Carpet or hardwood floors: Which is better?


Fact Box

  • Some experts say that hardwood floors can last more than 100 years in a home--possibly longer with good care.  
  • The oldest surviving carpet on record, the “Pazyryk carpet,” was found in a Siberian burial site in the 1940s and is said to be from the 5th century BC.
  • According to a survey conducted among real estate agents by the National Wood Flooring Association, homes with hardwood floors “are easier to sell and sell for more money--up to 10% more than identical homes without wood floors.”
  • Carpeting absorbs noise very efficiently, with a noise reduction coefficient (NRC) of .40 to .50, which is significantly higher than hardwood flooring’s rating of .05 to .15.

Bre (Hardwood)

Carpet is harder to keep clean than hardwood floors, requiring more work and maintenance overall. Accidents and spills are more difficult to remove from carpet, containing layers and structural features that often retain stains and particles.

Hardwood flooring is less prone to harboring allergens like pollen, pet dander, and dust mites. Additionally, research shows carpets act as “reservoirs for uptake and re-emission of chemical and biological agents.” Pollutants and mold spores, even particulates that have been contaminated by airborne toxic gases, can become trapped within carpeting. Activities like walking or vacuuming then stir up, or “re-suspend,” some pollutants. Touching and playing on the floor increases children’s exposure in carpeted homes. Thus, the American Lung Association suggests hardwood over carpet.

Hardwood floors are easier to keep dry and are therefore less prone to mildew and microbial growth. Carpet allows for chemical changes and biological transformations, acting as a surface and source for volatile compounds. Carpets themselves often contain and emit chemicals and are installed using adhesives that are harmful to our health.

Carpet adversely affects perceived air quality and increases asthmatic and allergic symptoms. Coughing and wheezing in babies is associated with new carpet installation. For these reasons, numerous health authorities suggest avoiding extensive carpet in classrooms and offices and wall-to-wall carpet in bedrooms.

Carpeting is typically composed of synthetic materials, whereas hardwood floors tend to be natural and more sustainable. Homebuyers prefer hardwoods to carpet, which raises the real estate value of hardwood-floored homes. Hardwood can even accelerate a house sale, given its clear superiority over carpet in terms of durability and longevity.

Zoe (Carpet)

Carpet is the more budget-friendly option, costing from $3 to $6 per square foot. On the other hand, hardwood floors can cost as much as $18 per square foot, when adding together the costs of materials and installation. 

Carpets also have more color options. While hardwood floors generally range between different shades of brown, carpets come in practically every color of the rainbow. In this respect, carpets allow you to bring a little creativity and color into your home. 

Carpets also hide dirt better than hardwood floors do. Realistically, not everyone finds the time to vacuum regularly, but with carpets, houseguests may not even notice. With most carpets, dirt falls into the weave's small crevices and is not as visible as on a smooth, flat hardwood floor. 

Additionally, carpets are better at dampening noise than hardwood floors are. Particularly in the larger rooms in the house, hardwood creates a more echoey environment, while carpets absorb sound waves. The din of a busy household can create unnecessary chaos, and carpets are a great way to preserve low volume. 

Finally, carpets are safer for children than hardwood floors. Carpets are typically soft, with some padding underneath, meaning that small children prone to falling will have a softer landing and also slip less than they would on a hardwood floor. 

Overall, carpets are cheaper, offer more creativity, and are less stressful, both in terms of noise level, cleaning, and the safety of your children. For these reasons, carpet is the better option.

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