Functional, beautiful flooring for kitchen?

marvelousmarvinJune 14, 2013

Is there a flooring option that would be both functional and beautiful for my situation?

I have a single family house that I'm renting out with an eye on selling it in the future, maybe in five years or maybe even later.

There's a concrete slab that the flooring have to go on top of which means more work if I wanted to install hardwood floors.
And, the kitchen is sort of an open concept so I'd like to use the same flooring for kitchen, dining room, and family room to connect those three spaces.

I'm looking for something that's functional for a rental now, but beautiful enough when I sell this house.

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The kitchen will have white cabinets which means I've got to put in wood floors or something that looks like wood.

I'd probably seriously consider installing hardwood floors if I was selling the place immediately. Since its a rental, I worry that the tenants will be too rough with the floors- scratching and denting and not wiping water off the floors right away.

So, I thought I would go with laminate flooring because of its its affordability and increased durability against scratches and dents even though it wouldn't help when I sold the place.

But, now, I'm hearing conflicting advice if laminate is appropriate for a kitchen- some people are saying it won't be able to handle the liquids in a kitchen. And, now my general contractor is saying that the laminate is going to cost $4 per square foot for the laminate.

If I was taking that risk with water with laminate, I thought I would take a similar risk with engineered wood. I had seen engineered woods for less than $4 per square feet, and I figured I could resand it when I tried to sell the house. But, after taking a closer look at the engineered woods I've been looking at, I don't think they're thick enough to resand.

When it comes to moisture and kitchens, it seems that tile and vinyl are generally accepted as the two best choices.

There's vinyl that looks like wood, but I'm afraid that vinyl will come across as cheap and actually decrease the value when I try to sell it. And, it doesn't seem as durable as laminate.

Tile would be an option if I didn't need to warm up the kitchen to prevent it from coming across as cold and sterile. There's tile that looks like wood but I don't know if it would work if I used that tile for the kitchen, dining room, and family room.

And, I thought it'd be impossible to match wood tile in the kitchen with laminate or engineered wood in the family room and dining room.

Out of these choices, what's my best choice? Or, am I overlooking something that might work?

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 3:44AM
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There are wood laminates that are very durable, look good, and would not decrease the value of the house; I think that is your best choice even if it costs more than low-end engineered wood. I think tile is awful: too hard and cold, everything shatters when it falls, and grout can be difficult to keep clean. If you have to replace flooring, tile is expensive and messy to replace. Have you investigated cork?

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 6:05AM
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I've had non of the above mentioned issues with our tile. It was the perfect flooring choice for us. Ours is a wood look tile. Everyone who comes over comments on how much they love the floor.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 7:47AM
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I finally went with 'finish in place' wood floors and I'm happy I did - laminates are not a good choice in a kitchen. Tile might be great but it's hard on the feet in a kitchen (and cold! though we put in underfloor heating in bathrooms and LOVE that). Our floor guy puts hardwoods in his rental houses as he can easily re-finish if his tenants mess them up, but so far he's had no problem. Engineered wood floors can't be finished as often and take more sanding because of the super-hard finish.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 9:42AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

For a rental property, I would go with the heavy duty sheet vinyl like is cushioned so softer under feet. It is glued down, waterproof, durable and you can get it in looks like wood or stone.

I put it in my craft room on the basement level and it looks fine and is easy to clean and is soft under foot and has been very durable.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 9:48AM
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Have you considered linoleum? Soft on the feet, not cold, easy to care for and very flexible in terms of design. We love ours.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 10:26AM
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Your goals are at cross purposes. A floor that will be inexpensive for a rental will not be the floor that adds value and will look good at resale time after having spent time enduring renters. You'd also be gambling that the neighborhood won't go downhill and that the expensive flooring that you put in now would actually be an appropriate floor for a declining neighborhood.

Put the cheapest 79 cent sheet vinyl in now for your renters. When it's time to sell, then put in the more upscale flooring that will look new and be a selling point with the home. IF the neighborhood at that time supports that expense. If it doesn't, you've saved money. And you don't have to worry about renters flooding the house and ruining the floor. (I hope you require renters insurance!)

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 11:30AM
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What LWO said.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 12:35PM
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Yes, what LWO said.

You have mutually excluive requirments, you could do either for rent or for sale, but not both.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 12:44PM
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Rental = least expensive flooring that will look good enough to make the place marketable to your ideal renter.

BUT, this can be different depending on what you are it in an upscale neighborhood, in an upward transitional neighborhood, or a declining neighborhood?

