9 Reasons The “Carpet vs. Hardwood” Debate is Silly | FlooringStores
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9 Reasons The “Carpet vs. Hardwood” Debate is Silly

March 25, 2020

So: you’re replacing your floors and you’re starting to wonder: carpet or hardwood? How do I choose? Carpet vs. hardwood. Hardwood vs. carpet. Which one is the “smart choice”?

If you’ve watched HGTV in the last, like, century, you’ll have been told that carpet is so 1900s. That hardwood is the only option. That only fools would put in carpet instead of hardwood. 

Well, we’re here to tell you that’s absolute nonsense. 

Why, you ask? Because the entire “carpet vs. hardwood” debate is ridiculous! Yep. That’s right—ridiculous. Both hardwood flooring and carpet are fantastic in their own ways. 

Look, we know that carpeting gets a bad rep. In fact, when you think of carpeting, you probably picture an old-fashioned ‘70s shag that smells like musty basement. And that’s a shame! Like so many other types of flooring, carpet has come a long way in recent years in terms of durability, hypoallergenic qualities, and stain resistance.

That’s why today, we’re going to discuss 9 reasons why the carpet vs. hardwood debate is ridiculous—and why either one is a great choice!

Reason #1: Carpet and hardwood offer solutions to different lifestyle needs 

Carpeting is great for teetering toddlers and cozy bedrooms

Carpeted bedroom floor

Our humble opinion: carpeting is an awesome choice when used in the right room. Is wall-to-wall carpeting best in an active living room? Maybe not. But it can be a fabulous choice for your bedroom or a cozy child’s room. 

Worried about toddlers on the stairs? Look into a sturdy carpet material with the right padding to soften the stairs and landing. 

Got pets? There’s a carpet for that—polyester. Looking for carpeting for an indoor/outdoor space? Check out olefin. 

The point is—carpet is amazing when used in the right space for your lifestyle.

Hardwood is great for standing up to heavy traffic and wear

As we said before, hardwood floors are really suitable for just about any room in the house. They’re great for high-traffic areas, even hallways and living rooms. When shopping, ask your local flooring people about different finishes and wear layer options so you can find the right match for your lifestyle needs.

Most hardwood options are water-resistant and will tolerate a lot of life’s messy matters. That said: whether you’re considering solid or engineered hardwood flooring, neither are waterproof flooring options. If you’re worried about liquids, check out the endless types of tile, the best vinyl flooring on the market, and the pros and cons of tile vs. laminate flooring. 

Reason #2: Carpet and hardwood both offer a ton of installation methods

You can install carpeting in a bunch of ways, both conventional and DIY

Whether you choose peel-and-stick carpet tiles or traditional wall-to-wall (aka broadloom) carpets, you’ve got a ton of installation options—both conventional and DIY. 

If you’re going the DIY route, grab some carpet tiles from Amazon or Home Depot and go to town! Use them to create patterns that are all your own. And if you don’t like it, no big deal—just peel them up and move them around.

When it comes to installing broadloom carpeting, your install methods will depend on the carpet you choose. Material type, density, and padding all determine the best method.

Our humble advice? If you’re thinking “I’m gonna learn how to replace flooring”, think twice before making broadloom carpet your first project.  

You can install hardwood flooring a bunch of different ways, too 

Most wood flooring types come in both solid and engineered varieties. Solid wood planks usually need to be nailed or glued to an underlayment. And unless you’re experienced with installation, this is going to be a tough project. But hey, you do you. 

Engineered wood, on the other hand, is often made with click-together flooring technology. Click-together or “snap-lock” planks are installed as floating floors, which can be more DIY-friendly since they don’t need to be attached to a subfloor. Our advice: before you break out the knee pads, look into the advantages and disadvantages of floating floors.

And if you want hardwood do-it-yourself flooring that’s super easy to install, check out the pros and cons of cork flooring. Like carpet tiles, peel-and-stick cork tiles offer a variety of awesome possibilities.  

