In most parts of the country, hardwood is by far the preferred flooring type, and that is especially the case here in Westchester County NY and the NYC metro area. The trend towards hardwood has been growing, especially over the last 10-15 years. But why is this? Why do homeowners prefer hardwood?
What are the benefits of hardwood vs carpet, and why do most homeowners prefer hardwood flooring?
1. Hardwood flooring is upscale and it’s timeless.
Nothing beats the natural beauty of hardwood floors. Mother Nature is the best artist. Aesthetically, hardwood floors are more luxurious and provide an upscale and rich look. There is natural color and graining variation and the flaws and knots provide character. Hardwood floors can even make your home look larger.
It is amazing how new hardwood floors or even refinishing and changing the color can transform your home. It can change the style and aura of your home – even making it feel like you moved to a new home.
Hardwood flooring is an authentic part of the home that provides stability and a link to both the past and the future. Sometimes I get goosebumps just thinking about the how much history the hardwood floors have seen and all the special family times they have witnessed. They connect us together.
We crave people and things that are REAL and GENUINE. We take comfort in people and things that we can rely on. We love to reminisce in the past – the good old days, simpler times, when life was easier and less complicated. Hardwood is a link to both the past and future.
2. Hardwood lasts much longer than carpet.
Carpet generally lasts 7-10 years whereas solid hardwood typically lasts 100+ years (and yes, we have refinished many floors from the 1800s and several from the 1700s). While hardwood will cost more initially, it will definitely cost you less in the long run as it doesn’t need to be replaced like carpet does. Generally, by the time you’ve replaced the carpet, you will spend the same amount as hardwood and that doesn’t even factor in the annual cost of carpet cleaning nor rising prices on carpet (especially as oil prices continue to increase).
3. Hardwood is easier to clean and maintain
Swiffering is easier than vacuuming (and easier on your back). Spills (and odors) tend to get caught in carpet and often leave permanent marks. Cleaning hardwood is generally simpler and it’s easier to get them “clean clean” whereas things tend to linger permanently in carpets.
Annual carpet cleaning helps for sure, but at some point, no amount of cleaning will do the trick, especially around the edges which tend act as filters.
4. Improves home value giving you a better return on your investment (and there are double tax benefits)
There is no doubt about it, hardwood improves the value of your home. You should recoup your investment and then some. As more people strongly prefer hardwood (especially younger and wealthier buyers), it should both improve your selling price as well as shorten time on market.
According to HGTV, hardwood floors are the most frequently requested item among both homeowners and tenants. You can also read more about ROI on flooring here. And, according to an unscientific poll on my website, approximately 90% of customers prefer hardwood flooring for their living room/dining room space. (Feel free to cast your vote on that poll).
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Hardwood flooring is considered a capital improvement and as such, the sales tax on this investment is lower (note: this can vary by state). In addition, later, when you sell your house, this may give you an additional tax benefit as it can help lower you capital gain tax (consult your CPA on this).
Yes, hardwood is better for those with allergies or asthma as it hold less dust and allergens. Carpet can hold odors (e.g. pet smells, smoking, mildew) and germs. Those looking for better indoor air quality generally seek out hardwood floors (or other hard surfaces.
You can read more in this article: Which types of flooring are best if you have allergies?
6. Easier to repair
Accidents happen all the time. It could be spills, water damage, pet accidents, issues from appliance failure or ice damming, or a spark. Regardless of the cause, it’s generally easier to repair hardwood than carpet. Once the carpet is stained or sopped, the whole thing needs to be replaced. With hardwood, you can often repair the section and/or sand and refinish the room. It is generally much easier and less costly than replace a whole carpet.
7. Lower maintenance costs
Maintaining carpet usually entails annual carpet cleaning and of course, ultimately replacing the carpet (which costs more money).
8. Hardwood never goes out of style
While the trends on hardwood stain colors may change from time to time, hardwood itself will never go out of style. It’s been used in houses since the 1600-1700s and just grown in popularity. If you want to make a change in color due, it’s easy to refinish and stain the floors for a new look. And, when it comes time to sell your home, if the buyer has a difference stain preference, it’s easy for them to change as well.
Here’s a link to an article on Hardwood stain color trends.
9. More environmentally friendly – greener than carpet- natural product and it’s renewable
Hardwood flooring is more environmentally friendly vs carpet as it lasts for 100+ years. Most carpet (wool and sisal being key exceptions) is petroleum based and most can not be recycled. So, hardwood is the more environmentally friendly choice between the two.
Advantages of carpet over hardwood
While most people prefer hardwood over carpet, there are many who do enjoy the benefits of carpet, especially for the bedrooms. While 90% of buyers prefer hardwood for the living room/dining room/family room areas, the jury is more split on the bedrooms, generally with 60% preferring hardwood and 40% carpet.
Here are the advantages that carpet provides.
