Landlord advice on flooring

Alexina PropertiesMarch 2, 2010

Hi all,

I started a new thread as I did end up buying the house down the street. Bank had said they would close March 24 (originally Feb 24) and then on 26 they said they wanted to close that day and would make an $1800 allowance if it was done that day. We jumped and got it done.

So now we have the house, and I'm getting roofing bids. I know the shingle type I want as State Farm will give a discount for this Class 4 shingle even though it is only a 3 tab.

Now on the flooring, the main part of house is all oak hardwoods in good condition, but they need to be refinished. I can do that. The kitchen has old linoleum under which appears to be hardwoods (might be, might not) but my house 9 houses down did have hardwoods in the kitchen so I'm checking on that.

Here is what I am wondering, if it is hardwoods, I will refinish it. If it is not, I am considering putting down ceramic or porcelein tile in the kitchen and laundry room versus doing linoleum. I know the tile might be more expensive, but I can do it myself. I'm thinking long term that it would last longer than the linoleum. The master bedroom has carpet, should I put in new carpet or put something more durable, like laminate?

Thoughts from landlords who have been there and done that.


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Tile will last forever if it's installed right.

Is there hardwood in the master bedroom?

A couple of suggestions on the hardwood- use Waterlox instead of poly on the floors. It's easier to apply, and actually bonds with the wood rather than sitting on top. It is more expensive, and takes longer to cure (well, it admits how long it really takes to cure, to be precise), but you can add another coat on top without scuffing or having to do the whole floor. It's also gorgeous- we put it on our cheap birch plywood bar top, and it looks like fine furniture. I'm seriously considering redoing our hardwood again (we just did it three years ago, and the poly is starting to chip off along some edges of the boards) to use it instead.

Second thing- do not use the Minwax poly. It doesn't blend well, it bubbles and is generally a pain in the butt to apply. The Varathane brand is much easier to deal with.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2010 at 6:39PM
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If it's a rental, then think durability. Tile is an excellent choice for a kitchen, bath or laundry room. Buy extra tiles.....believe me, if there is a way they can be damaged, they will be. Go with dark grout. I fought our tilers on this issue, and have to admit, it didn't take me long to see why they suggested that. Renters will not worry about cleaning and sealing grout.

Laminates? There are some nice ones, and you'd think a bedroom would be a safe place to put them. But, a really good laminate, guaranteed to withstand wear and tear, can cost you as much as some wood floors. They're also a lot harder to lay than a room of carpet. Consider carpet in a rental as a disposable item and keep it to a minimum. When a renter goes, the carpet does too. Given it's a lot easier to replace a room of carpet than damaged laminate, and if you find good deals on it, also cheaper, I'd think carpet.

There have been several old posts on people considering buying a rental unit. Is this the one where a murder was committed?

    Bookmark   March 2, 2010 at 7:01PM
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Alexina Properties

cocontom: No hardwoods in master bedroom, just very old ugly carpet. I have never heard of Waterlox but will check into it. It sounds like a great product, and I want something tough and durable. I once used Minwax years ago with poor results on a floor so I am glad to hear it "nay" on it again.

calliope: I agree that I need to think durability. I am guessing I will go with tile (and keep a good deal extra) for the kitchen if there is not hardwood under the ugly 30 year old linoleum. I love the idea of dark grout, I might as well install the new tile with dirt colored grout as it will look that way eventually. LOL

I am tossing the idea of laminate now. I guess I will get a cheap carpet for that one room only.
Oh and no murders happened in this house, just an old lady who lived in it for 55 years and then she went into a nursing home. One child bought it and let it go into foreclosure. No work has been done in 30 years on it but house is very well made and has no structural issues, etc.

Thanks for the suggestions and advice.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2010 at 7:54PM
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Better than carpet for rental property is carpet squares. You can install them yourself and should you want to remove them they remove easily.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2010 at 10:38PM
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I had a dozen rental properties at one time. Assuming normal wear, I'd go for laminate, cheap parquet floors or existing hardwood. Even with the hardwood, a quick professional screening followed by poly was all that was usually needed between tenants. (I'm not counting the delightful senior couple who put out their cigarettes on the oak floors, as if it were a concrete sidewalk.)

I would lean towards porcelain tile as it resists chips better than typical ceramic tiles, as the colour is throughout the tile.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2010 at 12:07AM
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"If it is not, I am considering putting down ceramic or porcelein tile in the kitchen and laundry room versus doing linoleum."

And the floor is very likely to be a mass after a skngle tenant with stained grout that will be very hard to restore.

Durability is not the only criteria, and unless you check very carefully the joists and subfloor may very well be inadequate for the long term life of a tile floor.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2010 at 9:03AM
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Alexina Properties

CarolNY: Carpet squares, that is a great idea! Not sure of cost, will check into.

