How to Select Carpet or Tile for Your Rental Property

The roof will probably last for 30 years on your rental house, the hot water heater and heating systems will last for 20 years, and appliances for about 10 to 15 years. Depending on the condition when you purchased the property, chances are you’ll replace these once or not at all during the time you own a property. What does cost landlords on a regular basis are painting and floorcoverings. In the scheme of things, painting walls isn’t that big of cost or undertaking. That leaves floorcoverings for closer scrutiny.

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One of your first considerations is the type of rental property you have and the type of tenants you want to attract. If yours is a high-end rental, you’re going to need a higher quality product and replace it more often than the average rental. The landlord of an average rental wants to focus on the cost of the materials, the cost to install, the cost of maintenance, and the durability. Materials worth considering are:

  • Tile
  • Carpet
  • Hardwood
  • Cork
  • Floating wood tiles
  • Vinyl sheets
  • Vinyl tiles
  • Laminate
  • Linoleum

Tile and carpet are the most common. Tile comes in several variations with ceramic, porcelain, or stone being the most practical. The advantages of tile over carpet are that tile is easy to clean, durable (lasting well over 10 years), and water-resistant. It’s also available in all price ranges. Every floorcovering has disadvantages. For tile, one is that it is a poor insulator that may not be desirable in colder climates. It can also be scratched when moving furniture around, or cracked if something falls on it, or adhesive can come loose. Replacing damaged tile requires skill and time. Tile grout also needs to be cleaned and sealed regularly (preferably annually). Less often, the tiles themselves need deep cleaning and to be resealed. However, in the long run, tile is more durable and will last much longer than carpet.

Tile isn’t appropriate everywhere. It’s seldom if ever used in bedrooms or living rooms. It is a good selection for bathrooms, kitchens, and utility rooms. It’s also good in common areas and many basements.

Carpeting is the most common flooring in rentals for living rooms, bedrooms, and stairways. It’s also suitable for finished basements if moisture isn’t a problem. Carpet is a good selection in multiunit buildings when floor noise from upper units is an issue. Carpeting also makes a good insulator in colder climates. It gives living rooms a softer and welcoming feeling. All of these can be further enhanced with a good quality padding under the carpet.

However, carpeting must be shampooed frequently and doesn’t wear nearly as well as other floorings. Using too low of a grade carpet can mean replacing it almost every time a new tenant moves in or at least professionally cleaning it. Stains can be permanent as well as carpet can harbor allergens, odors, dust, and even small pests like bugs and fleas.

When deciding on the type of flooring for a rental property, landlords have many factors to consider. These include cost, durability, ease of cleaning, and resiliency to wear and tear. Regardless of which you choose, select a neutral color and texture. No tenants want the jungle green carpet that would go perfect in your personal wild safari room.

What are your thoughts about flooring for rentals? Please add your comments.

Also, our weekly Ask Brian column welcomes questions from readers of all experience levels with residential real estate. Please email your questions, inquiries, or article ideas to

Author bio: Brian Kline has been investing in real estate for more than 35 years and writing about real estate investing for 12 years. He also draws upon 30 plus years of business experience including 12 years as a manager at Boeing Aircraft Company. Brian currently lives at Lake Cushman, Washington. A vacation destination, near a national and the Pacific Ocean.