Carpet Vs Laminate Flooring In Rental Properties – Which?

Carpet Vs Laminate Flooring In Rental Properties

Most landlords have to endure the painstaking process of renovating an/or decorating their rental property at one point or another. Unfortunately, it’s often after a dirt-bag tenant has been escorted off the premises by a burly henchman that’s been summoned by the courts.

Once the aftermath of the tenants occupancy is assessed, from my experience, carpets are one of the most glaringly frightening sights, and that’s usually because they’re covered in urine and kebab juice.

So then the question emerges, carpet or laminate flooring, and which is the most practical choice for rental properties?

Laminate flooring has become the cornerstone of modern style for many residents; they’re an extremely demanded commodity. It’s not surprising- they’re cost-effective, they’re easy to maintain, and they have the potential to make an ordinary room standout with a bit of contemporary style. But a carpet looks cleaner, feels much more homely and is so much kinder to bear feet.

Difference between real hardwood flooring and laminate

Firstly, I think it’s important to distinguish the difference between hardwood flooring and laminate flooring. A lot of people don’t seem to appreciate the difference. In fact, many people think they’re the same thing. But I assure you, if your diminished vision and/or inexperience can’t spot the difference, the price difference between the two products will make it transparent how world’s apart they truly are.

Essentially, hardwood flooring is the Rolls-Royce, while laminate flooring would be lucky to be metaphorically compared to a Proton. Granted, that holds most true when boiled down to the technicalities, because these days laminate flooring often gets confused with hardwood flooring, which says a lot about how far the inferior, ugly sister has come. Of course, in both cases, once you switch the spotlights on, get down on your knees and examine the product, it’s clear what you’ve settled for.

hardwood flooring
Hardwood flooring
Solid hardwood floors are made of planks milled from a single piece of timber. Simply, they’re panels of real wood, designed to be used as flooring. Pretty straight forward and self-explanatory.

laminate flooring
Laminate flooring
Laminate flooring is made to look just like traditional hardwood flooring but is, in fact, a thin layer of decor paper placed under a tough-as-nails protective film. Decor paper is actually a photographic image of a certain type of wood. This picture is then glued and pressed to a high-density backing board. Despite appearances there is no real wood in a laminate board at all.

For the average landlord, which is providing a tenancy in a low-to-mid range property, the debate should always be, “carpet or laminate?”, and that’s precisely why I’m restricting the battle between those two types of flooring. Hardwood flooring should not be spared on anything short of top-tier properties, demanding prices that will reduce a blue-collar worker into tears. For example, if your property is achieving £200 per month, then you’re going to get £200 pcm tenants- they won’t be expecting much in terms of decor, and they definitely won’t be expecting high-end fittings. But more importantly, hardwood flooring is an investment you’ll NEVER get a return on. Don’t bother.

However, before even putting yourself through the debate and splashing out on new carpets or laminate flooring, it might be worth checking underneath the existing rags. You might be surprised, there could already be quality flooring sleeping, untouched. Hardwood flooring only recently became “trendy” in the last decade, before that, homeowners were selling their kidneys to fund carpets so they could cover them up. It’s amusing how fashion trends swing around.

If lady luck is on your side (which it probably won’t be, but you never know), you may find a sleeping beauty that will require the kiss of life, in the form of sanding paper and a lick of varnish.

Carpet or Laminate flooring?

So… onto the crux of the matter.

From my experience, laminate flooring is the better option over carpet in rental properties, and here’s my reasoning…

  • Laminate flooring is much more durable, which means it can withstand a lot more abuse than carpets. After a while, carpet will start to fray and show obvious signs of wear. It’s important to note, landlords cannot get compensation for fair wear and tear, and distressed carpets usually fall into that category.
  • By nature, carpets are much more prone to attracting and clinging onto dirt, which means they get dirty quickly and need to be cleaned regularly. They require much more attention and maintenance.
  • Laminate flooring is easy to clean, the process only requires a very moderately damp cloth and a sweep. For a thorough carpet clean, a specialist vacuum and shampoo is required, and they can often be expensive. Or at least more expensive than a bit of cloth and a sweeper.
  • We all know from experience that when you start rearranging furniture in a room fitted with carpet, you start surfacing clean patches of carpet that was once protected by furniture. That’s when you’re left feeling sickened by how you’ve been living like a filthy animal, and didn’t even know it. It’s truly an awful moment, and brings you back to reality. That’s going to happen every time a tenant vacates with all his furniture. Try explaining that mess during a viewing to your new prospective tenants. It just doesn’t look good, and I’ve been in cases where tenants have used that as a bargaining tool.

