Carpet vs. Hardwood: Comparison Guide 

Hardwoods and carpet are popular flooring options with very different benefits. Hardwoods can last for decades and boost the resale value of homes. Most carpet doesn’t last as long but costs much less and provides warmth underfoot.

Carpet vs. Hardwood: How Both Stack Up

Carpet vs. Hardwood: How Both Stack Up

Resale valueDoesn’t add real estate valueIncreases resale value
Average Cost$2.50 per square foot$6 to $14 per square foot
Ease of MaintenanceEasy to clean or vacuum. Some carpet types aren’t stain-resistantEasy to sweep and mop
Installation CriteriaSome carpets are suitable for DIY installationMost hardwood flooring options need professional installation
DurabilityLasts between 5-10 yearsUp to 100 years
Flooring AreasLiving room, stairs, basement, bedroomsAll areas except bathrooms and basements
ComfortFeels soft underfoot and retains warmthDoesn’t dampen noise and feels hard underfoot

Carpet vs. Hardwood: Cost

Prices for carpet and hardwood vary depending on type and brand, but hardwood floors are more expensive than carpet.

According to mega-retailer The Home Depot, average carpet prices range from $1 -$4 per square foot, not including padding or installation. Carpet prices can range from $2 to $20 per square foot, with options such as olefin being on the low end and wool on the high end. The average cost of hardwood floors is $6 to $14 per square foot for the flooring only. 

Carpet vs. Hardwood: Ease of Installation

Carpet installation is not DIY-friendly. Specialized tools like a carpet stretcher and carpet stapler are required. In contrast, peel-and-stick carpet tiles are easier to install DIY. 

Installing hardwoods is an easier DIY process. In most instances, an underlayment is required. Hardwood floors may feature a click-together design or require glue and nails.

Carpet vs. Hardwood: Eco-Friendliness

“Green” carpets are made of recyclable materials like nylon yarns and plastic bottles. You’ll also find carpets made of natural materials like wool, bamboo, or cotton.

Some manufacturers also sell low-VOC carpets. These carpets don’t emit toxic gasses and are Green Label Plus certified. There are also green hardwood flooring alternatives in the market.

It’s best to know if the manufacturer of the hardwood you’re looking to buy is ethical. Check if the hardwood brand has the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification.

Carpet vs. Hardwood: Comfort, Styles & Patterns

Hardwood is a more natural option that comes in many shades, from neutral gray to rich bronze. While both carpet and hardwoods are available in several styles, carpet offers more options.

Carpet comes in various colors, patterns, fibers, and piles. The different carpet piles include cut pile, loop pile, and cut-loop pile. 

Hardwood’s selling point is its natural wood-tone hues. The wood grain gives hardwood an appealing pattern.

Water, Stain & Heat Resistance

Since most carpet contains synthetic fibers, they have some water resistance. Yet, it’s best to prevent water from penetrating beneath the carpet backing, or excess moisture may lead to mold and mildew growth.

Since carpet is prone to water damage, it’s not the ideal flooring option for high moisture areas. When exposed to a serious fire, carpets are also sensitive to heat and emit toxic gasses.

Wood flooring is best for light kitchen spills but is prone to water damage. It isn’t recommended for areas with constant moisture. 

Longevity & Ease of Maintenance

Carpets need regular maintenance by vacuuming and occasional carpet cleaning. But even with proper care, it’s rare for a carpet’s lifespan to exceed ten years.

A carpet’s durability depends on the pile and material. There are also carpets with pet-proofing technology, making them more durable. Hardwood’s longevity relies on the construction of the planks, wear layer, and wood species.

With proper maintenance, high-end hardwood flooring is known to last for decades. Hardwood is easier to clean and is best for high-traffic areas like the living room or stairs. It also handles wear and tear better than carpet.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

How much does it cost to replace carpet with hardwood?

The cost of replacing carpet with hardwood varies with location, labor, and hardwood brand. Carpet removal costs between $1 and $3 per square foot, with a national average of $190. Installing hardwood flooring ranges from $6 to $14 per square foot. High-end hardwood costs from $12 to $25 per square foot.

Can you lay a carpet on top of a hardwood floor?

Yes, you can. Carpet protects the hardwood floor from scratches and gives it an aesthetic appeal. It also provides better insulation and makes the floor feel soft underfoot.

What are the common downsides of carpet flooring?

Carpets trap dust and allergens, which affect homeowners with respiratory issues. They’re challenging to clean and may harbor mold and mildew if exposed to high moisture levels.