There is a passionate discussion over the comparison of hardwood flooring vs. carpet. These two flooring options are some of the most popular choices on the market, but which is the better option for your home?
There are many reasons why both hardwood flooring and carpet are beneficial, but the final decision should always come down to your specific situation, preferences, and budget.
Carpet vs. Hardwood Flooring
Carpet flooring is a softer flooring option that utilizes synthetic materials, nylon, and polyester, to create spaced loops. It is usually created in larger rolls, and customers will purchase it by the square foot.
There is much more flexibility in color options for carpet, and homeowners can mix and match their preferences. Although carpet is not as durable in the long run, it provides a comfortable choice for a relaxing home.
Hardwood floors comes in both solid hardwood flooring and engineered hardwood flooring. Solid wood consists of solid boards that get extracted from fallen hardwood trees.
These boards are sanded smooth on the top but are left rough on the underside. Overall, hardwood flooring is much more durable and resistant to wear and tear, and it usually lasts up to 100 years.
Before we get into the specifics on what separates each option apart, check out the critical differences in the table below.
|Appearance||Classic, luxurious, rustic, natural||Gentler appearance, many different color options|
|Cost||More expensive, $9 to $12 per square foot||Less expensive, $3 to $5 per square foot|
|Care/Cleanliness||Easier to identify dirt and clean||Tougher to detect dirt because of the carpet fibers, harder to clean|
|Comfort||Harder material makes it not as comfortable||Softer material makes it much more comfortable|
|Safety||No cushioning for tripping hazard||Softer material makes it a trustworthy cushion for tripping|
|Durability||Last much longer in the long term||Does not last as long because it needs to be replaced more frequently|
|Insulation and Noise||Noisier and colder||Quieter and warmer|
There is certainly a significant difference in appearance when comparing carpet vs. hardwood floor. Carpet flooring gives you more choices in terms of texture, feel, and color. You will receive the soft feeling of the carpet by touching it and seeing it. You take the risk of damaging the appearance whenever you spill liquid or food on to the carpet, but it provides a gentle aura when you are careful about spilling.
People do prefer the carpet look in some areas of the house, such as the bedroom. For the “showcase” areas of the house, the carpet may not give people the sight of luxury that they would prefer. Carpet is still versatile because you can mix and match colors with the overall theme of the room.
Hardwood flooring is a much more luxurious, prestigious choice when it comes to flooring. The appearance consists of the natural wood colors and aesthetic pattern of the wood grain. It is considered a cleaner, sleek option by homeowners today, and it is a common trend for people to gravitate to that option. It is much more receptive to spills, and it leaves a natural, rustic appearance for the long term.
Hardwood floors can come in many different designs, colors and looks. Wood types like pine and oak will have different appearances, so it is usually a homeowner’s personal preference. You can also implement stains to hardwood flooring to make it lighter or darker.
Best for Appearance: Hardwood
Although the choice of appearance is much more personal, many people choose to go with hardwood floors because it provides a feeling of luxury. It is a much more attractive, aesthetic alternative to carpet, and people love the versatility and longevity of hardwood’s appearance.
Cleanliness and Care
Carpet is slightly more challenging to keep clean over time. Because of the intricate fiber design of a carpet, pollen, dust, and other microbes can get stuck in the depths and hide from vision. Carpets are usually tough to clean and care for when placed in a high traffic area. Much of the dirt tracked in by shoes will settle into the fibers, which will require the homeowner to clean it much more rigorously.
While the cleaning and vacuuming process is straightforward with carpet flooring, many think you will not be able to clean a carpet 100%. The stain will soak into the fibers and stay there permanently because of the material.
Hardwood floors are much easier to maintain and clean on a weekly and daily basis. Because of the hard, flat surface of the flooring, it will not require as many deep cleanings. It is highly advised not to utilize liquid cleaning solutions on hardwood floors because it can damage the material.
It is also easier to detect dust or spot dirt on hardwood floors than on the carpet. Over the life of the floor, you will be able to stick to a consistent cleaning schedule because of the floor’s appearance when it needs it. Also you need to polish the hardwood with appropriate product to ensure the shine.
Best for Appearance: Hardwood
Hardwood is a clear choice because stains and dirt are much easier to extract from the surface than carpet. You will not spend as much time deep cleaning, and the floor will provide a much more natural, luxurious appearance.
