When buying or renting a home, one of the many choices that may be made is whether to have carpeted or hardwood floors. To some people, it may just come down to personal preference; whether you like the feel of carpet or wood under your feet, or considerations about cleaning it. But the kind of flooring should be tied to your budget and your lifestyle.

Which is best for you? Here’s a breakdown to help you decide.

Hardwood Advantages

  • Look neat, clean, and are often considered luxurious
  • Stand up well to use and are relatively easy to maintain
  • Can be wiped clean, does not allow dust, dirt or mold to build up
  • Helpful for keeping allergens at bay
  • Lasts much longer than carpet
  • If necessary, can be refinished rather than completely replaced
  • Can be stained multiple colors or decorated with rugs to change the look

Hardwood Disadvantages

  • Harder on feet, uncomfortable for small children or animals
  • Should be cleaned more often, since dirt and other messes show up more
  • Installation is more difficult
  • Does not insulate well against heat loss
  • Can be loud; does not insulate against sound, especially between floors
  • Costs about $9-$12 per square foot

Carpet Advantages

  • Comes in many different styles, thickness, colors, patterns
  • Feels nicer to walk on, better for small children or animals
  • Doesn’t have to be cleaned as often, can hide dirt or other messes better
  • Stain-resistant fibers can make cleaning easier than ever
  • Retains heat well
  • Deadens sounds on upper levels and between rooms
  • Costs about $3-$5 per square foot

Carpet Disadvantages

  • Does not last as long, especially in high-use areas
  • Can retain allergens and mold
  • Maintenance is more difficult and may necessitate re-carpeting entire rooms
  • Less environmentally-friendly
  • Can be stained or marked in a way that won’t go away
  • Not as popular with renters or buyers