The best flooring for resale value

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Home Improvement

What's the best flooring to boost your home's resale value? Whether you're selling your place or are just thinking about replacing what's under your feet with something shiny and new, you'll want to carefully consider which type of flooring you pick.

Because flooring matters—a lot. In fact, some experts believe it may be the single biggest factor when it comes to your return on investment (ROI).

“Flooring matters tremendously when selling a home,” says Stephan Burke, director of luxury real estate at Cassis Burke Collection with Brown Harris Stevens. “It immediately influences if the buyer will like the house as they walk into every room and hallway, kitchen, and even exterior patio.”

Choosing the right floor, however, isn’t always cut and dried. Here's how to figure out which flooring is best for your home.

The best flooring for resale value: The ROI on wood floors
Cost: $5-$10 per square foot

ROI: 70%-80%

Wood floors are one of the best investments you can make. They're durable, versatile, and most buyers love them. According to real estate experts, the average ROI for installing hardwood floors is about 70% to 80%, and wood floors can boost the sales price of your home as much as 2.5%.

And in some locations, specific types of wood floors are sought after, says Fiona Dogan, a real estate agent with Sotheby’s International Realty in Rye, NY. For example, wide-plank hardwood floors are the best type for resale in the Northeast.

The downside to wood? Its cost. While there are a wide range of options, experts estimate that popular woods (such as oak or walnut) cost around $5-$10 per square foot, plus an additional $4-$8 per square foot for installation.

What's the resale value of tile, stone, or marble flooring?
Wood may be king, but it's not always the best option for your home. For example, in tropical climates like Florida, most homes avoid wood flooring, since it's known to warp and grow mold in the warm, humid air.

Instead, some homeowners stick to tile, stone, and marble floors, and the ROI varies for each.

Ceramic tile
Cost: $12-$25 per square foot

ROI: 70% on average

Since most of the cost of ceramic tile is spent on labor, its ROI is largely determined by who installs it, says Alex Biyevetskiy, a home remodeling expert with Turns out you can earn a pretty penny by installing ceramic tile yourself.

"If you can do it and get results that look professional, the return on investment will exceed 100%," he says. "Replace sheet vinyl with affordable DIY ceramic tile, and ROI might be 200%."

Porcelain tile
Cost: $18-$32 per square foot

ROI: 55% on average

Buyers who have done their research are particularly attracted to porcelain tile. "Denser and more durable tile than ceramic, porcelain is premium flooring that holds its good looks for decades," Biyevetskiy says. "As such, it catches the attention of savvy buyers looking for value."

However, its high price tag will lower your ROI. Not only is porcelain tile more expensive, but you'll also have to pay for professional installation. Common remodeling projects that use porcelain, like an upscale bathroom remodeling, bring an average ROI of 55%.

Stone tile
Cost: $12-$35 per square foot

ROI: 55%-70%

Low-end stones like slate may cost less to install, but this rugged look can turn buyers off and lower your ROI. Premium stones like granite can cost as much as $35 per square foot to install, but buyers may be willing to pay more for the quality.

Marble tile
Cost: $18-$44 per square foot

ROI: Less than 50%

Despite its good looks, marble’s ROI is low, clocking in below 50%. So what gives?

"Marble offers unsurpassed sophistication, but its reputation for needing maintenance and for staining puts off a portion of potential buyers," Biyevetskiy says.

The resale value of carpet
Cost: $4-$6.50 per square foot.

ROI: 25%-40%

Carpet just doesn’t cut it for many buyers.

“Most buyers expect to see hardwood floors, at least in the main areas,” says Ted Moore, a builder at Little Harbor Homes in Marblehead, MA. “Carpet, unless brand-new, can raise questions about its cleanliness and durability, and these days, just feels dated.”

In some cases, however, it may be a worthwhile investment. Since installing carpet is relatively cheap, it can be a good option for sellers looking to spend little to spruce up their home.

"Some have called it the 'paint of flooring,' because carpet freshens the appearance of a home at little cost," Biyevetskiy says. "Its value is making the home more palatable to potential buyers."

How to decide the best flooring for resale value for your home
When determining if wood or another expensive flooring option is worth it, take a look at the current value of your home and the conventions of the area where you live.

“I always look at the comps in the area and try to guide my sellers from there,” says Melissa Yocum, a real estate agent at Keystone Realty Team in Galena, OH. “It doesn’t do any good to put marble in a $120,000 house, because you’re going to drive it past your price point."

Generally, the most important aspect of flooring is to make sure it fits the price of your house, Yocum adds. "A nice laminate is going to go a long way in a low- or mid-range house.”