As an interior designer, I’m no stranger to working with investors on selecting the hard finishes for their investment properties. Selecting finishes for an investment property is different from selecting finishes for your own home for many reasons.
I always advise my investor clients to select the hardest wearing materials and design the property’s interior based on higher levels of abuse than if it were their own home. Rental properties are known for taking more wear and tear than a private residence. Investment properties should also have more neutrality in the design so there’s a higher mass-market appeal.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the key hard finishes that need deciding carefully for an investment property.
Laminate should be used in lower-income rentals, but not for landlords who are looking to get top dollar for their rental property. While laminate is hard-wearing, it won’t command a higher rent.
Natural Stone like granite can be used in rentals as long as it’s an inexpensive variety. Remember that natural stone requires care. Lemons or other acidic substances can damage the stone, but if the price is right, this is a great option.
Quartz comes in a variety of grade levels and should be considered for higher-end rentals. The warranty on quartz products are often generous and they also pass through to a new owner if the property is sold later. When selecting quartz for countertops in a rental, I’d highly recommend opting for an edge profile that can take more abuse. Bullnose and bevel profiles are often included in the base grade of a fabricator’s pricing and are more durable than a straight or eased edge.
When selecting flooring for a rental, I often recommend Luxury Vinyl Flooring. LVT is a highly durable material and comes in wood-look plank. The price point is competitive and it’s easy to clean. Many LVT varieties are available waterproof or water-resistant. I don’t recommend using LVT in bathrooms (unless it’s a powder room), but LVT in other areas of the property, including the kitchen, is a great option!
Some families favor carpet. Carpet has a low first-time cost, but I’ve seen some terrible options where it needed to be replaced after each tenant. Carpet is a contender if you’re open to replacing it regularly. Look for an inexpensive nylon fiber construction which will wear well without breaking the bank.
Tile is perfect for bathrooms where bathing takes place. Look for a product that’s rated for wet floor use to ensure safety and keep liability at a minimum. Larger format tiles are very popular now, but medium and small patterns are often the most cost-effective.
Walls should be painted in an eggshell finish. I don’t recommend using a top of the line paint in a rental because wall damage is more common than in a permanent residence. Flat finish paint is easy to touch up, however, most landlords I work with paint between tenants, so this finish doesn’t offer much of a benefit. In terms of paint color for rentals, tenants are likely to prefer somewhere with neutral decor so safe colors like white, off-white, and soft beige often work well depending on how much natural light is available.
Steer clear of wallpaper or pretty trim detailing which can be susceptible to ripping or denting if someone isn’t careful. The least expensive material to have for the walls is gypsum board over the long run.
Opt for inexpensive fixtures from big box stores that have LED bulbs built-in which will last a long time. Keep the finish of the fixtures consistent across the entire property so they are easy to switch out if necessary. Tenants will often add their own decorative lamps so ensure the general ceiling lights are covered and any areas that may require wall lights and you’re good to go.
There needs to be a good balance between durable fixtures and keeping the cost down when it comes to bathroom specifications. Pedestal sinks are less expensive overall. However, if you’re keen to install a vanity unit instead, big box stores offer kits that include inexpensive cabinets and countertops all in one so it’s worth doing some research to compare prices.
Keep the flooring simple with tiles that are suitable for wet areas and similarly for the shower or bath area walls. By keeping the finishes minimal and neutral in color, the rental appeals to a wider variety of potential tenants.
So there you have it! Our top tips and considerations to bear in mind when it comes to selecting hard finishes for investment properties. Always remember that those living in the property are less likely to take care of the finishes in the same way as you, and therefore expect a higher level of general wear to the interior. Longevity, warranty, and hard-wearing are the key aspects of deciding on hard finishes.
Are you looking at preparing a property for rental or investment purposes? We’d love to hear about your project in the comments below!