One of the major decisions when building or buying a new home is what material to use for flooring.

Some rooms make the decision for you. Bathrooms generally get ceramic tiles, porcelain tiles, or vinyl. Most kitchens get a similar material.

For the rest of house, though, you might struggle with the carpet vs hardwood decision. Both are readily available. Plus, contractors know proper installation methods for both.

If you’re struggling with the choice, keep reading and we’ll give you a rundown of the major pros and cons of each.

Cost

On the price front, carpet typically wins. The average cost for carpets runs somewhere around 30%-50% cheaper than hardwood flooring.

Of course, the exact carpet cost with installation depends on the material and quality of carpet you choose. High-end carpet made with natural fibres cost more than synthetic or synthetic blend carpets. High-pile carpet costs more than low-pile.

Similarly, the exact hardwood you choose affects the overall price. Basic oak hardwood flooring falls into the routine 30%-50% more expensive category. Exotic hardwoods often cost twice to four times as much as non-exotic hardwoods.

Durability

Hardwood flooring, not surprisingly, gets a clear win in terms of overall durability.

A solid hardwood floor can hold up for a century or more with care. That care mostly involves maintaining a stable environment in the house and periodic refinishing.

Carpet is just fabric. Even the best-made fabrics stretch, fray, and wear out over time. Once it shows that wear the only solution is new carpeting.

One factor that partially mitigates the hardwood durability advantage is how long you plan on living in a house.

A good carpet will hold up for 5-10 years. A very good carpet can last 20 years or more.

If you expect to sell the home in the next ten years, durable flooring might not matter as much. Durable flooring might matter a lot more for parents who plan on leaving the house to a child or grandchild.

Noise

Homes can prove noisy, especially when you have kids running around and playing. Carpet gives you a decided edge when it comes to noise reduction.

Sound moves through the air as waves. The fabric of the carpet and the padding underneath absorb those waves, which dampens the total amount of noise.

If you ever drop a book onto a carpet, you can see the effect in action. The noise is dull and flat.

Run the same book dropping experiment on a hardwood floor. You get a much sharper noise, more of a cracking sound than a thudding sound.

Hardwood and other hard, flat flooring options let those sound waves bounce. Flat walls let them bounce as well. That can actually create more noise in your home because sounds echo.

Hardwood can also create noise problems. Old hardwood floors often squeak when people walk on them.

Even been in a house with hardwood floors overhead? It’s very common for every step to carry down to the floor below.

Safety

Carpet offers a small degree of additional safety when compared to hardwood. The carpet itself and the padding beneath provide a slight cushion if you or your child falls.

Granted, most carpet sits on top of plywood or concrete, so a fall will still hurt. That padding can make the difference between a bruise and a broken bone.

Think of it as the difference between falling on soil and falling on concrete. Soil gives a little bit when you land on it. Concrete doesn’t.

Hardwood flooring has a little more give than concrete, but not much. It’s easier for you to cut or break something falling on it.

Comfort

No one set of rules defines comfort. That said, many people find carpeted flooring more comfortable.

Hardwood flooring absorbs and retains cold, especially if sits over an unheated basement or crawlspace. Hardwood floors also provide no cushion while you walk.

Carpeting doesn’t retain cold the same way. In fact, it offers a bit of insulation between you and the unheated spaces below. It can even help a room hold on to heat better.

Carpet also provides that small bit of cushion when you walk across it. A welcome benefit for anyone with knee or joint problems.

Decorating

In terms of decorating, it’s a draw between carpet and hardwood.

On the plus side, hardwood flooring is classic. It can lend itself to very refined and very rustic decorating tastes.

On the downside, there are only a handful of ways to install hardwood. It’s also limited in terms of colour and pattern.

Carpet comes in almost any colour or pattern you can imagine. That makes it excellent for creating visual counterpoints or accents in a home.

On the downside, carpet can’t reproduce the elegant simplicity of hardwood.

Cleaning

Hardwood has the advantage over carpet when it comes to cleaning.

Hardwood flooring gets sealed either before or immediately after installation. The seal prevents liquid spills from sinking into the wood. It also means that dust, pet hair, and allergens sit on the surface.

Regular sweeping or vacuuming picks up the loose dirt and hair. Occasional mopping removes most stuck-on dust and spills.

Even with anti-stain treatments, carpets often absorb spilled liquids. Carpet also captures odours, allergens and pet hair.

Carpets require very regular vacuuming to stay clean. In most homes, you must shampoo the carpet several times a year to remove the dust and allergens that vacuums miss.

Parting Thoughts on Carpet Vs Hardwood

An answer for the carpet vs hardwood question hinges on your priorities.

Carpet is the less expensive option in most cases. It also offers some key benefits in terms of comfort, noise reduction, and safety.

Hardwood flooring costs more, but it dominates in terms of durability. It’s also easier to clean and works well with certain decorating approaches.

For someone who values durability and doesn’t expect to move again, hardwood will serve you well. If comfort, price, or noise reduction top your list, go for the carpet.

W Stansbie Flooring specialises in flooring solutions for the Birmingham area. For more information about our flooring options, contact us today.