Which is better – wood flooring or wall-to-wall carpeting?
In South Africa, the popularity of wood flooring has grown massively. However, there are still good arguments for the comfort and aesthetic appeal of carpet. We look at the pros and cons of both.
Increased popularity of wood flooring in SA
More and more people are opting for wood flooring over carpet or tiles, especially in living areas of the home.
In fact, wooden floors are now so popular that they can add significantly to the resale value of a house. It’s one of the top features that buyers look for.
This is what Bill Rawson, Chairman of the Rawson Property Group, had to say about wood flooring in South Africa: “Solid natural wood floors are today one of the first installations undertaken on most upgrades and there can be no doubt that they do add greatly to the value of any home – in most cases instantly adding more than double the installation cost.”
Quick comparison of wood to carpeting
Can be pricey but there are cheaper laminates
Generally, less expensive than wood
Can last a lifetime
Usually about 10 years
Adds value to the home
Makes little difference to property value
Ease of cleaning
Easy to sweep and mop
Easy to vacuum; needs occasional deep cleaning
Where to use in the home
Any rooms except bathrooms
Any rooms except bathrooms and kitchens
Hard underfoot; can be noisy
Soft underfoot; quiet
Suitability for pets
Suitable for pets but may be scratched
Suitable for house-trained pets but will need more cleaning
Pros and cons of wood flooring vs. carpeting
Before deciding whether you want carpeting or hardwood floors, consider the pros and cons for each. You may even decide that there’s place for both in your home.
Cost and resale value
Wood can be more expensive, especially solid wood options. However, this cost increases the value of your home immediately and usually by much more than the installation costs.
Carpeting may be less of a draw to property buyers but it’s usually cheaper to install.
Also, carpets don’t decrease the resale value of a home. They can add value if installed in certain areas, such as bedrooms.
Wood has a traditional look and neutral colouring that blends well with most décor. However, it can make a room look a little cold.
The appearance of wood flooring depends on the type of wood chosen. It can range from very light in colour right through to black, in the case of ebony flooring.
It’s also possible to choose the pattern in which wood fingers or tiles are laid – from herringbone to chequerboard, for example.
Carpets have a warmer look and are available in an almost limitless range of colours and patterns. They also vary significantly based on material and pile thickness.
Comfort and noise
Wood is hard to walk or sit on.
Cheaper laminates can be very “clacky” and may even squeak over time. Expertly assembled solid wood flooring tends to be quieter to walk on.
Carpet is generally soft and acts as a noise dampener. Choosing a carpet that feels nice underfoot is important for comfort. Cheaper carpets can be coarse and scratchy.
Ease of installation
Wood flooring is very easy to install. This is true especially of the click together types. It may be a little trickier to install it in awkwardly shaped areas, which may require that planks be cut.
Carpet also goes down quickly and can be cut quite easily. However, it can be tricky for anyone inexperienced to cut it to exactly the required size or to get it to lie correctly, with no shifting or bunching.
Wood can be very sustainable but depends on the type. High-quality laminates look like wood but are actually high-density fibreboard. Of the real wood options, bamboo is highly renewable.
Some carpets are synthetic so they’re fossil fuel-based but natural fibres such as wool are available too and considered renewable.
Cleaning and maintenance
Wood floors are very easy to keep clean by sweeping and mopping. There are even easy-to-use spray cleaners for wood and laminates.
Carpets are usually easy enough to keep clean if you have a decent vacuum cleaner, however, they do require periodic deep cleaning and occasional spot cleaning for spills.
Wood floors are highly durable and should late you a lifetime if properly taken care of. Some wood floor can also be sanded and resealed if scratched.
Carpet’s durability depends on the area and the type of carpeting. Highly durable fibres can last decades if properly maintained and looked after.
Factors to consider: when is carpeting better than wood flooring?
Ultimately, one type of flooring isn’t necessarily better than the other. Your lifestyle, preferences and uses of individual rooms should all influence your decision.
Examples of where wood flooring is generally the better choice:
- in heavy traffic areas like entrance halls and passageways
- in kitchen and dining rooms where spills are likely to happen
- for areas where mud or dirt gets tracked in by people or pets
- if you’re installing the floors yourself.
Examples of where wall-to-wall carpeting is generally the better choice:
- for making bedrooms cosy
- on stairs for improved safety, especially for small children
- in cold areas
- for upstairs areas, to dampen noise.
Professional carpet cleaning
Regular vacuuming will keep fitted carpets reasonably clean. However, it’s recommended that you have them deep cleaned at least once a year.
Deep cleaning removes dirt and stains that simple vacuuming doesn’t reach. It gets rid of dirt, pollen, pet dander and other pollutants that have been trod deep into the fibres.