Rental Property Carpet vs Laminate

Rental Property Carpet v Laminate ?

Stewart Groom Carpets and Flooring have been supplying and fitting carpets and laminates to landlords in the Rugby, Leicestershire and Northampton areas for over 20 years.  Since laminate became available in the 90’s, it has always been a popular choice with landlords, but is it the right choice, in a rental property carpet v laminate, lets review the strengths and weaknesses.

The flooring in a rental property has a big influence on the look and feel of the property and getting the right flooring can make a big difference to the rentability of a property.  For the bathrooms, cloakrooms and kitchens I would always recommend vinyl flooring.  It is easy to clean, tough taking all the knocks and water spillage a tenant can throw at it.

For the other rooms the choice is carpet or laminate but which is best.  There is no right answer for all properties as carpets and laminates all have their own strengths and weaknesses and you need to make the judgement based on each property.   The following table summarises the strengths and weaknesses of carpets and laminates in respect to the following factors fitting costs; sound insulation ; ease of cleaning ; durability and price.

Durability of  Carpets v Laminates

The flooring you put in a rental property is going to be one of the most expensive items so you need to make sure it lasts as long as possible.  Carpets come in a wide range of qualities and in general the cheapest carpets made of synthetic fibres are very tough, even if they do look horrible.  If you decide on carpet you can strick a balance between toughness and look.   In rental properties the biggest damage to carpets from spillages and iron burns.  Tenants seem to do all their ironing on the floor!

Cheap laminates will not last, the top layer will get chipped by things dropped on it or even during the fitting, so if you want laminate do not pick the cheapest one.  The other major factor affecting laminates is water damage, and even the smallest amount of water can cause damage.

The other reason people recommend laminate is in respect to repairing boards.  Laminate companies often say it is easy to change a board.  It is if the board is at the edge of the room, if the repair is in the middle of the room all the boards will have to be taken up and refitted.  This also assumes you  either know what the board is or you have some spares.  If you do have spare boards, they must be kept in a dry environment.  Boards kept in a cold damp shed or garage will be useless.  So in practice if a board is damaged it will be cheaper to have a new carpet fitted.

Cleaning Carpets v Laminates 

Both carpets and laminates need regular maintenance by vacuuming.  The small particles of grit and dust damage the fibres of carpets and scratch the wear layer of laminates.  In addition to vacuuming laminates also need regular washing with a damp mop.  Laminates hate water and cleaning a laminate with a mop that is too wet will damage the laminate.  Spillages not mopped up, leaking radiators, leaking kitchen appliances or washing with a wet mop can all damage a laminate floor.

It is easier to clear up spillages on laminate than carpet but if water based spillages are not cleaned quickly again they will damage the laminate.  Spillages on carpets are harder to clean and odours may be retained in the carpet.

Overall as long as tenants do regular vacuuming, mop up spills promptly and do not use too much water to wash the floor, then laminate is a better choice, providing you choose the right quality in the first place.

I would also recommend that you fit a doormat at all entrances to your rental property.  Even if you can’t train the tenants to wipe their feet, just walking over the mat will remove the worst from their shoes.

Sound Insulation  

You only need to consider sound insulation if your property is a flat, appartment or a house with thin party walls.  In this case you want to minimise problems of noise with the neighbours. Carpets are naturally quiet, whereas laminates are noisy.  Unless you are going to fit an accoustic underlay, or there is sound proofing already in the property I would recommend carpets.

Fitting Costs of Carpet v Laminate 

Carpets are much quicker to fit than laminates, professional carpet fitters can fit a small house in carpets in a day.  I would not recommend that you fit your own carpets.

Laminates take much more time to fit, because planks have to be cut to size around the edge of the room, new skirting boards or a beading needs to be fitted and door frames need to be undercut so the laminate can be slid underneath.   An experienced laminate fitter would take at least a couple of days to do a small house.  Of course you could choose to fit the laminate yourself, but I would not recommend this in a top end property as in general DIY laminate fitting in my experience looks DIY.

Price Carpet v Laminate 

Both laminates and carpets come in a wide range of qualities and prices.  However whereas you could use a cheap carpet in a rental property you cannot use a cheap laminate anywhere.   Cheap laminate boards will chip during fitting (even if you hire a professional laminate fitter) and the base board of the laminate is likely to be chipboard, which is prone to warping even without any water damage.  Overall carpet will work out cheaper.

Overall my personal preference for most living and bedrooms in a rental property is carpet in most rooms except the hallway.


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