The main downside to furnishing your vacation rental home is the sad realization that, unfortunately, very few of those essential items will last forever.
Judging the lifespan of those more expensive investments – such as furniture and major appliances – can be a difficult task. In your own home, you live with and use these items every day. In your vacation rental, however, it can sometimes take a guest to point out that something isn’t how it should be.
To prevent negative reviews from travelers, your rental should always meet the highest standards of comfort, cleanliness and convenience. In order to maintain high expectations, there will come a time when you need to review the quality of your vacation rental and make some improvements.
Let’s take a look at what you need to upgrade at your vacation rental home – and how often.
A refrigerator is one of those appliances a lot of us take for granted. Compared with other items around the home, fridges tend to last for a long time and require little maintenance. But, as the most important feature of any vacation rental kitchen, you need to make sure yours is in proper working order for your incoming guests.
According to the Central Electric Cooperative Inc., most refrigerators can last between 10 and 20 years. If something seems wrong with your fridge and it’s less than eight years old, it’s probably worth repairing. However, if it’s over 15 years, you’re better off replacing it altogether.
There are many noticeable signs that your refrigerator needs replacing. For example, if there is condensation or frost, or if the motor is constantly running and noisy. Even inefficiency can be a decisive factor in switching to a newer model. If your fridge is nearing its 10-year anniversary, check it regularly to ensure it’s still keeping perishables fresh. It’s also important to clean the fridge after every guest departure.
2. Washing machine
If you provide laundry facilities in your vacation rental, the likelihood is that your guests are going to use them. Consumer Reports states that the average lifespan of a washing machine is around 10 years.
There are a number of telltale signs that your washing machine needs an upgrade. It might be that there’s a foul smell of mold inside (even though it’s clean!), or a leak which can indicate a split in the tub. Just like with fridges, energy efficiency is also a key consideration when weighing up repair vs. replace for an older model. According to Energy Star, a new energy-certified washer dryer can be a more eco-friendly choice, as it will save you around 3,000 gallons of water per year and uses 25% less energy.
3. Linens and towels
The quality of the linens and towels you provide in your vacation rental can carry a lot of weight in terms of repeat guests and the reviews you receive.
Unlike in your own home, where on average you will change bedding every week, owners of short-term rentals have to launder linens after each guest departure – even if they’ve only stayed one or two nights. Consequently, this can substantially decrease the longevity of linen.
Keeping bedding crisp and towels fluffy is a surefire method to raise guest satisfaction. But how can you tell if linens need replacing?
We got in touch with seasoned expert on the topic, Alanna Shroeder (founder of The Distinguished Guest) for some insights:
“We always suggest that sheets and towels should be replaced at least every two years, if not sooner. Our recommendation is that vacation rental owners keep a minimum of two sets of sheets per bed, and two sets of bath/beach towels per guest. Inspect them after every guest departure to check for stains, snags and other issues that would trigger the need for replacement.”
Rather than comparing your vacation rental to your own home, when thinking about updating mattresses, it’s better to think of it as a small hotel. High-quality hotels tend to throw their mattresses every three to five years, but a smaller establishment may keep them for up to 10.
The main point to take into consideration here is: are your mattresses still doing the job? Travelers go on vacation to get away from their daily life, and in many cases, to relax. If the mattresses in your vacation rental are lumpy, springy, stained or soiled – they need replacing.
It’s good practice to rotate the mattresses in your rental to make them last longer. MattressOnline states that rotating mattresses every three months helps provide a consistent level of support, continued comfort for your guests and a reduced risk of sagging. If the mattresses are double-sided, you can also flip them twice a year. If your rental is only used for short periods of the year (i.e., in your location’s peak season), such frequent rotation is not necessary.
Unlike hotels, vacation rentals don’t usually have “pillow menus” for guests to choose from. You should, however, aim to provide a mixture of soft and firm pillows to cater to different preferences.
But how do you know when it’s time to freshen up your pillow supply? Kris Beck from Hilton Worldwide states that synthetic pillows last around 18-24 months when laundered properly, whereas a down or feather pillow can last up to 36 months.
In order to prolong the life of your property’s pillows and maintain top hygiene standards, owners should use pillow protectors underneath pillowcases as an extra barrier.
“There is no need to wash your pillows after every use if you have a pillow protector and a pillowcase on the top of that,” comments Heather Bayer in her podcast episode, Polarizing Vacation Rental Arguments – My Take On Them.
“You would wash the pillowcase on every changeover, whereas the pillow protector can be washed every few weeks or so,” she adds.
6. Window treatments
No matter which window treatments your property has – be it blinds, shades, curtains or shutters – frequent use will inevitably lead to general wear and tear. At some point, though, your treatments will turn from “shabby chic” into simply scruffy, and it will be time to upgrade them.
How can you tell when it’s time to call in the professionals? San Francisco-based Blinds & Designs share the five questions you should be asking yourself about your property:
- Does your treatment raise and lower properly?
- Are the treatment’s slats broken or discolored or is the fabric faded?
- Do you have dangling cords?
- Is the product easy to reach?
- Do you still have the same décor and look and feel in your home?
Before any of these questions start to pose an issue or even a safety risk (such as those dangling cords), it’s time for an upgrade. Blinds.com expresses that most people replace their window treatments every seven or eight years. Inspect your window treatments regularly, such as when you perform a deep clean on your home, and make arrangements for repairs or accordingly.
When it comes to keeping the exterior of your rental looking attractive and up to scratch for incoming guests, there are no set rules about how often you should be making improvements.
Some experts recommend painting the exterior every five to 10 years, however, this may vary depending on the type of finish your vacation rental has.
For example, for wood siding around every three to seven years is ok; for aluminum siding and stucco it’s five or six years, and newer materials (like cement fiberboard siding) can last up to 10 or even 15 years before needing a touch-up. Regardless of the material your rental is built from, you can always make upgrades sooner if they are necessary to add to the appeal of your home.
Guest turnover, occupancy rates, climate and, in unlucky cases, property damage, will all decrease the lifetime of some of your property’s fixtures. Moreover, these types of upgrades are essential in order for your property to stay competitive and relevant in the booming 21st-century vacation rental market!