Probably the two most common and popular choices in floor surface covering, hardwood, and carpet both have a variety of characteristics that make them favorable in numerous environments. Understanding the nature of the materials will allow you to make an informed choice about how best to use and apply them in various locations.
Hardwood Flooring Characteristics
Prestige: Hardwood flooring generally commands more awe, and is more impressive than carpet. It is seen as being “high end” and “luxurious”, because it is a natural material, and its surface is unique to that particular installation. Depending on the type of wood chosen, and how it is finished, hardwood can command a sense of great power, and even prestige, when used in certain locations.
Cleanliness: Many people feel that it is impossible to really clean carpet. Stains soak in and settle permanently, and dust and micro bacteria tend to get attracted to, and caught in the fibers of the floor. Hardwood, by contrast, has a smooth, solid surface that can be easily wiped clean. There is no where for dust or dirt to hide making it much easier to maintain than carpet.
Allergies: The fact that carpet can attract and hold dust and microorganisms can also have an effect on anyone working or living in the space; especially if they suffer from allergies. Every time you walk across the carpet millions of tiny particles can fly into the air. With hardwood, all you have to do is wipe or sweep the surface clean and you can see that it is free of those same potentially harmful particles.
Long Lasting: Properly maintained hardwood flooring can last for decades, and some of the higher end materials can last for generations. With carpet, you are going to have to rip up the floor and replace it every few years. The ability to last longer means that the initial material investment pays off more over time with hardwood floors.
Refinished: When a hardwood floor is damaged, either by a stain, or through some sort of physical trauma, it can be refinished to look like new. This involves sanding down the surface past any defects, and then re-applying the stain and or finish products to make the floor look completely revitalized. Depending on the thickness of the material this is something that can be done several times over the life of the floor.
More Information About Hardwood Floors
Versatility: If you want to soften a hardwood floor and get some of the benefits of carpet in a room, you can always put a rug down covering part or nearly all of the space. The reverse is not true if you have carpet installed.
Timeless: Hardwood flooring has been used in homes for hundreds of years, and despite constant shifts in style and trend, it has never stopped being popular. It always matches whatever colors and accessories happen to be in vogue, and can easily handle numerous different decorative choices.
Natural and Ecologically Friendly: Carpet is made largely from petroleum, a very limited resource, and is not natural in any way. Hardwood is a natural material, it is made from trees which can be replanted and renewed. However, when buying hardwood materials you do want to do a little research and make sure that they are being harvested by an ecologically sound company in an environmentally friendly way.
Soft: The biggest draw to carpet is that it is soft. It feels great beneath bare feet, like the entire world is padded and comforting. This is particularly soothing in bedrooms, children's rooms, and some family and living room areas, where you want to promote an atmosphere of comfort and relaxation.
Warm: Carpet is going to be much warmer than hardwood floors, especially on a chilly winter morning. It acts not only like a blanket for your feet, but it also helps to insulate the room, ensuring that warmth remains indoors and doesn't slip through more porous surface materials.
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Comfort: The fact that it is soft and warm makes carpet just about the most comfortable flooring material you can stand on. This can be especially important when standing for long periods of time, where harder wood floors can cause pain in feet, ankles, and knees.
Cost: Carpet is considerably less expensive than hardwood materials. While they do need to be replaced every few years, the life of the material can be greatly extended by proper care and maintenance. This makes the long term cost of carpet comparable to certain types of hardwood flooring.
Safety: The fact that it is so soft makes carpet a particularly safe flooring choice. With hardwood, a trip or fall can result in injuries and broken objects. With carpet you have a type of cushion running across the entire room, making damage from an accident much less likely.
Quiet: A major complaint about hardwood floors is that they are loud. When installed on upper levels people down below often complain that they can hear every footstep. An old installation may also squeak in certain spots. With carpet the entire floors surface is padded and insulated, so that noise won’t easily pass up or down through the level.
Children: Carpet is great if you have kids because they can get down on the floor and use the entire surface of the room as a play area that is soft, cushioned, and safe against most falls.