Need advice on fixing up rental house- first: replace flooring

I need to replace the floor in a one-story 850 sq ft, 1958 house–no basement, it sits on a concrete slab. I’d like to use one material throughout the whole house. Right now I’m thinking of sheet vinyl, but I was wondering about the suitability/durability/sppeal of linoleum?

Background: My mother signed over this rental house to me a couple of years ago. It’s a house we lived in back in 1964-67. Three bedrooms/one bath. Very plain, basic kind of house. However, it is just inside the boundary line of the most desirable school district in the city. I’ve known people to rent apartments in that school district to establish residency so their kids can go there.

A series of real estate companies has been managing the house forever since my parents left the city in 1972. Needless to say, it has paid for itself many times over. In 1964, they bought it for $13,000. Today the appraised value is an astounding $86,000.

Last week the tenant who had been there for over 10 years just upped and left. No explanation. I’m okay with that-- shit happens. It’s inconvenient for me, but probably not as inconvenient as whatever happened to him to precipitate this move.

I went to the house yesterday and saw the inside for the first time in well over 30 years. Turns out I’ve been a slumlord. I’m embarrassed about that. There was no malicious damage, but the wear and tear has been pretty bad (as one would expect).

The house will need work before it can be rented or sold. I haven’t decided which I’m going to do. I want to fix it up to be presentable. Right now, it’s a dump, basically, and I’m mortified that someone paid me rent to live there. But it has the potential to be a cute mini “mid-century modern” ranch style house (I love that name for the crap we grew up with :rolleyes:).

Back to the floor question. The realtor who has been managing it also manages 95 other rentals and has a crew of people to do stuff. I like this guy a lot and trust him. But I’ve never been involved in anything like a remodel. Everything I know I learned from HGTV. Of course, I come to the Dope, the repository of all important and trivial information on all topics, past, present, and future. I’m not looking to spend the bare minimum to make it livable, but I also don’t want to break the bank.

I will likely be adding to this thread over the next few months as we look at other projects in the house. But my first question is about the flooring. And what other questions should I ask/and answers do I need before deciding?

If there’s any interest, I could post some pictures. Must run at the moment.

I’d go with Marmoleum, which comes in a variety of styles and durability. VCT is a sucker’s bet, as the notion of just replacing the worn tiles never works out because of 1) discontinuation of the color line, and 2) discoloration of the other tiles over time. Whatever you do, stay away from carpet tiles.

Missed edit window.

The reason I’m looking at linoleum is because it is in keeping with the age of the house. Whatever i do to the house, I want to look like 1958. I had another house from that era that I sold and the people who bought it, put in granite counter tops and other features that IMHO were stylistically ridiculous. And that house had the original formica countertops with the boomerang pattern.

I’m assuming today’s linoleum is different from grandma’s linoleum.

ETA. Thanks, Chefguy, for that endorsement. I love the lookof it!

Why not replace the floor after having the walls and ceiling repainted? That way any paint spatter is no big deal.

Yeah. There’s a definite sequence to doing the steps of a total rehab. Doing things out of order raises costs and extends the timeline. Which raises your holding costs & defers the eventual sale or re-rental.

The downside of doing it in the right order is you have to decide the project scope all at once up front.

IANA guru on this stuff, so I’ll leave it to the pros to tell you what the ideal order is. But know there is one, and floors first ain’t it.

I hate linoleum with the red hot passion of a thousand suns. Period look or no, I’ve generally found it doesn’t hold up well and gets ratty looking pretty fast.

What about wood laminate? There are an array of choices there and I think it holds up better.

Talk to a contractor about the right order to make your changes in, but don’t stress too badly on that point. People get their walls painted without replacing the floors all the time. It can be managed. If you’re going to do both anyway, then, yes: walls, floors, then molding.

Lino throughout would be a major turn-off for me.

Have the property thoroughly checked out. Find out what needs doing, what ought to be done, and what could be done. Then figure out whether you’re going to sell it or keep it.

Do you need to renew the electrics, for instance? Loft insulation? Flooring in the loft? How much of the kitchen needs redoing? If you’re going to redo the electrics, why not install ethernet at the same time? Double-glazed windows? And so on.

Leave the lino for the kitchen, the bathroom, and the conservatory. Carpet everywhere else. A neutral gray carpet works wonders with a light magnolia paint on the wall.

It’s unlikely that your ranch-style house is actually “mid-century modern”. That’s not a term simply applied to everything built in the 50s.

You need to sit down and develop a plan with a budget. Once you figure out everything you wan to do, then you can allocate $$ to each portion. Maybe you figure some things are worth doing and some not. And, as others have noted, you might end up doing things in a different order.

We used to install heavy grade vinyl floors in public housing in high-traffic areas. It held up very well. We had Marmoleum put in our laundry room addition; after four years of use, it looks like new. I’m not sure putting it throughout the house is a good idea, though. I’d go with a low nap durable berber carpet.

As for the order of reno: yeah, if you’re going to do a complete rehab, I’d hold off on the floors until the end if you’re going to put in new sheetrock or getting rid of a popcorn ceiling. No point in getting your floors all scuffed up. If you’re just painting: well, paint oopsies can be cleaned up, but cuts and scrapes are problematic. Workers drop things and drag ladders over your floors, etc.

