The age-old question, carpet or hardwood flooring? In this article, we weigh the pros and cons to both and help you decide which is better.
Homes in the United States are a big deal. So big, in fact, that Americans enjoy the most square footage of anywhere in the world.
The average home in the United States is roughly 1,650 square feet. That's anywhere from 600 to 800 more square footage than other countries. With that stated, there's a lot of flooring that needs to take place in our homes.
So what to choose - Carpet vs hardwood? You'll find plenty of pros and cons for both options.
Carpet is soft, quiet, and comforting. Hardwoods are classic, sturdy, and long-lived. And you may find both in the contemporary American home, depending on the room and how you use it. In the following article, we'll discuss the benefits and applications of both carpet and hardwood floors.
Carpet vs Hardwood Basics
Today's carpets are made of synthetic fibers. These fibers are tightly lopped and adhered to a backing. There are some all-natural carpets, but most are made from nylon or polyester.
Carpet is produced in rolls and comes in several styles and colors. Homeowners can decide how soft and how tightly wound they want their carpets to be. There are also indoor and outdoor varieties and carpets made for specific high-traffic areas of the home.
Carpet's greatest benefit is the comfort it provides. Easy to walk on and a noise dampener, carpet settles the home and provides warmth to some rooms, especially bedrooms and family rooms.
Hardwood floors come in two general types: solid and engineered. Solid hardwood floors are a plank of a certain wood with a veneer coating on its top for looks and durability. These boards are milled with a tongue and groove for easy installation.
Engineered hardwood floors are made of layers of wood with an expensive wood outer layer and a topcoat. The core layers are usually plywood or another composite lumber. These boards are almost indistinguishable from solid hardwood boards and are sometimes more stable and slightly less expensive.
However, solid hardwood floors last decades longer since you can refinish them many more times than engineered hardwood floors. Many solid hardwood floors outlast the owner of the home.
The benefits of hardwood floors vs carpet abound, but you might not find any greater difference than in appearance. With their many styles of grain patterns and veneers, hardwood floors have a "Wow!" factor that carpet struggles to match.
Hardwood floors even look great with an interesting area rug draped over them.
Carpets soften the room you install them in and add warmth to the environment, but there's little it factor compared to hardwood.
Sound and Feel
You'll find your home significantly louder with hardwood floors, especially if you choose carpet over hardwood on the upper floors. That's why many people don't choose hardwood floors vs carpet in the bedrooms. When sitting below the room, you can hear a person's movements above you in many cases.
Also, a soft carpeted floor in a bedroom, where shoes are often not worn, makes for a stable and tactile stepping experience. It's much harder to slip and fall on a carpeted floor.
That said, you'll find hardwood floors unforgiving. Items dropped on them not only break but tend to shatter. This is especially true for solid hardwood floors over engineered hardwood floors.
Installation and Durability
To install carpet, you roll the material over a pad laid out on the floor first. Next, you attach the pad with nails or staples, roll the carpet out and stretch it to fit the room. You then tack the carpet to hold it in place.
After the carpet is trimmed to size, you use heat-activated tape to join the seem of the carpet. The laying of carpet is almost always a professional job and is difficult for homeowners to do themselves. Either you lack the expertise or the tools (or both!) to carry out the job yourself.
You lay hardwood floors, both solid and engineered, side by side, usually starting on the room's longest wall. You then trim the boards to size and join them together.
The boards are then nailed to the floor joists.
In many cases, solid hardwood floors are then sanded, stained, and covered with a clear coat to finish the installation process. In general, engineered hardwood floors come finished, and after the nailing process, it is good to go.
With a little practice and the right nailer, a homeowner can install engineered hardwood floors by themselves.
For areas that experience a lot of water, carpet is especially susceptible to seeping and mold. Therefore, avoid using carpet in areas where water exposure is constant.
Solid hardwood floors can warp if exposed to too much water.
In water-prone areas, like a bathroom, consider using tile instead. You'll find engineered hardwood flooring is more resistant to water but can warp and deteriorate quickly if exposed to too much moisture.
In general, a carpeted floor will last about 10 years before needing replacement. In comparison, a solid hardwood floor — with steady upkeep and refinishing — could last 100 years.
Carpets are susceptible to staining and absorb whatever is in the air. For allergies carpet vs hardwood is a no-brainer. Pet dander and pollen can get trapped in the fibers and need steady vacuuming to eliminate them.
In contrast, with hardwood floors, you only need to sweep and occasionally mop. In the worst-case situation, you may need to refinish the floors. However, there's no avenue to refinish a carpet if it sustains damage or becomes discolored.
Price per Square Foot
Carpet vs hardwood cost is pretty significant, and that's carpet's secret weapon. Hardwood floors, especially if the wood is more exotic, can cost up to $13—$25 a square foot. The average is $8 per square foot.
Carpet on the other foot can cost as little as $1 a square foot. You'll find the average at about $3 a square foot.
So, in some instances, you can afford to recarpet a room multiple times for the price of a single hardwood floor.
However, you should also consider the value you add to your home. Hardwood floors are one of the home investments that will increase the value of your home when you go to sell it. Carpet is not considered a strong selling point, and new homeowners look to pull it after entering a home.
Carpet vs Hardwood: The Verdict
While the carpet vs hardwood flooring debate has many pros and cons, it's pretty easy to declare a winner.
Except for a bedroom here and there in your home, you probably will want to choose hardwood floors as your main flooring choice.
The durability, style, and value hardwood floors add to your home make the material a clear winner. In most cases, the floors will outlast you, leaving the next homeowner to enjoy them well into the future.
Are you ready to decide on your new floors? Contact us today to talk to a professional installer and get started.