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Carpet vs. Hardwood Flooring

Wood vs. Carpet Flooring: What Are You Laying Down?

The Pros and Cons of Carpet and Hardwood

Time to refresh your flooring! You’re deciding between the two most popular options: carpet and hardwood. Before you make your decision, you’ve got some pros and cons to consider. We’ll walk you through the benefits and drawbacks of each with expert advice from The National Wood Flooring Association, The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America and Sun & Earth.

Carpet vs. Hardwood: Quick Facts

To help you decide between carpet or wood floors, we broke down the characteristics, average price and best rooms for each.

Comparing Carpet vs. Hardwood

Hardwood

Carpet

Characteristics
  • Versatile and available in many styles.
  • Easy to keep clean.
  • Long-lasting, sustainable.
  • Prone to scratches and needs regular maintenance.
  • Comfortable for children and pets.
  • Prevents injury from falls.
  • Acts as an insulator.
  • Absorbs stains and harbors allergens like dust and mold.
Cost Comparison

$12 to $20 per square foot with professional installation

Which works out to:

$2,400 to $4,000 for a 200 square foot installation

$7 to $12 per square foot with professional installation

Which works out to:

$980 to $1,680 for a 140 square foot installation

The Verdict

Hardwood is Best For:

  • Living rooms
  • Dining rooms
  • Kitchens
  • Hallways
  • Entryways

Carpet is Best For:

  • Bedrooms
  • Family rooms
  • Dens
  • Playrooms
     

Still on the fence? Let’s walk through the pros and cons of hardwood and carpet in more detail. 

What Are the Pros and Cons of Hardwood and Carpet Flooring?

Pros and Cons of Hardwood Flooring

Benefits of Hardwood Floors

1. Versatility

With so many colors, styles and types of wood, homeowners can incorporate wood flooring into nearly any home design. Hardwoods can be sanded and re-stained to fit the style of your home – even if that changes over time. 

2. Cleanliness

Hardwood flooring is very easy to clean. The solid surface can be wiped with a mop to quickly pick up dust particles, dander and dirt. This is especially important for allergy and asthma sufferers.

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America Logo“The health implications of hardwood for allergies are positive: because the floors are so easily cleaned you can wipe them down and remove allergens.”

Angel Waldron | Director of Communications, Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America

3. Durability

With routine maintenance and proper installation, hardwood flooring can last for generations. Scratches can happen over time, but these marks can typically be removed with quick spot cleaning. If a number of marks accumulate over the years, you can refinish your wood floors to bring back their luster. 

4. Sustainability

Hardwood is a long-lasting and renewable building material. It also requires less energy and fewer chemicals to produce than carpet. Manufacturing wood flooring causes very little waste since chips and sawdust can be used to make paper and other composite products. 

Pro-Tip: The Forest Stewardship Council helps to ensure responsible harvesting and planting of trees, and you can check for the FSC label while shopping for flooring.

5. Value

If you’re prepping your home to sell, don’t overlook the resale value of carpet vs. hardwood flooring. Wood floors will turn buyers’ heads and increase the value of your home.

National Wood Flooring Association Logo“In a national survey of real estate agents, 99 percent agree that homes with hardwood floors are easier to sell, 82 percent agree that homes with hardwood floors sell faster, and 90 percent agree that homes with hardwood floors sell for more money.”

Anita Howard | Chief Operating Officer, National Wood Flooring Association

Cons of Wood Floors

1. Scratches 

Keep in mind wood flooring can be scuffed by high heels and pet claws, especially in high-traffic areas. Place soft pads under furniture to prevent scratches from shifting and use extra care when moving heavier pieces. Preventing undesirable marks over time can be as easy as leaving your shoes at the door. 

Sun and Earth Logo“The biggest concern when caring for your hardwood floor is preventing deep scratches in the wood creating hard to clean crevices and diminishing the natural luster. Extend the life of your floors by adapting a ‘no shoes’ policy, keeping most of the dirt in the doorway and not tracked through the house.”

Donna Witonsky | Owner, Sun & Earth

2. Sound

As your home settles and flooring matures over time, you may hear a little extra noise when stepping in certain spots. On top of that, anyone in a room below you will hear each step you take. An area rug can help muffle the noise, but you might choose carpet over hardwood if you prefer peace and quiet.

3. Temperature 

Expect a cold awakening when your bare feet touch the floor on early mornings. This can easily be fixed with rugs and a pair of comfy slippers, but hardwood floors may not be best if you prefer going barefoot.

