The best flooring for landlords and tenants

What is the best durable flooring for a rental property?

Damage to flooring is a common reason for claiming against the deposit at the end of the tenancy, so it’s worth thinking about the best flooring for a rental property before you rent it out. 

Making your rental property pay means keeping costs down as much as possible, without compromising on the quality of the tenants’ experience. If you spoil the aesthetics of your rental with cheap or inappropriate décor then you won’t achieve the rent you could be getting. On the other hand, tasteful and appropriate flooring can be an attractive draw for tenants.

Floor coverings are both essential and costly, so careful thought should go into choosing them. You’re looking to maximise the return on your investment by choosing the right floor coverings for the different rooms in your rental property, while making sure you’ve taken into account the long term durability and cost of maintaining the flooring.

It is a good idea when furnishing a rental property to choose neutral colours that anyone would be happy living with. But you also want long life from durable floor coverings that require minimum maintenance. And a third but by no means less important consideration is the ease of laying, taking up and replacing the flooring. The floor may need to be taken up if there are problems underneath, such as with heating pipes or electrical wiring. Some flooring systems, once taken up, cannot be replaced.

Any floor covering has a limited life before it becomes shabby and uninviting, but with a good quality commercial standard carpet or laminate wood flooring, you should be budgeting for around a ten year life, although this can vary considerably depending on the type of use.

In this article, we’ll look at everything landlords need to consider when choosing flooring for their rental properties. Here’s a handy summary of the contents so that you can jump to any section that’s of particular interest:

Protect your deposit today

If you have taken a cash deposit, you must protect it in a government authorised scheme within 30 calendar days

The cost of floor coverings

The old saying, ‘buy cheap buy twice’ applies here, although unless you are letting out a mansion with a rent value to match you can rule out the top end of the market in floor coverings. Commercial contract standard flooring as used in hotels and offices is very durable and cost effective while also being aesthetically pleasing.

If you have more than one rental then buying in bulk obviously reduces unit cost. If you want to save money, think about standardising the floor coverings throughout your portfolio so that you can negotiate the best possible prices. This also means that there’s less waste as leftovers and offcuts from one property may fit in another.

Clean, cosy and aesthetically pleasing flooring will enhance the rental value of your property and will attract the best quality tenants, so always budget for reasonable quality floor coverings at a price that means you can replace them when required.

Choosing flooring that is suited to the room’s use

Different flooring solutions will work best in different rooms. And different types of rental properties demand different types of flooring. For example, carpets would not be suitable for bathrooms, kitchens or anywhere there is likely to be a lot of moisture and water spills.

On the other hand, you need durable flooring solutions for high traffic zones such as common areas, hallways, entrance halls and stairways. This is especially true in multi-let properties. Whereas in lounges and living areas you will be looking to create warmth, with carpets or wood effect flooring and rugs.

Another consideration is pets. If you allow pets in the property, it’s important to be aware that pets create more wear and tear and, unfortunately, smells. Carpets can generally be deep cleaned unless they are urine soaked, in which case they will need to be replaced. Wood or wood effect flooring is more durable, but subject to scratching by pets. Vinyl and tiles tend to be more robust. You can read more about renting to tenants with pets in our article, Pet rent and pet deposits: A landlord’s guide to lets for pets

Durability and fair wear and tear in rental property flooring 

In general, flooring in a rental property gets more wear and tear than is the case in your own home, so durability is a major consideration. It will be less costly in the long run to pay that little bit more for better quality flooring than to have to replace it after every tenancy.

Opting for neutral and slightly darker shades for carpets means that stains won’t show up quite so easily. It’s almost inevitable that red wine and other difficult to remove substances will make their presence felt over time, and although you can sometimes cover them up with rugs, they will look more prominent on a light background such as a cream carpet.

Try to avoid falling into the trap of furnishing your rental as you would your own home – you are running a commercial business so keep costs and durability firmly in mind and avoid being swayed by your personal tastes. If you can do this while creating a homely and thoughtfully designed feel, you will greatly enhance your chances of the property letting quickly every time and keep your costs under control.


