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What Kind of Flooring Increases Home Value?

At HomeLight, our vision is a world where every real estate transaction is simple, certain, and satisfying. Therefore, we promote strict editorial integrity in each of our posts.

Of all of the fundamental features that can affect the value and perception of a home, flooring is often the most overlooked. If you’re planning to sell your home and want to understand where to invest your time, energy, and money in remodeling projects that will increase value, you need to take a hard look at your flooring.

“Besides the basics like your roof and mechanical things, flooring is the next most important factor that influences how buyers feel about your home. It sets the tone and mood for the entire home,” explains Joseph Singsheim, a top real estate agent in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who sells homes 43% quicker than the average agent in his area.

When it comes to flooring, there are lots of options to choose from, and lots of factors that may influence which type of flooring is best for your situation.

We researched the top flooring reports and spoke to expert real estate agents to create this guide to help you make the most informed decisions about flooring. Here’s exactly what to make of your home’s floors, and what flooring investments are worth the effort.

There’s been quite a big change in the last few years. Twenty years ago carpet was in, and then the hardwoods started coming back. But now we’re trending toward the luxury vinyl tile and laminate type of flooring.
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    Joseph Singsheim
    Joseph Singsheim Real Estate Agent at Joseph Singsheim Real Estate
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    • Years of Experience 13
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Which types of flooring do buyers look for?

It’s no surprise — hardwood flooring has long been the top choice for buyers and agents alike, and remains so in today’s market. According to a recent study conducted by the National Association of Realtors®, 90% of homeowners who upgrade to hardwood floors have a greater desire to be home and 77% have an increased sense of enjoyment when they are home.

Additionally, the same study showed that refinishing hardwood floors yielded 147% cost recovery, and installing new wood floors yielded 118% cost recovery in terms of the increased resale value as compared to the cost of the project.

Hardwoods are a solid flooring choice, with a few styles making it to the top of everyone’s list; but you can still make a great sale on your home even if it isn’t fully decked out in the materials of the moment.

There are other budget-friendly options that may provide a fantastic aesthetic and durable functionality. According to Singsheim, “There’s been quite a big change in the last few years. Twenty years ago carpet was in, and then the hardwoods started coming back. But now we’re trending toward the luxury vinyl tile and laminate type of flooring.”

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Which type of flooring provides the best value to home sellers?

At the end of the day, you need to consider more than just which type of flooring buyers want most. If you’re prepping your home to sell for the highest value, you have to factor in your home’s current condition and the cost of various flooring options weighed against the potential increase in value for each option.

To help you make an informed decision, reference this table to consider the cost and potential return on investment (ROI) for each potential flooring option.

Flooring type Cost per sq. ft. ROI Pros Cons
Hardwood (new) $6-$12 High • Natural look
• Longevity
• Scratches easily
• Water resistance
Hardwood (refinish) $2-$7 High • Newer finishes

• Less expensive

• Scratches easily
• Water resistance
Luxury vinyl tile (LVT) $3-$8 High • Easy installation
• Very durable
• Vinyl aesthetic
• DIY mistakes
Luxury vinyl plank (LVP) $4-$12 High • Hardwood look

• Very durable

• Vinyl aesthetic
• DIY mistakes
Ceramic or porcelain tile $8-$15 Mid • Water resistant

• Great aesthetic

• Installation is hard
• Can break easily
Exotic Hardwood (new) $10-$30 Mid • Luxurious

• Sustainable

• Very expensive

• Hard to maintain

Engineered hardwood $4-$9 Mid • Less expensive
• Water resistant
• Less durable

• Harder to refinish

Natural stone $9-$14 Mid • Looks luxurious

• Can re-polish

• Hard to install

• Ongoing resealing

Vinyl composite tile (VCT) $2-$6 Mid • Water resistant

• Easy installation

• Less luxurious

• DIY mistakes

Carpet $3.50-$10 Low • Most comfortable

• Warm and cozy

• Wears easily

• Pets and allergies

Laminate flooring $3-$7 Low • Durable

• Easy installation

• Water damage

• Hard to maintain

Linoleum $3-$8 Low • Easy installation

• Low cost

• Looks cheap

• Less durable

Which rooms matter most when it comes to flooring and home value?

Contrary to what all those home renovations on HGTV made you think, not every room needs to have the ideal flooring; there are definitely rooms where it matters more than others. Additionally, the ideal type of flooring may be different for each room.

The main areas of the home, such as the entryway, living areas, dining areas, and kitchen, are typically the first that buyers will see and will set the mood and tone for the rest of the home. Getting the flooring right in these areas is the first priority.

Ashlynn Petrocco, a top real estate agent in Dallas, Texas who’s sold homes in as few as seven days, explains that buyers want to see hard surfaces in the main areas of the home. “Wood flooring or even laminate,” she says, “and anything hard surface over carpet.”

