While more expensive and harder to install or replace, the advantage of a hardwood floor over carpet is that it's a natural and extremely durable flooring option with great resale value and easy maintenance. Carpet, usually made from synthetic fibers with a wide variety of textures and styles, is an inexpensive and convenient option especially for short-term living. Carpet is prone to trapping dust and stains and does not last very long, but it is very easy and inexpensive to replace.
|Durability||Usually 3-5 years (average quality); 10-15 years for top quality carpet.||Depends on a number of factors, such as whether the floor is finished, type of wood used, what room it is in, and how well it is maintained. Cannot be installed in basements. Properly finished and well-maintained hardwood floors can last for decades.|
|Cost||$3-$5 (installed) per square foot.||Generally, the harder the hardwood, the more expensive it is, but also the more durable it is. Including labor expenses for installation, most hardwood floors cost between $8 and $15 per square foot.|
|Installation||Trim and nail/staple padding and carpet. Easier than wood flooring.||Used to be very difficult to install; mistakes could be frustrating and expensive. Today, most wood flooring is pre-cut into easy-to-install tongue and groove planks.|
|Moisture resistance||Extended exposure can cause mold and mildew.||Prone to moisture penetration, discoloration, or warping. Engineered hardwood slightly more water resistant alternative.|
|Material||Usually a synthetic material such as nylon, polyester, or polypropylene.||Wood; timber from harvested trees, mostly angiosperms|
|Composition||Usually a synthetic material such as nylon, polyester, or polypropylene.||Comes in a variety of differently sized cuts and is made from real solid woods, giving it natural grains and tones, from light browns, to neutral grays and rich reddish bronzes. Oak and maple are the most common hardwoods used.|
|Upkeep||Steam cleaning, patch replacements, full replacement.||Keep clean and free of moisture, avoid causing damage, use pads on the feet of furniture. Do not let water sit. Particularly important to use the right kinds of cleaners.|
|Resale value||Not good||Excellent|
|Repair||Steam cleaning, patch, replacement.||Can be repaired by sanding and refinishing|
|Environmental Considerations||Usually produced from non-renewable materials and emits small amounts of volatile organic compounds.||Hardwood flooring can be very environmentally friendly, provided it is bought from a responsible supplier. look for hardwoods certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).|
|Restoration||Cheap and easy to replace||Can be easily restored to like-new condition.|
|Introduction||Textile floor covering consisting of an upper layer of "pile" attached to a backing, usually using synthetic material.||Wood flooring is any product manufactured from timber that is designed for use as structural or aesthetic flooring. Solid hardwood floors are made of planks milled from a single piece of timber.|
|Prone to damage||Prone to stains, trapping dust, mold and mildew.||Prone to scratching and to moisture damage|
|Thickness||0.75 inch with pad at installation.||0.75 inch to 6 inches|
Advantages of Carpet over Hardwood Floor
Carpet on an average is significantly cheaper than hardwood flooring, and ranges from 50 cents per square foot (average) to $8.50 (top of the line carpet). Hardwood prices depend on the specific wood, but range from $2.75 to $195 a square foot.
Carpet installation is certainly quicker and easier than hardwood flooring, and involves trimming the carpet and padding, installing the two layers with nails/staples, and gluing seams. A proper installation in large rooms will require stretching the carpet and using some special tools.
Hardwood flooring is much more expensive than carpet, and while it can be a DIY project, it's best installed either by a professional or an extremely experienced DIY-er. Installation involves cutting, placing, nailing, and stapling the baseboard, and filling holes with wood putty. Improper cuts can quickly become expensive mistakes, and imperfect alignments will make the floor more prone to water damage.
Damage and Replacement
Hardwood floors are easier when it comes to regular maintenance, but if not well-maintained, hardwood is prone to staining, warping, and discoloration from sun and water exposure, as well as substantial changes in temperature and humidity levels. Also, hardwood floors can be scratched and dented.
Carpet stains easily and traps dust and allergens more frequently. If not well-maintained, it ages must faster and stains become more stubborn.
If regular maintenance is cumbersome, carpet is much cheaper and faster to replace than hardwood floors.
Carpet is soft and comfortable underfoot, and works great for families with children, especially when the little ones are prone to falling and hurting themselves. Carpeted homes feel warmer as the padding acts as heat and sound insulator for rooms.
Color and Texture Options
A major advantage of carpet is the wide range of options available, including a wide range of textures, colors, and designs. Hardwood floors are available only in various shades of brown depending on the tree.
Advantages of Hardwood Floor over Carpet
Hardwood flooring can last for generations if well maintained. Dependent upon the wood and treatment, the flooring can be extremely damage resistant, and can be repaired or refinished. Comparatively, carpets have a very short lifespan and need to be replaced frequently as they tend to look worn and collect dust and stains over time.
Hardwood, if well-maintained, can last up to 75-100 years. The most expensive and finest quality of carpet can last about 15 years. Average carpets tend to last about 5-7 years.
Apart from refinishing once every 20 years, maintaining a hardwood floor maintenance is relatively easy. It only requires keeping grit off of the surface by sweeping and wiping with a damp cloth. Most worn and damaged hardwood flooring can be repaired or refinished rather than replaced, but where damage is severe enough to require replacement, just the particular damaged boards can be pulled up and replaced with matching material. It is also easier to clean and remove stains from hardwood floor than it is from a carpet.
Carpets have to be regularly vacuumed as they tend to trap dust and allergens, which affect the quality of the air inside the home. Routine carpet maintenance generally includes regular vacuuming, and a steam cleaning once or twice a year (or as needed). Spills should be cleaned up immediately. Modern carpets are made to be stain resistant, but the longer a substance soaks into the fibers, the worse the stain. A large stain in the middle of a room can require replacing all of the carpet in the room, or replace a patch with a very visible seam.
Elegance and Resale Value
Hardwood flooring lends class and elegance to the homes it furnishes It is sought after by home buyers as there is some prestige associated with hardwood floors, which tends to increase the resale value of the home.
Most carpeting is not particularly environmentally friendly, as the pile is made from nonrenewable materials, and chemicals used in manufacturing can release small amounts of unhealthy VOC’s once the carpet is installed. However, there are more and more green carpeting options available that utilize renewable materials and avoid dangerous chemicals, but these options remain at a premium price.
Hardwood is extremely environment friendly since it's a natural resource. It's recyclable and renewable and is best purchased from environmentally responsible manufacturers to avoid over-harvesting.
Choosing the Right Kind
Once you've made a decision on whether you choose carpet or hardwood, the videos below will give you tips on how to choose the right carpet or the right hardwood for your flooring.
How to Choose a Carpet
The pile (layer of tuft/fibers) of most home carpeting is made from oil-based synthetic material. Nylon carpet is a durable mid-level option, while polyester is cheaper and softer, but less durable. For those willing to pay a very premium price for the softest and most durable material, wool carpeting is a great option. Carpet is usually laid on top of a thin layer of padding for insulation. The video below offers some tips on what to bear in mind while choosing a carpet.
How to Choose Hardwood
The price of natural hardwood depends on the tree - the most expensive hardwood comes from mahogany, wenge, and teak. The softest hardwood used in flooring is pine, which is relatively inexpensive. Another option for areas prone to moisture, such as a concrete sub-floor, is engineered hardwood. This consists of a hardwood layer on top of plywood or fiberboard, which allows for some expansion and contraction. Watch this video as a guide to choosing hardwood for flooring: