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Rent and ROI: Is It Worth the Cost to Install Hardwood Floors at a Rental Property?

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Forty-three million housing units in the U.S. are occupied by renters.

If you’re in charge of some of those rental properties, you’re probably always thinking about how to improve your properties in ways that benefit both you and the tenants. Maintaining rental properties well includes keeping the spaces up to date and attractive.

The floor makes a huge difference in how appealing your units look. But is the cost to install hardwood floors worth the results? In this guide, we’ll take a close look at the ROI of hardwood floors. Keep reading to find out if this update is worthwhile!

What’s the Cost to Install Hardwood Floors?

First, let’s get an idea of what you might actually be spending to install hardwood floors to your home.

The exact cost depends on the kind of wood you choose. Softwoods like pine can run as low as a dollar per square foot. But a high-quality or exotic hardwood like mahogany might cost you up to $15 for a square foot.

Of course, you’ll also need to pay for the labor of installation and removing the old flooring, not just the materials themselves. This cost depends in part on your location, so it’s a good idea to contact local flooring companies and get an estimate.

Pros of Hardwood Floors

Although wood floors cost more than many other materials, are they worth it? Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of having hardwood floors in your rental units.

1. Easy to Maintain

Hardwood floors hold up well to years of use, which is ideal if you’re renting the tenants. You won’t be there to make sure your renters treat their floors well, so one of the best things you can do is install floors that aren’t easy to damage.

If you need to, you can get the floors sanded and refinished between tenants, extending the life of hardwood floors that have been scratched or otherwise damaged. Read more here about how to maintain hardwood floors.

Your tenants will also like the easy maintenance of hardwood. Instead of paying for services like carpet cleaning, they can easily sweep and mop the floors as needed.

2. Visual Appeal

If you rent to tenants in a competitive area, the visual appeal of your units matter. Nice-looking hardwood floors will help the renters you want decide to choose you over the competition.

Wood floors look good, and feel good to walk on. They have an immediate visual and tactile appeal whether you’re showing a furnished or unfurnished apartment. This helps your rental units stay more competitive.

3. Unseen Benefits

Other benefits of hardwood floors aren’t so easy to see, but they’re still important.

Unlike carpet, hardwood doesn’t trap particles from the air, so it actually can improve the air quality indoors. People who have allergies or other air quality sensitivities will be able to rent in a unit with hardwood floors.

This flooring material also offers better acoustics in an apartment. Sound won’t bounce off it or vibrate against it, so you’ll get less noise-related complaints in your units.

4. Add Value

These benefits also mean you might be able to charge more for a unit with hardwood floors.

You might want to do some calculations here. Figure out about how much you would pay for hardwood floors, and then how much you might raise the rent once they’re installed. Using those numbers, how long will it take for the hardwood floors to pay for themselves? The answer might be sooner than you think.

5. Rent Faster

Adding hardwood floors can also help you rent out units faster, so they don’t sit empty for so long. Even if you raise the prices, people will be willing to pay more for a space that looks like the home they want to live in. If you’ve been having trouble keeping your units filled, hardwood floors might be just what you need.

6. Variety of Styles

You can choose from lots of different hardwood floor types to get the look you want. Since hardwood goes with all decorating tastes, it won’t be a turn-off to renters with specific decorating styles.

Cons of Hardwood Floors

Now, let’s take a look at some of the potential drawbacks of adding hardwood floors to your units.

1. Expensive

First, you will need to think about the up-front cost of installation. Can you realistically afford it?

Also, the expense won’t be worth it if you aren’t going to charge rent prices to compensate for the expense. If you live in an area with low rents, it may not be worth it to add hardwood floors. If you can’t raise rent prices, you can’t recoup the cost anytime soon.

2. Cold

Hardwood floors can get cold, and they don’t help trap heat in a room as well as carpets do. In the dead of winter, people may not enjoy hardwood floors as much as they did during summer.

3. Shows Damage Over Time

Although most hardwood flooring is quite durable, it’s still prone to damage, especially as time goes on.

The surface can get scratched by pet claws, or dented if something gets dropped. In highly trafficked areas, like the kitchen, the signs of wear will start to show faster.

It’s possible to fix many signs of damage by refinishing the floors, but that’s an added cost you’ll also need to factor in.

Are Hardwood Floors the Right Choice?

The cost to install hardwood floors is worth it for some property owners, but it depends on a lot of different factors.

You’ll need to consider how much you can afford to invest in the space, versus how much you can expect to make from it. You’ll also need to think about your renters — are they likely to value hardwood floors, or do the people in your area tend to have different priorities?

In addition to installing wood floors, there are lots of other ways to improve your rental units. Take a look at our favorite kitchen upgrade ideas!

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