Suzy Hershman, Resolution Department Lead at mydeposits says:

“Generally landlords favour wooden or wood effect flooring for their durability and long life. But this varies considerably depending on the quality of the wood or laminate. Damage claims against deposits will usually be against a damaged area of the floor and will not extend to the whole floor, unless there is severe damage or contamination, for example by pet urine, so the ability to replace sections of a floor should be a consideration. The use of a UV light can be useful when assessing damage to a carpet. Fair wear and tear calculations take into account the age, quality of the product and estimated useful life when assessing what can be claimed for”.  

“Wood is usually not suitable for upper floors and in flats because of the impact of noise transmission to floors below, so carpeting is generally a better choice here”.

Flooring and landlord insurance – are landlords responsible for flooring?

As a landlord you are responsible for the floor coverings that you provide in your property. So, if there are undue wear or safety issues that are not caused by tenant neglect, then you are responsible for repairs or replacements.

On the other hand, if damage to floor coverings is caused by events such as flooding or internal water leaks, it may be possible to claim on your landlord’s insurance policy.

If the damage or undue wear is caused by tenant negligence, then a claim against the tenants’ deposit may be in order.

For both deposit and insurance claims, having comprehensive documentation and evidence is very important. The age of the floor covering, invoices showing the original cost and dated photographs of the damage, along with comprehensive check-in and check-out reports and inventory are all vital prerequisites to a successful insurance or warranty claim. Clarity around the condition of flooring in the property at the outset of a tenancy in the form of a robust inventory helps to safeguard the interests of both tenants and landlords. Even successful tenancies can end in a discussion over the condition of flooring and this is where check-in inventories, mid-term inspection reports and check-out reports will be the primary pieces of evidence for negotiating. Read more in our article, Inventories – the complete guide.

Steve Barnes, Head of Broking at Total Landlord Insurance advises that carpets and easily removable floors such as interlocking planks or tiles are classed as contents for insurance purposes and would not be covered by the buildings insurance or for accidental damage. Landlords therefore need to make sure their insurance is sufficient to cover this kind of flooring. More permanent flooring such as stuck down wood flooring and tiles would be considered to be part of the fixtures and fittings and therefore covered by buildings insurance.   

Protect your deposit today

If you have taken a cash deposit, you must protect it in a government authorised scheme within 30 calendar days

Carpets in a rental property

Carpets can create a luxurious, warm feeling, especially when combined with a good underlay, and they are generally the cheapest option when compared to other flooring solutions. In fact, a good underlay is more important than the carpet to give that luxury walk-on feel. Carpet tiles provide a very durable surface and individual tiles can be replaced when there are spills or damage, but for a real luxury feel you can’t beat a good carpet. 

Another advantage of carpets with a decent underlay is that they are good at sound-proofing, which is especially important in flats where people live below. There are now a range of acoustic underlay / under-board solutions on the market to combat the impact of sounds being transmitted to people living below. A good underlay will deaden some of the noise, but it will not perform like a soundproofing underlay. Carpet underlay is fitted to add comfort to carpets, allowing a more precise fit, and helps against heavy wear, but standard underlays won’t perform to anywhere near the level that specific soundproofing underlay and soundproofing mats will.

Carpets are usually the best flooring type for bedrooms, where foot traffic is normally much lighter than the lounge, stairs and hallways, and they contribute a cosy feel.

However, carpets are odour traps. They will trap any odours and allergens and this will be off-putting to prospective tenants. Pets and smokers will inevitably leave their trademark smells so bear this in mind.

Carpets are also more difficult to clean than solid floor coverings. They need regular hoovering, something that’s out of your control unless you provide a cleaner, and spills and cigarette burns are another argument in favour of opting for easily replaced carpet tiles or other flooring options like vinyl.

Bathroom flooring in rental properties

Carpets are definitely not the best choice for a bathroom – they would be a recipe for disaster in a flat if there are people living below as leaks are almost inevitable. Overflowing bath tubs and leaking pipework would mean flooding below. What’s more, a combination of humidity, moisture and water spills will make sure the bathroom carpet has a short life as carpets hold water, which leads to damp and potentially structural damage. Carpets in bathrooms can even be a potential deal-breaker for today’s tenants, who are likely to see them as high maintenance and unhygienic. 

