When searching for the next new flooring in your home, among your choices are carpet and hardwood.
Not surprisingly, these two flooring solutions are often at opposite ends of the spectrum.
Today, though, we put them right next to each other.
Both fan favorites and each with their own advantages and disadvantages, it can be a difficult choice deciding which one to install.
Top Features of Carpet and Hardwood
- 1 Top Features of Carpet and Hardwood
- 2 Buyer’s Guide: Choosing Between Hardwood and Carpet
- 3 Carpet Vs. Hardwood: The Full Review
- 4 At a Glance
- 5 Top Carpet Brands
- 6 Top Hardwood Brands
- 7 Carpet or Hardwood: The Verdict
Picking between carpet and hardwood flooring depends on several factors. Each one has features that make it more appealing.
- Comfort. Carpet is the most plush and softest flooring available. Hardwood can also be soft underfoot when installed correctly.
- Cost. Carpet is generally cheaper to purchase and install, but hardwood can raise the value of your home.
- Aesthetics. Hardwood offers a warm, inviting atmosphere where carpeting keeps a room cozy and complete.
- Installation. While both should be professionally installed, the installation process is fairly straightforward with cost and timing uniform across the board.
Buyer’s Guide: Choosing Between Hardwood and Carpet
Coverage Area & Project Size
The larger your project area the more materials, tools and equipment you need to purchase, rent or loan. For professional installation, it also increases the amount you will pay in labor costs, hourly rates and clean up fees.
Knowing how large of space you are adding new flooring to is crucial for every step of your project’s completion. Make sure to take several measurements to ensure you have the right square footage.
Style and Colors
When it comes to carpet, you have unlimited choices it seems. From carpet fiber to pattern, pile height and even style. Not only do you need to choose a brand but you also need to pick a style that matches your décor.
For hardwood, the options are about as limitless. Brands, types of wood, plank thickness, construction, moisture barriers and underlayment, it all comes down to your final decision to determine the cost, installation method and final look.
Comfort and Softness
Carpets can be thick, plush and cozy or it can be short, tough and low maintenance. It can also be anything in between. Hardwood also offers different textures, comfort levels and even give or bend. You need to decide how soft, or plush your floor needs to be for your comfort while also weighing in the durability and strength needed to hold up.
There are certain areas where carpet and hardwood should and should not be installed. For carpet you want to avoid anywhere wet or that has flooding potential. The same is true of hardwood, though some wet areas may be okay (depending on type of wood planks and sealants).
Cleaning and Maintenance
Both carpet and hardwood have specific cleaning and maintenance instructions. It is important to follow both, though it is easily hardwood that has a higher maintenance level than carpet. Hardwood is also easier to keep clean over all and is more allergen friendly, compared to carpet which can trap and hold allergens in your home.
Durability and Resilience
One thing you don’t have to worry about with carpet is scratching, denting and peeling. However, with hardwood you don’t need to worry about matting, pile separation or “bald spots.” Each flooring type has its own set of durability standards that you need to pay attention to after you make your floor type decision.
Cost & Warranty
In almost all cases hardwood flooring will cost more than carpeting, per square foot. However, labor and installation fees may even the overall cost difference out a little.
Carpets may cost less to install, but there are removal, disposal and additional fees associated with carpet that aren’t there with hardwood floors.
Carpet Vs. Hardwood: The Full Review
Once the flooring is installed, what matters the most is how it looks. With carpet, you have an even, uniform appearance. Even if you go for patterned or designed carpet, high or low pile, nylon or polyester, the look is the same throughout your room.
Hardwood flooring has natural variances in each board. The wood grain pattern, coloring, dyes and even board widths and lengths are all different. However, it is this difference in singular board appearance that gives the floor its warm, inviting overall look.
Moisture and Heat
Moisture is a detriment to both flooring types and each should be installed in areas that aren’t prone to water leaks, spills or flooding. If the carpet gets too dirty, though, a wet cleaning (with a shampooer) is okay.
Hardwood, though, should rarely, if ever, be cleaned with water. Any moisture accumulation can ruin the finish, cause underlying damage and even cause you to remove and replace boards.
Carpet that gets wet can have mold and mildew spread, cause offensive odors and lead to structural damage to the subfloor underneath.