For some homeowners, comfort on the feet is a top priority when deciding on a floor type. Rather than placing importance on looks and style, people will turn to the carpet for a better feeling. Carpet provides a softer material that relaxes the body when walking on it. For the relaxation rooms like the bedroom, carpet delivers the right feel that homeowners and apartment owners desire.
It is no secret that hardwood flooring consists of a harder material and surface than carpet. The robust floor can begin to make your feet uncomfortable if you stand for a longer time. If you are a family with small children, a hardwood floor may not be the best to lay or crawl on.
Best for Comfortability: Carpet
When it comes to comparing comfortability for carpets vs. hardwood floors, the advantage goes to the carpet. The softer material is naturally comforting to the bottom of human feet, especially young children. For the most relaxing parts of the home, carpet provides the best solution to help you feel cozy in your apartment or house.
The process of laying down carpet is much more suitable for a professional, so the DIY homeowner rarely installs it. The installer will lay down a pad with staples, and then nail down the edges around the room with tack strips. The carpet is then spread over the surface and attached to the perimeter by way of the tack strips.
Once the carpeting is trimmed to its optimal fit with specialized tools, it is heat-treated with tape below the new seams. The cost of carpet usually falls between $0.50 and $1.00 per square foot installed.
Hardwood floors installation require a process by setting down rows of boards, each at a time. The installer usually begins at the largest wall. Then, the rest of the boards are placed by fitting the board’s grooves into the tongues of the previous boards. The wooden boards are then fastened through nailing or stapling.
Depending on the type of hardwood, unfinished hardwood will need to be treated with sand, then stained, and then a coated on the top with polyurethane. For ease of installation, most wood is already delivered finished. Read our article on protecting newly installed finished hardwood for a long lasting good look.
Best for Installation: Carpet
Although you will need a professional for both carpet and hardwood floor installation, it will be less expensive to get carpet installed. It is a much more straightforward and straightforward process, and the margin of error is a lot higher. Therefore, the low-risk, low-cost option of carpet installation is the way to go.
When it comes to cost, carpet is undoubtedly the more budget-friendly option of the two. If you get carpet installed by a professional, it typically costs between $3-$5 per square foot. Although the higher-quality carpet costs in the $10 per square foot range, it is a less timely, less costly process overall. Even though the periodic treatment costs can add up, the upfront investment is much lower with the carpet.
Hardwood flooring is one of the more expensive options for flooring. Because it is derived from a natural tree product, the raw materials are more costly to bring to a finished product. If you are paying a contractor to install wood flooring in your house or apartment, it will usually cost between $9-$12 per square foot.
Read our article on economical wood floors if you decide to go with hardwood floors.
Best for Cost: Carpet
Although you will need to replace the carpet every 10-15 years, it will cost you less to install. Therefore, we need to hand the advantage to carpet over hardwood flooring for cost.
Check out our other comparison articles: Laminate vs. Engineered Wood Flooring, Laminate Vs Solid Hardwood Flooring
Strength and Durability
When you compare the durability of carpets and hardwood floors in the short term, carpet is much more forgiving to the daily use of it. Although it is vulnerable to liquid and food spills, it is much more resistant to big dents from furniture or other sharp objects.
When you look at the durability of carpet in the long term, it can cause headaches. If the carpet experiences a tear or rip, then you will need to repair or replace the harmed section. It is usually required that you get a full carpet replacement every 15 years.
Hardwood floors can easily get damaged in the short term from rough usage or spills. If the surface gets too much liquid or is scratched, it can easily warp and deteriorate. Most families like to implement a barefoot policy if they own wood floors to provide self-protection. If you take care of it properly, hardwood floors can last up to a century before you need to replace it.
Best for Strength and Durability: Hardwood
Although hardwood flooring is a little more vulnerable in the short term, it is much more sustainable and long-lasting if cared for properly. The harder surface is much more robust and can last five times longer than the carpet.
There are many variables to consider when you decide between hardwood flooring and carpet. But which flooring is the better overall decision to go with: carpet or hardwood? Because of the natural, luxurious appearance and reliable materials, we would prefer to go with hardwood flooring. Hardwood adds real estate resale value and elegance to any room in the house, but it is much easier to care and maintain in the long run.
Hardwood floors will last longer for the homeowner, so you will not need to worry about periodic costs to replace it every 15-20 years. Although it requires a more significant upfront investment to install, it will provide the longevity to make it worth it.