The choice between carpet and floors seems like a choice between comfort and convenience, but it’s actually a little more complicated than that. Any flooring choice must be seen as an investment, because it’s a big upfront cost that must last a long time, but will pay off in the long run. It is important to consider the lifestyle of the family when you consider your flooring options. A high-traffic room will benefit from wood floors rather than carpeted ones, but a bedroom will be much more comfortable and quiet with a carpet floor.

Convenient Cleaning

Cleaning is the first thing most people think of when it comes to their flooring selection. Carpets are hard to clean, hardwood floors are easy, and that’s the way most people think. It’s not quite that simple. Hardwood floors are easier in a lot of ways, yes, but carpet’s not as complex as people think either.

Carpet floors do require a little more work to maintain. Most carpeting is made of polyethylene, also known as olefin, polyolefin, or polypropylene. Many clothes are made of this substance as well. Olefin is notorious for its ability to hold onto stains. It can be difficult to get stains out without scrubbing, but because patterned carpet has loops that are easily pulled and frayed, scrubbing a carpet clean is a huge undertaking that can ruin your investment. That being said, if you lay down rugs in your high traffic areas, and the law when it comes to when and where shoes can be worn in the house, this problem can usually be avoided. Carpet floors are also easier to vacuum, which means it’s not as easy to kick up a bunch of allergens into the air.

Hardwood floors are thought to be much easier to maintain. Swept a few times a week or as needed and just mopped when they get dirty, a hardwood floor can be significantly less of a hassle to take care of. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that hardwood floors are perfect for the busy family either. Hardwood floors can warp in hot weather, meaning that when they swell they can absorb stains much more easily than they would in cold weather. Water and other liquids also should not sit on a hardwood floor for too long, or else they will warp. Hardwood floors can be scrubbed, but only gently with a plastic scrub brush. It is also prudent to polish them with hardwood floor polish every once in awhile as they can get scratched and dull just with normal wear and tear. For spots like wax, gum, and candy, chill the spot with ice before very carefully removing it with a plastic scraper.

Allergens

Carpets are also famous for holding onto allergens like dust, mites, pollen, and others. A regular cleaning twice a year or so will help keep your carpet clean and comfortable for those with allergies. Hardwood floors don’t have this issue because of their ease of cleaning. They do still collect dust though, so make sure you sweep and mop well if this is an issue for you. The allergen concern does make it more prudent to use ran and crocheted rugs rather than heavy plastic-backed area rugs on a hardwood floor because they can be easier to wash.

Tastes

When installing new flooring in a home you intend to sell, keep in mind the tastes of the area. In some areas of the country, carpet is a much more practical option because it’s colder year-round. In others, it makes much more sense to install ceramic tile or stone flooring. This is the case in places like Florida or Hawaii, where the high humidity can cause hardwood floors to warp or carpets to stain more readily. Still, in most of the country, hardwood floors are preferred by almost all homeowners and renters. Oak is the favorite among more traditional home buyers, but of course that’s not always the case in such a varied market. More exotic woods like hickory or walnut, or wide-plank flooring that looks antique.

Comfort

Of course, you shouldn’t ignore what is arguably the most important quality, the comfort of the flooring. Carpet is the winner here, and often houses that mainly feature hardwood flooring will often have carpeting in the bedrooms because it’s softer underfoot. It’s a particularly good choice if you have small children, as it doesn’t hurt little bodies as much as they’re learning to walk, crawl, and roughhouse. Carpet also helps keep rooms warmer in cold climates. Carpet floor can also help muffle sound in a 2-3 story house.

Hardwood flooring is great in warmer climates or climates where the weather varies a lot from season to season, where they can easily go from pleasant in hot weather to cozy-looking and homey in the winter. Area rugs can also help with the cold-weather transition, helping to keep a room warm as well as softening the hard floors under big feet and little bottoms.  

Cost

Another big factor to consider when renovating your floors is the cost. There’s a dramatic difference between carpeting and hardwood flooring prices. Hardwood flooring can range from $9-12 a square foot, while carpet is much cheaper at between $3-5 a square foot. However, many homebuyers are willing to pay more for hardwood floors because they are easier to maintain and stay beautiful for years and years, and a hardwood floor will increase your chances of selling faster. A good quality carpet will only last around 10-15 years before it must be replaced due to age.

Flooring is a big decision and it’s often the first decision made when deciding to remodel or even buy a home. keep in mind the tastes in the area, your own personal style, and what the market will look like for your home when you are looking to sell. It can be a big decision, but keeping in mind the lifestyle of you and your family will make the choice much easier.