With heat, it is a little different. Neither will hold up particularly well in direct sunlight. Fading will occur eventually on both. However, hardwood and heat aren’t friends either. Peeling, cracking and splitting can occur if there is too much heat for extended periods.
Care and Cleaning
When it comes to cleaning and maintenance routines, hardwood is more tedious and specialized. A broom and dustpan are mostly all that is needed with an occasional spot cleaning with a damp mop.
However, even when sealed and treated wet mopping should only be done when absolutely necessary. Drying as you go and mopping 2 feet at a time can become tiresome.
With carpeting, you need to vacuum on a regular basis. At least once a week the carpet should be vacuumed. However, with wet spills, immediate clean up is needed and the possibility for instant staining is more prevalent. You can use carpet cleaners once or twice a year to help renew the look of the floor, too.
When it comes to installation, both hardwood and carpet should be handled by professionals. In many cases, the manufacturers or brands will require professional installation to maintain the warranty coverage.
Covering a full room, though, using wall to wall carpet or solid hardwood planks should be handled by professionals that have been properly vetted, checked and reviewed. You can always find a local professional trained and checked using our free finder tool, too.
In almost every case carpet will be a less expensive option. There are hidden fees to be aware of, though. With carpet you have to worry about padding, subfloor repairs or replacement, baseboards, transition molding, tack strips, thresholds and disposal fees.
The same can be said of hardwood, though. With transitions, adhesives, moisture barriers, underlayment, sealants and moldings, the costs can rise quickly. It is true, though, that hardwood is currently the only flooring solution that will increase the resale value of your home.
Selection and Options
When it comes to options, both carpet and hardwood are full of choices. On the carpet side, you will find brands that offer over 2000 different styles, textures and colors. With solution and piece dyed carpets the options are near limitless.
If you want a Picasso inspired multi-colored carpet, you can find it.
For hardwood floors, the choices are still grand, but are more limited. Between various wood species, hard and softwoods, age, shades and colors you can get several hundred options to fill your home.
The difference here, though, is that hardwood is, well, wood. Crazy colors, designs and patterns are not found with natural hardwood flooring.
We all want our floors to last. With what a new installation costs, it should last as long as possible. However, actual life spans will vary. Not only does the quality of the carpet or hardwood matter, but so do the conditions in your home.
Foot traffic, types of traffic (human, pets) spills, accidents and messes and even the weight of the furniture all play a role in how long the flooring lasts.
At a Glance
Here we break down the important factors in a quick-view side by side chart.
|Style Options||Less than 1000||Near limitless|
|Availability||Sporadic, based on species||Worldwide|
|Expected Life||20+ years||10+ years|
|Cost (average install)||$10,000||$5,000|
Top Carpet Brands
- Shaw Carpeting. Shaw is the world’s largest carpeting manufacturer. Their premium carpets are sold worldwide and worth every penny.
- Mohawk Carpets. The world’s largest flooring manufacturer is second only to Shaw in the carpet division. Their premium carpets are high cost, low maintenance and highly rated.
- LifeProof Carpet. A budget-friendly option with a great warranty and hundreds of options.
Top Hardwood Brands
- Armstrong Flooring. Dependable hardwood with lifetime warranties and various board sizes.
- Boen. Easily one of the best hardwood companies in the world, Boen features woods not often found in other brands, and at affordable prices.
- Somerset Hardwood Flooring. Another mid-range price based brand, Somerset offers highly detailed planks with extra thick wear layers for longer lasting planks.
Carpet or Hardwood: The Verdict
So, who is the winner here? You are. Carpet and hardwood are flooring options that work well separate or together. You can have carpet in the living areas of your home, or hardwood, or both.
It is difficult to declare a winner when the options are so great. Carpet tends to cost less overall, and has more styles than it probably should. However, maintenance and cleaning is relatively low and a high-quality carpet can last decades.
Hardwood is more specialized and does cost more. However, it offers a beauty to your home matched by nothing else. It will also increase the resale value of your home. Hardwood has a higher installation cost and is difficult to maintain without a specialized routine. It is worth it, though.
Whether you choose carpet or hardwood (or both) you won’t be disappointed. While the choice is ultimately your own, find the flooring option that suits your needs, your décor and style. You can’t go wrong.