Pro-Tip: If you prefer hardwood floors to carpet in your living room, but crave extra warmth for winter months, lay down an area rug for cozy seating in front of the fireplace.

4. Price

Hardwood floors range in price depending on the type and quality of the material. Oak and maple are the two most common wood floors and typically range from $4 to $14 per square foot. DIY installation is difficult, so you’ll also need to factor in labor, which can bring the full cost of a wood floor to about $12 to $20 per square foot.

Pros and Cons of Carpet Flooring

Advantages of Carpet Flooring

1. Comfort

Coziness is one of the biggest benefits of carpet over hardwood. Carpeting adds a homey feeling to your space and the soft surface allows for young kids to play on the floor comfortably.

Pro-Tip: When deciding between carpet vs. hardwood in bedrooms, remember that a soft carpet will be warmer on the feet when you tip-toe to the kitchen for a midnight snack.

2. Safety

Carpet is a safer option than hardwood for pets, children and the elderly. Slips and falls are far less likely, but if they do happen, the carpet itself and the padding underneath can help to prevent injury. 

3. Price

When you need to replace your flooring, carpet is generally cheaper than hardwood. You’ll find plenty of styles, textures and types on the market with price ranges to fit any budget. Plus, since carpet is easier to install than hardwood, DIYers can save on installation costs too.

4. Insulation

Carpet acts as an insulator, providing the peace and quiet you’re looking for, whether you live in a two-story home or a multi-family complex. As one of its biggest advantages over hardwood, carpet can also trap heat in your room on cold days and prevent cool air from escaping in the summer—keeping energy costs down.

5. Style

Carpet is available in a variety of designs and colors to fit your interior design scheme. You can make a bold and colorful statement or go neutral. And if you have uneven flooring, installing carpet can hide the imperfections and help even things out.

Cons of Carpet Flooring

1. Allergens

Allergies are a major factor when deciding between carpet vs. hardwood flooring. Carpet fibers easily retain dust, dander and other allergens. You’ll have to vacuum frequently to pick up these particles, especially in homes with pets. Also, in rooms with high humidity and moisture levels, carpeting is prone to mold and mildew growth. For cleaner air quality, invest in a Certified asthma & allergy friendly® vacuum.

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America Logo“Look for certified asthma and allergy friendly vacuums with a HEPA filter. They have been tested and found to prevent allergens from going back into the air. If you have allergies, wear a mask while doing housework. Leave the house for several hours after cleaning it.”

Angel Waldron | Director of Communications, Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America

2. Stains

From wine spills to dirty boots, you can easily stain carpets. If not treated quickly with carpet cleaner, liquids can soak into the padding or subfloor, leaving a lingering odor. To resist staining, some carpet manufacturers use pre-treated synthetic fibers. This may keep your carpet looking like new, but be aware that harmful chemicals are often used in this process.

3. Lifespan 

Although carpet is cheaper than wood upfront, you’ll probably need to replace carpeting sooner than wood flooring. The lifetime of your carpet depends on its quality. Basic grade carpets typically need to be replaced in about five years, while high-quality versions can last 10 to 15 years. 

Pro-Tip: If you’re deciding between carpet and hardwood in a sunny living room or an unventilated basement, keep in mind that UV rays and humidity can affect the color of carpet over time and impact its longevity.

4. Maintenance

To get rid of dust and stains, you’ll likely spend a lot of time vacuuming and spot treating, especially in homes with pets and children. And while carpet may be cheaper to install than hardwood, the costs of maintenance and professional cleaning can add up over time. If you’re looking for something low-maintenance, hardwood may be a better fit.

So, Are You Replacing Your Carpet with Hardwood Floors? 

When it’s time to make your decision, just remember:

Choose Carpet for: Choose Hardwood for:
  • Households with pets, children or elderly family members. 
  • Remodels with a smaller budget.
  • Rooms where added comfort is important
  • Quiet areas like bedrooms and family rooms.
  • Households with allergies.
  • Remodels with a higher budget.
  • Homes you’re preparing to sell.
  • High-traffic areas like kitchens and entryways.

Whether you’re pulling out old carpet to lay down fresh wood planks or vice versa, we hope our carpet vs. hardwood comparison helps you find the best flooring for your family. If you’re ready to start your project, renting a dumpster makes it easy to get rid of the old so you can spend more time enjoying the new.

Looking for more home renovation tips? Check out the Room Inspirations section of our blog!