Updated for 2020
Carpet remains the most popular type of flooring in most homes. Hardwood flooring has its devotees too. How do you decide between carpet or hardwood? In this flooring guide, you’ll discover the advantages and disadvantages that carpeting has over hardwood flooring.
Advantages of Carpet Over Hardwood
Carpet is Quieter than Hardwood Flooring
Wood is noisy. Walking on it makes a clickety-clack that seems to echo. The dog’s toe nails do the same thing. It doesn’t absorb sound the way carpeting does, so noise reverberates.
Voices travel over hardwood floors much louder than over carpet. If you want to lower the level of sound pollution in your home, carpeting is the right choice.
Carpet is Softer than Hardwood Flooring
If you stand a lot, hardwood flooring can lead to a sore back, legs or feet. Carpet is much softer to stand on, so if you are on your feet a lot, carpet offers a distinct advantage over hardwood flooring.
Carpet has More Interior Design Options and Styles
While hardwood arguably trumps carpet when it comes to classical sophistication, it is carpet that let’s you express your own individual character.
Carpet offers a much wider range of colors, textures and patterns than hardwood, allowing you to really make your mark stylistically.
Carpet has Insulation Value and Hardwood Does Not
When you choose a high quality carpet and padding combination, it can produce an insulation R-value of 2.5. If you’re trying to reduce your energy use and cost, every bit helps.
Carpet Is More Affordable than Hardwood Flooring
Some will argue that hardwood actually costs less over its lifetime than carpet. This might be true, but if you’re not planning to live in your current home for 80-100 years, carpet is more cost-effective.
Carpet is kinder for children, pets and the elderly
Babies and young children will find carpet much more comfortable to play on than a hard floor. Pets will also thank you for giving them and warmer softer surface to snooze on.
The elderly and infirm can be prone to trips and falls. Without a doubt, an accident on a softer surface like carpet is preferable to a fall on a hard surface like hardwood.
Carpet is a More Manageable DIY Project
If you want to install your own flooring and save money on installation then it’s worth considering that carpet installation is considerably easier than installing wood floors.
For installing wood flooring you will need more tools and and significantly higher DIY skills than you will need for carpet installation.
Disadvantages of Carpet Over Hardwood
Carpet Doesn’t Last as Long as Hardwood Flooring
Carpeting will last 5 – 15 years depending on its quality and where it is installed. This is a significantly shorter lifespan compared to hardwood which will last between 30 and 100 years depending on the product.
Most would consider this a disadvantage, although others love it because they don’t want to be stuck with the same flooring for the rest of their lives. Click here for more on home flooring durability.
Carpets Trap Dirt, Dander and Other Allergens
The introduction of hypoallergenic carpeting and the use of natural carpet fibers, like wool, mean that carpets don’t have to be problematic for allergy sufferers. However, there’s no denying that carpets pose a great threat to indoor air-quality than hardwood or other hard surfaces.
Carpet Takes More Effort to Clean and Care for
Because of the way carpet traps allergens, cleaning and maintaining your carpets requires much more physical and frequent labor than hardwood floors. Regular and thorough vacuuming with a quality vacuum is required and a deep steam clean is recommended yearly.
And the distinct possibility of stains, which can be difficult to remove, must be considered when comparing carpet to hardwood.
Carpets Are Less Appealing to House Buyers
If you’re interested in installing the best flooring for home resale then you should choose hardwood. Polls and surveys show that home buyers are willing to pay more for hardwood floors. This also means that hardwood floors should help your home sell more quickly.
It should be mentioned however that homes with clean carpet, in good condition and in a neutral tone is still a good option when selling your home.
Carpet Isn’t as Cool as Hardwood
We think that carpet is a great way to demonstrate your interior design personality. Nevertheless, there’s a certain cachet to wood flooring. Hardwood is just innately more upmarket compared to carpet, so if the “wow” factor is important to you choose hardwood.
Carpet is Often Less Eco-friendly than Hardwood
There are environmental concerns around both carpet and hardwood, however the concerns are greater around carpet because so much of it is made with non-recyclable material.
If you add in the extra frequency of replacing carpet and the VOC’s that are released as a carpet breaks down, it becomes clear that a sustainable and home grown hardwood is more eco-friendly than carpet.
Carpet is Not Compatible with Radiant Floor Heating
Although carpet is warmer than hardwood, if you live in a cold climate and want to install a radiant underfloor heating system then hardwood is a better flooring choice than carpet.
As stated above, carpet already has an insulation value, therefore carpet and radiant heat are often incompatible. Carpet can work with underfloor heating but you need to be sure to purchase carpet with a low thermal resistance underlay and a hessian backing.
Places You Can Learn About Carpeting Styles, Types and Choices
- Modern Fever – Contemporary handmade carpet collections, design services and helpful guides for creating the perfect room for your next project.
- Stainmaster Carpet – This leading manufacturer of stain and fade resistant carpets offers information on carpet selection as well as helpful design tools.
- Sustainablog – Blog that focuses on anything and everything eco-friendly and green including carpet and flooring options.
Are you convinced that carpet is your best option? Take a look at these other carpet reviews and guides:
TrafficMaster – Our review of TrafficMaster carpet, including carpet tile.
Do you feel carpet is a better choice than hardwood flooring? Tell us why by leaving a comment below.