Homeowner's Guide: Carpet vs. Wood Floors

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Sometimes choosing between laying wood flooring or carpet is a practical choice, while at other times it is a question of aesthetics. You must evaluate the pros and cons of both wood and carpet – we’ve compiled a list of facts that will help you to decide whether you want carpet or wood floors.

Why you might choose a wood floor

For many interior designers, wooden flooring has become a key element of modern style, and many homebuyers are more than happy to buy into this idea and consider wood floors a sought-after feature.

The pros of wood floors include their visual appeal, easy maintenance, their ability to update tired décor, and their resale value.

A wood floor can make a room feel more spacious and will complement most individual tastes, so you also gain a fair amount of versatility in your design options when you install one.

Why you might choose a carpet

A carpeted floor provides a layer of warmth and comfort in the room, as well as damping sound. Carpet provides a significant amount of thermal resistance, so in colder climates or in the winter period you will derive benefits from energy conservation.

Carpeted floors come in a myriad of styles and colors, so you can get as bold or as neutral as you want to with your flooring, which is more flexible than wood in this respect.

Other aspects to consider are that a carpet could be perceived to be a safer surface as it will help to soften slips and falls and a carpet will also help to reduce noise levels in the room by absorbing some of the sounds that are so commonplace in our homes such as the TV.

Thermal insulation

The cost of heating our homes has become a real issue in recent years, and retaining heat via thermal insulation is a great way of maintaining a comfortable temperature in your house without adding to your energy bill. Carpet has a much higher thermal resistance than do concrete and plywood, according to a fact sheet produced by the Carpet Institute in Australia.

Which will add value?

According to the Wilkas Group, realtors in Burlingame, California, refinishing existing wood floors is a smart, affordable way to add value to your property during resale. However, they caution homeowners against installing wood floors with the sole goal of increasing resale value. Wood floors in good condition that have been properly installed and maintained can help to sell a home fast. Because carpet can be quickly and easily changed if it doesn't suit the homebuyer or is showing signs of wear, many homebuyers would not put any added value on a carpet.

Look under your carpet

Check to see what lies under your carpet if you are considering a change in flooring. You might be pleasantly surprised to find that you already have some reasonable wooden flooring under the carpet – refinishing might be all it takes to transform your carpeted rooms into ones with wood floors. The ROI of refinishing wood floors might outweigh the ROI of installing new carpet.

Health considerations

Many people suffer from allergies that can be triggered when your carpet harbors allergens. Other respiratory ailments, like asthma, can also be aggravated if the carpet is not cleaned properly, as the carpet acts like a filter and traps pollen, dirt, pet hair and dander, and other irritants.

Which is better for allergies?

A number of children and adults suffer from allergies or asthma, and a common train of thought blames carpet for exacerbating allergies or asthma attacks, due to a carpet's ability to hold allergens. However, authorities on health like the Mayo Clinic maintain that steam cleaning your carpet on a regular basis can greatly reduce the presence of dust mites and other triggers of sickness.

Regular cleaning of carpets means that health concerns need not rule out carpets. Further, if you are considering synthetic flooring like vinyl rather than wood or carpet, they can release gases known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can worsen asthma during the early life of a newly laid floor.

These are a few of the pros and cons of carpet or wooden flooring – having read about both, you're better equipped to decide which is right for your home.

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Diane Clarkson

Diane Clarkson is a home renovation consultant whose articles appear predominantly on homeowner and renovation blogs. Visit Baywest Homes for more ideas.

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