If it's a rental in an upscale area, putting in 79 cent sheet vinyl will do you no favors because your potential renter will find something nicer somewhere else.

If it's an upward transitional neighborhood and you want to find the people who are on the upper side of the upward transition, again...look for a little nicer flooring.

If it's in a location where houses are holding steady and are in a mid-market, new but relatively inexpensive flooring will work to your favor.

If it's an area of declining value, put in the least expensive thing you can find and be ready to change it when your renter moves.

But, you aren't necessarily looking to put in what you will use to sell it in 5-ish years.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 1:02PM
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What andrea said and LWO said ... you can't get them both.

For a rental that was in an appreciating market, we put in glue-down hardwood engineered planks and charged accordingly.

For a rental that was in a low-income stable neighborhood, we installed commercial sheet vinyl in the kitchen and baths, commercial office-grade level loop in the rest of the rooms. It was durable and looked way better than anything in the neighborhood, but it was not expensive.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 1:34PM
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I'd go with a vinyl tile (LVT) in a wood look throughout. Extremely impervious to spills/moisture if glued down, it can even be used in bathrooms. Extremely easy to repair the occasional damaged tile should it occur if you have glued it down. Great for cement slabs. Reasonably priced - or downright cheap - depending on which one you go with.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 2:11PM
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I'd go with a vinyl tile (LVT) in a wood look throughout. Extremely impervious to spills/moisture if glued down, it can even be used in bathrooms. Extremely easy to repair the occasional damaged tile should it occur if you have glued it down. Great for cement slabs. Reasonably priced - or downright cheap - depending on which one you go with.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 2:12PM
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Another option is floating hardwood finished in place and then sanding and refinishing when selling. As others have said, the kind of flooring in a rental depends on what your target renter is, i.e. how high the rent is. In my area, many medium priced condos already have hardwood flooring.
Another option: Wood look tiles in the kitchen and carpet in the rest of the house to be replaced when selling, although carpet will turn off some people now.
Remember to have a 1-or 2-month rent deposit.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 3:09PM
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Other parts of the city have appreciated more in value, but I don't think this is a declining neighborhood. It seems like a solid middle class neighborhood where families tend to stay; there's not a lot of churn of houses for sale or houses for rent in the neighborhood.

I wouldn't call it a upscale area, but its in a Southern California coastal city so housing prices are ridiculously high compared to most of the county. The city name has the word beach in it, but the house is a few miles away from the beach.

Even if this is a rental, would it be dis-congruent to put in the cheapest vinyl I can find when the rest of the kitchen is going to be updated and much nicer than the flooring? I have to redo the entire kitchen with new cabinets, granite countertops, etc...

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 4:27AM
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I hadn't really considered vinyl before a real option before so I have a couple of questions about it:

Why choose sheet vinyl vs plank vinyl and vice versa?

How durable is vinyl going to be? The thing that had attracted me to laminates was because laminate was supposed to be so durable against dents and scratches and sunlight. ( I don't allow a pet, but oftentimes a tenant will sneak in one anyways).

Is vinyl going to be cheaper than laminate because of installation costs because vinyl plank is about $2 sq ft.

What's so luxurious about luxury vinyl tile?

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 4:59AM
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The only thing luxury about LVT is the marketing genius who attached the word luxury. I'll bet he got a big bonus. It's still plastic that is manufactured to resemble luxury materials.

I'm not saying that it can't look nice, and function well, but it's simply never going to ever be perceived as anything but an basic entry level home material. If you choose it for a floor in a mid grade home, you do so because you find it meets your needs and budget, and don't care about resale. It will not create any added value for the money you spend on it, and it might actually be a detractor that a buyer would want a credit to replace. Buyers and appraisers will always value genuine natural materials over any imitations.

The new snap together or the kind with glue overlay strips can be waterproof like the sheet vinyl. The regular glue down strips is only water resistant. The pieced together type can have individual planks replaced when they become damaged much easier that the sheet material.

If you DIY the install, the vinyl plank types can go rather easily and be a money saver. If you are paying for installation from a professional, there isn't a lot of difference in cost from doing vinyl to doing a glue down wood.

For a rental though, even in a solid middle class neighborhood, I'd do actual tile in the kitchen, and a cheap carpet elsewhere. The tile won't need to be replaced, and the carpet can easily be replaced when ruined. Renters are their own class of destruction, and unless you are doing a high end rental, putting in expensive materials that can be easily damaged through their disrespect is a sure fire way to lose the money that you spend on both the labor and the material.

