What are the Pros and Cons of Carpet Vs Hardwood?
Carpet and Hardwood are both very popular but is one better than the other? Hardwood is more durable and easy to clean than carpet, but carpet is more comfortable and cheaper than hardwood. Lifestyle is the main consideration when deciding between these two very different flooring materials.
Last Updated: June 15, 2023, by: Jamie Sandford
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Related Reading: Most Durable Flooring
TRAPPED 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Find out how much radiant floor heating costs.
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.
Let’s flip the script now and remind ourselves why hardwood is such a popular, timeless choice for many homeowners.
ADVANTAGES OF HARDWOOD FLOORING OVER CARPET
LASTS LONGER THAN CARPET
Quality carpet flooring will last 8-15 years with consistent cleaning and care. Solid hardwood flooring may last 100 years and engineered hardwood flooring can last up to 75 years. You must replace carpeting when it is worn. Most hardwood flooring can be refinished many times over during its lifespan, growing in character and beauty during that time.
As an added benefit, the cost of a hardwood floor over its lifetime is less than the aggregate costs of replacing and maintaining carpeting during the same time period.
EASIER TO CLEAN THAN CARPET
Hardwood floor cleaning consists of a damp mop and a hardwood floor cleaning kit and these are all you need to keep your hardwood floors clean and free of dust, dirt, pet hair and other debris.
On the other hand, carpeting requires consistent vacuuming and periodic cleaning using a hot water extraction method. It takes more work – and it is more costly – to keep carpet clean compared with hardwood flooring.
Carpet will never look as good as it does the day it is installed, no matter how well you care for it. Hardwood flooring can maintain its “like new” appearance for years. Refinishing it brings back that “like new” look again and again.
You don’t need to break the bank for a decent carpet vacuum cleaner. Click here for our review of the best vacuums under $100.
BETTER FOR ALLERGY SUFFERERS
When you damp-mop your hardwood floors regularly, the dust, dust mites, pet dander and other allergens are easily removed. Carpet harbors these allergens, and they can be inhaled if you sit down or lay on the floor. If your vacuum doesn’t have a quality HEPA filter, they can be blown into the room every time you turn on the machine.
Carpet manufacturers are working to improve the health ratings of their products, take a look at our review of hypoallergenic carpets to learn more.
BETTER FOR IAQ THAN CARPETING
IAQ stands for indoor air quality. Carpeting is made with many harmful chemicals that are released after the material is unrolled and installed. This release is called off-gassing. It is worst in the first week, but it can go on for years. There is no corresponding danger with hardwood flooring.
GREENER THAN CARPETING
Hardwoods are a more eco-friendly flooring choice because they are made from natural, renewable products. Vinyl carpet is 100% synthetic. Hardwood flooring can be recycled. The vast majority of carpeting enters the waste stream. Not surprisingly, 2% of landfill waste is carpeting.
HOME FLOORING PROS CONCLUSION
Two very popular but very different flooring options, both can work great in your home depending on your lifestyle and interior decor preferences. Carpet is cheaper than hardwood but hardwood ha a much longer lifespan.
Dream Weaver – Read our review of this manufacturer of quality synthetic carpet.
Mohawk Carpet – A review of Mohawk carpets including Smartstrand and Air.O
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.
About the Author: Jamie Sandford
Jamie Sandford is the Owner and Chief Editor of Home Flooring Pros (find out more). After 12 years’ experience in screen and stage set construction, followed by a further 15 years working in the home renovation/remodeling business, he now writes and curates online home improvement advice.
“Buying and installing home flooring should be a fairly straightforward process, but often it isn’t. After more than 15 years experience in home flooring and remodeling, I started Home Flooring Pros in 2013 to help homeowners navigate the often-over complicated process of choosing, buying and installing a home floor. The aim is to save you time and money by helping you to make better floor buying decisions.”