Another suggestion for the floors: I’d replace the subfloor with cement board instead of plywood (if you’re going with lino or vinyl). It’s extremely water resistant and there is no grain to telegraph, so you don’t have to sand it. The other option for vinyl/lino subfloor is something like Tech-Ply, which is a 5 layer birch sheet that is very lightweight and smooth, so no telegraphing. But it’s not waterproof.

If you do go with linoleum or a lino-look material, do NOT choose something that needs to be waxed. Not only will a tenant never wax it, but most popular cleaners will eat the wax away, leaving everything sticky and pockmarked.

I would vote for wood-look laminate throughout. No, it isn’t period, but nobody really wants to feel like it’s 1958.

I think that you need to decide if you are renting or selling.

For a rental, a vinyl/linoleum floor is probably fine. I’d just plan to throw some rugs on it.

But for a sale? It’d be an immediate turn-off and I’d be mentally calculating how much it’d cost to get rid of it. I can’t even picture a living room with linoleum- maybe in a college dorm or halfway house. Some of the new wood grain vinyl doesn’t look too bad, but it’s still something I’d associate with a basement or other semi-finished space. So if you went the selling route. I’d either do something more conventional or just go as cheap as possible and assume the buyer will replace it.

Period touches are nice, but you are decorating for other people, and most people looking at houses from that era are looking because that’s what they can afford, not because they are super in to vintage decorating. It’s like vintage clothing- a piece or two here and there can make an outfit look nice, but going head-to-toe vintage just looks like a costume and has limited appeal.

This^^. Perfection.

Your buyers or renters are folks of limited means. Not hipsters who’ll fill it with Space Age reproduction furniture arranged ironically.

Perhaps visit a few apartment complexes in the immediate area to see what style & degree of zoot those have. The folks outfitting those places are pros and experts in cost effectiveness. Plus they know how to target the local market, be that rents of $200 / month / bedroom or $1500 / month / bedroom.

This was my first thought. We put it in our basement when we converted it to an apartment for our daughter. The bathroom got tile, but everywhere else was wood laminate. She added throw rugs and it was a very nice space. And it wasn’t ridiculously expensive. Plus it didn’t define the palette of the decor the way carpet might.

And I’ll agree with leaving the flooring till last. We are hard-core DIY and with all our experience, we’ve still spilled paint and dropped tools, but the only damage was to the sub-flooring.

Good luck, whether you sell or rent!

You have received a lot of good advice. Mine is this: whether or not you are thinking about continuing to rent or deciding to sell, start by having the house inspected! If the house is in an urban area where there are professional inspectors, go that route. But if it is in a smaller, possibly more rural area, get in an electrician, a plumber, a contractor, a heating/cooling professional, and a glazier. If you are going to rent the house, yes, you’ll have someone to take care of it–but you want to know the condition of everything first, so you’ll understand expenses. If you are billed for a new water heater and you’ve been told it is an older one, you’ll be prepared. If you are going to sell, you’ll have to decide how much to put into it and how much you want to get back when you sell. Good luck to you!

Thanks for all the comments. I wasn’t thinking of doing the floors first–it was just an interesting place to begin asking questions. I don’t think wall-to-wall carpet of any kind is a good idea, as either owners or renters will have pets. (There’s a big, fenced back yard.)

There is a whole host of things that need to be done and a further list of things that could be done. The sky is not the limit.

My realtor manages 95 rental properties and I’m thinking he has a fair amount of experience with this sort of thing. And considering the tenant only moved out a few days ago, my thinking at this point is sort of a scatter-shot (which is good because y’all’s comments were also all over the place-- I appreciate that). We will ultimately do things in the proper order.

The realtor said the kitchen cabinets would need to be replaced, and I agree that they look pretty ratty. But I’m also thinking that the cabinets that were installed in 1958 are probably made of wood. Any that we would install today would likely be some kind of fiberboard or something, right?

Also, it looks to me like there’s a big walk-in cedar closet in the kitchen. That strikes me as a nice plus. The 1936 house I live in has two cedar closets.

Cabinets today are typically particle board boxes with either wood fronts or veneered fronts. Solid wood cabinets are very expensive. I really dislike most veneer surfaces, especially the “photo finish” quality. The ones in my own home have cherry fronts, and the sides (where exposed) have a high quality cherry veneer. The original cabs in your place may be solid wood, but also may just be plywood with a veneer applied. I’d check with Ikea and see what they have to offer. If you put in sliding shelves, use the ball bearing slides with steel supports instead of those crappy slides with plastic supports that fail from fatigue. I’d also go with good slides for the drawers.

1958 cabbys would have hardwood frames and plywood sides and backs. Those are “Premium” materials now. I’d try to save as much of them as possible.
There is an off-chance that the kitchen does not have "cabinets, but stick-built cabinetry - a large box with doors and drawers. Modern cabinets imitate this look - are there internal sides, or can you see the (closed) drawers from inside a door next to them?
This was how kitchens were made way back, but there might have been someone still doing it.

NEVER carpet for a rental. Too much wear and tear and they have to be replaced too often.

I’ve never rented a place without a carpet. Of course, it does get cold here. :slight_smile:

Depends entirely on the market. For really low-end, yeah - put in the cheapest possible stuff because: “Whatever you put in they’ll tear it up”.
For above a certain market point, LACK of carpet will destroy the value.

There is always Pergo - but figure that will be destroyed and require replacement after 1 tenant or 5 years, whichever come first.