best flooring for rental property

Two major considerations you’ll face owning rental properties are renovation costs and cash-flow.  The flooring you choose for your rental properties affects both of these.

You don’t want to go too cheap on your flooring that it looks unappealing and requires replacing every couple years.  However, on the flip side, you don’t want to opt for flooring that’s too expensive and puts you over budget.

So, what is the best flooring & carpet for a rental property?  Let’s find out.


Among all flooring options, carpet is certainly the cheapest to install – if you get the cheapest carpet.  I don’t usually use carpet in my rentals, but the few times I have, I’ve just hired Lowe’s to do it for under $2 per sq ft including materials and installation.  

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It seems that Lowe’s regularly offers carpet installation that’s practically free, so their carpet prices are pretty hard to beat.  Just keep in mind that when you’re shopping for carpet that you factor in the cost of padding. Lowe’s won’t install carpet without the padding (at least the Lowe’s I go to won’t).

The problem with carpet is it will likely need to be replaced sooner than other flooring options. Carpet also retains unpleasant odors and stains that can be hard to remove even with professional cleaning.  

Vinyl tiles

Peel-and-stick vinyl tile is what I use in nearly all of my forty rentals.  I have an “in-house” guy that installs it for me, so it comes out to about $3-$4 per sq ft installed.  If you hire this out, you’d be looking at somewhere around $7 per sq ft.

What I love about vinyl tiles is that if there is ever damage from a water leak, scratching, or whatever, you just need to replace the damaged tiles; you don’t need to rip up and replace the entire floor or attempt to patch in flooring that looks “close enough.”

To keep vinyl tiles firmly adhered to the floor, I highly recommend putting down a thin layer of ¼ inch plywood first.  

Floating wood tiles

It may sound strange, but a floating floor isn’t nailed down hence “floating floor.”  What makes this kind of flooring great for rental properties is that it looks fantastic and will lay on top of virtually any surface.  

The wood planks either glue or snap together.  According to HomeAdvisor, the cost of materials and labor to install ranges from $6-$15 per square foot for the basic engineered hardwood.

Floating floors are a type of laminate flooring that lay on top of a sponge-like layer underneath.  This type of flooring is not recommended in high-humidity areas such as bathrooms and kitchens.


While linoleum doesn’t quite have the “wow-ish” appearance of vinyl or laminate, it is virtually waterproof – making it an ideal choice for bathrooms, kitchens, and other areas prone to moisture and humidity.  Unlike a floating floor, linoleum is glued to underlayment.

According to HomeAdvisor, sheet linoleum costs about $4 per sq. ft. to install, and Linoleum tile averages just under $5.50 per square foot, including installation.

So, what’s the best flooring for your rental property?

It really depends on the property, what your average tenant expects, and your budget.  In my opinion, I would opt for vinyl tiles in bedrooms and living areas, and linoleum tiles in the bathroom and kitchen.  

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