    However, with laminate flooring, that doesn’t happen.

  • It’s a lot cheaper to repair laminate flooring. Typically, when carpet has been damaged, the entire room needs re-carpeting to resolve the problem, or at least a large portion of the area, unless you’re happy with the patchy-quilt look. But rest assured, even if you are content, your tenants won’t be. However, the beauty of laminate flooring is that it’s laid down in panels that clip together like a jigsaw, which means you only have to replace the panels that are damaged, and not the entire lot.
  • In reality, the argument can be had that laminate flooring can be compared to premium carpets that are designed to withstand heavy treading and toxic carpet shampoos. While that is true (arguably), carpet of that quality is much more expensive per square foot than laminate flooring. But also, you’re still left with the problem mentioned in the above point.

So, there are my arguments for being pro laminate flooring over carpet. Although, I still do believe carpet has its merits, and I wouldn’t look-down on anyone swaying towards that direction. If you do go down the carpet route, avoid light colours. It’s extremely difficult to keep light carpets clean, and generally speaking, it’s work that most tenants won’t have any interest in participating in. Ultimately, applying a light colour palette is a sure-fire way to exhaust your funds on frequent replacements of carpet. I find that mid-toned browns and greys are most practical/durable. They don’t cast too much of a shadow (especially in rooms with access to natural lighting) and they’re neutral so they go with most other colours.

What are your thoughts? Do you have anymore arguments for being pro laminate that I can throw onto the list?

25 Join the Conversation...

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karen fraleigh 8th April, 2009 @ 20:38

Thank you. We are building a new home and having a tough time deciding carpet or wooden floors. I want wooden floors and my husband wants carpeting. Maybe we will have to go half and half.
Thank you,
Karen J. Fraleigh

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Jools 9th April, 2009 @ 11:24

Hi karen,

My thoughts - if you are renting the property I would go for laminate in th epublic areas as its easy to clean and you wont get smelly orrible carpets that need to be replaced/cleand at changeover. Get a decent underlay but get it from a flooring trade company. You will pay about £30 for a large roll and will usually have to pay a bit extra for fitting but you will save loads. Carpet fitters normally charge £30 or so extra for stairs and anywhere from £2.50 upward a square metre. Dont go to Carpet world etc - find yourself a descent independent - their fitters will normally have some underlay left over from the 'Carpet world' (other carpet suppliers are available) jobs so you may get it cheaper, and you can negotiate a reasonable deal. I use a basic £5.99 sq m bleach cleanable carpet for my rentals.

As for laminate I use a plastic laminate in my properties that is 100% waterproof, heel resistant, fag resistant etc. If you drop water on it you can just mop it up and it does not expand or 'blow' as is usual with wood laminate. £ for £ a bit more expensive than wood but far less issues with looking after it. Comes in a variety of styles and look great when down. Will dig out the name of the product and post here.


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Krystal 1st August, 2010 @ 18:29

My grandparents own their own hardwood business, so I had hardwood Floors in my home growing up. Now that I am an adult, I've only lived in apartments with carpet. I HAVE LEARNED TO HATE CARPET!!! If you have allergies, pets, children, or as clumsy as I am, carpet is not your friend. Hardwood floors can be put through things you wouldn't believe. On average people have to replace carpet every few years, hardwood floors lasts decades. They add value to your home and look beautiful when you have guest. I choose hardwood floors over carpet anyday.

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Sean 24th August, 2010 @ 15:00

There is no doubt that laminate flooring is one of the best options for rented property.

I have a couple of properties rented out and I used to fit them out with carpet as I own a local store.

But every few years, tenants seem to destroy the carpet.

Now I lay laminate flooring in all areas apart from the bathroom, kitchen and of course stairs. As indeed do most of my landlord customers.

However I have real wood at home, but use Karndean Flooring in some areas.


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jason 31st January, 2011 @ 00:10

Jools, Sean very useful info.

