Reflooring part of a rental property (kitchen and living room).
April 17, 2013 7:15 PM   Subscribe

My boyfriend owns a house in North Florida that needs to have the floors in the kitchen and living room redone. He rents out the house. He's looking for a good 'middle way': not expensive, but not so cheap that it will have to be replaced soon; nice, but not so nice that it it might get easily damaged by renters (nor ugly, which would lower rent value). N.B.: the price has to include installation since he won't be around to install it himself. Any suggestions for what types of flooring he should look at, especially given N. Florida's climate?
posted by flibbertigibbet to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Perhaps something like this? (This is on carpet; it sounds like your friend has wood floors, but I think it could still work)
...hmmm. On rereading your question, I guess this won't work, since he'd have to do the installation himself with this method.

posted by segatakai at 7:24 PM on April 17, 2013

Response by poster: As a clarification re: current flooring: cheap wood in the kitchen, and carpet in the dining/living room.

Is linoleum/carpet practical?
posted by flibbertigibbet at 7:35 PM on April 17, 2013

Forbo brand linoleum comes in a wide array of colors and features a somewhat marblized pattern. The stuff is sturdy. I know of one installation where someone managed to gouge a deep scratch into the flooring but the remedy was much better than an unsightly patch: since the pattern is integral they were able to sand and buff out the scar.
posted by mightshould at 7:48 PM on April 17, 2013

I think he has to decide whether he wants permanence/durability, or just to give up and replace it every 5 years. That's what will happen with linoleum and carpet.

If I were a landlord, I'd learn how to install laminate flooring and go that way. Cheap enough that it doesn't matter too much how often it gets replaced, but durable enough that it won't have to get torn up every time someone spills a drink.

Or some other kind of modular flooring that can be repaired as necessary. At work, they have carpet tiles that are particularly good at this. Not sure how it would look in a residence though.
posted by gjc at 7:50 PM on April 17, 2013

Check out Home Depot or Lowes or something. They've got a wide variety of flooring options, at a wide variety of price points, all of which they'll install for reasonable prices. Right now I'm looking at a promotion where laminate flooring is $0.79/sq. ft for the material plus $1.99/sq. ft. OR a $497 flat fee for the install. There will be some extras there, and that doesn't include tearing out the old floors, but even with that you're looking at, what, $2,000 or so?

Carpet isn't going to be substantially cheaper, and for my money, hard floors are where it's at.
posted by valkyryn at 7:54 PM on April 17, 2013

Response by poster: If I were a landlord, I'd learn how to install laminate flooring and go that way.

Well, the main difficulty being that he no longer lives in the United States and the people who help him manage the house aren't necessarily available for long repairs.

Which is also why he can't necessarily pop into a nearby home supply store and check out what they have. He needs to be able to instruct other people "get material X in price range Y".
posted by flibbertigibbet at 7:56 PM on April 17, 2013

Laminate is maybe not the best option for his needs. It is very sensitive to water for instance. ours was high end and a piece still swelled and buckled because we weren't careful enough when watering potted plants. so it's also no good in kitchens and bathrooms and maybe not great in generally humid climates. At least hard wood can be refinished.
posted by lollusc at 10:59 PM on April 17, 2013

Laminate‘s great... well, until it gets wet, that is. It installs super easy, handles routine wear and tear very well, and is quite affordable. But if it gets wet, then it swells and buckles, and has to be torn up and replaced. So definitely contraindicated for kitchens and bathrooms, but fine for living rooms and the like.

For kitchens and bathrooms, if I were looking to put in something affordable and attractive, I‘d go with 12“X12“ self-adhesive vinyl tiles...
posted by Jughead at 11:47 PM on April 17, 2013

Oh, and laminate does handle humidity well... it‘s when it gets soaked that you run into trouble...
posted by Jughead at 11:50 PM on April 17, 2013

"get material X in price range Y".

You can basically do that at one of these home supply stores, and the fact that they'll give you on-the-spot installation quotes makes this a lot simpler than trying to bring in a contractor. Give 'em a budget, give 'em a type of material, tell 'em to go to Home Depot, and it should be pretty much okay. And he can even do research ahead of time on the website to get an idea of what's available.

definitely contraindicated for kitchens and bathrooms

That isn't true anymore. Earlier laminates had this problem, but more recent ones--and here we're talking the last decade--don't have this problem. The biggest issue here is water getting between the cracks, as it can be hard to get out. But you'd face the same problem with any hard flooring, so that's not unique.

Now granted, if you let standing water accumulate for a few weeks, you may run into a problem. But again, that'd probably be true no matter what kind of flooring you have. Water is not good for houses.
posted by valkyryn at 3:59 AM on April 18, 2013

The house is in Florida. Most houses in Florida are built on concrete slabs. Is his, or does it have a crawl space underneath? Does it have a basement- even more rare in Florida?

Without knowing the answers to these questions I think it's unwise to make recommendations.
posted by mareli at 5:35 AM on April 18, 2013

I'd suggest he look at these wood-look self-adhesive vinyl planks. They're easy to install (peel & stick, cut with scissors if you need to adjust the length). I put them in 3 rooms of the house we're renting & after nearly 2 years they still look new, unlike the 12x12 peel-and-stick tiles I put in the kitchen, which have large white spots where the top layer has torn & peeled off. They are waterproof & have not gotten a single scratch from our large, hyper dog and 2 active kids.
posted by belladonna at 5:54 AM on April 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Goodness, please keep away from the vinyl.
Linoleum is a healthy and very durable material if he can get renters to use suds to wash it instead of solvent-based washes. A linoleum floor, properly treated, should last 20 years.
Carpet can't last very long, and should be vacuumed daily, but wool-synthetic blends look nice for 5-10 years.
Laminate can work very well, if properly laid, and is more durable than carpet. I wouldn't use it in a kitchen, and my own landlord forbids it in kitchens, but if the renters don't cook a lot, it will be just fine (depends on the size and style of the house).
In my view, it's worth it to get a professional flooring company to do it, and get a guarantee in the contract, for at least five years.
posted by mumimor at 10:26 AM on April 18, 2013

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