If you are inexperienced at having rental property, I suggest you post on the Real Estate forum to connect with other property owners who are much more experienced in owning it. It's pretty easy to get caught up in hemorrhaging money by putting in things that you personally like into a rental rather than those that will stand up to the wear and tear that tenants put on the property.

When you go to sell a rental, THAT is when you do a "selling renovation." and upgrade to popular higher end materials. Those materials do not survive renters between now and selling time.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 10:45AM
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Have you thought about bamboo? I have read that it is very durable; it comes in various stains and looks, and I have also seen it at very low cost as well. I did get some samples when considering what to do with my floor. Might be an attractive choice for resale in SoCal as well, it is considered a "green" material.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 11:06AM
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The huge benefit of LVT over laminates (and engineered hardwood) is water resistance, from the research I have done. It is also supposed to be great for people with pets.

You might want to check out the flooring forum. There are a lot of posts on these products.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 11:31AM
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I'd suggest *against* bamboo based on things that I've read about it's overall durability - it seems to last okay, but shows mars pretty easily.

If it's a middle-class type place, particularly in SoCal, I would suggest a neutral, inexpensive tile. Remember, you're not picking this for YOU. You want something that will hold up and ad *perceived value*, even if it's inexpensive. I'd make sure to get some extra tiles to hold on to as well in case a renter drops something and breaks a tile or three. Renters typically tend to care less about a place than if they owned damage is pretty common.

There are (or at least were) a few laminate floors available that were rated for water areas and had a guarantee regarding that. I placed a Pergo brand floor that was water rated in a house I lived in about 20 years ago in a bathroom. It had me, a Rottweiler (then later a Giant Schnauzer) and two undeclawed cats that all piled in there when I got ready for work in the morning. It held up quite well during the 10-ish years I was there using it and even fared pretty well when my less-than-careful brother moved in. But, after saying that, I wouldn't plan on it holding up through a renter and be resale ready.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 12:28PM
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Something like this Mannington Serengeti Slate that we used in our master bath vignette in our new showroom would be a great choice for a kitchen in a rental. It's neutral and easy to decorate around, but it's not cookie cutter either. It's also porcelain and darn near indestructible, even by renters. Use an epoxy grout, and it would be practically bulletproof.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 12:59PM
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How about floor tiles that look like wood? Several GW have used them recently. Not sure what it would look like if you added hardwood to adjoining rooms when reselling.

I'd say that a tiled floor (even inexpensive tile) would look more upscale than vinyl, plus it should wear way better.

Here is a link that might be useful: woodlook tiles

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 1:12PM
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I'm not handy at all, and I'll just have the contractor do everything.

But, will there be a different price for labor depending on the material I select- tile, vinyl, laminate, etc? Any general ideas how much that labor would cost relative to each other?

The price difference for materials between vinyl and laminate doesn't seem that great anymore. I've read to stay away from cheaper vinyl because its not as durable or long lasting so I'd need to pay more for vinyl, and I've found cheaper laminate than the one the contractor showed me.

The laminate the contractor showed was $4 a square foot, but I've found a Hampton Bay laminate at Home Depot that I thought was good enough for less than $2. (There was a Pergo XP laminate I like more but it would cost $3.40)

The $4 laminate had 12 mm thickness, whereas the $2 laminate only has 8 mm thickness. If I understand it correctly, a thicker laminate won't give you any greater durability against wear and tear. The advantage a thicker laminate gives you is the sound when you walk on it, where it sounds more like walking on wood than a thinner laminate.

But, it seems that the $2 laminate might be even more durable and longer lasting than that $4 laminate because the $2 laminate has a AC-4 rating and a 50 year warranty compared to the $4 laminate's AC-3 rating and 25 year warranty.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 4:14AM
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If I got tile for a kitchen with white cabinets and black granite countertops, what do you think about black and white tiles for that kitchen?

Would that work because black and white is neutral? Or, would that make the kitchen feel too cold and sterile if I don't get something that looks like wood for the flooring?

I have tile and the dirty grout can be such a negative so I'll need to take a look at the epoxy grout. If I used epoxy grout, how long should I expect the grout for the tiles to not get so dirty?

And, if I get tile only for the kitchen while putting in new carpeting for the family and dining rooms, it means either getting carpet that won't match the existing carpet in the rest of the space downstairs and upstairs or getting all new carpet for a house even though that carpet for the rest of the rooms are still okay.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 4:37AM
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