Whether you’re updating your current home or moving into a new one, figuring out whether carpet or hard flooring is better for you isn’t always an easy decision.

There are so many options for flooring that it can be hard to know where to start and what you’re really looking for.

Carpet is soft on bare feet, and can make your living room feel cozier and an office more comfortable. But hardwood is much easier to keep clean, and doesn’t collect or hold onto as many allergens.

Homeowners have long had this debate for different areas of the home. And while there’s no right or wrong answer, knowing what flooring options there are is the first step.

We’ve gathered the pros and cons to both carpet and hard flooring to help you figure out which flooring type is best for your space.

What Kinds of Carpet Are There?

Carpet comes in many shapes and sizes. Even the material that carpe is made out of can drastically impact what kind is best for different rooms in your home.

A level loop Olefin is a popular carpet for basements, since it’s a flat carpet that can withstand more ware. Meanwhile polyester texture or twist carpet is often best for bedrooms, because of its plush feel and two-tone color scheme.

Here are the most common fibers that carpets are made from, and how each can suit different purposes for your home.

Nylon

  • This material is most common and can work in many areas of a home.
  • It’s durable and on the more affordable end of the carpet spectrum, but not stain-resistant.
  • Both soft and durable, nylon is what many households choose for bedrooms and living rooms

Polyester

  • Polyester is one of the cheapest carpet materials because it’s less durable than other types of carpet. This makes it a good fit for low-traffic areas, like bedrooms.
  • Because it’s plastic-based, high-traffic areas like stairs or hallways may start to see more matting of the fibers over time.
  • There are less colors and varieties of polyester, but it’s stain-resistant.

Wool

  • This natural fiber is durable, stain-resistant, and easy to clean.
  • It works well in medium-traffic areas.
  • It’s the most expensive material, however, at $4.5 to $10.00 per square foot.
  • Most carpeting falls into the $2 to $4 per square foot range.

Olefin

  • Durable, moisture- and stain-resistant, Olefin is best used in basements and low-traffic areas.
  • It’s sensitive to high heat, so keep in mind that it’s not around a fireplace or other warm areas.

Make of Carpet

Besides the carpet material, the way carpet is made also impacts what variety will fit best in your home. A carpet’s pile is the kind of weave the fibers take on. For example, a level loop pile’s carpet fibers are all the same height, so it may not be quite as soft as other carpets, but it’s more durable.

Different rooms have different needs. High-traffic areas like entry ways need a durable knit, and might also need the capacity to hide dirt from all the shoes that trample through.

Bedrooms might not need the same carpet quality since you’re likely barefoot or in socks most of the time, bringing in less dirt and debris.

The length and weave of the carpet fibers also have many options, some of which are:

Cut and Loop Pile

  • This style combines two kinds of carpet pile to create a medium density.
  • A wide range of textures and sculptured effects available in many patterns.
  • Because of the different levels of the fibers, the carpet hides dirt, stains and footprints exceptionally well.
  • Used in both formal and informal areas in the home.

Level Loop

  • All the strands are the same height.
  • Its texture hides dirt well in high-traffic areas.
  • This is great for entrances and hallways that are frequently walked on.

Multi-Level Loop

  • This is another great style for high-traffic areas as it hides dirt well.
  • The fibers are cut at different levels, so there are a variety of fiber lengths.
  • Homeowners with pets may want to steer clear of this make since the size of the loops makes it easy for paws to get caught in. This can cause the carpet to rip more easily.

There are many more makes of carpet fiber not listed here, so if you’re interested in carpet, ask your carpet salesperson to find out what kinds they have and what they’d recommend.

As far as carpeting in high-traffic areas like hallways, stairs, or entryways, look for nylon materials and level-loop carpet piles so that the carpet withstands the traffic and hides dirt. For bedrooms, polyester fits well because it’s low-traffic and the pile is very soft to the touch.

The Pros of Carpet

Having so many options for a carpet’s material and pile creates many choices, so finding what materials and lengths will be best for the different areas of your home is important to discern.

