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How to Choose the Best Wood Floors for a Vacation Rental

Let's face it. There are a myriad of flooring choices - carpet, tile, wood, concrete and more! For our vacation rental, we quickly narrowed our search to wood floors for the main living and sleeping areas. Why?

  • Wood floors complement the overall style of the house

  • Wood is typically the flooring of choice in comparable homes in our area making our home competitive for rentals and a future sale, if we ever decided to list the property

  • For a high end home with luxury finishes, wood lends a neutral, sophistication and elegance that is incomparable

  • Quality wood floors are scratch resistant, durable, softer than tile and can stand up to the test of time. They can also be refinished.

  • Wood floors are easy to clean and to install

Wood floors range in cost from $6.00 to $18.00 per square foot installed with trim. Labor is typically $2.50 - $5.00 of the per square foot price, depending on the labor rate in your area. Wood floors work in all rooms with the exception of areas with lots of water like bathrooms and laundry rooms. My vacation rental is a second home for my family. It is not a commercial investment which is why I didn't choose the ever popular vinyl plank. Vinyl planks simply were not an option for me due to the market and finish of the home. However, the vacation rental pros swear by them. Why?

  • High quality vinyl planks mimic real wood well and give homes a high end look without the price tag.

  • The floors are super easy to clean

  • Vinyl planks often resist scratching and denting better than wood floors, but are not impervious to damage.

  • Vinyl is warmer and softer than most other hard surface foooring options.

  • Due to its softness, vinyl planks work well in a kitchen making dinnerware and glasses less likely to break.

I've scoured a few vacation rental blogs, met with an area real estate agent and reviewed the property managers and owners discussion threads at Bigger Pockets (like Facebook for real estate). The clear winner is the TrafficMaster Allure Ultra Vinyl Plank (pictured below).

Now that I've decided to go with wood floors, there are many options to consider.

Wood Flooring Options

Natural Hardwood - My choice due to the ability to refinish many times and the extend wear over many years. It's the most expensive choice, so we will see if my budget allows for this increased expense.

Bamboo - Bamboo floors looks great but they are susceptible to sunlight and moisture damage. They are expensive to replace and some varieties scratch easily. This product can also be tough to install since most of the floors are composites. They have very little "give" and can be excessively hard.

Cork - Cork looks great. It it's expensive and prone to surface damage from water, sand and high foot traffic. It cannot be refinished.

Engineered Wood - Composite aka engineered wood is a hardwood veneer over wood layers. The reason why this is a popular choice is that you get the hardwood look for less. The flooring is resistant to moisture damage and easily installed. The most significant drawback is the fact that most engineered floors can only be refinished once or twice.

Floating Wood Tile - A parquet floor or floating wood tile floor is composed of a synthetic material that simulates a wood appearance, which is then laminated. It's easy to clean, simple to install and inexpensive. However, from a design perspective these types of floors often look dated. These floors cannot be refinished.

While everyone has to make his or her own choices, the durability, longevity and luxurious look of solid hardwood is the best choice for our vacation rental - if you can afford it!!!

Image sources in order of appearance

Majestic Home Solutions/Mark Hinchmam Homes/Green Building Supply/Atmosphere Build/Oak and Broad/Designed to Appeal

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