Floor Repair or Floor Install? – Estimating Flooring Costs for House Flip

Flooring is an important part of any fix-and-flip operation. A new floor can increase the property’s value and decrease the time it takes to sell it by making the house look cleaner and more visually appealing. But what is the cost estimation for floor repairs and installation? What are common problems for different flooring materials? This article aims to explain these questions. Let’s get into it!

Common Floor Problems by Material Type

The most common and potentially most serious problems for all flooring materials are caused by moisture – either too much of it (more common) or too little (less common).

Hardwood Flooring: Too much moisture can cause swelling, deformation, and rot. If the floor then dries out, the wood shrinks, leading to cracks and gaps. But there are other problems that various flooring materials can experience.

Vinyl Flooring: Discoloration and stains, scratches, peeling, and cracking are the most common problems with vinyl flooring. While scratches can be sanded out on hardwood floors, the same can’t be done with vinyl without ruining the look.

Laminate Flooring: Since laminate is a synthetic material that lets no moisture through, the danger of moisture building up and leading to mold growth and severe rot underneath is real. Bubbling and buckling are common problems with laminate floors.

Carpet Flooring: Discoloration due to stains or UV rays from the sun is a common issue for carpets, so is the carpet wearing thin or even through completely due to lots of foot traffic. Rips and tears are a risk for the material, and dirt can build up over time. If not cleaned and removed regularly, it can lead to compaction and a hard to get out, even permanently filthy look and feel to the carpet.

Tile Flooring: Common problems with tile flooring are cracking and detachment. Cracking can occur if something heavy or with a sharp edge drops on the tile, or if the underfloor is flexible and expands or shrinks. This can lead to detachment, which can also be caused by poor use of adhesive when the tile flooring was first put in.

Should You Replace or Repair Floors When Flipping?

Replacing and/or repairing flooring is a good way to increase the value of the property you’re flipping. There are a few caveats, though. First, consider the neighborhood and what similar houses in the area are like. There’s no need to put in new, expensive flooring if you’re in an area where it’s not expected. In fact, doing so can make finding a buyer harder. You shouldn’t upgrade from vinyl to hardwood, for example, if you’re selling a house in a moderately-priced area. If the house already has hardwood flooring, though, buff or sand any scratches out, treat and polish it, and it’ll be a great asset.

Second, don’t replace carpet flooring unless it’s in a bedroom (and even then, think carefully about whether to do so). Carpet floors are pretty much out of style. It gets dirty and is hard to clean, wears down, and buyers don’t like it much. If you have carpet flooring in the property, look to replace it with modern vinyl or laminate.

Third, you have to balance cost and need. Many floors can be made to look great with a deep clean. Replace flooring if it is visibly damaged, in bad shape, or towards the end of its service life. Chipped and broken tiles, cracked and peeling vinyl or laminate, or obvious deformations – these should be repaired or replaced. If you can repair the sections in question without replacing the whole floor, do so. If not, then you can think about a proper replacement. 

Estimating Flooring Costs

Below is a cost estimation for floor installations of various materials. Keep in mind that it will also cost you to remove flooring (prices vary, it’s usually a couple of dollars per square foot), as well as any additional work that needs to be done on the subfloor.

Hardwood Floor Repair

Depending on what type of wood you want to use, hardwood floor installation (including both, labor and material costs) can average between $5 and $12 per square foot.

Laminate Floor Repair

Laminate flooring costs about $1.50 per square foot (although it can go up to $5 for thicker, higher-quality planks), and underlayment costing $0.30 per square foot, with $2 to $3 per square foot for labor, for an overall cost of around $4 to $5 per square foot.

Carpet Floor Repair

Carpet installation ranges from $4 per square foot on the cheaper end to around $8 per square foot for fancier, higher-quality carpets (labor and materials included).

Vinyl Floor Repair

Vinyl flooring ranges in price – from as little as $1 per square foot for thin, glue-down vinyl sheets to $5 per square foot for premium vinyl planks. Installation can cost from $1.50 to $2.50 for installation, for an average overall cost of $3.50 to $6 per square foot. 

Tile Floor Repair 

Tile flooring material prices range widely, from around $7 per square foot up to $24 per square foot for expensive, premium marble tiles. Add installation costs, and you’ll be paying between $10 to $20 per square foot for the whole deal. 

Steps for Repairing Floors

Determine the problem and solution

Before ripping up old flooring, you should figure out what your needs are. Do you need to replace the flooring entirely, or would repairing some sections be enough? Do you need to replace the flooring in the course of your flipping project, or do you just want to?

This can be determined by inviting someone to look at the flooring – preferably, one without a financial motive for you to spend more money. It can be a specialist or simply a friend. Try to define what your fix-and-flip project needs to be successful and provide a good return on your investment. Replacing a floor may give the property a higher value, but that may hurt your prospects of selling if the price increases too much.

Shop around, get a quote

Next, speak to specialists and get some quotes. Get a cost estimation for floor repair or installation (depending on your needs). Try to find a good deal and strike a balance between your budget and the desired outcome. The more prepared you are, the harder it is for contractors to mislead you and inflate costs. Shopping around also lets you figure out what the average cost might be. In case you are considering DIY floor repair, you will do the same, but for shopping around for the best materials costs.

Repair or replace the flooring

It’s a good idea to be around when the floor repairs or replacements are being done. That way, you can observe the process, and contractors will usually work with more care. Document the process as well – it’s as simple as taking a few pictures or videos on your smartphone. When all is said and done, whether you repair or replace, you should have a floor that’s in excellent condition and one that you’re happy with. Good luck!

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