As you prepare to install new flooring in your home, you may be torn between hardwood floors vs carpet. Both of these flooring surfaces are appealing for different reasons. For example, carpeting is soft to the touch, and it buffers sounds to create a quieter indoor environment. Hardwood has impressive natural beauty, and it may be ideal for allergy sufferers. While hardwood can be scratched easily in some cases, it also can provide you with decades of use if it is properly cared for.
One of the more important factors to consider when you are deciding on a flooring surface to install in your home is maintenance. Cleaning the floors in your home is a regular chore, and the flooring surface that you select will directly impact your cleaning requirements for years to come. All types of floors require regular maintenance, but you may find that cleaning carpeting may be easier to do than hardwood or vice versa. With a closer look between hardwood floors vs carpet, you will be able to make a smarter buying decision.
The Regular Cleaning Needs for Carpet
Many of the primary benefits associated with carpeting are related to the thick, plush fibres in the carpet. Regardless of the type of carpeting that you purchase, these fibres can easily hold dust, dirt and other debris in them. Because of this, respiratory issues related to allergens may be more common with carpeting than with hardwood. The primary cleaning method for carpeting is vacuuming. Many people with carpeting prefer to vacuum the entire surface of their floors approximately once or twice per week. This effort generally removes most of the debris that has found its way into the carpet fibres. However, not all of the debris is removed through regular vacuuming. This means that the carpeting will become increasingly dirty over time even with regular cleaning efforts.
The other primary concern for carpeting is stains and odours. It is possible to apply stain-resistant chemicals to the carpet to prevent stains from setting in, but these chemicals will eventually wear off. The carpet may be discoloured or stained by food and drink spills, cleaning product spills, pet accidents and more. Special spot cleaning may be necessary to remove the signs of these issues. Deodorizing products may be applied across the floor and vacuumed up regularly to improve any lingering odours.
Carpet also may begin to show signs of wear. This is particularly common in high-traffic areas of the home, such as on the stairs or down hallways. This can make the floor look dirty even when it has recently been cleaned. Because this is related to wear rather than dirt, vacuuming will not address the problem.
How Regular Cleaning Needs for Hardwood Varies
All of the same debris that can fall on carpeting will also fall on the hardwood. Because hardwood is generally a smooth or semi-smooth surface, even a few particles of dust or pet hair may make the floor look dirty. Because of this, many people who have hardwood find it necessary to sweep the floor every day or two. This may not be an issue if you have a smaller area covered by the wood floor. However, it can be time-consuming if you have hundreds of square feet of wood floor in your home. Nonetheless, sweeping will remove the particles entirely in most cases. There is no accumulation of dirt and filth with hardwood floors as there is on carpeting. An alternative to sweeping is to use a hardwood vacuum cleaner.
When spills and pet accidents occur on hardwood floors, they must be cleaned and dried immediately. This is because the moisture can seep in between the wood slats and cause expansion. This causes permanent damage to the flooring. However, except for harsh chemicals, staining and odour damage to the floor from a basic pet accident or drink spill is very unlikely. You will, however, have to be careful about scratches and dents on the wood floor. Because of this, hardwood may not be a good fit for homes with young children or many pets with sharp nails. Hardwood may also show signs of wear from heavy foot traffic. However, a quality hardwood floor will typically hold up much better to regular wear than carpeting will.
The Importance of Deep Cleaning Carpeting
In addition to vacuuming carpeting regularly at least once or twice per week, carpeting also requires deep cleaning to keep it as sanitary and as pristine as possible. A deep cleaning may involve steam cleaning or shampooing the carpeting. Through these steps, the stains and odours that are embedded in the fibres may be removed. The entire home may look and smell fresher and cleaner. Deep cleaning usually involves the injection of hot water or steam into the carpet fibres. This loosens the debris in the fibres. The water and debris are then extracted forcefully. In this way, the ground-in debris may be partially or mostly removed. Be aware that some home carpet cleaning machines may saturate floors with water, and they may not extract much of the water. Because of this, mildew and other related issues may be a concern with self-carpet cleaning machines. Professional deep cleaning service may be a smart idea to avoid these potential issues.
The frequency of deep carpet cleaning needs varies based on several factors. At least once per year most carpeting should be deep cleaned. However, if you have a high-traffic home, such as with several pets or kids, it may be beneficial to clean the carpet two or even three times per year. Remember that the entire surface of the carpet should be deep cleaned at one time. Because deep cleaning is thorough and intensive, it may lighten and brighten the floor substantially. To ensure that steam cleaning or shampooing the carpeting is completed evenly from wall to wall, furniture may need to be removed from each room.
The Need to Wax, Polish or Refinish Hardwood
In most cases, sweeping a hardwood floor regularly is the primary cleaning step required. Some people also wipe a slightly damp mop across the floor periodically, and others use a wet-vac designed specifically to clean hardwood surfaces. When using these devices, pay attention to the moisture that remains on the floor. Remember that moisture can ruin your floors. To keep floors shiny, protected and overall brilliant in appearance, regular buffing is a smart idea. You may notice that buffing loses its results gradually over time. When you can no longer generate a good sheen from buffing, it may be time to apply a fresh coat of wax to the floor. Depending on the type of hardwood that you have, its original finish and the foot traffic in your home, waxing may be needed approximately once every one to two years.
Some high-quality carpeting has a very long life, and it may need to be replaced because it has become outdated long before it wears out. Other carpets may only be designed to last for a few years or less. Hardwood, on the other hand, may provide you with decades of use when it is properly cared for. This does not mean that sweeping, mopping and waxing are the only steps required to enjoy this significant life from hardwood floors. From time to time, hardwood will need to be refinished. This process involves replacing damaged slats and sanding down the entire surface of the floor. Scratches and scrapes will be erased through the sanding process. A new stain will need to be applied, and the entire surface will be sealed and waxed. This is a very detailed and labour-intensive project, but it essentially restores your floor to like-new condition. Each time the floor is refinished in this way, it loses a small amount of depth. Therefore, the number of times that the floor can be refinished is limited.
Making Your Decision Between Hardwood Floors vs Carpet
Now that you know more about the maintenance requirements for hardwood floors vs carpet, you may be wondering which material is a good fit for your home. You understandably need to focus on multiple elements to make a well-rounded decision. However, when you look at maintenance independently, you can see that carpeting may hide dirt better daily, but it also may become increasingly dirty despite the regular effort in a way that hardwood cannot. Hardwood is a preferred material for cleaning up spills and for enjoying an odour-free home.
When you focus on the long-term maintenance needs, both hardwood floors or carpet require special cleaning or maintenance steps after a year or so. Carpeting generally needs to be replaced sooner than hardwood, but hardwood must be refinished multiple times over the years to enjoy superior longevity.
As you make your decision, focus on how frequently you prefer to clean your floors and your tolerance for any dirt showing. Consider your intention to stay in the home for a longer or shorter period. The presence of kids and pets in your home may also be important as you make your decision. Because the style of the flooring is also essential in your decision-making process, remember to preview multiple styles of both options as you continue narrowing down your options.