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Cost, upkeep and resale value: How to decide between hardwood and carpet once and for all

carpet vs hardwood

As hardwood and inexpensive laminate alternatives continue to rise in popularity, carpet is starting to get a bad rap. We analyzed the pros and cons of these flooring choices in terms of price, upkeep and resale value so you can determine what will work best for your home.

1. Initial price

If you hope to install traditional hardwood floors, the cost will be much higher than carpet. According to home remodeling experts at HomeWyse, carpet costs just over $4 per square foot, while installing hardwood costs $8 per square foot on average. If your home has hardwood floors that simply need to be uncovered and refinished, the project should run just over $4 per square foot.

Unwilling or unable to pay double for hardwood? You can also look into laminate wood alternatives, which are emerging in popularity due to their durability and ease of installation. Wood laminate varies in cost, but HomeWyse estimates a cost of about $6 per square foot on average.

2. Maintenance and upkeep

When it comes to maintaining your flooring options, it’s a bit of a draw.

Traditional hardwood floors show more wear and tear than laminate alternatives, but they can also be sanded down and refinished to look new. For that reason, it outlasts laminate over the long-term.

Laminate is much more durable in the short-term but if an area is ruined, it can be tricky to repair. In most cases, laminate wood flooring is put in place by “locking” in individual pieces like a puzzle. Replacing individual pieces is easy enough, but the material can fade over time, making it difficult to create a perfect match.

The easiest way to avoid constant professional cleaning on carpet is to vacuum it early and often, especially if you have pets or small children. That way, soil and dirt particles don’t get ground in past the surface. Shaw Floors says that when carpets are regularly vacuumed, they should only need professional steam cleaning every 18 months.

When it comes to everyday maintenance, most homeowners agree that a quick sweep of a hardwood floor is easier than a cumbersome vacuum session.

3. Resale value

If you’re planning to stay in your house for 10 years or more, the resale value of flooring options may not be top of mind. But if you’re getting your home in shape to sell, consider this fact: 54 percent of homebuyers said they’d pay more for a house with hardwood floors. On average, these buyers said they’d be willing to spend a little over $2,000 on a home with a wood floor finish.

The survey didn’t cover what buyers thought of laminate wood floors, but it’s assumed that the value of a laminate alternative would be much lower. Still, many home sellers install laminate to help their house appear more modern in listing photos and in person.

Once and for all: Carpet or hardwood?

When it comes down to making a decision, everyone should assess for themselves if they’d benefit more from carpet, hardwood or laminate wood flooring. Many homeowners prefer to have carpet in their bedrooms and finished basements, and to use hardwood or laminate in more highly trafficked common areas. However, if you’re thinking of selling and have gorgeous hardwood floors underneath your aging carpet, it’s a no-brainer to unveil your wood floors before putting your home up for sale.

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