If you have a rental home, you probably already know that tenants typically don't respect your home as much as you do. This is especially true for lesser expensive, low income, or section 8 homes.
To protect your investment, you should install interior finishes that are nearly indestructible to reduce or eliminate maintenance.
Even if you install lesser expensive finishes that can be replaced without breaking the bank, you still have the hassle to replace and either inconvenience your tenant or be without a tenant while the work is being completed.
Here is a list of some more durable finishes that should work well in a rental home.
Carpet is cheap, however it easily stains and will need to be replaced every 2-10 years.
Wood and wood-look laminate is sensitive to moisture.
Tile can crack and is nearly impossible to match after 5+ years. If you do install tile, opt for porcelain tile and make sure to have extra tiles in case they need to be replaced in the future.
Slate flooring can be relatively inexpensive compared to other tile. It is durable and it can be easily matched years later due to the slight variation in each tile.
Laminate (brand name Formica) is typically the cheapest kitchen countertop option, however it can burn, scratch, and chip.
Tile countertops get very dirty in the grout areas. They can crack and be hard to match if a replacement is needed.
Stainless steel is a good solution for kitchen countertops in a rental because it is nearly indestructible, however it can scratch. Look for lesser expensive stainless steel countertops at used restaurant supply stores.
Any light fixtures with a portion that needs to be removed in order to change the light bulb should be avoided in a rental home.
Light fixtures with glass shades should be avoided since glass is breakable.
Recessed can lights work well because they are hidden and out of the way.
Invest in LED light bulbs that do not need changing for many years.
Opt for the most basic appliances because fancier appliances have more things that can break.
Your freezer does not need an ice maker.
Your sink does not need a disposal.
You may not even need a dishwasher or microwave.
The glossier the paint you use, the easier it is to clean.
Avoid flat paint everywhere in a rental home, except maybe the ceiling.
Use eggshell or semigloss wherever possible.
If you have multiple rental homes, use the same color in all of your homes to make it easy on yourself.
Replace sheet glass with glass block wherever possible since glass block is nearly impossible to break.
This includes interior glass, exterior glass (where egress is not needed), and shower glass.
Clogged toilets tend to be a common problem in rental homes.
If possible, replace your toilets with no clog toilets to reduce potential problems.
If using a shower curtain, supply a shower rod that is bolted to the wall, not a tension rod.
Sliding glass shower doors tend to work better if you are concerned about water getting on the floor (especially important for bathrooms on the upper floors).
Exhaust fans are very important in reducing the moisture in a bathroom to avoid an overgrowth of mold.
Put bathroom exhaust fans on the same switch as the light fixture to ensure the exhaust fan is being used.
Select a bathroom faucet that is very durable, not one that is very pretty but less durable.
Consider installing a commercial grid drain to avoid the sink overflowing and things getting stuck in the drain.
Kitchen and Bathroom Cabinets
Install a piece of plywood or some vinyl tile covering the entire bottom of your base cabinet under every sink so the wood or vinyl gets wet when there is a leak, not the cabinet.
Towel bars, TP holders, and Clothing Rods
Since people often hang or pull on anything attached to the wall, ensure that everything is securely attached.
Add a large block of wood to the back side of these items to they won't disconnect from the wall.
Protect Walls from Door Knobs
Use door knob wall shields on all walls that might get hit by a door knob if opened too forcefully. Paint them to match the color of the wall so they are less unattractive.
You can also add additional hinge pin door stop, however be careful of the door stop putting a hole in hollow core doors.
Many people who rent homes remove closet doors because they tend to get damaged very often.
Closet doors can be replaced with a grommet topped curtain on a tension rod.
Consider removing extra plants and bushes because minimal landscaping is best for a rental.
Most landscaping should be maintainable using only a mower.
Whatever you have should require minimal pruning and weeding.