With all that in mind, here is what we’ve found to be the best and worst qualities of installing carpeting instead of hard flooring:

  • More affordable
  • Can make a space like basements warmer by acting as an insulator
  • Softer and cozier
  • More choices and opportunity for personalization — there’s a wide range of colors, styles, patterns, lengths, weaves, and more
  • Quieter because it absorbs sound, preventing sound to travel and ricochet
  • Better for rental properties since it’s much cheaper to replace and maintain

Cons of Carpet

High-traffic and winter weather can affect how tolerant your flooring is to damage over time. The knits and materials you choose for certain rooms could change how severe these downsides are.

  • Holds onto dirt, dust, and allergens more than hardwood
  • Not as durable: usually only lasts somewhere from 5 to 15 years
  • Carpeting in homes with lots of nooks and crannies are best done by professionals

Types of Hard Wood Floor

Even though hardwood doesn’t have the same color and pattern options as carpet, there is still a lot to choose from. There is a range to what it more affordable and what will work best in areas prone to spills like a kitchen.

Real Wood

  • From maple to oak to bamboo, there are many options for hardwood.
  • Maple, oak, and pine are the most commonly used wood in hardwood flooring, and each have their own pros and cons
  • Maple is hard and resists stains, while oak and pine are very durable but not as stain-resistant.

Laminate

  • While there are less choices of laminate, it’s made to look like hardwood and is typically a lot more affordable.
  • It usually lasts around 10 years and is highly water- and stain-resistant.
  • If water leaks into its joints, it can chip and warp the edges.
  • Laminate is an easy DIY install, whereas hardwood is best done by professionals.

Luxury Vinyl

  • Luxury Vinyl Tile is designed to look as close to real wood as possible, so you can achieve the almost same beautiful look for a fraction of the cost.
  • It’s very durable and less vulnerable to moisture and climate than hardwood and laminate.

The Pros of Hard Flooring

As you look at investing into flooring, it’s important to know your budget, the application of the flooring, and what rooms it’s best suited for over carpet.

Now that you know what varieties there are, let’s look at the pros and cons of hard flooring over carpet:

  • Less allergens since there are no fibers to trap in dirt, dust, and debris
  • Easier to keep clean than carpet
  • Sleeker and timeless look
  • Ideal for bathrooms and kitchens
  • More durable and lasts much longer than carpet
  • Laminate and Luxury Vinyl are fairly straight-forward and manageable to install yourself
  • Hardwood is a timeless, classic look and has a great resale value
  • Refinishing existing hardwood flooring is a great solution to using what you already have.

Cons of Hardwood Flooring

  • More expensive
  • More difficult and time-consuming to install, and best done by professionals
  • Can be colder than carpet, especially in rooms like basements or bedrooms
  • Real wood flooring can be difficult if there are several rooms to work on, and it can get complicated very quickly.
  • Trying to align different rooms and their odd shapes requires a lot of planning.

How to Choose Between Carpet and Hardwood Floor

You may end up going with a combo of hard flooring and carpeting for different rooms. Hard flooring is best for bathrooms, mudrooms, and main walkways since it’s easier to clean and less likely to be damaged from water, mud, and the like.Carpet can be nice for bedrooms and living rooms where you want to feel comfortable and relax.

When it comes down to it, hard flooring — especially hardwood — is a bigger investment. The price tag is more expensive, so if budget is your main priority, carpet is a more affordable option.

Carpet can keep rooms warmer and quieter by retaining heat and absorbing sound. It’s softer than hardwood too, which can be nice with kiddos running around or if you spend all day on your feet.

If you’re looking for a long-lasting investment, hardwood is worth considering. The timeless sleek look will last a lifetime, it’s much more durable, not to mention easier to clean.

When it’s Time to Upgrade Your Carpet

Homes come in all different shapes and sizes, and how your family uses and travels through your home are all important factors in choosing what will fit best with your dynamic.

If you’ve been thinking about hardwood floors because your carpet’s been looking less than fresh, a carpet replacement may be able to do the trick for less. Here’s how to tell if it’s time to replace your carpet, and why you need to: Signs your trusty carpet isn’t so trusty anymore >