Carpet Vs Vinyl Plank Flooring Cost

What is the Cost Of Vinyl Plank Flooring Vs Carpet?

The cost of vinyl plank vs carpet is very similar for budget-friendly flooring, both vinyl and carpet flooring can be installed for around $3.50 per square foot. Costs diverge at the high end, where top-quality carpet can cost as much as $20 per sq/ft compared to the best luxury vinyl plank (LVP) which can be installed at around $12 per sq/ft

January 26, 2023, by: Rob Parsell

When you compare carpet vs vinyl flooring cost, you’ll find a range of pricing for both based on quality and type. This page gives cost comparisons for these popular flooring materials, prices for installing them in various rooms of your home, plus pros and cons for deciding which material suits your home better.

Dark carpet over light brown vinyl plank flooring

Lets start our cost comparisons with an overview of costs for both carpet and vinyl before going into more detail for each flooring type.

CARPET VS VINYL PLANK COST

The cost of carpet vs vinyl plank and tile flooring is quite similar on the low end. Both carpet and vinyl plank flooring start around $3.50 per square foot installed. Vinyl sheet flooring can cost even less.

On the high end, the most expensive carpeting exceeds $20 per square foot while it’s more like $12.00 for the most expensive vinyl plank floors.

Prices include material, padding, installation accessories and labor costs. A lot of vinyl flooring comes with attached pad.

Do you DIY? Vinyl plank flooring is a better choice for DIY homeowners, and you can save $2.00 to $4.00 per square foot on labor by doing it yourself.

Further Reading: Average Cost to Replace Flooring

INSTALLED CARPET COST

The range of carpet prices is around $3.50 to more than $20.00.

These prices are for the material, padding and the cost of installation. Here is an overview of carpet costs and what you get for your money.

Basic – $3.50 to $6.00 per square foot installed: Cheap carpet cost is around $1.00 to $2.25 per square foot plus padding and labor for a total installed cost of $3.50 to $6. It is usually pretty thin, a cut pile or short plush made of polyester.

Many carpet tiles are in this category too. Budget-friendly carpet brands include Dream Weaver, StainMaster, Phenix, TrafficMaster from the Home Depot and other home improvement store brands.

Better – $5.25 to $9.50 per square foot installed: Some of the most popular carpet brands and lines fall into this niche. Styles include Berber, Frieze and plush options like Saxony. Top brands include Shaw, Karastan, Lifeproof and Masland, but you’ll find plenty more as you shop for carpet in this range.

The carpet has a retail cost range of about $2.50 to $4.50 per square foot. Better padding plus installation labor raises the cost to $5.25 – $9.00 per square foot. The carpet is denser, more ounces of material per square foot, and often nylon, olefin or similar synthetics.

Best – $8.75 to $22.00 per square foot installed: The retail cost spectrum is roughly $4.50 to $10.00 per square foot for most choices, but premium carpet costs closer to $15 per square foot.

This is mostly natural fiber carpeting like wool, jute and sisal. As a result, there’s a significant price jump from most synthetic carpet. A few top-quality synthetic carpet options are found in this cost range too.

Karastan, Masland and Fabrica are among the top brands making high-quality carpet in this range.

Related Reading: Carpet Stretching Cost

INSTALLED VINYL FLOORING COST

You have a range of options in vinyl starting with cheap sheet vinyl and ranging to luxury vinyl flooring planks and tiles.

Total cost range is around $3.50 to $12.00 per square foot.

Labor cost to install vinyl plank flooring – LVP and LVT – is $2.50 to $5.00 per square foot. Cost includes the labor plus padding when the flooring does not come with attached pad. Sheet vinyl costs less to install – comparable to carpet but without the padding cost.

Basic – $2.65 to $5.00 per square foot installed: The cheapest is usually sheet vinyl, but the least expensive Luxury vinyl planks and LVT (tiles) fall in this range.

Retail price begins at less than $1.00 per square foot for sheet vinyl, but don’t expect good durability from it. Better sheet vinyl and entry-level luxury vinyl tiles and planks start at just under $2.00 per square foot. Brands making low-cost LVP and LVT include Shaw, TrafficMaster and Home Decorators.

