Hardwood vs carpet flooring

Hardwood vs carpet flooring

Although both are popular flooring choices for many residential and commercial properties, hardwood and carpet are vastly different materials with contrasting features.

Both materials have very different aesthetic appeal. You may be drawn towards the sleek and professional appearance of hardwood, or perhaps the versatility that carpet offers with different colors and styles, but choosing the right flooring comes down to more than just appearance.

Hardwood vs carpet: which is better?


If the overall longevity of the flooring is a large priority for you, hardwood is the clear winner. With proper maintenance, hardwood flooring has an estimated lifespan of between 30 and 100 years. It can be sanded and refinished multiple times to remove scratches, dents, and scuffs, restoring the planks to their original condition.

Most types of carpet are expected to last around 10 years, but factors like the quality and material, its location, and the amount of maintenance carried out can either reduce or extend the lifespan.


Neither carpet or hardwood are particularly water-resistant. It’s unlikely that carpet itself will be damaged due to spills or leaks, however, this doesn’t mean that liquid won’t affect the subfloor underneath. Moisture exposure can also trigger mold growth within the carpet fibers, so any spills or leaks should be thoroughly dried and cleaned. Lighter-colored carpets can also be easily stained through liquid exposure, and not every stain will be simple, or even possible, to remove.

Hardwood, due to its natural composition, is very susceptible to moisture and other atmospheric conditions. Exposure to moisture and liquids can cause the planks to expand, contract or warp, which may lead to the necessary replacement of boards in the affected areas. Spills should be promptly cleaned up to prevent damage.

Cleaning and maintenance

Hardwood is very easy to clean and maintain. Vacuuming regularly and mopping the floors will keep them sanitary, and hardwood can be polished every 2 – 6 months for additional shine and protection. As mentioned above, hardwood can also be sanded and refinished to remove imperfections.

Carpet can be vacuumed regularly to keep the fibers clear of dust and debris, however, it’s recommended to invest in professional carpet cleaning services to give the floors a thorough cleaning and help to increase longevity. How often you should have your carpets professionally cleaned will depend on a range of factors, such as the material and quality of the carpet, as well as its location.

Sound reduction

Both carpet and hardwood flooring offer great sound resistance properties. Hardwood tends to absorb reverberation well, but due to its solid surface, sounds from certain shoes and moving furniture aren’t eradicated entirely. The sound reduction of hardwood can be increased by installing specific underlay, but due to the installation requirements of hardwood, underlay must be installed underneath the subfloor which can be costly.

Being soft underfoot, carpet is a great choice if sound reduction is a priority. It can reduce all impact noise, from footsteps and moving furniture to water pipes and electrical equipment.


Inherently soft underfoot, carpet is the clear winner when it comes to comfort. Although hardwood has a smooth surface and is pleasant to walk across, it can’t compare with the warm and inviting feel of carpet.

Underfloor heating

If you plan to install, or have already installed underfloor heating, carpet is the only suitable choice between the two, however, be aware that carpets over 2.5 tog aren’t safe to lay over underfloor heating. No types of hardwood are recommended for underfloor heating systems.


Carpets are glued down, either directly to the subfloor, or onto a pad which is glued to the subfloor. Hardwood, however, must be nailed into place. Some locations may not be suitable for hardwood installation, so be sure to check early on.

Whether you opt for hardwood or carpet, you should always have your flooring installed by a professional. This ensures maximum safety and can increase the longevity of your floors.


As with most flooring types, both hardwood and carpet come at a range of price points to suit different budgets. Carpet tends to be cheaper, averaging at around $2 to $5 per square foot, depending on the material and fibers of the carpet. Materials like polypropylene and polyester can be purchased for a lower cost, scaling up to pricier and more luxurious materials like nylon.

Harwood tends to be more expensive, ranging from around $6 – $24 per square foot. Despite its larger upfront costs, the long lifespan of hardwood makes it a worthwhile investment for many applications.

Best applications for hardwood flooring

As a timeless and versatile choice with good durability, hardwood flooring is well-suited for many different rooms within the home. Common applications include living rooms / family rooms, dining rooms, hallways and entryways.

Due to its long lifespan, hardwood flooring is a worthwhile investment for many commercial applications, such as restaurants, hotel lobbies, corporate offices, galleries, and event spaces.

Best applications for carpet

Comfortable underfoot and with a range of colors and designs to choose from, carpet is a common choice for use within the home. Rooms that are best suited for carpet include bedrooms, living rooms / family rooms, home offices, and children’s playrooms.

The aesthetic appeal, sound reduction and cost-effectiveness of carpet makes it suited for various commercial properties too, such as offices, conference rooms, hotel rooms, and educational institutions.

Whether you’re leaning more towards carpet or hardwood floors, compare the options further with our other handy flooring comparison guides: