The pros and cons of carpet and floorboards

By: Samantha, Published: June 14, 2023 Looselay pearl oak styling mama dining room LooseLay Longboard in "Pearl Oak"

Renovating or building a home is an exciting time where dreams start to become a reality. As homes are such a big part of people’s lives, where they spend time, relax, entertain, and escape, it’s no wonder everyone is wanting their home to be as comfortable and beautiful as possible. There are, however, a lot of decisions to be made, including materials and finishes- the final touches of the building’s structure before the decorative elements like furniture arrive. Flooring is a big decision. Hardwood flooring or carpet? Wool carpet vs synthetic carpet? What are the carpet vs floorboard benefits? Real timber floorboards or timber look like vinyl floors or laminate flooring?

Confused? Here’s a guide to help you refine your flooring ideas and make informed decisions.

Aesthetics

Everyone is drawn to different styles of interior design and that’s what makes homes so interesting. Your home should be a reflection of not only what is practical and in the budget but it should also express what you and your family like and what aesthetic your home is hoping to achieve.

 

Hard floors can be sophisticated and extend the feeling of space and expansiveness. Timber flooring is welcomed in Australian homes where there are larger, open-plan spaces where areas can be zoned with floor rugs or carpet inserts. It works back with the Australian landscape, with so many Australian species on offer in both wooden flooring and timber-look styles. It is elegant in period homes too, a link between a time that was and the current look and feel. Timber board size and lay can also provide an illusion of space, cosines or visual interest, depending on the style. You can read more about that here. Timber throughout the home can create a modern vibe with its seamless look and feel.

 

Carpet visually impacts a space too. It makes a room feel welcoming, warm and inviting. It’s soft to the touch and a dream to walk across barefoot. Carpet vs floorboards in bedrooms is a common dilemma and because of the comfort carpet offers this is often the answer. Textured carpets brings interest while certain synthetic, cut or plush fibre piles can create a velvety and sophisticated look. A combination of both carpet and floorboards breaks up the visual line of the flooring while creating variation for your eyes and your feet!

Oak Collection in "Newport Oak Brushed"

Durability and maintenance

The decision between carpet and hard flooring should consider the practicalities as well as the aesthetic. Who lives in the home? Are there kids? Pets? Is it a holiday home or a rental property? Do you have lots of time to spend on home cleaning and maintenance? Some floors take a little bit more work than others and asking yourself the above questions will help decide whether low-maintenance is a top priority or not.

Hard flooring is generally an easy-care option, with most looking their best with vacuuming, sweeping, mopping and general cleaning. Timber boards can scratch and dent a little easier than their timber-look options (such as hybrid, vinyl and laminate) however they can be repaired over time. Laminate is particularly practical with some even waterproof (and often scratch and stain resistant) but so too are many of the vinyl designs on offer. If low maintenance is a high priority, then looking at these products is a great place to start.

Carpet styles and fibres also impact their durability and practicality. Yarns such as SDN, nylon fibre carpet, polypropylene and Triexta are excellent choices for busy family homes and many offer stain and fade resistance. Loop pile carpets are also hard-wearing and perfect for hallways and living areas that have higher foot traffic. The colour of the carpet also comes into play here too, with very light carpets with no variation in fibre colour showing stains the most obviously.

All flooring, whether it be hard or soft requires some maintenance to ensure it looks like new for longer. Encourage shoes to be taken off on entering and regularly clean so dirt and grit don’t wear into the flooring, causing scratches or carpet stains.

 

Botanic Garden in "Dew"

Comfort and insulation

When comfort comes to mind, carpets or rugs might be the first thought. While carpet is certainly comfortable, a combination of hard and soft flooring can also offer this. Consider layering hard flooring in high-traffic areas (such as entry ways or hallways or living spaces) with rugs if comfort is at the forefront. That way you can benefit from the practicality of hard flooring with the comfort of carpet.