While Singsheim agrees that hardwood or a similarly-looking luxury vinyl flooring option is best for the main areas, it can be tasteful to use a nice marble, stone, ceramic, or porcelain tile floor for the main entryway and/or mudroom. “Tile flooring, in general, has always been popular. These are great for landings inside doorways and can be used in tandem with other floorings when done well.”

As for the bedrooms (especially on the top floor), believe it or not, carpet is still a good choice. “A lot of people still use carpet on the second floor instead of the first,” explains Singsheim. “It can help reduce noise, especially when there are young children, it’s more comfortable in areas where you may be spending more time on the ground, and it keeps the floors warmer.”

So while hardwood may be more aesthetically pleasing, it’s okay to choose comfort in bedrooms.

Here are a few general tips when considering flooring for various rooms:

  1. Hard surfaces are typically better than carpet (except for upstairs bedrooms).
  2. Hardwood is a great choice, but luxury vinyl can look just as good at a lower price.
  3. Keep your flooring consistent throughout the home as much as possible.
  4. Tasteful variation is okay in a limited sense (such as a nice tile entryway or bathroom) but don’t let different types of flooring meet in high traffic areas.

A Top Agent Can Help You Prepare Your Home

A top-rated real estate agent can guide you in selecting the best flooring and other value-boosting preparations to get the most return out of your investment. HomeLight’s data shows that the top 5% of agents sell homes for as much as 10% more.

How do you get your floors ready for the home sale?

Excessive wear and tear on the flooring will drive buyers away. So focusing on getting your flooring right before listing the house is an important step.

Singsheim cites the condition of the floor as one of the main reasons that buyers walk away from a sale. “It’s a big expense for a lot of people… It’s not like painting or other things that can be done after moving in. With flooring, you can’t move in until it’s done.”

Here’s how to get floors ready for an open house:

Evaluate the carpets with a critical eye

Carpets aren’t really en vogue today but whether or not the carpeting works in the home comes down to where it’s located. “If carpet is in the bedroom, and in good condition, then that’s OK. Buyers are OK with carpet when it’s clean” explains Petrocco.

When looking at carpets, think of how buyers would feel and try to see the floors with fresh eyes.

Ask yourself these questions to determine if your carpets are in good shape, and be honest.

  1. Would you think the carpet was recently installed if this were the first time you saw it?
  2. Would you walk barefoot through the house?
  3. Would you let a baby play on the floor?
  4. Does the 5-second rule apply if you drop your favorite snack on the floor?

If the answers to these questions leave you shaking your head, then it’s time for a replacement. Petrocco summarizes her rule on carpeting as follows, “If you’re going to keep the carpet, make sure it’s fresh.”

Repair hardwood floors

Proper hardwood floor maintenance may considerably increase a home’s value. But, completely redoing hardwood floors is an expensive undertaking if you don’t plan on staying in a home. Rather than making that kind of investment right away, work with a real estate agent to see what can be done to treat the floors first.

A combination of quick fixes and conditioning might be all it takes to get antique floors looking like they just came from the sawmill. “Depending on the condition,” Petrocco says, “Murphy’s Oil Soap or any other floor conditioning can go a long way, you’d be surprised.”

At a bare minimum, here are ways to bring hardwood floors up to code:

  1. Make sure floors are even, not creaking, and individually damaged pieces are repaired or replaced. Here’s a quick video tutorial on repairing wood floors.
  2. Clean and treat worn floors to give them a new sheen. Even a little bit of effort can go a long way in making old floors look brand new. Check out this tutorial with a video on how to get that done.

Consider flooring alternatives

Synthetic home applications are getting better all the time, and flooring is no exception.

According to a 2021 survey conducted by 50 Floor, laminate and vinyl flooring options were right behind hardwood flooring as the preferred option for redoing floors, capturing nearly one-third of respondents.

Floor Covering News, a national research-based publication, recently reported that resilient flooring (a blanket term used for most synthetic options) holds 22% of the total flooring market in volume and increased more than 185% since 2010 — meaning more people are choosing vinyl over wood or carpet every single year.

“Not only is luxury vinyl flooring cost-effective, but it comes in so many different and modern patterns that it can pretty much go with anything to get the feel of an updated home without a huge expense,” says Singsheim.

Faux-wood vinyl flooring is cost-effective, easy to install, offers a huge variety to choose from, and has even more perks besides. Not all vinyl is soft, and some offer extreme scratch-resistant and pet-proofing qualities that will go a long way with buyers.

Partner with a top agent who knows what buyers want in your market

Just like walls and surfaces, floors should be at their best during home showings. While hardwood floors are generally preferred, there are more synthetic options now than ever before to give your home a modern look without a huge expense.

Set aside time with an agent during initial meetings to determine what the floors in your home need. Whether it’s a quick clean or a full replacement, it’ll pay off when the buyers arrive.

HomeLight’s free Agent Match platform can connect you with a knowledgeable real estate agent in your area with the experience and intuition you need to help you make the best decision regarding your flooring. A proven agent will know how to determine the current condition of your floors, whether they need attention, and which remediation options will give you the best return on your investment.

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