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Flooring vs. Carpet Costs: Which is Cheaper?

There are always two debate topics when it comes to the flooring industry — carpet and hardwood flooring. People are always thinking about which one looks better, which is more durable, and of course, which among the two is cheaper.

Carpet costs tend to be cheaper than flooring. The costs for carpet range from $1 to $2 per square foot, with high-end carpet materials costing $9 to $11 per square foot. Meanwhile, hardwood flooring can cost as low as $8 to $14 per square foot depending on the type.

If you are looking for affordable flooring material, carpet is a good choice as it does not have a heavy price tag. However, there are several factors that you need to consider before making a decision.

A Cost Comparison Between Flooring and Carpet

When making a cost comparison between carpet and hardwood flooring, quality will always be the significant factor for the price. That said, flooring will be a more considerable investment compared to carpet. As mentioned, carpet only costs between $1 to $11 for every square foot, while hardwood flooring costs $8 to $14.

However, if you want to install hardwood flooring but are contemplating its price, you can always go for a less expensive engineered flooring, which can cost $5 to $10 per square foot installed.

The Cost of Carpet & What to Consider

Let’s take a look at carpet costs and what else you may need to think about when deciding. Here’s a list of what to consider…

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  • Costs $1 – $11 depending on the quality
  • Average quality lasts for 3 – 5 years, while high-end ones can last for 10 -15 years.
  • Easier to install than wood flooring
  • Usually made of synthetic materials like polyester, nylon, and polypropylene.
  • Has low resistance to moisture
  • More difficult to maintain
  • Not a good choice for people with allergies
  • Holds dust, dirt, and bacteria

People who are looking for a budget-friendly flooring option will go for carpet flooring. Its material costs are cheaper and you can even install it by yourself.

However, the installation process is not as easy as you think. If you don’t have the knowledge and the right tools, you might install the carpet incorrectly. As a result, your material will acquire some damages, requiring you to purchase a new one. If that happens, the installation costs will increase.

Moreover, there are different materials used to make carpets. If you are looking for a carpet made of natural material, then you should go for wool. On the other hand, carpets made from synthetic fiber, such as nylon, polypropylene, and polyester, costs cheaper than wool.

The Cost of Hardwood Flooring & What to Consider

Here’s a list of what to consider when deciding on hardwood flooring…

  • Costs anywhere between $8 to $14
  • It can last for up to 100 years
  • Requires you to hire a professional for installation
  • Maple, oak, and cherry trees are the best hardwood floor choices
  • It does not hold moisture and dust
  • Easy to clean and maintain by sweeping and damp mopping
  • Perfect for people who suffer from allergies

There is no denying that cost is one of the significant factors affecting every homeowner’s purchasing decision when installing their flooring. Hardwood flooring is among the most expensive flooring types right now. The reason is that this material comes from natural products, trees in particular.

Another reason why hardwood floor is expensive is that trees take so much time before they grow and go through fabrication as a flooring material. They are also more difficult to process due to their hardness, making the production costs expensive.

Additionally, the installation cost for a hardwood floor is also relatively high. It can cost an average of more than $120 for every 100 square feet installed.

Moreover, installing and fitting floorboards requires extensive technical knowledge. So, you will need to hire a professional to get things done, making the price you need to pay for the flooring even more expensive.

Flooring vs. Carpet: A Value Comparison

A majority of the carpets you can find in the market now are made by closely threading spaced fibers through sheets of backing materials. Cotton and wool are the most common materials used for natural fiber carpets. On the other hand, most of the carpets you will find have synthetic fiber materials.

Meanwhile, wood flooring has two types – hardwood and engineered hardwood.

Hardwood flooring is boards of wood made from rough lumbered that manufacturers get from hardwood trees like oak. The panels have smooth surfaces, with their bottom part slightly rough. Additionally, manufacturers shape their edges with tongues and grooves. The reason is that such a shape gives the boards the ability to interlock when installed.

Moreover, engineered hardwood flooring is made by bonding real but relatively thin hardwood to a thicker layer of plywood. Such is the reason why engineered hardwood flooring is less expensive than natural hardwood floorboards. Like hardwood floorboards, engineered hardwood has a tongue and groove shape on the edges.

Here are some of the differences between carpet and wood flooring:


With carpet, you will have more texture and color choices. This flooring type is soft to the feel. Additionally, it has a delicate appearance. As a result, it makes the room design easier for the eye.

On the other hand, the overall appearance of hardwood flooring is recognizable to people. If you aim for a house with wood-tone colors, this flooring type is an excellent choice. It poses wood grain’s appealing pattern, which looks different for every kind of wood used.

People who are aiming to design their home with a bold statement should go for hardwood flooring.


It is common knowledge that hardwood flooring is a more durable option than carpet. Carpet quickly acquires dirt, dust, moisture, mold, and bacteria. As a result, you will need to clean it perfectly, which ruins its structural integrity in the long run.

But with hardwood flooring, it is sturdier than carpet. Its firm and solid nature allow it to withstand impact and damages. In addition, you can always have it sanded down and refinished if you want it to look brand new.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Cleaning your carpet every time is not a very difficult job as it only requires vacuuming. However, it would only clean the surface of your carpet.

It is almost impossible to clean it entirely as stains soak into the backing material and sit there permanently. For this reason, it efficiently traps micro-bacteria and dust, making it not ideal for people with allergies.

Meanwhile, hardwood is easier to clean and maintain. Average hardwood flooring can last for years, while high-end ones can last for generations. The reason is that its solid surface does not trap dirt, stains, dust, and moisture. So, it will only require simple vacuuming or sweeping to remove loose dirt.

Additionally, you only need periodic damp mopping for hardwood flooring to remove stains.

Water and Heat Resistance

High-end synthetic fibers have high resistance to water damage. However, it is still essential to prevent it from getting wet.

If water seeps down to the carpet’s backing material, the wood subfloor underneath it will acquire mold buildup. Once this happens, the mold will damage the carpet itself and the subfloor underneath it.

For that reason, it is not ideal to install carpet in rooms where you use water, such as in your kitchen or near your bathroom.

Additionally, the carpet has low resistance to heat damage. Its fibers will quickly burn down even from the heat coming from hot pans or burning cigarettes. It can even emit toxic gases in an instance that severe home fire occurs.

On the other hand, hardwood is the perfect flooring material in areas where there is water and constant moisture. It does not absorb liquid, so you can easily wipe it up in case of spillage.

However, you should not install this flooring material against a concrete slab. The reason is that the slab frequently seeps up moisture from the ground. But if you want to install wood-like flooring material under such circumstances, engineered hardwood flooring can be a great alternative.

Moreover, wood can acquire scars from intense heat. But you can always sand out and refinish your hardwood flooring if it has mild scorch marks.


Installation is another factor that affects the costs of your chosen floor type.

If you have the right tools and knowledge, you can always install carpet on your own. However, it is still better if you will hire a professional installer to do the job.

The first thing that carpet installers do is to attach an underlayment pad using nails and staples. They will then roll out and stretch the carpet over the floor. Next, they will trim the edges down and join them together using heat-activated tape.

Meanwhile, installing wood floors always requires you to hire a professional. First, they will lay individual rows of boards on the area where you want to install the floorboards. The boards are installed by sliding the tongue and groove edges and nailing them to the joists.

If the flooring boards are uneven, installers will sand them and coat them with a few layers of varnish.