Carpet vs. Hardwood: 5 Things to Consider for Your New Floors

Adding new flooring to your home can be a big decision. Things to consider include style, maintenance, and cost. The most common decision customers are faced with is carpet vs. hardwood.

Both styles of flooring are appealing, cost-effective and practical in different ways. As with anything, there are pros and cons to both.

Hardwood floors are visually appealing with many options to choose from. Carpets come in countless colors, patterns, and textures. Both hardwood floors and carpet can even offer certain health benefits for the homeowner!

It ultimately comes down to customer preference.

Let’s dive a little deeper into the differences between carpet vs. hardwood flooring so you can make an informed decision.

Carpet vs. Hardwood – What’s the Cost?

The simple answer to this question is that per square foot, carpet is much less expensive to install than hardwood.

The average cost of carpet is $3-$5 per square foot for both material and installation. Hardwood can cost anywhere from $9-$14 per square foot, including material and installation.

The total cost to carpet a room measuring 12 feet x 12 feet would be between $300 – $600. Hardwood floors in an identical room would cost between $1,150 – $1,270. The difference is clear.

Though the initial cost of installation is less for carpet vs. hardwood, hardwood may actually be cheaper to maintain in the long run. Not to mention, hardwood flooring lasts much longer than carpet.

The average lifespan of a carpet is between 3 and 10 years, depending on the amount of foot traffic. Carpets in high-traffic areas of your home will need replacing much sooner. The life of your carpet will also depend on the quality of the product you purchase.

There is no comparison between the carpet vs. hardwood when it comes to their longevity. Hardwood floors, with proper maintenance, can last for hundreds of years. Indefinitely, even. Hardwood floors needing some TLC can also be refinished for a fresh look.

Personal Preference and Functionality

Choosing the perfect flooring for your home means different things for different people. Factors range from the amount of foot traffic to possible allergies and general preference of style.


The answer to whether carpet vs. hardwood is better for your home can be as simple as which material you find more attractive.

Carpeting does offer more options to the homeowner including color, design, and texture. With so many varieties, you should have no problem finding carpeting to match your current décor. Sometimes the style of room you are decorating will warrant carpet vs. hardwood, such as a living room, den or other “cozy space.”

There are many different options of hardwood floors as well, including different stain colors, grains and types of wood. There are even exotic woods that come in shades of yellow, pink, orange, purple and black. These woods often come in unique grains as well and are often purchased from the forests of Africa and South America.

Just note that these unique wood choices can be more expensive than more traditional options.


If you or someone in your family suffers from allergies, there are definitely some things you need to know when deciding between carpet vs. hardwood.

Not only can some carpets be made with materials that a homeowner is allergic too, but they collect dust, pollen, dirt, and dander. Hardwood floors do not retain much of anything. Any dust or pollen collected in the home can simply be cleaned away from the surface.

There are some hypoallergenic carpets available that are made from natural and synthetic materials. Wool carpets are also an option for those suffering from allergies. Wool carpeting is made from only natural fibers.

Soft or Hard

One of the main differences between carpet vs. hardwood floors is the feel. Obviously, carpet flooring offers more cushion and comfort than hardwood.

Carpet flooring offers warmth, not only on your feet but also in your home. Carpet can help retain heat inside your home, even showing a decrease in your home heating costs!

There are some easy remedies for dealing with hardwood floors that can be cold and, well, hard! These include adding area rugs and small carpets to space or wearing slippers.

Something else to consider when deciding between carpet vs. hardwood (or soft vs. hard) is the occupants of the home. Carpeting provides a greater cushion for falls. This is beneficial for both small children and elderly persons. Fragile items dropped on carpets have a better chance of surviving the impact vs. hardwood floors as well.


Both carpet and hardwood floors need a certain level of maintenance. This can mean replacement or refinish to everyday upkeep and deep cleaning.


Carpets need to be vacuumed often and are never completely free of dust, dirt and other airborne particles. The only way to ensure a true, deep cleaning is to have your carpets steam cleaned by a professional.

A carpet cleaning professional will help determine the correct products and process to use. This will save you from performing a botched cleaning job that may result in damage or increased expenses.

Professional carpet cleaning will also ensure that your carpets do not become too wet during the cleaning process. Damp carpets are a breeding ground for mold and mildew.

Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood floors need an equal amount of everyday cleaning. Hardwood floors can be swept or vacuumed and then mopped. Because they do not absorb dust as carpets do, hardwood floors should be swept every other day.

Professional cleaning for hardwood floors is also available. If you use harsh chemicals to clean your hardwood, it can end up doing more harm than good.

A common household cleaner for hardwood floors is a mixture of vinegar and water. Unfortunately, vinegar does not always clean the dirt, nor kill the bacteria. Frequent use of this solution can also damage your floor’s finish.

With professional cleaning, special machines have used that help to remove the dirt from cracks and crevices that you may overlook. Mold and mildew are potential hazards for hardwood floors as well. Professional cleaning services offer a drying process that will prevent this from happening.

Stain Removal

Stains are much harder to remove and easier to recognize on carpet vs. hardwood.

When cleaning a spill on a hardwood surface, it can usually be wiped up without leaving any lasting damage. Though, there are rare occasions when hardwood becomes stained due to moisture.

Carpets are available in stain-resistant materials. When a stain does occur on a carpet, a steam cleaner can sometimes remove it. But there is still a chance that your carpet will become permanently stained due to an accidental spill or other incidents.

Noise Control

Believe it or not, the choice between carpet vs. hardwood could mean a better night’s sleep for you and your family.

Carpeting a room is a great way to help block sound from traveling to other areas of your home. In fact, carpeting is one of the most efficient building materials available for absorbing noise.

Unfortunately, hardwood floors offer no protection or barrier for noise. Hardwood floors are unable to muffle sounds so they will be heard both in the room, as well as below the room. Area rugs on hardwood floors can offer some cushion, both for your feet and for your ears!

Noise levels are especially something to consider if you are living in an apartment or other space with close quarters.

Going Green

Floor heating. Young woman walking in the house on the warm floor. Gently walked the wooden panels.

More and more homeowners are using greener options in everyday life. From energy efficient washers and dryers to fabric softeners and heating and cooling systems. There are greener options when deciding between carpet vs. hardwood floors too.

Carpeting contains chemicals, as do cleaners needed for maintenance. You might have to do a little research to find carpets that do not use volatile organic compounds (VOC’s). You may also find carpets made of recycled items, or ones that can be recycled when it’s time to replace them.

Hardwood flooring can be made using recycled and reclaimed wood. You can also buy wood that comes from a forest that meets sustainability standards. These are set by the Sustainable Forest Initiative.

The Decision is Yours

Are you looking to add a warm, cozy feel to your den or family room? Then carpeting might be the right choice for you.

Is your dining room in need of a facelift? Something to make it look brighter and more open? Perhaps hardwood flooring is the way to go.

Are you looking for a short term, cost effective option that carpet installation offers? Or is the longevity of hardwood flooring more appealing?

There are many things to consider when making a decision between carpet vs. hardwood flooring in your home. A professional company can offer guidance and even a free estimate to help you make the best decision for you and your future.