To Pad or Not to Pad?
November 28, 2008 3:28 PM   Subscribe

NewCarpetInARentalFilter - We are renting our place out. If we buy the expensive padding, can it be re-used if the carpet needs to be replaced? Or will we just have to replace the expensive padding as well?

Bought a new home, now we're revamping the condo where we used to live so we can rent it out. We are going to carpet with a dark-ish carpet that won't show stains as well, but any other suggestions for "rental carpet" would be greatly appreciated. Also, the condo is on the third floor, so we will probably go for thicker, more expensive padding to save the downstairs neighbors a little grief (due to the noise) if we can. If we buy expensive padding, and the carpet has to be replaced in two years, can we save the padding and just replace carpet, or is it an all-in-one type of deal. Any other suggestions would be appreciated!
posted by Spyder's Game to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You can certainly keep the padding though I'm guessing if you have it installed they'll push pretty hard to replace. Keep in mind that dirt does work it's way through carpet and eventually through the padding so after a long time without replacing the padding (a decade or more? not really sure) it'll be pretty gritty under there. You can also just replace the padding in the high traffic areas, like a hallway or entry, when doing the carpet.

But one thing that may dissuade you: pets. If you'll be allowing pets or if they get pets anyway the padding may get pretty funky. Not all pets, to be sure, but some, and some cats especially, seem prone to peeing and peeing in the same spot. So I'd recommend cheap padding and cheap carpet if you'll be allowing pets.
posted by 6550 at 4:09 PM on November 28, 2008

Padding may get funky, as mentioned above. But it's worth mentioning that many of the places which do carpet installation - including big chains like Home Depot - will not carpet over old padding. So unless you've got a friend who's doing it, or you're doing it yourself, you may have to redo the padding.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 4:45 PM on November 28, 2008

Have you considered NOT doing carpeting?

Yes, it's more expensive initially, but installing hardwood or a GOOD laminate (like Pergo) will increase the value of the condo, make it much more attractive to renters, lessen the maintenance expenses - it's really win-win. Carpet in a rental will just have to be replaced constantly, and you may miss out on good renters who simply will not rent a unit with carpet (I never would). If you are concerned about noise and the downstairs neighbors, just insist (make it part of the rental agreement) that renters have area rugs.

Another word about Pergo (no, I don't work for them, but I did work in the flooring industry at one point) - it's virtually indestructible, and looks almost like the real thing. Using something like that would mean you'd pay now, but probably never have to replace the floor.
posted by coollibrarian at 5:10 PM on November 28, 2008

I've lived in a number of apartments with carpet over the years, so from a renter's perspective, I'd enthusiastically agree with coollibrarian. Wood floors, real or fake, are a HUGE attractant for several reasons.

One, no matter what color carpet you pick, someone is going to look at it and gag because it clashes with all their furniture or ruins their decorating look, instantly dropping your rental down their list.

Two, renters -- at least, the kind you want -- are concerned about losing their security deposit. They see carpet, they see a trap where one spilled glass of juice could cost them a ton of money.

Third, hardwood floors make the rental look more high-end; they're something renters value as a status symbol, a plus that may not only give your place a competitive edge over others but cause your tenants to treat it better.

If you get hardwood, and the renters absolutely abuse it, you can fix the damage in a weekend with a $30/day floor sander rented from Home Depot and a can of polyurethane. Hardwood can also be padded under, for noise concerns.

Take it from a maid... hardwood is also far, far easier to clean. We hit a place with funky/stained carpet, we can vacuum and vacuum, even steam-clean and scrub, and still not manage to make it look good. By contrast, we have cleaned incredibly, horrendously dirty houses with hardwood, and a solid vacuum and mopping works wonders.
posted by Gianna at 6:58 PM on November 28, 2008

You can sometimes keep the undercushion when you replace the carpet, but I definitely wouldn't upgrade it with that in mind. About the only reasons you would want to replace the carpet but could keep cushion are for aesthetics or a lot of non-smelly stains. Heavy wear, pet stains, and most other things that will have you replacing the carpet will make you want to strip down to the subfloor anyway.

The cushion ($3-$8 per square yard) is going to be cheap compared to the carpet, anyway. So it really shouldn't be your main concern.

Either a fairly low monochrome cut-pile or a tight loop berber with the basic pad seem to be the norm in (mid/low cost) rental units. If you think you might take it out in two years and you're not doing stairs then there's really no reason to get anything fancy. The pad won't make much difference in noise anyway(especially vs. a hard floor).

Go to a local flooring place and find out what they have in stock as they get it in bulk and is usually cheaper. You might also ask what the apartment companies in town use.

