Cost of Ownership: Carpet vs Hardwood

Its time to replace your carpet and you have a decision to make. Will you choose a brand new fluffy carpet or go with the luxurious hardwood? The first thing you might consider is the price. The average cost of a hardwood flooring plus installation is $10 per square foot. Whereas the cost of entry-level carpet can be half the cost around $5 per square foot. So why spend the extra money when you can spend it on a nice steak dinner instead? Let’s find out why so many Americans are now choosing hardwood over carpet and what financial implications there are to ownership.

Lifetime Value

The average lifespan of carpet is 10 years. After 10 years your carpet is replaced. On the other hand, the lifespan of a hardwood floor could last multiple generations. For this comparison, we are assuming the hardwood floors has at least a 4 mm sandable wear layer which is the case for all solid wood and most high-quality engineered wood. A thick wear layer hardwood can be sanded and refinished at least 2 times throughout its lifespan. If we look at the cost of ownership in a 30-year span. Your hardwood flooring would be $10 per square foot upfront cost plus $2.50 for each sand and refinishing. Therefore, the total cost for ownership of a hardwood flooring in 30 years is $15 per square foot if you refinish twice. The same carpet would have been installed and reinstalled 3 times in the same span of 30 years. This amounts to $15 per square foot (before including the cost of removal and disposal). From this example, we can see your cost for hardwood and carpet is approximately the same throughout a 30-year span. Consider hardwood an investment in the future of your home.

Return on Investment

At this point, you might be thinking what if I do not plan on living in my current home for 30 years? Would it be a wasted investment to purchase a flooring which will last 30 years if I sell my home in 5 years? A study done by HGTV says the number one request for home buyers when looking for a home is hardwood floors. 54% of home buyers are willing to pay more for a home with hardwood floors and 21% of realtors would go as far as to advise their clients to install new hardwood floors before listing it on the market. What does all this mean? It means a home with hardwood floors will yield top dollar when compared to the same home with carpet. A study done by National Association of Realtors estimates hardwood floors yield a 91% return on investment, one of the highest amongst home improvement projects. So even if it's not your forever-home, this still might be one of the best investments you can make in your life.

Hidden Costs

The cost of maintenance is another factor you want to keep in mind. Did you know the average cost per square foot for carpet cleaning is $0.30 each time? Experts agree you should clean your carpet at least once every 2 years. Failure to do so may have all sorts of repercussions such as respiratory problems, stinky odor, and even decreased product lifespan. What this means is your carpet will likely be cleaned 15 times in the span of 30 years. Assuming you hire this out to the pros, what this means for your wallet is $4.50 per square foot on maintenance upkeep for your fluffy carpet over 30 years. This added expense is all but unheard of in the hard surface world making hardwood floors the clear winner in this category.

Next time you hear someone saying “I can’t afford hardwood floors let’s just carpet it”. I challenge you to show them this article which breaks down the true cost of ownership and paints a clearer picture of why hardwood might just be a luxury you can’t afford to not have. This is your one chance to make a lasting statement with your personal space so let's make it count.