To carpet or not to carpet; that is the question. Some rooms work well with carpet; others are a nightmare when carpeted. How do you know which is which?
The best rooms to carpet are bedrooms and playrooms. Family rooms, hallways and stairways can also benefit from carpeting but these high traffic areas will suffer more wear on the carpet over time.
As a rule, entry rooms and rooms most likely to see high traffic or lots of messes should not be carpeted. All others may be carpeted at the discretion of the homeowner. Let’s examine which rooms are best suited to carpet.
What Rooms Should I Carpet?
Some rooms go with carpet like ice cream goes with cake. Primarily, these rooms are inner rooms that don’t see a lot of heavy traffic. Rooms that are designed for relaxation and socialization.
Bedrooms Are Made For Carpet
The only sensible choice for the flooring of a bedroom is carpet: the thicker, the better. Carpet in the bedroom enhances:
If you have to get up often at night, you’ll appreciate a nice plush carpet. Anyone sleeping in the room next to yours will appreciate your movements being muffled by a nice thick carpet.
Family Rooms Are Nicer With Carpet
A family room or living room is much cozier with carpet on the floor. The carpet’s warmth makes the room seem friendlier, and the sound absorption of the carpet keeps the chatter from ricocheting off the walls in harsh, brassy echoes.
My family has always opted for hardwood flooring or tile in the family rooms but we offset this with a large floor rug which helps to improve the sound absorption and allow the kids a warmer, softer surface to play on.
Hallways Are Good Places For Carpet
A hallway is suitable for carpet if it isn’t a high traffic area. Hallways are usually centrally located in the house, so what happens there can be heard in every room that opens off of it.
Carpeting can help to lower the noise level so that everybody in the house is not disturbed by your midnight journey through the hall to the kitchen for a snack.
Stairs Really Should Be Carpeted
Carpeting stairways is essential if you have little ones around. When babies are learning to crawl, they are inexorably drawn to steps. Hardwood-covered steps are going to have sharp edges that can cause injury to a small child.
Carpet will soften these edges, making it safer and more comfortable for baby to learn to climb. When baby reaches the toddler stage and takes a tumble on the stairs, carpet will make the landing a little softer.
Or when your pre-school wild child decides to play Batman from the top of the stairs, carpet may help to prevent broken bones. This is also true for older people who may stumble on steps. Carpeting can limit, if not prevent, injury.
Always inspect the carpet regularly to ensure that it is in good condition with no loose spots or wrinkles. These signs of wear are more than just unsightly; they’re dangerous.
Stairways are seldom lighted as well as they should be, so an older person may not see a wrinkle in the carpet or a loose edge. Tripping over these can cause a nasty fall.
Basements Can Be Carpeted
As counter-intuitive as it sounds, basements are a good place for carpet. The reason is that carpet insulates. So, if your home’s bottom surface is insulated against the cold ground, your home will retain heat more efficiently.
Of course, if water heaters or air conditioning units are installed in your basement, you’ll want to keep a sharp eye out for leaks to avoid a soggy mess. Also, if your basement is prone to flooding, carpet may not be a viable choice.
Wet carpet smells much like a wet dog, not to mention the growth of mold and mildew in damp environments. It goes without saying that carpet may not be suitable for all basements, but it can help in settings where that choice is practical.
Playrooms Need To Be Carpeted
The playroom is where your child will spend most of his time in the years between the cradle and the school desk. Children often are so focused on their play that they don’t realize when they are cold.
Playing on a cold floor in the wintertime can make your child sick. For this reason, carpeting on the floor of the playroom is a good idea. It will help keep your child warm so he can continue to enjoy his play.
Carpeting can also help to cushion falls, which are typical for toddlers. The downside is that if your child is a fast crawler or scoots across the floor, he may end up with a bad carpet burn. But all-in-all, carpeting is the best choice for playrooms.
Carpet In Living Room, Yes Or No?
