Whether you are purchasing a new home or are looking to renovate your current home there are many decisions to make when choosing the ideal floor type. The main flooring that people typically choose between is hardwood flooring, laminate flooring, and carpet. While each type of flooring has its own pros and cons, choosing the perfect floor for your home may come down to personal preference. If you are not sure about the type of flooring that you want in your current home or your future home you need to fully understand the differences between hardwood floors and carpet. The differences between the two may surprise you.
Generally more expensive
Classic & luxurious
Basics, cheap but customizable
Dirt is visible, but easy to clean
Hides dirt, but harder to deep clean
Hard, cold, generally not very comfortable
Soft, great for kids/pets to lay on
Sensitive to water spills, but will last for decades with proper maintenance.
Spills can be cleaned, but will need to be replaced every 5 years at least
Noisy, provides little to no insulation
Soft, quiet, provides insulation
Hard surfaces can be dangerous for kids
Soft, safe and great for kids
When renovating your home or purchasing your next home the number one priority for most of us is finding what we love but sticking to a budget. In the real estate market, many people prefer homes that have hardwood flooring (see the full guide) and the investment to change your floor to hardwood floor may pay off in the long run. However, when installing and initially purchasing floors, hardwood floor to be more expensive than carpet.
Hardwood flooring typically cost between 8 and 12 dollars per square foot. While this is the average price with installation, the cost can rise significantly if you are looking to get a rare or expensive type of wood flooring. If you are on a budget and are looking to have new floors that are more budget friendly you have likely considered getting carpet. Carpet comes in a variety of styles, but most styles, including installation, typically cost between 3 and 6 dollars per square foot. It is rare to find a carpet that exceeds the 10 dollars per square foot price point, however, it is possible.
Based on the average price per foot, carpet is a much cheaper option if you are looking to get new floors. While carpet is much cheaper the investment to get hardwood floors may be a better option when you go to sell your home. According to the National Association of Realtors, 54 percent of buyers were willing to pay more for a home if it had hardwood.
When it comes to keeping your house clean and your family free of allergies, hardwood flooring is much easier to maintain and keep clean. Since hardwood flooring does not have millions of crevices for dust, dander, and dead skin to seep into they naturally keep your home much cleaner and smelling fresher. If you or someone in your family has allergies wood floors are the best option since they are much easier to clean. To clean a wood floor you need to vacuum (with a hardwood vacuum) and sweep the floor regularly. People can easily spot a spill or dirt on hardwood flooring so they are more easily able to tell when the floor needs to be cleaned. The ability to spot dirt, clean easily, and clean thoroughly makes hardwood a much cleaner floor than carpet.
If properly cleaned and cared for carpet can remain clean, however, it takes a lot more effort to keep the carpet clean. To properly care for the carpet you must regularly vacuum your home. If you want to ensure that your carpets stay clean and free of dust and dirt you should also have your floors deep cleaned with a shampooer regularly. Carpet has more places for dirt and dander to hide so cleaning it can be more difficult. If you or someone in your family has allergies you may notice that their allergies act up more when they are in carpeted rooms than when they are in rooms with wood flooring.
Style and Design
Both hardwood flooring and carpet have their pros and cons when it comes to style and design so if you are making your decision based solely on style it is likely a personal preference. There are endless style and design options for both wood flooring and carpet.
Hardwood floors may be the best option for your home if your home features an open concept. If you are trying to ensure that your home flows naturally from the living room to the kitchen to other rooms you should highly consider wood flooring. Since kitchens and bathrooms do not have carpet, hardwood floors make it easier to maintain an open floor plan. If your home is smaller than you would like hardwood flooring can also make your home appear larger and because of this wood flooring is in higher demand.
Unlike in the past when all carpet was very similar, the carpet industry has evolved to include carpet in all colors, styles, and designs. There are thousands of options to choose from, including traditional carpet and carpet with designs and prints on it. The changes to carpet have made it easier for homeowners to use carpet in their homes to match their homes current style and design. Since carpet is not often used in kitchens or bathrooms it is difficult to achieve an open floor plan when using it. Even though carpets can make your home look smaller many people still use carpet in their bedrooms because it can help individuals portray their own style in their bedroom.