1. Costs less…initially
Many choose carpeting out of budget constraints. While they may prefer hardwood, their budget favors carpet. Carpet is generally less expensive than hardwood…at least initially. In the long run, as carpet needs to be replaced more often, it will end up costing more to buy carpet, but if you are looking at short-term costs (e.g. either because you only plan to live in the house a short time or that is all that you can afford now), then carpet may be a sensible option.
Please note that the cost of carpet can vary widely based on what carpet you select. There are some high end wool carpets which can cost even more than hardwood. Generally, wool carpet will cost more than nylon which in turn will cost more than polyesters/olefins. Patterned or tone on tone carpets will cost a bit more than solids.
2. Softer on your feet, good for kids who sit/play on floor
For those that prefer softness, carpet provides a wonderful option. This can be cushy on your feet for bedrooms, or a great option for kids that may play or crawl on the floor. Of course dogs and cats love to cuddle up and rest on the carpet, too.
3. Quieter/reduces noise
Carpet absorbs sound, so it’s quieter. This reduces sound reflection in the room, muffles the sound of creaking and can even reduce sound transmission to the rooms below (which is why carpet is often required on 80% of the floor space in most Co-ops and rentals.
4. Warmer; Carpet can lower energy bills
Carpet generally makes the space warmer as it traps some of the heat and insulates the area. As a result, you may spend less on energy bills, especially during the colder months. This probably has a bigger impact in the Northeast, MidAtlantic and MidWest states.
5. Pets prefer carpets
While many of us many prefer hardwood flooring, most cats and dogs prefer carpet over hardwood. It’s just more comfy and makes a fun spot for them to curl up on. In addition, some dogs slip on the hardwood flooring; there is just more traction with carpet. Of course some of this can be solved by adding area rugs. And, if you have dogs in your household, I would strongly recommend a carpet runner for the steps.
Conclusion – Hardwood vs Carpet:
The majority of homeowners prefer hardwood over carpet, especially for the main living areas. In my experience, here in Westchester/NYC Metro area, customers seem to be a bit split on their preference on hardwood vs carpet for the bedrooms (arounds 60% prefer hardwood; 40% carpet…as it gets colder here in the winter.
Pick which surface works best for you and your family (including the pets). And, remember, there is always a hybrid option – You can get hardwood floors and area rugs in some areas. For many this provides an ideal solution for comfort as well as decor.
Which surface do you prefer? And, if you have any advantages to add to either the hardwood or the carpet section, please let me know in the comments below. I welcome your input.
If you live in Westchester County NY, I offer color consultations to advise customers on paint colors and stain choices. My designer discount at the paint stores usually more than offsets the cost for the hour consultation. Read more here. I’ve just started to offer phone consultations, too.
Please note that this article contains affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure at the bottom of the page.
Complementary products that will prolong the life of your hardwood floors
8 thoughts on “What are the advantages of hardwood over carpet?”
I’ve always been a fan of carpet. There is something about it that just makes a room feel more comfortable. But now that my husband and I are building a home I’m not so sure. You mentioned that carpet only lasts 7-10 years whereas solid hardwood can last over 100 years. That seems like financially that would be a better option especially with children. Do hard wood floors typically get scratched more often? Also what if water is spilled on them, will that ruin the floor?
Yes, hardwood is a much better investment. Not only does it save you money in the long run, but it also improves the value of your home. There is no contest on which has a better return on investment. Hardwood can be refinish. Often, people will do this every 7-10 yrs (vs. replace carpet every 5-7 yrs). And, refinishing costs a lot less than recarpeting. If it’s water damaged in a section, you can replace those boards (vs carpet, you need to replace the whole thing. Hope that helps.
I really like the durability and ease of cleaning that hardwood floors provide. However, there is nothing worse that getting out of bed onto a cold floor. So, I like having carpet in the bedrooms. I also think that if you are going to have hardwood floors that you should get some throw rugs for the entry way and around furniture. It looks nice, and it helps protect your floor.
James – Yes, good points. Most prefer to have area rugs by the bed and yes, it’s important to have an area rug or entry mat in the entryway for durability.
Lillian – Thanks and hardwood (as you know) is an excellent choice.
I didn’t know that hardwood floors can make your home look larger! This is a really great idea for those who don’t have a lot of space to work with! I also think hardwood is more durable than carpet and is less easily damaged!
I completely agree with hardwood floors over carpet. It really does make a home look bigger. I can’t explain why it does but it just does. It’s also so much cleaner than carpets. Everytime I clean the floor and see all the dirt and grime I pick up with a swiffer I can only imagine that stuff stuck to my carpet if I had one. I still love having carpet in the rooms. Low traffic in the rooms and regular cleaning helps out with the rooms.
Tom – Yes, I was just having a similar conversation with someone who had removed their carpeting and they couldn’t believe how much dust there was.