The living room is usually carpeted for warmth and comfort. Since the living room is meant to be a relaxing space, it should be cozy. While hardwood flooring has its perks, it can make a room seem cold and inhospitable. Carpet, on the other hand, makes a room seem softer and more inviting.
Carpet absorbs sound waves, so the room doesn’t echo as much as it would with hardwood flooring. This makes it ideal for rooms where people usually gather. The noise is muted by the carpet’s absorbency, making the environment more comfortable for the ears.
Usually, the living room is the space where the house occupants:
- Watch television
- Play games
You want this area to be warm enough to walk across the floor barefoot and comfortable enough to lounge on the floor, if one so desires. Carpet is the only option for creating this atmosphere.
The one exception to this general practice is when the living room is the first room entered from the outdoors. Or at least, you may want a portion of the floor closest to the door to be covered with some other type of flooring.
If the living room is the home’s entry point, there’s likely to be a lot of tracking in mud and dirt, especially if the house is in a rural setting. Carpet and mud do not go well together. So, in this case, you may want to cover the subfloor with:
- Ceramic tile
These flooring types make it easier to clean up the grime that gets tracked in on shoe soles.
However, you can have the best of both worlds by leaving the flooring section right at the door uncarpeted and carpeting the rest. This provides a space for people to step in and pull off their shoes before stepping onto the carpet.
Your biggest problem may be getting everyone to pull off their shoes. It’s difficult to remember when you are in a hurry. Or it may seem like too much trouble when you’re going right back outside.
You may have to choose whether you want a comfortable but stained carpet or a cold but clean hardwood floor in your living room.
Carpet Or Hardwood On Second Floor
Customarily, the second floor is carpeted. The second floor doesn’t usually get as much traffic as the first floor, so carpeting is a practical choice for the upstairs.
Comfort Is King
Since the second floor usually houses the bedrooms, carpet is a natural choice for floor covering. It is soft and warm in the winter, making it much more pleasant to get out of bed in the cold mornings.
Few things are more uncomfortable than warm feet touching an ice-cold floor. Carpeting makes getting up more comfortable even on those frigid mornings. Carpet insulates to a marked degree, absorbing some of the cold air rising from the first floor, making the upstairs feel warmer.
Silence Is Golden
Carpeting is also a good choice because it helps to control noise. Hardwood flooring echoes like crazy, so if the upstairs is floored with hardwood, everybody downstairs will hear every move you make.
Hardwood flooring amplifies sounds, such as:
- Dropping items
- Furniture scraping against the floor
Just getting into bed can be a noisy affair on a hardwood floor. As well, hardwood floors are notoriously creaky. All these noises amplified by the wood can be quite annoying to anyone downstairs who is forced to hear everything going on upstairs.
Carpeting helps to muffle these sounds, so your downstairs dwellers don’t get frustrated by your second floor shenanigans.
However, in recent years there has been a shift toward hardwood flooring on the second floor, especially when the house is likely to be sold. The reason for this is that old carpeting brings down the market value of the house.
Prospective buyers are not likely to want a house with old carpeting for several reasons:
- It looks dirty.
- It holds odors.
- It can house dust mites.
- It can mask major flooring problems.
More homeowners are beginning to favor hardwood flooring throughout the house to bring up the resale value of the house.
The problem with this trend is that hardwood flooring, unless it is superbly insulated from below, will make the house feel colder. So, heating bills may be higher for hardwood-floored houses than for carpeted houses.
Hardwood flooring also gives the house a sterile, impersonal feel, which may be a put-off for potential buyers. Especially, hardwood flooring on the second floor gives a business-like atmosphere to an area that should feel intimate and cozy.
Hardwood flooring is easier to keep clean and fresh-looking, but carpet says “home” in ways that hardwood never can.
Carpet Vs. hardwood Cost
Calculating the cost of carpeting versus hardwood flooring requires a bit of foresight. You must weigh the initial cost against durability. This can be difficult if you are on a tight budget, but quite often, cheaper is not better in the long run.