Ideally a bathroom should be tiled or have a waterproof laminate floor sealed at the walls so that floors don’t leak. A family bathroom used by young children will require a floor that is able to withstand frequent splashes and pools of water during bath time, and will also need to be slip resistant.

There are a myriad of modern floor coverings to choose from for a modern bathroom, from rubber and vinyl, which are hard wearing and withstand water well, to porcelain and ceramic tiles (often the default choice), luxury vinyl tiles, stone, polished concrete and engineered wood flooring.

But always bear in mind that all important balance between cost, durability, neutral colours and style in a rental bathroom. 

Kitchen flooring in rental properties

Similar to bathrooms, a carpet in a kitchen is a no no.

The kitchen is often a focal point for potential tenants, and many kitchens double up as a living space, so both functionality and appearance are important. You need to find a practical kitchen flooring that looks great and lasts for years, at the right price.

Kitchen floors get a lot of use and abuse. They need to be easy to clean, but also stain-resistant, stylish and comfortable to walk on. Depending on the surface they are laid on, kitchen floors must work with different surfaces or floor constructions, and some need to be compatible with underfloor heating. All kitchen flooring should last for many years without costing the earth, as replacing a floor is never cheap.

Fortunately, with modern materials there’s a huge choice of kitchen flooring on offer. Modern materials can give the look of timber or stone with the affordability of laminate or the durability of porcelain. If you’re keen to keep maintenance and costs to a minimum, luxury vinyl tiles might fit the bill. Otherwise, the products available for kitchens are similar to those listed above for bathrooms.

This includes natural stone, such as limestone, granite and slate – all popular but more expensive choices. Finishes can be rough for a more aged, antique look, honed, for a modern matt surface or polished for a light-reflecting shine. Some stones are more hard wearing than others, so take expert advice, as with all your floor coverings, from an installer you trust.

Stone floors can be damaged by acidic spills, such as fizzy drinks, so they will need to be sealed initially then resealed on a regular basis to protect their surface, so are perhaps not the best flooring for a rented property. On the other hand, some stone or tile floors are extremely durable and long lasting, although they can be cold in winter unless there is underfloor heating.

Timber flooring in rental properties

Solid wood in the working areas, or where pets live, can shift, warp with humidity and scratch. Wood blocks, such as parquet, are more stable but still need careful maintenance, cleaning and sealing and they are initially quite expensive.

Engineered boards are a better solution. They are made from plywood, which gives a solid rigid core and resists warping, while being covered with a layer of real wood on top. They are also compatible with underfloor heating.

Cork and bamboo are other wood options and when sealed properly they are naturally bacteria-resistant and eco-friendly. But like all woods they are also easily damaged by dropped objects and tend not to have the longest life. Most wood floors can be repaired and refinished, but they do need regular maintenance, with most needing oiling and waxing on a regular basis, meaning they are less suited to rentals.

Vinyl Flooring in rental properties

Vinyl has improved a great deal since its early days and the new generation of vinyl is a durable and practical solution for the kitchen. Luxury vinyl tiles – as opposed to the original sheet vinyl on a roll – are easy to clean, water-resistant and comfortably soft and warm underfoot.

In many cases vinyl can be laid straight onto an existing floor and can replicate wood, tile or stone with a digital print and imitated grout lines. However, you need a good-quality version with a thick wear layer, otherwise you’ll get wear and scratches which will need replacing in no time.

Luxury vinyl tiles and planks are now available in very natural looking imitative options: stone, ceramic, wood or laminate floors with a multitude of benefits which make them an ideal flooring system for rental homes.

Luxury vinyl flooring is now a popular choice in both commercial and residential flooring, and is a great improvement on the cheap vinyl which was common in the past. It is more expensive than carpeting but has very high levels of wear resistance and durability, which means it can withstand heavy wear and tear. Some systems offer easily replaceable tiles or planks, but not all work this way, so check before you buy.

Luxury vinyl tiles now offer an authentic looking floor without many of the disadvantages of natural products like stone, wood, and tiles.