I like hardwood/laminate too for the reasons other posters mentioned, but if you were thinking about upgrading the cushion for noise reasons, you probably don't want to put a hard floor in there! If you do end up getting laminate, please get the acoustic foam at least.

Any other suggestions would be appreciated!

I'll take that as an invitation to tell you what I would ideally have for flooring.

Grey slate in the entrance. Wide, hand scraped* Oak or Maple (or other North American wood) in the hallways and living room. Cork plank (white or natural) or bright blue Marmoleum in the kitchen. Single colour, large loop carpet in bedrooms with dense undercushion. Either tiny white hexagon ceramic tile or 12" pieces of brownish stone for the bathrooms, I haven't decided.

* - Not actually hand scraped, that's just the style. I guess if I'm talking "ideal" I could have someone hand scrape it for me. :P
posted by ODiV at 10:17 PM on November 28, 2008

I'm sorry not to answer your exact question, but I would like to chime in with another vote for hardwood, if you can afford it. As a renter, I literally will not look at an apartment without hardwood (or laminate). The thing is, a scuffed-up and scratched hardwood floor can still have "character", but a used carpet has no redeeming qualities. The upside then, is that as a landlord you don't need to make the wood floors perfect again after every tenant, but you will have to thoroughly clean the carpets after every renter.
posted by folara at 6:44 AM on November 29, 2008

Another vote for laminate. In my experience, many renters will not take care of hardwood. Carpet is really easily trashed, and only looks really good when new, unless you get really good carpet, which, may still get trashed. Laminate looks quite good, and holds up very well.
posted by theora55 at 8:06 AM on November 29, 2008

Speaking as a landlord, I think you should avoid carpet if at all possible. I don´t know how well laminate or Pergo type flooring would hold up, it seems like all the furniture needs to have felt pads on the bottom to keep from scratching it, and you can´t count on tenants to do that.

I´ve been happiest having tile, and tenants like it. Carpet is difficult to clean well, and tenants are often either worried about keeping it clean or concerned with deep dirt being left from the last tenant even if the surface looks nice. For those with allergies, carpet doesn´t work well.

If you must have carpet, get the cheap padding. If you are only counting on it to last two years you may as well get cheap carpet while you are at it. I suggest that you not allow pets.
posted by yohko at 10:23 AM on November 29, 2008

I am sorry to pile-on (ha! a carpet pun!) but I also will not consider an apartment that has carpet.
posted by kate blank at 10:33 AM on November 29, 2008

Hey all! Thanks so much for the suggestions! We certainly have the means (at this point!) to get a laminate or wood flooring, but the concern is still mainly about noise. Will area rugs really cut down on the noise? Our association rules state that any hardwood or laminate flooring has to be padded with, I think it's 1/4" or 1/2" cork padding to dampen the noise. In addition, (and I have to read them again to double check, but) there is a clause that if there is excessive noise, the association can require the owner to REMOVE the hardwood flooring at his own expense. Crazy, I know, but that's what I thought I read, a long time ago.

But, given all that, if I CAN put hardwood flooring in, it sounds like it'll be a big selling point. Amirite!?!? Thanks for all responses so far - please keep 'em coming!!
posted by Spyder's Game at 5:33 PM on November 29, 2008

Also, @ ODiV, we actually have a 2 story condo, so we will be putting flooring (carpet or laminate or hardwood) on the stairs. Just curious, what difference do stairs make??
posted by Spyder's Game at 5:42 PM on November 29, 2008

Cheap carpet stands out a lot more on stairs. The cheaper stuff is not as dense so when the carpet is put at an angle over the stair you can often see the backing. If you're checking carpet out at a shop, put it at a 90 degree angle and see how it looks, because you'll be seeing that every time you're going up the stairs.

It's something I personally look for, but maybe the average renter isn't going to notice.
posted by ODiV at 8:32 PM on November 29, 2008

Also, I'd recommend laminate a hundred times over hardwood if you're renting. Hardwood, even the hardest stuff, dents and scratches way easier than laminate. Renters (even the good ones) don't care as much as you do and your beautiful hardwood will be destroyed.

Also, you don't say where you are, so I'm not sure what the humidity is like there. Wood, being a natural product, reacts to moisture in the air whereas laminate does not. I'm in a very dry climate and every once and awhile someone here puts down a rainforest wood and then is surprised when they have warping and gaps after awhile. If you want to go hardwood go indigenous or engineered, in my opinion.
posted by ODiV at 8:39 PM on November 29, 2008

Thanks for all the input! Ultimately, we ended up going with Pergo in the high traffic areas (living room, dining room, foyer) and carpeting in the bedrooms. We will craft the lease to require the renters to put down area rugs over the Pergo if there are any noise complaints from downstairs.

posted by Spyder's Game at 10:39 AM on December 29, 2008

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