Carpet vs. Hard Surface Floors for Homes

As a Floor and Fiber Care Professional, I have had the opportunity over the years to clean many different types of flooring and have seen the ins and outs of the floor coverings people put in their homes.

In the past few years, there has been a move from soft floor coverings, primarily carpet, to hard floor coverings, encompassing grouted tile, multiple forms of wood, and various forms of vinyl.

In this blog post I want to look at both soft and hard floor coverings and consider the advantages and disadvantages of them to help you with your decision-making process when faced with future flooring purchases.

Carpet Pros:

  • Kids on CarpetCarpet costs significantly less than hard surface floors, usually running $3.00 to $5.00 per square foot.
  • Carpet comes in many different fibers, colors, and textures, providing a vast canvas for you to decorate your house with.
  • Carpet hides the dust in your house unlike hard floors, especially wood floors.
  • Carpet absorbs sound in your house, significantly reducing noise.
  • Carpet makes your floors warm and soft to walk on.
  • Carpet is not slippery, so it helps reduce slip and fall injuries.
  • This one may be a hard for you to swallow, but carpet is no worse for indoor air quality than hard surface floors. How? Research has been done by the flooring industry to determine the effect of carpet on indoor air quality. They found that when dust/dirt settles on a hard surface floor, and it is walked on, the dust lying on the floor becomes airborne due to the air currents stirring as it is walked on. Carpet traps the dust, reducing the amount that becomes airborne.
  • Carpet can last 15 to 20 years if you remove your shoes at the door, vacuum weekly, and have it professionally cleaned. I can always tell when I walk into a home where the people take their shoes off at the door because the carpet looks nearly new. You should have your carpet professionally cleaned annually, semi-annually if you have pets.
  • Carpet can be more easily repaired than hard surface floors.

Carpet Cons:

  • Most carpet is made from non-renewable resources, primarily petroleum.
  • Carpet can be more easily stained when we spill something on it.
  • Carpet is not as durable as hard surface floors.
  • The number one reason people are drifting away from carpet is because of poorly trained carpet cleaners who do a lousy job of cleaning carpet! We can take care of that problem!
  • Carpet is NOT a flooring to put in a kitchen or bathroom.
  • Carpet does not last as long when we fail to take our shoes off and track soils from the outdoors inside. Don’t forget that soil consists primarily of very fine mineral particles, so when we track this into our houses, it wears the carpet fibers faster.

Hard Surface Floors Pros

  • Kid on Hardwood FloorThere are a large variety of surfaces to choose from, with wood floors being the most dominant and dramatic. As a woodworker, I LOVE hardwood floors! My favorite was a recovered hardwood floor from a barn that was put into an old historic Ohio brick farm house that was being remodeled for its new owner. It was old growth, wormy, curly, quarter sawn oak from a barn in the northeastern US. It was the most beautiful hardwood floor I’ve ever seen! Wood floors are made from a renewable resource.
  • There are a lot of high end materials that, if maintained properly, will last for more than a lifetime, making them a great long term investment. Just think of the Biltmore house.
  • They can be easier to clean if maintained regularly.
  • If they are solid hardwood, or have at least an 1/8” thick veneer, they can be refinished.

Hard Surface Floor Cons

  • They are more expensive than carpet, ranging in price from $9-$12 per square foot. Please note that the fancier hardwoods are far more expensive than that! Imagine the cost of the old growth, wormy, curly, quarter sawn oak in the old farm house!
  • They are a hard surface, which can be unforgiving to walk on, and if you have any back or joint problems, you are more likely to notice that.
  • Unless you have installed a heated floor system under the hard surface floor, they can be quite cold to walk on in colder climates.
  • They can be quite noisy to walk on.
  • They can be easy to have slip and falls on, especially where you combine a hard surface floor with a room that has running water.
  • Though they can be beautiful, laminate/engineered wood floors are NOT as durable as solid wood floors and most cannot be refinished.
  • Some laminate/engineered floors don’t have a real wood veneer on them, but have a plastic PICTURE of hardwood on them. Try dropping something heavy or sharp on that and pierce the plastic cover, revealing the underlay of the floor. Yes, I’ve seen that happen. It’s ugly!
  • DON’T spill something on your grout lines on ceramic tile or on your natural stone surface if you have not had it sealed. Most grout lines and natural stone are porous and when something is spilled on them, the spill can penetrate down into them leaving a permanent stain.
  • They can be very difficult and expensive to repair if damaged or broken. If you do not have extra of the flooring sitting around, you may not be able to match it.
  • Dogs will always scratch hardwood floors.

What is The Solution?

Except for my kitchen, foyer, and bathrooms, my whole house is carpeted. Our house is on a slab, so carpet makes it so much more comfortable to walk on, especially in the winter. We also have some engineered laminate, vinyl and tile floors.

They all have their place in our home and we love them. And yes, we take our shoes off at the door, so except for two heavy traffic areas, the carpet looks like new, even though they are 15-17 years old! It helps to own a carpet cleaning business!

Whatever you choose, all floors need to be properly maintained to maximize their durability and appearance. We are an IICRC Certified Firm as well as a Carpet & Rug Institute Seal of Approval Service Provider. We have taken IICRC certification classes in carpet cleaning, tile & grout cleaning and wood floor cleaning.

We offer free floor and fiber care consultations where we look at your flooring, determine it’s condition, and provide you an estimate for cleaning. Contact Us Today!