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Rental industry and professional property management news and information -by RD House Real Estate & Property Management

Comparing Durable Building Material Brands for a Rental Property

Guest post by Ryan Shure, Editor for the Innovative Building Materials blog

Rental properties take a lot of abuse from both the cycle of tenants and the environment. Of course, you have environmental wear and tear in any house, but with rental properties, you need to be confident it will hold up for many tenants. If you fail to choose durable materials, you’ll constantly be fixing things.

There are tons of options when it comes to building materials and each option has several brands to choose from. Durability is one of the biggest factors to look at when deciding between materials for each main section of the home. Let’s take a look at some durable building materials and the best brands to save you time and money when it comes to your rental property.

Start with the Structure

The structure is one of the most important parts of a home whether it is a rental property or a personal house. One of the most popular building materials for residential homes is wood. Most homes are wood frames on a concrete foundation. Therefore, oftentimes, when you are looking for rental properties, you will see a lot of wood-frame homes.

Though they are the most popular, with wood, long-term maintenance is required for water damage, rot, and severe weather. Wood frame homes require regular termite prevention, waterproofing measures, and damage repairs from severe weather. Wood may be inexpensive but keeping up with the maintenance and repairs gets expensive quickly.

Rental properties that have a concrete, steel, or brick structure are going to be a more durable option with far less maintenance costs. Concrete structures such as with concrete cinder blocks or insulated concrete forms are almost impenetrable against severe weather and termites which means that you’ll save a lot on maintenance and repairs. The same goes for steel and brick builds.

One thing to keep in mind for brick homes is that it should be sealed to help prevent moisture from cracking and chipping the brick faces. You’ll only incur this maintenance once every 10-20 years depending on the sealer you use, which is still less expensive than maintaining a wood frame home.

Building or major remodeling

If you have decided to build or do a major remodel, the structural material choice is vital for constructing a solid rental property. Like what you are looking for when you buy a home, you should stick with those same materials- concrete, steel, and brick. Though they might be slightly more expensive than wood, they are three of the most durable materials for structures. You often see commercial buildings built with concrete and steel because of their strength and durability, but they can also be used in residential homes to save on future repair and maintenance costs.

Insulated Concrete Forms are one of the most popular ways concrete is used structurally. The ICFs are stacked, secured, and braced, then poured with concrete. Concrete cinder blocks stacked together with concrete and then filled with concrete are another popular option. Concrete is very durable and requires hardly any maintenance.

Steel framing in the place of wood is another durable option that lasts a long time with little maintenance costs.

Finally, brick can be used as a strong structural material. This is different from brick veneer which is attached to an additional supporting wall. When laid properly, structural brick homes are far more durable than traditional wood frames.

When building a rental property your choice between concrete, steel, or brick is likely going to depend on initial cost rather than maintenance costs because each of these materials provides fire and water-resistance as well as withstand extreme weather conditions while requiring little to no maintenance. There are not specific brands with these materials as they are all specific to your build and are sourced by local companies near you.

Protection From the Top: Roofing

Besides the structure, the roof takes most of the damage from the environment. Most commonly, homes use asphalt roofing. Though it might be the most affordable roofing material initially, it can have big costs in the long run because it is less durable and has shorter longevity.

Asphalt roof repairs cost between $300 to over $1500 depending on the damage. You can expect to pay those costs several times over the life of the

roof due to storms and sun damage. Asphalt roofs also only last about 20 years where you’ll then have to shell out an additional $10,000-$20,000 to replace it.

The most durable roofing materials to use for your rental property to avoid repairs and replacement are metal, clay tile, and composite slate.

Metal roofs can be a few different metals each with its own benefits and disadvantages, but the top brands include True Nature by VicWest and EDCO Steel. Each of these brands provides long-lasting durable metal roofs in various styles.