Better – $4.25 to $7.50 per square foot installed: This is water-resistant LVT and luxury vinyl planks. Some is guaranteed to remain waterproof for up to 48 hours, though that doesn’t apply to flooded flooring, just typical spills. Attached pad or underlayment is an option in this range. Most have a stone polymer core (SPC) or a wood polymer core (WPC).

Retail cost in this niche is $2.00 to $4.00 or a little higher from popular brands like Congoleum, TrafficMaster, CoreTec, Mohawk, NuCore Mannington and many more.

Best – $6.75 to $12.00 per square foot installed: Premium luxury vinyl flooring has a thicker wear layer, has more authentic texturing and often has a waterproof guarantee that is longer – up to 72 hours. These are SPC or WPC vinyl floors.

Retail prices are a little under $4.00 to $7.50 or a bit higher per square foot. Underlayment or padding plus the cost to install LVT raises total price to as high as $12.00 per square foot. Shop premium LVP and luxury vinyl tiles from brands including Mannington, Karndean, Tarkett and Cali bamboo.

Related Reading: Vinyl Plank Flooring Installation Cost

PROS AND CONS – CARPET VS VINYL

Below, you’ll find cost comparisons for specific vinyl and carpet flooring types plus an analysis of costs for bedrooms and basements.

But first, consider the pros and cons of these best-selling flooring materials.

CARPETING PROS

Options: Carpet is available in many styles, pile heights, weights, colors and patterns.

Comfort: Carpet is soft and warm. You can’t say that about vinyl flooring with a straight face.

For that reason, carpeting is a good choice for living rooms, bedrooms and other barefoot spaces in your home. Pets love it too.

Sound: Carpeting is quieter than vinyl plank and tile flooring too. Footsteps aren’t as loud, and it provides a better sound barrier between upper and lower floors.

Indoor air quality: You can find low-VOC /no-VOC carpet and carpet made with hypoallergenic materials when those issues are a concern. Look for options meeting FloorScore or GreenGuard criteria.

Stains and dirt: Treated carpet doesn’t stain as easily. And if you choose carpeting with a blend of colors, it can hide small, light stains and dirt.

Installation cost: Roll carpet installs a lot faster than vinyl plank flooring. So, the labor costs are generally lower.

VINYL PLANK FLOORING PROS

Durability: Vinyl planks look newer longer than carpet, especially in high traffic areas.

DIY: Snap-lock luxury vinyl flooring is easy to install if you have moderate skills and a few tools. An installation manual is included with most tile and plank vinyl flooring.

Wood-like beauty: Quality luxury vinyl plank and tile flooring looks a lot like hardwood flooring – enough in some cases to make you touch or tap on the flooring to see if it’s the “real thing.”

Complements wood: When wood is in the budget for downstairs but not upstairs, using vinyl flooring on the second floor is something to consider.

Handles water: Most LVT and LVP is water-resistant or waterproof. That makes it suitable for any room in the house including the bathroom, basement and laundry.

Doesn’t trap dust: Anyone with allergies will tell you that vinyl plank flooring is a better choice than carpet even if the carpet is hypoallergenic and you vacuum it often. It’s simply easier to get rid of dust, dander and other allergens from vinyl.

Potential for warm floors: A lot of vinyl tile and plank flooring is suitable for use over radiant floor heating systems.

CARPETING CONS

This can be quick – it shows traffic more than vinyl, and generally shows its age sooner. Carpet holds allergens, as noted.

Moisture can cause mold when it gets into the backing and padding below.

Oh, and DIY isn’t recommended for carpet rolls (though carpet tiles are usually DIY-installed).

VINYL PLANK FLOORING CONS

There are just a couple disadvantages of vinyl plank flooring. It is louder than carpet and not cozy beneath bare feet. It’s nothing you want to lay down on in front of the TV.

CARPET VS VINYL PLANK IN BEDROOM SETTINGS

When comparing carpet vs vinyl in bedrooms, consider cost in addition to comfort and noise issues.

One advantage for vinyl plank and tile flooring is that if you have a bedroom suite, you can carry the vinyl right into the bathroom – something most homeowners don’t want to do with carpet.

