooring
Laminate flooring gives the best of many worlds – it looks like hardwood, but is affordable, durable, and easy to install.
Most commercial spaces have a cement underlayment. A recent popular trend has been to sand and polish the existing concrete flooring underneath any previously installed floors. Cement polished floors not only look great, but are also extremely durable. Depending on the traffic and maintenance care, polished concrete floors can last 20 or more years.
Why We Like Polished Concrete Flooring
For commercial spaces such as industrial properties, modern office spaces, and even retail units, polished cement floors provide an excellent and long lasting floor.
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Rental Property Flooring FAQ
What is the Best Flooring for a Rental Property?
Choosing the best type of flooring for your rental property is going to ultimately depend on the type of rental property it is and the needs of the space. Different types of flooring offer different benefits when it comes to durability, cost, and more. For example, carpet may be more suitable for residential apartment bedrooms as it offers noise insulation and warmth in colder climates; whereas polished cement may be more suitable for public areas in a commercial property due to its ease of maintenance and durability. Here are some of our recommendations for the best types of flooring for each type of rental property:
Residential (Single Family)
For a single family rental home, the best choice of flooring is a combination of various different flooring materials. An example would be carpet in the bedrooms, and a more durable material such as vinyl, laminate, or tile in the bathrooms and common areas for durability and ease of maintenance.
For multifamily rental apartments, carpet is the most popular option for interior units due to its soundproofing capabilities, ability to absorb spills, and low cost. Adding vinyl or laminate flooring in kitchens and bedrooms can also help prolong the life of these higher traffic areas.
Commercial rental properties usually have different types of flooring depending on the building’s use. Some of the most common types of flooring found in commercial properties include commercial grade carpet, vinyl composite tiles (VCT), polished concrete, stained concrete, and epoxy flooring.
Commercial retail properties usually have commercial grade carpet, vinyl composite tiles (VCT), or a mix of both. Commercial carpet tends to add a sense of softness and warmth to shoppers, while vinyl composite tiles (VCT) is commonly used at most major large retailers for its ease of maintenance and clean-style look.
Industrial properties mostly choose concrete flooring as their preferred choice of flooring for it’s extreme durability, easy to clean, and slip-resistant finish. Depending on the business’s use, they may opt for a polished or unpolished finish.
Office properties are predominantly suited with carpet throughout the interior of the suites for their many designs, great acoustic qualities, and insulation qualities. Office carpet is usually roll-carpet or carpet tiles. Some offices may also opt to install vinyl, laminate, or even polished concrete for a more modern look.
In the case of a hospitality hotel property, carpet is the most popular option for interior suites due to its soundproofing capabilities, ability to absorb spills, and comfort. Hallways and common areas will usually have vinyl or laminate flooring for ease of maintenance on these high traffic areas.
Self storage properties typically have cement flooring inside of the actual storage units, while newer or indoor climate-controlled facilities may opt for an epoxy coated flooring. Cement or epoxy flooring is the best economical choice for both cost, maintenance, and longevity at these types of properties.
Wheelchairs, walkers and canes are common traffic for senior living facilities. As such, vinyl flooring is often the preferred choice of flooring for this type of rental property due to its cushiony surface and slip-resistant finish, making it ideal for those with mobility issues.
In student housing properties, laminate or vinyl flooring is a great choice because it is relatively inexpensive and easy to clean, as well as resistant to wear and tear. Some properties may have carpet in the bedrooms, while others with higher turnover rates usually do full laminate or vinyl flooring.
Vacation rental properties need a mix of quality and durability when it comes to flooring. This usually leads many hosts to tile. Tile flooring works perfectly in vacation rentals due to its ability to withstand moisture while still being aesthetically pleasing.
What is the Most Durable Flooring for a Rental Property?
For landlords, finding a flooring option that is both cost effective and durable can be a challenge. Tile and cement (polished or unpolished) are two of the most popular and durable flooring options to consider. Tile is an excellent choice as it can last for decades with proper maintenance, while still being relatively easy to maintain. For a more polished look, polished cement also provides exceptional durability and can be installed relatively quickly at a low cost—a great choice for any landlord looking to add value to their rental property. Ultimately, both tile or cement are excellent flooring choices for rental properties, offering exceptional durability and long term value for both landlord and tenant alike.
What is the Cheapest Flooring for Rental Properties?
For any landlord considering flooring options for rental properties, cost is likely going to be a major factor in their decision. Fortunately, there are several flooring options that provide a balance between cost and durability to match the needs of real estate investments. Vinyl flooring is one of the most popular flooring choices among landlords due to its affordable price point and water resistance. Carpet flooring is a cheaper option than hardwood flooring, but can often require more regular maintenance such as cleaning and replacing especially in areas with high foot traffic. Laminate flooring also offers affordability with greater durability than carpet or vinyl flooring, making it ideal for tenants who prefer hard surface flooring. Ultimately, it’s important for landlords to carefully consider their flooring decisions and prioritize form vs function when choosing the best flooring for their rental property.
Is the Landlord Responsible for Changing Out Old Flooring?
In the real estate world, replacing old flooring can be a contentious issue; especially for long-term tenants. From carpets to floorboards and tiles, the age and condition of flooring can have a huge impact on both landlord and tenant. Although there is no clear law which requires landlords to change flooring based on aesthetics, it is becoming increasingly common for landlords to have this responsibility. Tenants may not feel safe and healthy if flooring is old or in disrepair, and in this case the landlord may be responsible for replacement costs. Other factors such as normal aging over several years or wear-and-tear from tenants should also be taken into account. Ultimately, whether the landlord is responsible for changing out flooring comes down to the terms of their agreement with the tenant and whether there are any relevant laws where the rental property is located.
Can a Tenant Change the Flooring in a Rental Property?
Making changes to flooring in a rental property can be a tricky question. Tenants should always check with their landlord before making any modifications, as flooring is usually one of the more expensive home improvements. In some cases, a landlord or property manager may allow the tenant to upgrade the flooring at their own expense. In other cases, the landlord may actually be responsible for changing flooring that is old or worn; however, these cases are determined on an individual basis. Ultimately, it is the tenant’s responsibility to communicate with the landlord or property management company about their plans to change the flooring, and ensure they have legally accepted all private policies stated by the landlord prior to signing a lease agreement and making any flooring changes along the way.
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