Reason #3: They both have eco-friendly options

If eco-friendly, sustainable types of flooring are important to you, then you have options. 

You can find fabulous “green” carpet options

Believe it or not, carpeting manufacturers have come a long way (we’ve said that before and are saying it again ‘cause it’s true). You can have your carpet and biodegrade it too! Too cheesy? Sorry.

Anyway, there are green carpet options out there if you do your research. Look for products made from organic materials like wool, cotton, or bamboo. Some companies even use reclaimed and recycled materials to construct carpet products. 

Concerned about your padding or carpet emitting VOCs? Look for The Carpet and Rug Institute’s stamp of approval.   

Our flooring advice is this: talk to your local flooring experts and tell them that you’re interested in eco-friendly carpeting options. They can steer you in the right direction.

Hardwood flooring also offers green, sustainable options 

No doubt about it, green hardwood flooring is becoming more desirable among consumers. But how do you know if the manufacturer is ethical? How do you know if the product is sustainable? Look for the Forestry Stewardship Council certificate. They’re a trusted resource that ensures sustainable hardwood products.

When it comes to eco-friendly flooring choices, we must highlight the amazingness of cork and bamboo. The best cork flooring and best bamboo flooring options on the market today are incredibly sustainable. In fact, when talking about the pros and cons of engineered bamboo flooring, sustainability tops the list.  

Ultimately, your local flooring gurus are the best local resource for accurate info on sustainable flooring options.

Reason #4: Both carpet and hardwood offer endless versatility

You’ve got endless patterns and colors with tiles or broadloom carpet

Carpeting combinations are literally endless. The millions of color, fiber, and texture options range all the way from New York Times-approved plush purple chic to Bob Vila-beloved subtle suggestions.

Then there are the different types of carpet piles: cut pile, loop pile, and cut-loop pile. And don’t forget all the types of fiber: nylon, wool, polyester, olefin, triexta—the list goes on. All of which offer a different look and feel (but we’ll get to the feel factor later).

And of course, this discussion MUST circle back to the awesomeness of carpet tile with its bazillion potential combos of colors and patterns. Fun Fact: tiles can be arranged as an area rug over all sorts of existing flooring.

Hardwood gives you a million combinations too—wood species, cut patterns, finishes, etc. 

There are dozens of wood species to choose from—oak, mahogany, walnut, bamboo, and cork to name a few—and each one offers its own unique look and feel. Your finish choices also give you different looks, feels, etc.

Then there are the cut patterns—the aesthetics vary depending on the way the boards are cut. This article from the New York Times discusses different cut patterns and how they can highlight the grains of a wood differently. From flat-sawn planks showing a wavy grain look to live-sawn planks showing a combination of grain patterns, you have serious options.  

Reason #5: They both feel amazing in their own way 

Various carpet types and fibers create amazing comfort

Have a desire to step out of bed onto a comfy cloud of softness? Plush cut-pile, baby. Want a tough carpet that can withstand the chaos of playroom madness? Check out a broadloom carpet of the wool variety. They’re tough, yet soft enough to protect the noggins of the lil’ ones.

Nothing beats the feel of hardwood 

As grandma always used to say, “Nothing beats the look and feel of hardwood floors.” Seriously, she said that! But what does it mean? Well, literally speaking, that the installation method can affect a floor’s feel. A floating floor may have more give as you walk vs. solid planks that are nailed to the underlayment. 

But we think grandma was also talking about the lovely ripples and texture of that top layer of traditional hardwood floors—which can still be enjoyed with numerous cuts, finishes, and even some recycled wood floor options. 

It all depends on the wear layer (that top layer) and your finish options. And then there is the type of wood—like our old friend, cork flooring, with a natural cushiony feel thanks to the porous nature of the material.    

