Hardwood floors for rentalsHardwood floors are a natural, durable, and beautiful product. Made of solid wood planks or strips that can be glued together in butcher block format, nailed down or left “floating”.

They can also add an earthy tone to a rental, making it more attractive to tenants.

But is hardwood a good investment for your rental property? Here are a few things to consider:

  • type of tenant
  • value of the home
  • cost and type of installation
  • flooring materials

Your Tenants Can Be Irresponsible

Let’s be honest, your tenants might not care if they scratch the floor or clean up a spill quickly. Fortunately, hardwood has come a long way.

Many brands of hardwood now lock together tightly making the seams almost watertight. In addition, the finishes available are tougher than they used to be.

If you are renting to college kids, a less expensive or a utility grade hardwood from a surplus supply warehouse might be the best choice. These products don’t start out perfect, but they are less expensive. You can buy in bulk and stash some away for repairs or future projects.

A family with kids and pets can be rough on a floor, but today’s hardwood can handle the job. A product with a hand-scraped finish is the right choice for these types of tenant because it will hide scratches and wear.

No matter who you rent to, keep some extra boxes in temperature controlled storage just in case. You also have the option of a refinish, but keep in mind this is usually best handled by professionals to make floors look new again.

Resale Value and Neighborhood

You might not be thinking of it now, but when investing in a remodel or update of a rental you need to consider what the home could fetch on the market.

You might not spend $5,000 on flooring in a $60,000 home. However, if the sum of all your improvements increase the value of that $60,000 home to $120,000, then the $5,000 floor might make sense.

It’s also important to look at the competition. What kinds of floors are in the homes in the neighborhood that are for sale? Knowing this is important since the flooring type in a home can influence some renters. A little homework goes a long way, so if you are making some major changes, look around the neighborhood.

Installation Costs

Even if you can install flooring yourself, you still need to consider the cost of the time it takes for installation. Additionally, the cost of surface prep can vary greatly.

Carpet and tile floors can hide imperfections that require leveling or replacement of the subfloor or slab. So, before you buy your supplies, be sure to remove the old flooring and check for level and take moisture readings. You might also uncover a foundation issue that needs your attention first.

Hardwood Flooring Materials Are Not Equal

Wood is wood, right? Not entirely.

Most products available will make a great floor, but the variations in finishes, the type of hardwood (check the type vs the janka scale to see how hard it really is) and adhesives can make your purchase a good one or a bad one.

If you have doubts about a product buy a box of it and install it in a high traffic area temporarily. A laundry room or over any bare concrete floor can help you test the flooring. The key to this step would be making sure it is secure. If this won’t work for you, you can do some research online for customer reviews or speak with a reputable professional about options.

Hardwood flooring can be a great investment for the right rental and area. With some luck and research, you will find a great brand and style that you can buy in bulk (and save even more)!

About the Author:
Bruce MacDonaldBruce MacDonald leads the team at MacDonald Hardwoods, a hardwood flooring store in Denver, Colorado. For over three decades they have serviced Colorado with installations, cleaning, and even conducted educational classes to help customers take care of their floors.

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