Laminate flooring in rental properties

Laminate flooring is made with a melamine back, a high density fibreboard core and a high-resolution image to replicate wood, stone or tiles. There is a transparent wear layer to protect the surface and with moderately hard use laminate flooring can last a long time. It is reasonably resistant to scuffs and scratches, but cannot be repaired.

Removing individual planks can be problematic, and some cannot be reused once taken up. Bear this in mind if there are any underground services such as water pipes or electrical cables below which may necessitate removal, as this is a major job.

Budget laminate versions will not be hard wearing or water resistant for a kitchen, so you need to go for quality and that means a higher price. Otherwise, vinyl is a relatively affordable flooring option that won’t stain and won’t need sealing or waxing. Most will need under-boarding and always check for compatibility if you have underfloor heating.

Tiled flooring in rental properties

Ceramic, porcelain, terracotta or slate tiles are another popular option in a rental property. Slate and porcelain are harder wearing, meaning they are low maintenance, hygienic, easy to clean, and incredibly durable. They also work with underfloor heating, although they may be rather cold without it, but they are more expensive and therefore should be considered as a longer term flooring option.

The more affordable ceramic or terracotta tiles have similar qualities but can form cracks, and they will chip more than porcelain, although terracotta does not show a different white base colour when it cracks as it’s a solid material.

Lino or rubber flooring in rental properties

Lino, otherwise known as linoleum, is a floor covering made from materials such as solidified linseed oil (linoxyn), pine resin, ground cork dust, sawdust, and mineral fillers such as calcium carbonate. It usually has a burlap or canvas backing and pigments are often added to the materials to create the desired colour finish.

The best linoleum floors, known as “inlaid”, are very durable while cheaper patterned linoleum come in different grades or gauges, and are printed with thinner layers which are more prone to wear and tear. High-quality linoleum is flexible and can be used in buildings where a more rigid material (such as ceramic tile) would crack.

Linoleum is durable, warm underfoot and hygienic, but it needs to be sealed once it’s laid. On the plus side, it’s easy to clean and compatible with underfloor heating. However, it can fade over time and the colours get a yellowish tinge.

Rubber tiles or sheets are equally comfortable underfoot. They are robust and water resistant but can be slippery. Not all of them are suitable for underfloor heating, and they can develop dents over time and need a smooth subfloor if they are to stay flat.

Smooth concrete and resin flooring in rental properties

Poured concrete floors have a flat, smooth and seamless finish but installation requires specialist equipment. A concrete floor must be sealed after setting to prevent dust and to make it water and stain resistant. Concrete is hard wearing, long lasting and compatible with underfloor heating.

Resin material flooring is warm underfoot, waterproof, easy to clean and underfloor heating compatible. Again, this type of flooring needs to be sealed with a specialist product to protect it from scratches and stains. These floors can be refurbished by sanding and re-sealing.

Protect your deposit today

If you have taken a cash deposit, you must protect it in a government authorised scheme within 30 calendar days

Choosing the right flooring solution for a rental property

Think carefully about which flooring options to go for in each room of your rental property. You will need to consider the likely level of wear and tear based on the area within the property, as well as the type of tenants you are targeting, the duration of the tenancy and whether you will allow pets. Before you purchase, do your research and find a supplier that you can trust to give you the best unbiased advice. Try to achieve the right balance between cost, durability and aesthetic appeal. 

When it comes to deposit deductions, remember that the key question is always, what part of any deterioration would have happened naturally and is considered ‘reasonable’? Or is the damage ‘unreasonable’ if it’s in excess of what is normal use, considering all the circumstances. All flooring will need to be replaced or renewed at some point, and you need to budget for replacement or refurbishment over time if your property is to retain its appeal – flooring does not last forever. But there is much you can do as a landlord to prolong the life of your flooring and avoid deposit issues by following the advice in this article. You can also read more about fair wear and tear in our guide,  fair wear and tear and how it is applied. And if you are thinking about whether to propose costs, our wear and tear checklist contains the questions that should be asked so that a reasonable cost can be calculated.