Hardwood Flooring, Laminate, or Carpeting?

You'd have a hard time finding a homeowner who doesn't want hardwood floors. Everybody's talking about its resurgence as the floor of choice (well, everybody in the housing business). Wall-to-wall carpeting is out, and hardwood floors are in. But are they worth the price? Or should you save money and go with laminate or carpeting?

Let's face it: at $8-$10 per square foot (installed), wood flooring is more expensive than carpeting or the increasingly common laminates that look similar to wood. 

If you're on the line and can't decide whether to install new hardwood floors (or maybe tear up your old carpeting to refinish the wood underneath), the following list might help. We're going to take a look at some of the benefits of hardwoods (AKA why they're still the most popular choice):

1. Longevity

Thanks to today's durable finishes that are easy to maintain, solid-wood floors can last for a hundred years or more. There are very few residential flooring materials that have been around this long. Over the centuries, wood has shown itself to be a lovely and durable floor choice. Other newer materials have yet to prove themselves. 

2. Coziness and Warmth

Not only are hardwood floors more pleasant to walk on than laminate (which always feel cold and a little "fake" underfoot), but it is naturally warm. Wood acts as an excellent insulator, thanks to its thousands of tiny air chambers per cubic inch, which work to naturally hold in heat.

3. Hardwood is Hypoallergenic

Got allergies? Unlike carpets (AKA breeding grounds for mold, mildew, and dust mites), wood floors don't give pollen, animal dander, mold, etc. any place to hide and thrive. Even when you professionally clean carpets, it's impossible to get them entirely clean. In fact, getting them wet just makes things worse. Hardwood flooring is an excellent choice for anyone with any kind of environmental allergy. (And it makes good sense for everyone else too--who wants to lie down on a floor that's hiding mold?)

4. Easy to Clean

With the occasional sweep and mop, your hardwood floors will look nice for a long time to come. Even families with dogs and kids are realizing that it's easier to mop a hardwood floor than try to spray/scrub/wash grape Kool-Aid out of a stained carpet. Another perk is that a scratch here or a gouge there just adds character to wood floors (but, hey, you can always have them refinished if you prefer perfection).

5. Hardwood Floors Increase Home Value

Unless you're going to live in the same house for the rest of your life, you should think about how the flooring choices you make today will affect the price you can get for your home tomorrow. Carpet will look worn and used in just a few years, whereas wood floors last a long time and add value to a home. Even laminate flooring, which looks like wood flooring, is a distant second choice for homebuyers. It just doesn't have the same warmth and feel of real wood.

These are just a few of the benefits of hardwood floors. We didn't even mention the aesthetic value: at the end of the day, wood just looks better than the alternatives. 

If you can afford to pay an extra couple dollars per square foot, go with hardwood. If you have hardwoods hiding under your existing carpets, tear the carpeting up and get the wood refinished. 

If you settle for laminate or just replacing the carpeting, you may regret it down the road.

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