For a rental house you think carpet best for bedrooms or would laminate be ok with rugs. What about the landing (nice to walk to the bathroom if carpet) and what about the bathroom

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Carpets for Less 20th April, 2011 @ 03:45

It all depends on your own personal preference and go with what you think will look nice in the room be most practical. Laminate is obviously easier to clean, so if it's a room with a lot of foot traffic rather choose this. Laminate is still a warm choice for living rooms and even bedrooms, and it's easy to put a nice throw rug down. But if you're looking for a really warm, soft, inviting feel to the room, choose carpet.

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Best timber flooring 12th September, 2011 @ 07:55

The old debate about whether it is better to have a carpet or use wood flooring is still around, but quite often the need for a “wow” factor in any room more often than not can be the major factor when it comes to decided, rather than if it can save you any money on your monthly heating bill. These days carpet are become increasingly out dated with more and more home owners choosing solid wood flooring, this is due to the increasing variety on the market to choose from. Wood flooring can also be bought in a variety of colours, this can add warmth and texture to your room, with the flooring quality getting better over time it also adds character and value to your home.

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Jeremy 30th December, 2011 @ 18:43

Just so you guys can get a random sample from one landlord.

In victorian properties, I tend to stip back to a wooden floor for most accommodation rooms. Reclaimation yards are great if you've got a couple of spoiled boards. I put in rugs with good quality underlay, if the tenants don't have their own rugs to bring. Kitchen will be tiles or vinyl. Bathroom vinyl.

In newer properties I tend to go for carpets with good underlay except in bathroom and kitchen where it's something hard like vinyl or tiles.

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carpet cleaning dublin 30th December, 2011 @ 19:29

Thanks !. It was indeed definitely worth the read.

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Bruce Ungersbock 13th August, 2013 @ 07:17

Wooden flooring is the way to go. Not only doest it add value to the property but its easy to clean and looks amazing

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Abigail 25th November, 2013 @ 07:23

"Before I go laminate, I would consider engineered flooring. Engineered flooring has a real hardwood layer on top, therefore it looks like a real hardwood floor (because it is wood) some engineered flooring can also be sanded just like a solid hardwood floor, but the top (wear layer) should be at least 3MM thick, but not as many times. The top wear layer range anywhere from 1.8MM to 4MM depending on the manufacturer, of course the thicker the wear layer the better the floor. And it is definitely better than carpet and laminate."

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Constance 29th December, 2013 @ 03:12

Why on EARTH is carpet better than laminate flooring? Seriously? How? You proclaim this and fail to elaborate. Because of looks? I'm sorry, but you are wrong. As a long-time renter, I will take that "downer" laminate over your nasty carpet. I can easily believe that this was written by a landlord.

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Atlanta 16th January, 2014 @ 17:13

With people being more sensitive to allergies, I believe laminate floors are a must. I was diagnosed with dust allergy 5 years ago and being in allergy shoots for 2 years now. However with the blood coming through my noise all the time, I don't think getting better. Last week my doctor told me I should
move to a enviroment free of carpets, especially in the bedroom. So despite I got a good relationship with my LL and love the place, I will move. I offered to the LL and a razonable option to swaft from carpet to laminate floor, but they just say not. But Think your health is on top of all.

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Jack Phillsen 9th April, 2014 @ 09:54

More and more people are certainly sensitive to dust allergies and such, but I think getting rid of carpet isn't always the best option, in my case i just got my carpeted staircase renovated to one with floating steps done by eedesign. This because my son has a slight dust allergy. I prefer hardwood flooring for living rooms etc. I mean you can always put a carpet down right?

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Asthmatic, with Cats 13th June, 2014 @ 12:47

Definitely my vote goes towards laminated flooring. As the writer of this article estates, there is simply no point in using real wood in a tenanted property unless we are talking of the very top end of the market.

Being European, I completely and absolute dislike carpets, they are a break dealer for me. They look like giant dirt trapper mats, they are completely unpractical to keep looking nice for working people or students who simply cannot bother with them, any family with children will destroy them... but still for some reason most Landlords insist in keeping these unpractical anti-hygienic things. Harder to keep in good condition in light colours, and very dim and even uglier in dark ones.

