I’m a big fan of hardwood flooring. I’ve redone several hardwood floors, including one time removing carpet and redoing the beautiful wood floors underneath.
But let me back up and tell you about a basement suite I rented after university. The suite was beautiful. The kitchen spectacular. It actually had a decent amount of natural light.
The problem was that the rooms above my suite were hardwood, making my suite like living inside a drum. I heard every noise above. It wasn’t pleasant. Yes, the people above me (owners of the home) loved the hardwood, but it sure isn’t pleasant for lower level rooms.
I’ve lived in homes with carpet and in homes with hard wood flooring. Each has advantages and disadvantages. I’ve also had the pleasure of redoing hardwood floors on several occasions. It’s a nasty job, especially if the carpeting you remove was glued to the underlying hardwood floor, which was the case in one of my flooring jobs.
In my experience, the carpet or hardwood question isn’t an either/or issue. Instead, it’s a room-by-room issue.
What follows is an in-depth analysis of the pros and cons of each as well as which rooms are better for hardwood and which rooms are more suitable for carpeting.
Pros of Hardwood Flooring
It’s difficult to not like the look of hardwood flooring. If you hate it, obviously your flooring choice is easier. If you love it, go nuts. It’s a great flooring material for most rooms of the home.
In comparison to carpet, hardwood is much cleaner. It doesn’t collect dust and dirt. Well it does, but all you need to do is give a sweep or quick vacuum. Carpeting, despite best efforts is never perfectly clean unless you do a massive steam cleaning… and even then you end up with chemicals in your home.
Carpeting needs to be replaced. Hardwood flooring that is well maintained can last decades.
4. Flexibility with area rugs
You can add area rugs throughout which then offers benefits of carpeting while enjoying the benefits of hardwood flooring. The downside of course is that area rugs aren’t cheap.
5. Easy to rearrange furniture
If you like rearranging furniture, its’ a breeze with hardwood flooring as long as you have padding on the bottom of your furniture. The downside is that on hardwood flooring you furniture can easily moved out of place.
Cons of Hardwood Flooring
1. Noise Levels
As I mentioned above from my experience living below hardwood floors, they are noisy. They’re noisy below and in the rooms themselves. Sound is not muffled at all. Area rugs can help, but carpeting is a better option if you prefer a very quite home environment.
Scratches happen. As hard as you try to avoid it, your wood floor will get scratched. Some people like the distressed, worn wood floors while other people prefer pristine. Obviously you’re not going to start slashing your wood floor just for the distressed look… but if you go with wood flooring accept the fact it will get scratched.
Wood flooring doesn’t insulate well and it’s cold to the touch, especially in the morning and late evenings. An easy fix is wearing slippers. But if you prefer barefeet and don’t want cold feet, hardwood flooring may not be for you.
4. Hard surface
It’s hard. My wife and I have a 2 year old son. It’s not the best surface to crawl around on and play on. We solved this by buying a large soft play mat, but do you think our son restricts his playing to the mat? Not a chance. He doesn’t seem bothered by it, but my knees don’t take too kindly to it.
Also, if you drop glass, forget about it. It’s broken. At least with carpeting, if you drop glass, there’s a good chance it won’t shatter.
5. Requires placing pads on bottom of furniture
The smart thing to do if you have hardwood floor is to place protective pads at the bottom of your furniture to prevent scratches. It’s a bit of a hassle, but well worth it.
Pros of Carpeting
Carpeting is great for walking around with bare feet. It’s much more comfortable than hardwood flooring.
2. Muffles sound
Carpeted rooms are less noisy.
3. Aesthetics and selection
There are more carpeting options than hardwood options. This means you can find the exact carpeting you want because the selection is practically endless.
4. Furniture stays put
This is good and bad. When you want to move furniture around, carpeting is a nuisance because you can’t slide it. However, when you want your furniture to stay put, carpeting works better. Generally, you’ll move furniture around less often than not so it’s a considerable benefit to have furniture remain in place.
Cons of Carpeting
Even if you vacuum every other day, carpeting is dirtier than hardwood floor. It’s also more difficult and time-consuming to clean carpeting. We have hardwood throughout our main living area and cleaning it is simple.
It’s hard not to love the look of hardwood flooring. Generally, carpeting is less attractive than wood floors; however, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You just might prefer the look of carpeting.
3. Replacement cost
Carpeting has a shorter lifespan than wood flooring. Therefore, when comparing cost, keep in mind that you will more quickly replace carpeting than hardwood flooring.
While today’s carpeting offers decent stain resistance and steam cleaners can do a great job removing stains, you can still end up with permanent carpet stains. That said, wood flooring can stain, especially from moisture.
Carpeting contains chemicals. Steam cleaning carpeting involves chemicals. In today’s chemical laden homes, you might wish to take a step in reducing chemicals in your home, which means hard wood flooring is the better option.
Of course any conclusion on this issue is purely personal preference. My preference boils down to a room-by-room analysis. Here it is.
Which rooms are better for hardwood and which are best with carpeting?
1. Kitchen: hardwood (many will argue a better water resistant floor is better than both wood and carpeting).
2. Living room: hardwood (seriously consider adding an area rug).
3. Dining room: hardwood
4. Bathroom: neither. Generally something a little more water resistant is best. However, powder rooms are good with hardwood.
5. Bedroom: carpeting
6. Upper level room: carpeting is best because hardwood flooring is a pitiful noise insulator for rooms below.
7. TV/Entertainment Room: carpeting is best for sound quality.
8. Foyer: hardwood
Currently our home is unique with the living space on the second floor and bedrooms on the first floor. Our living space upstairs is all hardwood, which makes for poor noise insulation above.
What about the cost difference?
Generally, hardwood will cost more; however, some carpeting may actually cost more per square foot than hardwood.
It’s impossible to declare one cheaper than the other because there are many variables such as type of carpeting, installation cost and type of hardwood.
What about laminate flooring?
If you can swing your budget to accommodate hardwood, go for the hardwood. It’s more durable and there’s nothing like the real thing.
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