Clay tiles have been used for centuries because of their long lifespan (up to 100 years) and durability against the weather. Some of the best brands for clay tiles are Artezanos Hybrid Roofing Systems and Redland Clay Tile. Both of them use hand manufacturing to increase their durability and quality.

Finally, composite slate roofing is another material with high durability ratings and a longer lifespan. Composite slate roofing can be a blend of several different materials but is designed to look like traditional slate tiles. Brava, EcoStar, and Tamko Roofing Products are among the top brands for composite slate roofing.

Consider Siding

The siding of your rental property provides protection over the largest amount of square area spanning from the roof to the foundation on all sides of the home. Vinyl and wood have traditionally been the most popular siding materials, but fail when it comes to durability and maintenance. Vinyl is easily chipped, ripped off during storms, and is highly susceptible to UV damage. Wood is susceptible to insects and water damage which means it requires more regular maintenance like insect prevention and sealing.

Siding repairs cost on average between $500-$1000 which adds up over time. Stucco, steel siding, and fiber cement are on the list of the most durable siding options that don’t require a lot of maintenance or frequent repairs.

EDCO Steel, Rollex which offers an oven-fused finish, and Ply Gem all offer quality steel siding selections. When it comes to steel siding colors options, you’ll have more choices than you can count ensuring you will get just the look you want.

Fiber cement is another durable siding choice, and very popular for the Seattle cimate. Some of the best brands being Allura Plycem, GAF WeatherSide which you can even find at your local home improvement store, and HardiePlank, by James Hardie. Fiber cement can be painted any color and usually has a wood-look finish making it the perfect replacement for real wood siding.

Don’t Forget About the Garage Doors

Garage doors often go overlooked in residential construction, but not every garage door is the same. The most durable materials for garage doors are steel and a combination of aluminum and glass.

Choose a durable garage door on your rental property to avoid unexpected replacement costs, which vary between $600-$5000 and repairs averaging $300 each. Garage door installation costs initially are no match for what it costs to constantly have it repaired or replaced.

Not only must you select a durable material for the garage door, but you’ll also need a brand that has reliable mechanical components. The best brands for garage doors include The Overhead Door, Windsor Door, Anderson Door Company, Cloplay, and Wayne Dalton. Some of these specialize in steel doors like The Overhead Door, others focus on aluminum frames with glass-like Clopay, but most of them offer both options.

Keep in Mind Insulation

Insulation is a vital part of residential home construction as it contributes to noise reduction and energy efficiency. The three most durable insulation types include fiberglass, cellulose, and spray foam.

When it comes to fiberglass insulation, Certain Teed and Johns Manville are leading the market. Fiberglass insulation is moisture and fire-resistant, lasts up to 100 years, and is an affordable material.

For cellulose insulation, GreenFiber, Insulmax, and Nu-Wool are top brands. Cellulose is great because it does not break down in extremely cold temperatures and lasts up to 100 years.

As far as spray foam is concerned, which has a lifespan of more than 80 years, BASF, Huntsman Building Solutions, and Lapolla are some of the best brands.

Longevity is one of the most important factors when it comes to insulation durability because it has to be replaced when it breaks down and no longer insulates which will cost you between $2,500-$5,000, not including any damage incurred to interior finishes while getting it where it needs to go. Don’t forget that for maximum benefit, insulation should be placed below grade (below the foundation slab), in the attic, under flooring, and in the ceiling, not just in the walls.

Get Your Durable Property Managed

Once you have the most durable home for your rental property, all of the work shifts to managing it. This includes finding, keeping, and staying on top of tenants which can be a lot of work. One way to circumvent this is with property management. After all, you built your property to be as hands-off as possible, so why should you spend time dealing with tenants. RD House Real Estate and Property Management can help.


Ryan Shure is an editor for the Innovative Building Materials blog and a content writer for the building materials industry. He is focused on helping fellow homeowners, contractors, and architects discover materials and methods of construction that save money, improve energy efficiency, and increase property value.


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