Best Flooring Options for Fix-and-Flips, Rentals, and Your Personal Home

Which flooring option is best for high traffic areas?

This is a popular home improvement question and a point of confusion for some. Turns out there’s good reason why.

The big box stores and flooring outlets have countless options available and an even larger spectrum of price ranges. With all these choices it’s difficult to cut through the noise and find out which delivers the best value for your project. Value being the most resilient flooring option at the price point that’s least likely to break your bank account.

But before cranking out the list, knowing which flooring style delivers the best value ultimately depends on your project and your renovation strategy. Check out this post for an in-depth look at renovation strategy.

You will lose your shirt if you ignore your renovation strategy. Installing high end marble flooring at $15 per square foot may be a smart strategy for your personal home if it gives you utility, but definitely an unwise choice for a rental property.

With this in mind here are the top 3 flooring options best for high traffic areas.

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  1. Rental (and most flips): Ceramic Tile

    Call me old-school but i’ve got a lot of love for ceramic tile. Ceramic tile is resilient, cost-effective and aesthetically pleasing. There’s no wonder this is among the most popular flooring option for house flippers and home renovators. You can find plenty of ceramic tile options that look good and can be purchased for under $1 per square foot. That’s a very reasonable price tag for a flooring option that can hold its own. I personally use ceramic tile in all of my rental properties and most flip properties. Yes, it does have the disadvantage of grout getting dirty or a tile crack here and there over time. That is what grout sealer and keeping a few extra boxes or tiles on hand is for! Vinyl planks are resilient which makes them a good option for long-term rental properties but they will run you closer to $3 per square foot as opposed to <$1 per square foot for ceramic.

  2. Flips and Rentals: (Second Runner Up): Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring

    Vinyl plank flooring has become a hit in many markets. No I’m not talking about the cheap grade linoleum glue down flooring. I’m talking about thick wood look vinyl planks. They are fashionable, durable, and easy to install. Their only downside is the higher price tag. You won’t be able to find good options for under $2.50 per sq. ft. unless you are shopping clearance religiously. Even then the chances of finding a large enough quantity of the same dye-lot is slim. Still though if you are handy and don’t mind putting in a bit or sweat equity, you could cut the labor cost and this makes vinyl planks a close runner-up to ceramic.

  3. The Homestead: Porcelain.

    Porcelain is more resilient than ceramic. It is also more expensive. One upside of porcelain is that it looks elegant and you have options to purchase tiles with rectified joints. Rectified joints give your floor a continuous “marble-look”. One reason house flippers almost never do rectified joints is that they’ll never see their money back. An installer will charge anywhere from $3 and upward per square ft to lay tile. That is almost triple the cost of installing normal tile joints. Do the math. That can get outrageous on a flip project. And it will hurt your feelings when an appraiser gives you the same value as (s)he did the neighbor next door with cheap ceramic. Only do porcelain with rectified joints if you get personal utility from having it. I personally love seeing it in my house but I would never put the money out in a project where I hope to see a return on my investment.

Example from my personal house. Notice how from afar it looks like the floor is continuous ? No huge grout lines.

Flooring Options I Wouldn’t Recommend

For long-term properties, wood and especially laminate floor are almost never a good option because they’re more likely to get damaged. They’re also expensive to install and the material price is ridiculous (for hardwood). Carpet forget it. It is cheaper in the short run but you’ll be replacing it with each new tenant. In the long run material, labor, and time costs are too high. The higher end flooring like travertine is too much maintenance and a heavy price tag. Travertine needs to be sealed often and is fragile.

Long story short: ceramic, porcelain, and luxury vinyl planks are the good stuff.

While there are many flooring options out there, these top 3 options offer the best balance of affordability, longevity, and desirability. These are the qualities that will keep your long-run costs down and your resale value high.