Worthy: Porcelein, yes that would be a better choice. I will go that way. That older couple sound just plan lovely..arg! putting out cigarettes on the floor ... yuck!

Brickeye: Well, I have spent alot of time on the John Bridge Forum. The one thing with the grout I plan to use Latcrete epoxy, which is very expensive and I plan to have a tiler put in the grout (I will do the tile myself). If I do tile then I plan on the Latcrte even though the initial cost is considerably more, I am hoping to prevent exactly the scenario you mentioned of the floor being a mess.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2010 at 9:13AM
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The tenants are NOT going to care for or clean up like an owner.

The grout WILL get stained.

Epoxy grouts are more stain resistant, but NOT stain proof.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2010 at 2:09PM
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I prefer to do sheet vinyl in my rentals. If the floor looks warn out, easy to replace the entire floor for a few hundred $. If you have water damage, it is easier/cheaper to replace than tile. If tile chips, then it costs few hundred $ just to replace a few tiles. (everytime a trade person walks into the house, it is a few hundres $) Even if you replace them with the saved tiles, they never quite look right, IMHO. Tile and grout get discolored over time also and can look bad. They are also more prone to looking dated....

Personally, if you got the hardwood guy coming into the house anyrate, you have already bit the bullet about the tradeperson's minimal quote... So hardwood throughout the house versus refinish existing hardwood plus carpet in the master will be about the same in cost, IMHO. (unless of course, you mean to refinish the hardwood yourself as a DIY...)

Carpet: carpet squares have alwayd looked cheap/institutional to me. Looking too cheap and institutional may nix the deal for some prospective tenants. Again, it is very cheap to do the carpet. I would get a neutral carpet, not carpet squares. YMMV

You have to make the house show at the level of the market. Do your market analysis carefully. I could not get away with carpet squares in my rentals. It just is not done in my city. Tile would not be necessary in my market.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2010 at 5:14PM
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It's good to see that you're aware of the John Bridge site! Really good. In fact I was able to tear out a whole bathroom from the 60's and re-tile it due to the help from all the good people at John Bridge :)
Porcelain tiles instead of ceramic for sure as the ceramic tile only has a top coat of color....when chipped it looks like arrgh...
I also used a dark grout thru-out the house and am as pleased as punch with that choice...light grout is a PITA.
Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 3, 2010 at 5:18PM
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Alexina Properties

brickeye: Okay, so you think tile is a bad idea. I do value your input and I am here for advice, so thanks. Would you suggest vinyl then? I do realize that any grout will stain, but meant the epoxy was less likely to.

What are your opinions then of tile in the bathroom? I need to retile the tub surround , I'm not sure how to avoid tile altogether in a home. I do appreciate the advice, and I'm trying to make wise decisions. I am listening and trying to assimilate it all.

Kaisom: I always thought sheet vinyl was fairly expensive, but then again, I have not used it in 20 years so I had no idea about replacing that area cheaply. Good thought on the freshness effect of new something.
about the hardwoods: the house is 1500 sq feet, about 1000 of it in hardwoods. 300 feet in carpet, 200 feet in old old linoleum from the 1950's.

deborah: I'm impressed you did a whole tear out on your own. Way to go! I will be doing this on on my own, so I will be posting alot of questions on John Bridge. I'm thinking of using Kerdi on the walls.

Real Estate agent said it would rent about $1000 a month, but I'm thinking more like $900 is realistic.

This house has never been a rental, it was a couple who lived it in for 55 years, and then they died, son bought it and lost it to bank in 8 months. House is dated, but never abused.

I have so much updating to do and am going to need alot of advice. I'm so thankful for all of you and for this forum.
thanks again!

    Bookmark   March 4, 2010 at 8:35AM
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I agree with kaismom.

A medium grade of sheet vinyl.

The cheap grades do not stand up to routine wear, and the expensive (softer) grads get slits if heavy objects are dropped on them. The splits can be glued back together, but if not done immediately dirt gets in and the splits then look bad and can enlarge.

I have a couple of higher end rentals that are very nice, and they do have more amenities than the lower end ones, with rents and security deposits to match.

The actual return on investment is better on the medium level houses though.

the high end ones just cost to much compared to the rent, the low end ones get to abused and require work between tenants.

The middle ground houses seem to attract families that want a decent place to live and are careful to try and keep it that way.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2010 at 12:20PM
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I am a landlord of 5 properties and I have installed laminate in all of them. Yes there are deffinately nice selections available now.

I put in the laminate as it is an easy replace. Should I need to throw down a new floor it takes no time and very little money.

Personally I would not do carpet nor hardwood.

Good luck

    Bookmark   March 4, 2010 at 5:45PM
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