Carpet or Hardwood? 5 Good Reasons to Give Carpet a Chance

Your heart (and feet) say carpet, but your head says hardwood. Here are 5 good reasons to go with your heart.

Image: DHD - David Howell Design/Jeffrey Kilmer, photographer

Hardwood has reigned as the king of flooring for many years now. But if you’ve seen the carpet in showrooms today, you know hardwood’s reign isn’t as firm as it once was.

Industry experts, such as interior designer Sue Murphy, say carpet is rising in popularity because recent innovations make it hold up to traffic and stains much better than their counterparts of decades past.

But it’s also lifestyle. Emily Morrow of Shaw Floors says her company is seeing more people who miss the comfort and quiet of carpet.

So, if the thought of hardwood makes your feet hurt, here are 5 good reasons to choose carpet:

1. It’s Softer

While nylon carpet fibers have long held a well-deserved reputation for stain resistance, the sixth-generation nylons, known as Nylon 6 and Nylon 6.6, are the softest yet. They’re made using an increased number of smaller-diameter, toe-coddling fibers per square inch.

They’re tough, too, and they’ll resist stains and abrasions for 20 years and more. Not surprisingly, these latest-gen nylon carpets are among the most expensive of the synthetics, up to 20% more expensive — but still cheaper than hardwood, which leads us to reason #2 …

2. It’s Cheaper

“Economic realities are motivating people to take a second look at carpet,” says Murphy. “You can install a high-end quality carpet for about half the cost of hardwood.” 

If you do the numbers, you’ll find she’s right. Compare the costs for a 12-by-12 room:  

Materials:

  • Hardwood: $1,150 to $1,750
  • Carpet: $300 to $600

Installation would cost:

  • Hardwood: $432 to $1,440
  • Carpet: $35 to $100

Total:

  • Hardwood: $1,580 to $3,190
  • Carpet: $335 to $700

3. It’s Quieter

Got a high schooler who’s learning to play drums? Definitely carpet that room. Carpeting is a great sound blocker; in fact, it’s one of the most efficient building materials available when it comes to absorbing noise. With a noise reduction coefficient (NRC) of .40 to .50, carpet easily bests hardwood’s NRC of .05 to .15.

Besides that drummer’s cave, you can hush baby’s nursery, any bedroom, media room, and reading room. For an attic bedroom, carpet is a must-have choice.

4. It’s Prettier

Carpeting has options, lots of them: Textures, different types of yarn systems, hundreds of colors, patterns, tone-on-tone prints, looped carpet, tip shears — just about anything you dream up. That’s good news for those who like their homes to have personality.

“People are staying in their homes longer,” Morrow says, “so they feel more free to personalize their home and go beyond beige carpet.”

Fashionista alert: Rich golds and elegant greys are on the rise, as are brighter hues in general. “We’re expecting to see very bold and graphic patterns in carpet,” adds Morrow.

5. It’s Woollier

The wool and sisal carpets of today are eco-friendly options for carpet-lovers. They are much more earth-friendly and low-VOC than their predecessors because of their all-natural fibers and non-toxic dyes. 

What’s not to like?

So there’s no reason not to follow your heart’s desire for foot-soothing comfort, and choose carpet over hardwood — unless one of these 3 facts about carpet is a showstopper for you:

  • It still won’t last as long as hardwood, especially in high-traffic areas.
  • It requires constant, ongoing maintenance and professional cleaning.
  • It isn’t a good choice for damp areas, such as bathrooms.

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