Dwell Well > Lifestyle with Annie Button > Your Guide to Carpet vs Hard Flooring in the Home

Your Guide to Carpet vs Hard Flooring in the Home

Choosing the right flooring is an investment into your property that needs to deliver in terms of style, practicality and durability. Fitted carpets are still the traditional choice for many homes but, increasingly, hard flooring options offer viable alternatives. In this article, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of carpet, vinyl flooring and laminate flooring, so you can make an informed choice.

What different materials are available?

Carpet is a classic soft flooring option that’s been popularised in our homes since the 1970s. As well as choosing a colour or pattern that complements your interiors scheme, you also need to select the right carpet type and material. Broadly speaking, there are two main types: woven and tufted. Woven carpet such as Axminster or Wilton is more labour intensive and therefore more expensive, while tufted carpet is made by a machine punching pile yarn into the base material.

Carpet is typically made from natural fibres such as wool or sisal, or synthetic materials such as polypropylene and nylon, and there’s a wealth of product choice out there at every price point. In the end whether you go for, say, a hand-woven wool twist, a plush synthetic or a hardwearing sisal carpet will largely depend on where in the home it will be fitted and how much budget you have available.

Vinyl flooring is perhaps one of the most practical options on account of being waterproof, stainproof and scratch resistant. It is a synthetic material that comes in a wide range of designs. LVT (luxury vinyl tiles) is constructed from multiple layers of vinyl that can be adapted for all kinds of spaces and is incredibly resilient. Its super realistic appearance can emulate the look and feel of hardwood flooring, stone floors or ceramic tiles. And, if you’re worried about the material’s environmental impact, here’s a collection that uses an eco-friendly formula and can be fully recycled.

Laminate is another synthetic flooring option. Here, the authentic look comes from a photographic top layer that is printed onto fibreboard, so almost any design can be created. It’s not quite as hardwearing as LVT, but more budget friendly and can often be installed by a competent DIYer.

How tricky is installation and can you do it yourself?

We firmly believe that fitting wall-to-wall carpet is a professional job. The carpet needs to go down in one go, using the appropriate tools and techniques that a layman is unlikely to possess. Don’t forget that you should add a layer of underlay too – that’s a lot of bulky carpet material to manage. We recommend that you use a commercial carpet fitter to guarantee a superior result that will give you many years’ enjoyment. Most reputable carpet suppliers have an in-house installation team and will be happy to quote for the work.

Vinyl flooring should also be fitted professionally for best results, and this applies to LVT in particular. The trick is the meticulous preparation of the substrate which must be entirely flat, smooth, level and free of contaminants. Any irregularities can impede the floor’s fit and cause an uneven appearance, gapping or lifting. Fitting LVT requires an adhesive and takes great skill. Laminate flooring is usually easier to install – the planks click together easily and a simple foam underlay is all that’s required to level undulations in the subfloor.

Which floors are most durable and easy to look after?

A good quality fitted carpet should last you at least 10 years. The amount of wear and tear will depend on the amount of traffic the carpet receives. High traffic areas such as living rooms, hallways and stairs will show their age more quickly than bedroom carpets. Carpet maintenance involves regular hoovering to remove dust and debris to keep it looking fresh, as well as periodic carpet cleaning. Ask a carpet expert to help with any spills and stains.

Vinyl flooring is another durable option. With regular maintenance, a good LVT floor should last in excess of 10 years. Wood-look vinyl floors can be almost indistinguishable from real wooden floors but have the benefit of being more budget-friendly and more practical, especially in kitchen and bathroom areas where moisture may be an issue. Top quality vinyl floors are resilient against water, staining and heavy use. With regular mopping with warm soapy water, your floor will keep its appearance for many years before colour fade occurs 

Similar to vinyl flooring, the durability of laminate floors depends on the quality of the material. The average lifecycle of a laminate floor is around 10 years though inferior versions will wear a lot quicker. Laminate is fairly scratch resistant but once the surface is damaged, it cannot be repaired. Laminate floors require regular cleaning with a damp mop. Traditional wet mopping is a no-no for these floors since water can seep into the seams and cause the floor to swell up or bubble. Pools of water can also cause staining and colour fading.

So, what’s the best flooring option for you?

The best choice of flooring for your needs depends on a multitude of factors including the location in the house, you and your family’s lifestyle, your aesthetic preferences and, of course, the budget.

If you’re looking for cosy underfloor comfort and warmth, good thermal and superior sound insulation, a carpet is hard to beat. Hard flooring is a good alternative where practicality is a key factor, such as for families with small children and/or pets. Remember, many vinyl floors are suitable for underfloor heating, so a hard floor doesn’t have to be a cold floor.

While it is possible to lay your own flooring, we would always recommend that you budget for professional installation. After all, there’s no point splashing out on a new floor if the finished result in situ doesn’t live up to your expectations. Carpet fitting is a fiddly job that is best left to a competent contractor, while a vinyl floor may require extensive sub floor preparation for the installation to be successful in the long term.

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