Comfort and Safety
When deciding between carpet or hardwood comfort and safety may be the main factor to consider before making your investment. It is no surprise that the carpet is more comfortable than wood. Since carpet is more comfortable it is typically used in bedrooms, even when the rest of the home has wood. If you live in a two story house many people choose to use wood downstairs and carpet upstairs because of the cost and the comfort aspect.
When you wake up in the morning most people would prefer to step out of bed and feel something soft and warm on their feet, which is why some people use carpet. An added benefit of using carpet throughout your home is the comfort you can expect if you have children. If your children are young you are likely getting on the floor to play with them and kneeling on the carpet is much more comfortable than kneeling on the hardwood. Carpet can also be much more comfortable for your children if they are learning to crawl or if they are falling a lot while they try to walk. Because of the added padding and cushion that comes with carpeted floors, they are also the safest type of flooring to have in your home. If you have young children carpeted floors can keep them safer, especially on the steps. Carpet can provide new and expecting parents with added peace of mind knowing that their children will not be seriously injured if they fall.
Hardwood flooring is not as comfortable as carpet and because of this people who value comfort over all other factors do not typically choose hardwood. While hardwood is made of wood and can be less comfortable on your feet and knees there are ways to overcome the hardness if you want to have the look of wood but the comfort of carpet. You can always use padded area rugs in the spaces of your home that you want to be softer. For example, many families get a padded area rug if they have young children in the playrooms or other play areas to help increase comfort. These rugs can then be moved to a different room or thrown out once the children grow up and are no longer playing on the floor. These padded rugs help make wood-floored homes safer for children. Since the wood floor is not the safest floor to have in your home, especially if you have children or elderly family members you may need to invest in padded area rugs or padded steps to help increase the safety of your home.
If you live in a condominium noise is likely a high priority for you, but if you live in a ranch style home noise may not be as much of a factor. With proper installation and padding, the noise level of both hardwood and carpet are pretty similar, however, if you do not want to pay the extra fee for padding you can expect hardwood floors to make more noise. Hardwood floors are also noisier because noise tends to bounce off of wood, as opposed to carpet. Walking on wood floors, especially with shoes on, can be much louder than walking on carpet.
Carpet is the quietest type of flooring you can get. You cannot hear shoes walking on the carpet and the noise in carpeted rooms is much lower than the noise level in wood floored rooms. Even though carpet is the quietest type of flooring it can still make out creeks if it is not properly installed and padded. If you live in a condominium and have neighbors above, below, and next to you carpet flooring may be the better option to reduce the noise your neighbors hear.
Investing In The Life Of Your Floors
If you are looking to stay in your home for a long time and want to make a good investment in the renovation of your floors or the purchase of your new home, on average if cared for properly wood floor can last much longer than carpet. Depending on the area you live in, the care you are going to give your floors, and the family or pets that you have in your home, the wood floor should last a lifetime. The life span of your floors will also depend on the initial quality of flooring that you get.
On average hardwood flooring is designed to last a lifetime and even longer. Most companies expect their hardwood floors to last for a century if they are cared for correctly. Since hardwood is made from real trees they are designed to last. If you do not have animals that are going to scratch up your floors they may be the best option. To get the most out of your floors you should regularly clean the wood and when needed you can restain and resurface the floors to bring them back to life. These simple cleanings and restaining efforts can ensure that you will never need new floors again. The larger investment now to get wood floors may pay off in the long run since you will not likely need new floors again and if you do plan on selling your home you should get more money for it because of the wood floors.
Carpet does not last as long as hardwood because there are fewer ways to clean it properly if it fades or gets a large stain. On average, depending on the quality and care given to your carpet, you can expect to need new carpet every ten years. While carpet is more forgiving to kids, pets, furniture scratches, and moves it does not hold up well to stains and time. It is extremely difficult to remove stains from carpets and impossible to stop a carpet from fading. Since there are some things that you cannot fix when a carpet wears the only option you have is to get it replaced. While carpet is more budget friendly when it is purchased it may not be the best option if you are looking for a long term investment when considering carpet or hardwood.
There are many pros and cons to carpet vs hardwood and if you are considering purchasing a new home or renovating your current home there is a lot to consider. When weighing your options about carpet vs hardwood you need to decide which factors matter most to you and then make your decision based off of that. If you care more about a long term investment as opposed to upfront costs, wood floors may be the best option. However, if you care more about comfort and family friendly floors carpet may be the best option. The decision on which type of floor to get should be based solely on your individual preference and priorities.