Medium coloured laminate flooring opens up the space, they look clean, modern and go with absolutely everything. You can move furniture around easily and when your Tenants move they furniture out you won't have those ugly patches to show how dirty the carpet really is.

You want something practical that everybody will be happy with? Simply put laminate flooring. If people really want something soft under their feet they can use their own rugs and get their food and dirt stains on them without damage to your property.

Also you have the market of people with allergies, asthma and people with small pets, who represent a growing market happy to stay for long term in a property with laminated floors without giving too much trouble to their Landlords, as they know that for some reason too many British Landlords still favour old dingy carpets and it will be difficult to find another house without them.

Yes, upstairs you need to use thick fibreboard underlay, still very cheap and same or even better for noise than carpets. Shoes left at the entrance, no problem.

Simply a winner, both for Landlords and Tenants, and you get the full market happy with them. Yes, they might want to put their own rugs... but your floorings won't be the stained ugly ones if they are not careful.

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Vik 18th June, 2014 @ 01:21

Please could you suggest where I might buy laminate flooring from for cheap? Are there any websites that are particularly good. Then I can get some person to just fit them in. I was also thinking.. what about buying from Europe. anybody have any experience with this. I mean, it's all the same shit everywhere right, so, why not get Romanian or Slovakian laminate flooring if it is cheaper (plus postage etc obvs).. any ideas? Tx

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Asthmatic, with Cats 29th June, 2014 @ 21:48

I am both a Landlord and a Tenant, so I know what is easier from both parts. Definitely laminate.

Ikea laminate, £7 coupled with their underlay is a great cheap option. You can use the thicker underlay that is best upstairs for noise reduction and downstairs for thermal insulation, remember you need a plastic sheet if directly on concrete floor downstairs. almost 7 years on, absolutely no issue, just as new.

Or you can also look for deals on more expensive laminate that is for clearance. I have renovated a couple houses on the cheap with fantastic expensive materials simply by choosing discontinued lines.

I don't think that for laminate you should look abroad, you might find something cheaper and worthy for real wood maybe, but decent laminate is already cheap here and adding delivery costs might be too expensive.

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Vikram the Vampire 30th June, 2014 @ 13:17

thank you asthmatic with cats. Next stop ikea.

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Daisy 6th January, 2015 @ 04:04

Kinder to bear feet, hehehe this made me giggle :D

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Tina 3rd March, 2015 @ 13:59

Another newer option is click luxury vinyl tile. Same sort of thing as Karndean/Amtico, but in tongue & groove planks/tiles like laminate, which are installed just the same way - no glueing down! Fully waterproof, and quieter and warmer than laminate. More expensive than laminate but cheaper than the traditional LVT - cheapest I've found is by Heuga (best known for carpet tiles).

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wooden bowl 19th March, 2015 @ 08:41

I like wood in kitchens, but the large black stone tiles look really nice too.

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John 27th December, 2016 @ 01:26

I live in a back2back house rented to rear rented at both sides all have wooden floors and the tenants have not got a clue when it comes to slippers or any thoughts for other residents clanking up and down all night and day so I have just installed surround sound onparty walls guess what they don't like it now but they going to have to get used to it or buy. Carpets

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rich 3rd June, 2017 @ 21:00

Cheap carpets can be replaced cheaply, not surprisingly. Laminate when damaged (as will spillages) can be a complete **** to fix. Often most of the floor has to come up including the edging and when putting it back down make sure you have plenty of spare because some planks will not click back in place well.

Regards toxic carpet cleaning chemicals, all carpets can withstand them with the right operator, especially cheap non wool carpets.

I am a flooring pro and a landlord. I can't pick for you but laminate is not the great solution it may seem.

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Jurate 26th October, 2019 @ 15:57

Even wood laminate flooring is more expensive but it is obviously more hygienic, easier to clean and longer remaining in good condition than carpet flooring. Laminate flooring after routine cleaning smells good while carpet flooring anyhow stinks unless to do professional cleaning often.
I do not think that landlords indeed save money putting carpet flooring. Since they get worn quite quickly needs to be changed more often so greedy always pays twice and the end.

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Linda 19th January, 2022 @ 17:46

Read all of this blog and my thoughts are you are really knowledgeable with this landlord stuff. I have 40 years experience and agree on everything you have written. Keep writing I love it.

















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