When we think of rental units and the products we want to use to build them, most of us want products as "bomb-proof" as we can get! However, sometimes the most practical, durable products don't fit in the budget and we have to make compromises based on value. Rental units will have different purposes (example short term vacation vs. long term rentals), whether or not the rental space is standalone or shares walls with another living space, they have different subfloors (wood vs. concrete, and more) and clients have different budgets. These factors, and others, will influence the best choice for your space.
Let's discuss the pros and cons of each flooring product, in the context of selecting new flooring as a renovation or new build of a rental space!
Solid or Engineered Hardwood
This would be an upscale rental! Wood is not the most common floor covering selection for a generic rental space, but may be appropriate for a high-end space to compete with other similar rental spaces on the market. Engineered product would be recommended if a client was considering wood for a rental space; it's less susceptible to expansion & contraction, and humidity changes (it's a more stable product than solid wood).
Pros: Natural product offers unique beauty, can compete with other upscale spaces, enjoyable to live on (warm and softer than other floor covering options), repairs can be done by a professional if areas are damaged
Cons: SOFT! It will dent and scratch, water damage would be a risk
Tile is a very thoughtful option for a rental space, however, many people opt away from tile because of the cost of the product and the installation. It's also very cold (unless it's heated) and hard underfoot. Tile would also be an upscale option for a rental space, and is MUCH more durable than wood. Think about spaces where you see tiles installed like malls and airports!
Pros: Durability, temperature/humidity changes don't bother tile installations, waterproof, modern
Cons: HARD! Pricey, not easy to repair a tile if damage occurred (would likely require a professional and may not result in a very esthetic repair, as well, heated tile areas are risky to repair because of possible damage to the heating wire)
The visual options in sheet vinyl have improved dramatically, even in the last ten years. There are very modern, current options that emulate current tile and wood trends. Sheet vinyl is a great option for a rental!
Pros: Less seams/connections than other flooring options, comfortable (different thicknesses are available), waterproof, durable finishes, affordable
Cons: CAN have ++ waste (product comes on a roll) depending on the size and shape of the space, can be cold/hard if installed over concrete in a basement area
Glue-down Vinyl Plank & Tile
The only difference between glue-down vinyl plank and tile is the shape; planks are often 7" x 48" and tiles are often 12" x 24" (these are the most common sizes, other sizes are available brand to brand. Other than the size/shape, glue-down planks and tiles are made the same. Glue-down vinyl plank/tile is an amazing product to consider for a rental space.
Pros: Price-point, waterproof, durable, easy to repair (may not require a professional)
Cons: Can be cold/hard if installed over concrete
Click Vinyl Plank & Tile
Much the same as mentioned above, the only difference between click vinyl plank & tile is the shape (also often 7" x 48" and 12" x 24"). If you are installing over concrete, but still want a waterproof floor, click vinyl could be the option.
Pros: Waterproof, durable, beautiful finishes and decors, have a backing to increase comfort and warmth
Cons: Cheap vinyl clicks are not worth the money, a decent vinyl click can have a higher price tag than clients want to pay, typically require a significant amount of prep to the subfloor prior to installation, can be tricky to repair and would likely require a professional
Click-floating laminate can be a great option for a rental space if you're not able to glue down a product (for instance, the floor has been painted) or you're looking for more comfort and warmth than a glue-down product could offer (if you're on a concrete subfloor, for example).
Pros: Price-point, water-protected products available, durable, beautiful finishes and decors, installed with an underlayment to improve comfort and warmth
Cons: Water damage with traditional laminates (not water-protected), repairs would likely require a professional
While carpet is often regarded as a less-desirable option for rentals, it does have a few things going for it! Most notably, it absorbs sound better than any other floor covering available which can be very important in a rental for instance, on the stairs can be a very practical place to absorb sound between a main floor and basement suite dwelling.
Pros: QUIET! Affordable to install (and replace), easy remove and install (baseboards stay in place), comfortable, warm
Cons: Absorbs water and other liquids, can be harder to keep looking clean than other floor coverings, damage can occur easier when compared to other floor coverings (tears, pulls etc.)
A great use of carpet, while also having the benefit of more permanent durability is the use of area rugs in a rental space. They will help dampen sound and provide warmth, while they can be removed for cleaning or disposal.
One thing that's important to mention, regardless of the floor covering you select for your rental space: have some left-over flooring on hand for probable repairs to the floor. Sometimes so much damage will occur that this won't be useful, but often times damage is localized to small areas that can be repaired. Almost all floor coverings can be repaired by a professional, as long as they have some extra product to work with; it may not look like new, but is more acceptable than replacing the whole floor. Some repairs (such as glue-down vinyl plank and tile) can be easily done by a homeowner.
Your final decision is going to come down the the most practical product for your space that fits into your budget. Comparing Supply & Install prices of a couple of different options is a great way to compare options and help make a decision! Ask your friendly flooring professional at Kelowna Floors to help with options and a complimentary measure to compare options.