Covering The Basics – A Buyers Guide to Carpets For Rental Properties When it comes to choosing a new carpet for your rental property, it’s a fine balance between cost, quality and longevity. We speak with flooring expert Garima Ghai, the General Manager at Flooring Direct for her recommendations. By John Williams
We all know from experience that tenants don’t tend to look after rental properties with the same care and respect as they would if it were their own – and that if there’s one area in the home that receives the brunt of this mistreatment, it’s usually the carpet. Given this fact, most properties will need a change of carpet at one point, particularly following a long tenancy. As a landlord, it totally makes sense to present your property in its best possible light so you attract the very best tenant. The better the tenant, the better they’ll treat your property, right? Well, that’s the theory.
The most cost-effective way of refreshing a property is to give it a lick of paint and replace the carpet, says Garima Ghai, General Manager at Flooring Direct. “New carpets and freshly painted walls probably play the biggest role in reviving a property and bringing it back to feeling new again. After long tenancies, carpets are often stained or damaged, and high-traffic areas are significantly worn in places. A new carpet will give a property a really beautiful fresh, new look… and smell.” And that’s one thing that’s often overlooked – smell. Over time, odours from smoke, pets, food and just general living will get trapped into the carpet. All those aromas will be gone instantly with a new carpet.
Anything you do to your investment property will always comes down to the bottom line, and carpets are no different. So what’s the best bang for your buck in terms of longevity and durability, quality underfoot, and cost effectiveness?
Ghai says that in most cases, she wouldn’t recommend opting for the cheapest carpets available, as they will inevitably only end up being a short-term solution. “Polyester, or ‘polyprops’, is a new breed of carpet in the marketplace right now. They are significantly cheaper than all the other types, but beware, they’re not all what they first seem,” she warns. “In the showroom they all look and feel very soft and luxurious, but they will soon flatten out and, within a year, will look very flat. My advice for rentals would be to avoid installing this style of carpet, otherwise you’ll be pretty much replacing them every year or two.” Ghai tempers this advice by going onto say that there are cases, such as one-bedroom apartments in the city, where landlords know that their properties are going to be used quite heavily, and are prepared to change out the carpet fairly frequently.
“For rentals, we nearly always push 100% solution-dyed nylon (SDN) carpets. At Flooring Direct, we offer a very good ‘rental-quality’ 100% SDN carpet for $89 per linear metre, which works out to be less than $25 per square metre, meaning the laid price, which includes underlay, would be less than $45 per square metre,” she says.
There is a note of caution here. Because most carpet comes in 3.66-metre rolls, it is sold per liner metre, meaning that there is potential for a fair amount of waste, depending on the dimensions of your room(s), and if you want no visible joins to be seen. But, Ghai says this shouldn’t be too much of an issue with rental properties, because hiding visible joins is not usually a priority – and, she goes on to say, that if you’re using the rental-quality SDN carpets, most joins can be made almost invisible.
What about wool? “Wool is a beautiful natural material, and lot of people are under the impression that wool carpets will keep rooms warmer that other materials. That may have been the case years ago, but so not now, because SDN carpets have very similar properties to wool. The downside with wool is its cost and, because it’s a natural material, it’s not as stain resistant as the man-made fibres, meaning it’s more difficult to clean. It’s also not resistant to UV, so it will tend to fade under direct sunlight. That said, if you have a quality property that you know is going to be rented to tenants who will look after it, then wool is still an option – and we do have a range of natural-fibre carpets that fall into a similar price bracket as the SDN varieties,” she adds.
When thinking about carpet, underlay is often overlooked, yet it plays as important a role as the carpet itself. Underlay comes in varying densities and thicknesses, and can make a huge difference to the way a carpet performs in terms of comfort and noise reduction.
“At Flooring Direct we have three thicknesses of underlay – 10mm, 11mm or 12mm – and three densities, measured in weight – either 90kg, 120kg, or 130kg. We also only supply Sleepyhead underlay, which is a fantastic quality,” she explains. “Normally, we would recommend the 10mm-90kg underlay, but if you need additional sound protection – for instance for upper floor bedrooms – you could go for the 11m-130kg option, and that will make a huge difference.” This simple upgrade works out to be less than $3 per square metre, so it’s potentially a very cost-effective upgrade to make a carpet feel softer underfoot and the room quieter.
When it comes to colours and patterns, Ghai’s advice is to avoid patterns and keep the colours to a minimum – to either a warm tone or a cool tone. “We have two favourites. One has a golden or warm undertone, the browns and beiges; the other is the greys and blues, which has cooler undertones.”
The primary reason Ghai advises to avoid patterns is that if a landlord ever needs to patch or replace a section, because of damage, patterns are very hard to match, plus they go out of stock a lot more often than the plain carpets. On the other side of the equation, Ghai says that she gets a lot of calls from tenants who are planning to move out and need to have repairs done to small sections of carpet because of accidents that have occurred during their tenancy – an iron dropped on the floor, stains from spilt drinks, or pets fouling, etc.
Which brings us to a question about the best stain- and fade-resistant carpets available on the market. “Belgotex is currently the only carpet in New Zealand that claims to be stain-proof and fade-proof. We have done the tests ourselves, rubbing jam into it, soaking red wine into it, and even leaving it in a bleach bucket for two days, and the colour hasn’t changed, so we are very convinced that this is the ultimate carpet for rental properties.” At $135 per linear metre [$33+ per square metre], Belgotex a little more expensive, but Ghai says she thinks it’s worth it for the peace of mind it gives you. It also comes is three different qualities – basic, medium, and plush.
With a rental property, the less time it is vacant the better, so reducing turnaround between tenancies is vital, especially if you have to replace the carpet says Ghai. “We are certainly conscious of this and have external contractors who go out and measure up a property, then come back to us with how much carpet needs to be ordered. If the desired carpet is in stock, we can usually do a three-day turnaround. If a carpet is not in stock, it may take up to a week.”
One thing that hasn’t been discussed is what to do with the old carpet – not a particularly pleasant job, especially in properties where a carpet has been down for some years. For less than $3 per square metre, Ghai says her team will uplift and dispose of old carpet and underlay, saving you the time and the hassle and the expense of either buying a disposable bin or taking it to the local dump. Money well spent, most would agree.
Ray White Damerell Group has a large selection of samples of the aforementioned carpets at their offices on Richmond Road, Grey Lynn. If you’re looking at replacing the carpets in your investment property, pop in ad take a look. We would be happy to take you through them.