If insulation, comfort, acoustic control and warmth is a high priority for flooring decision-making, carpet will, however, be the best option. Wool carpets are natural insulators while any carpet, with quality underlay installed underneath, will be the most successful acoustic control method for your floors. Apartment living is a testament to this, with many preferring carpet in most areas for sound-proofing reasons. Many timber-look products are incredibly comfortable to walk across and live with too. Talk to a Flooring Xtra expert if comfort and insulation are important to you but you’re wanting hard flooring. Some are thicker than others, with varying layers that provide both softness and sound insulation.

Andros village path bedroom pink Andros in "Village Path"

Cost and value

Cost and value will no doubt be a deciding element in the process. There are many things to keep in mind that are not just the material. Yes, there are varying price points for both hard and soft flooring, but the entire process should be considered. Some flooring styles are more involved than others when it comes to both flooring preparation and installation and this can impact the overall costs involved. Hardwood and timber-look flooring installation may also involve flooring preparation before it can be laid. Furniture removal, freight costs and stairs are other elements that can impact costs. For a budget-setting guide, head to our advice page to begin the process.

 

Within the hard and soft flooring categories, there are price variations according to the material and style (although there are always exceptions to this rule!). Generally, timber-look products are more cost-effective than real timber floors. Within carpets, synthetic and man-made fibres are most likely to sit at a lower price point than pure wool carpets. There’s also carpet underlay to consider. A quality underlay will prolong the life of your carpet, which is a long-term financial benefit.

There are so many things to consider when choosing flooring. What will be practical, what will suit the style and the environment of the home? What fits the budget and choosing something you will love for a long time? It can be helpful to collect images of homes and interiors you’re drawn to. Examine these images. What type of flooring do they have? Is there a common colour or style? As a starting point, it can set off a path of decision making. There is so much more to think about than purely looks though, with comfort, durability and practicality also key. Don’t forget that Flooring Xtra stores have knowledgeable, passionate, and helpful staff in every showroom- ready to assist!

FAQ's

What type of flooring is easiest to maintain?

This is a question with many answers as every family and home is different! Generally speaking, hard flooring styles that are “timber-look” are less maintenance than real timber flooring with scratching and denting etc. In terms of carpet, polypropylene, nylon and triexta yarns are very tough. This information also needs to be balanced by other factors, such as budget, taste and a style you might be wanting to achieve. Talk to your nearest Flooring Xtra store if you’re wanting some help finding an easy-care flooring for your home.

What is engineered timber flooring?

Engineered timber floorboards is made from a real layer of timber veneer making for an authentic timber look and feel.  You can read our Hard flooring Guide and Care to learn more.

What type of carpet is soft?

Nothing beats the feeling of soft carpet underfoot as well as relaxing and playing on the comfortable surface! While all carpet is soft to a degree, some might feel softer than others. Plush and cut (twist) piles are particularly soft styles and some man-made (synthetic) fibres are incredibly luxurious to touch.

Disclaimer: In some states of Australia, the building regulations for Vinyl Planks, Vinyl Tiles and Hybrid flooring varies. Meaning they may not be suitable for areas requiring water resistance, such as bathrooms and toilets. We advise to always ask your local Flooring Xtra store for the correct advice regarding the local regulations. We also advise to follow the manufacturer’s recommended installation instructions and guidelines, not following the instructions could make the product not fit for purpose, for the area it’s being installed into and void your product warranty. To ensure you get the appropriate product for those areas, please contact your local Flooring Xtra store.

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Samantha

Product Coordinator

Our Product Coordinator Sam knows a thing or two about carpet and hard flooring. Her expert knowledge ranges from specific material details, product technology and trends to what products work best and where. In other words, Sam’s practical advice and insights are worth their weight in gold! Sam’s favourite product is Nordic Dusk carpet because it’s like stepping onto a plush haven of softness. It’s also elegant and luxurious underfoot!

Want some expert advice?

From inspiration to installation and beyond, Flooring Xtra are here to help. If you’re uncertain what product will work best in your home or fit your budget the team are delighted to assist. Choosing new flooring is a big decision so whether it’s hard flooring or carpet you’re looking for, know that Flooring Xtra will have the perfect option for you! VISIT your nearest store