Here are common bedroom sizes with a price comparison between these popular flooring choices. These are installed prices. They don’t include replacement of a damaged subfloor.

Remember that vinyl plank flooring and tiles too are much easier to DIY than carpeting.

Small bedroom: Example – 12’ x 12’ or 144 square feet

Carpet cost

Basic: $505 – $875

Better: $750 – $1,370

Best: $1,260 – $3,168

Vinyl plank cost / vinyl tile cost

Basic: $505 – $720

Better: $615 – $1,080

Best: $980 – $1,730

Medium bedroom: Example – 15’ x 18’ or 270 square feet

Carpet cost

Basic: $945 – $1,620

Better: $1,415 – $2,565

Best: $2,360 – $5,940

Vinyl plank cost / vinyl tile cost

Basic: $950 – $1,350

Better: $1,145 – $2,025

Best: $1,820 – $3,240

Large bedroom or suite: Example – 16’ x 24’ or 384 square feet

Carpet cost

Basic: $1,345 – $2,300

Better: $2,015 – $3,650

Best: $3,360 – $8,445

Vinyl plank cost / vinyl tile cost

Basic: $1,345 – $1,920

Better: $1,630 – $2,880

Best: $2,595 – $4,615

Related Reading: Bedroom Flooring Ideas

CARPET VS VINYL PLANK IN BASEMENT AREAS

Most carpet is not recommended for basement use because below-grade areas tend to have higher humidity levels – and that’s bad news for carpeting.

So, only consider purely synthetic carpet options that are listed as suitable for basement installation.

Small/medium basement area: Example – 24’ x 36’ or 864 square feet

Carpet cost

Basic: $1,345 – $2,300

Better: $2,015 – $3,650

Best: $3,360 – $8,445

Vinyl plank cost / vinyl tile cost

Basic: $1,345 – $1,920

Better: $1,630 – $2,880

Best: $2,595 – $4,615

Set of Stairs: $80 – $130 per stair.

Large basement area: Example – 40’ x 60’ or 2,400 square feet

Carpet cost

Basic: $1,345 – $2,300

Better: $2,015 – $3,650

Best: $3,360 – $8,445

Vinyl plank cost / vinyl tile cost

Basic: $1,345 – $1,920

Better: $1,630 – $2,880

Best: $2,595 – $4,615

Set of Stairs: $25 – $40 per stair

Related Reading:
Best Vinyl Plank Flooring for Basements
Best Carpet for Basements

CARPET TILES VS VINYL FLOORING

Carpet tiles are a popular flooring option in home gyms, converted garages, kids’ play areas and in the basement (when rated for below-grade use).

Vinyl flooring – tiles or planks – is a common type of flooring used in these areas too.

Pros and cons: Most of the same advantages and disadvantages apply here, though carpet tiles tend to have shorter nap, so they don’t have a super-plush feel. Still, if impact is an issue, carpet tiles are softer than vinyl.

Another “plus” with tiles is that you have design versatility – mix up the colors, create patterns and customize the look you want.

And if a carpet tile gets damaged, you can easily pull it up and replace it. That’s a little harder to do with a damaged vinyl plank or tile that is “click locked” together with those around it.

Cost: Carpet tiles range from cheap to midgrade at a cost of $1.00 to $5.00 per square foot for the material with an average cost around $2. Tiles are commonly DIY whether they have a peel and stick backing or are glued down.

The cost of vinyl flooring used in these areas is typically $1.50 to $3.00 for the flooring alone, or $3.50 to $6.00 installed.

Related Home Flooring Pros Cost Guides: How Much Does it Cost to Clean Rugs | Best Places to Buy Rugs

About the Author:

Rob Parsell

Rob joined the Home Flooring Pros team in 2014 and is a freelance writer, specializing in flooring, remodeling and HVAC systems (read more).

“I’m the son of an interior designer and picked up an eye for design as a result. I started hanging wallpaper and painting at 14 and learned enough on the job to be the general contractor on two homes we built for our family and did much of the finish plumbing, electrical, painting, and trim work myself.”

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