Reason #6: Carpet vs. Hardwood costs totally depend on your choices

Okay, we touched on this before. But there are so many options on the market, the carpet vs. hardwood cost debate totally depends on what you choose! 

Carpet cost will run you between $2–$12 per square foot (on average) depending on the brand, style, density, fiber, and padding you choose. And don’t forget to add a few dollars per square foot for wall to wall carpet installation. Peel-and-stick carpet tiles, on the other hand, come in at a whopping $1–$4 per square foot. 

Hardwood cost also has a wide range in price depending on the quality of the product, tree species, and installation method you choose. In general, you’re looking at $3–$15 per square foot. 

Either way, contact your local flooring dealer to get a more accurate idea of your carpet vs. hardwood costs.

Reason #7: both materials are as durable as you want them to be

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again—when it comes to all types of flooring, you get what you pay for. 

A carpet’s durability depends on its type of pile and material; loop pile is more durable than cut pile, and nylon is more durable than polyester. These days, you can even find carpets with pet-proofing options, too (take that, Fido!)

Hardwood’s durability also depends on a lot of factors, from the construction of the planks (solid vs. engineered hardwood), to the cut of the wood, the tree species, and the quality of the wear layer (if it has one). 

For solid wood flooring, the Janka Scale rates the durability of different species against dents and dings—oak and maple are more durable than birch or walnut. It’s also worth mentioning that solid hardwood can be sanded and refinished many times, which bumps it up in the durability department.

Engineered wood is more tolerant to humidity and temperature changes than solid wood is. But some engineered wood flooring can only be refinished once, and others types not at all.

That said, hardwood is often recommended for high-traffic areas, living rooms, and dining rooms. In this case, you can have your cake and eat it too by adding carpet tiles to any hardwood surface you like!

Reason #8: Carpet and hardwood can both increase your home’s value

Everyone knows hardwood flooring increases a home’s value

Hardwood living room floor

Okay, it’s not exactly a news flash to say that hardwood floors are great for a home’s value. According to Money, new wood floors bring an average 106% return on investment when you compare money spent to the increase in home value.  

But carpeting can increase value too—just in a different way

Thinking of selling your home and you’re on the fence over the carpeting debate? Well, friend, hop off the fence. 

When new hardwood isn’t an option, carpeting is a great solution. Realtor points out the perks of using new carpeting to spruce up a room. If you’re selling your home and don’t want to invest in new wood floors, fresh, NEW carpet can bring a sense of cozy charm and versatility to a potential buyer. 

A local flooring expert near you can help you choose a carpet within your budget to appeal to your target audience.  

Reason #9: They both have varying maintenance needs

Okay, so you probably don’t need a “how stuff works” guide to vacuuming your hypothetical new carpet. And you can easily check out how-to videos on tricky carpet cleaning issues like candle wax in the carpet or (heaven forbid) spilled red wine (shame). 

But: the same could be said for the care and maintenance of even the best hardwood floors! One material more cleaning-intensive than the other, especially given that hypoallergenic carpet options are becoming more and more widespread.

Regular vacuuming is recommended along with microfiber mopping. Mats are also recommended at all entrances. It’s best to avoid any cleaning that would saturate your floors since wood flooring is water-resistant but not waterproof. 

Conclusion

So, you see, the carpet vs. hardwood debate is ridiculous because they’re both awesome in their own way. It all depends on your lifestyle and the room you are looking to re-floor. 

Still not sure what flooring type you really want? Check out some other versatile options by comparing carpet vs. laminate side-by-side. Or, compare tile vs. wood floors to decide which is best for your home.

Now, it’s up to you. Take your facts, opinions, and questions to the flooring store of your choice. They are the experts, after all. And for more info on all things flooring, check out:

About The Author

Kimberly Severance

Best known as a therapeutic horseback riding instructor and mom to a 3-year old sassy dachshund, Kim enjoys writing and a good research project. She also loves a good DIY project—probably inspired by growing up in an old Connecticut colonial.

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