Hardwood Flooring Is More Expensive
Hardwood costs more per square foot than carpet. This can be a deterrent for the homeowner who is strapped for cash. Professional installation of hardwood flooring costs more than twice as much as professional carpet installation.
So, the initial cost of hardwood flooring is a bit steep. This is a significant reason why many homeowners choose carpeting.
Of course, if you are skilled in DIY-ing, you can cut some of this cost by installing the flooring yourself. But most people do not have the experience or skills to do this, so hardwood flooring may seem too expensive for them.
Repair and maintenance of hardwood flooring also cost more than carpet. Carpet can be rejuvenated by a good cleaning once a year with an inexpensive shampoo-er, while hardwood needs to be sanded down and re-varnished board by board.
Severe problems with hardwood flooring may require professional intervention, which can be costly.
Carpeting Costs More
However, hardwood lasts longer. It is not uncommon for hardwood flooring to last more than fifty years, while carpet needs to be replaced about every fifteen years. So, in the long term, carpeting can cost you two to three times more than the initial cost of installing hardwood.
Say you live in a place for fifty years. The carpet needs to be replaced every ten to fifteen years. You will re-floor your house with carpeting approximately three to five times in those fifty years. So, while you initially pay less for your carpet than you would for hardwood, you pay that initial cost five times!
With hardwood flooring, you could pay the initial cost once, and with proper maintenance, it would never need to be replaced in those same fifty years.
So, while carpeting initially costs less than hardwood, over time, it actually costs more.
In What Rooms Is Carpeting A Poor Choice?
There are a few places where carpet is the absolute worst choice for flooring. Carpet is difficult to clean, and it holds odors for years. So, in areas where messes are likely, carpeting is not a good choice.
Bathrooms Should Not Be Carpeted
For example, a bathroom is one of the worst places to use carpet. If there is a stinky room in any house, it’s the bathroom. You don’t want those odors hanging around for years on end.
Besides that, bathrooms are notorious for water leaks. Soggy carpet really isn’t the “in” look, so a hard-surfaced floor is best for the bathroom.
Kitchens Don’t Do Well With Carpet
It should go without saying that kitchens and carpets were not made for each other. The most likely place in the house for spills and messes is the kitchen. Carpet in the kitchen is asking for disaster.
If you’ve ever tried getting a ketchup or mustard stain out of fabric, you understand why. Carpets stain easily, and removing those stains can prove nearly impossible. Stained carpet just gives a room a grimy feel, and the last place in the house that you want to feel dirty is the kitchen.
With the harried process of preparing meals or kids making their own snacks, something gooey or wet is sure to get dropped or spilled on the floor. You don’t want to be renting a carpet cleaner every week to remove the stains from the kitchen carpet.
You can save yourself a ton of headaches by putting in a floor that can be mopped. Besides, with carpets holding odors the way they do, you will never have a fresh-smelling kitchen while carpet is the flooring choice.
The Nursery Is Not A Good Room For Carpet
At first glance, it might seem to be a perfect choice since it would make the room seem warmer and cushion baby’s falls, but it would create a colossal mess in the long run.
The reasons for this include:
- Spilled bottles
- Dirty diapers
- Throw up
Babies have all kinds of smelly, messy accidents, and carpet keeps a record of each one. For nurseries, an easy-to-clean surface is the best type. A thick throw rug can be added to soften falls or keep baby off the cold floor.
Throw rugs are much less expensive than carpet and can be washed much easier. When they can no longer bear washing, they can be exchanged for a new rug with much less trouble.
Entry Rooms Should Not Be Carpeted
The rooms which serve as an entry point to the house from the outside are not suitable for carpet. The rooms get all the dirt and dust tracked in from the outdoors. If you want your carpet to have a long and happy life, it is best to keep it away from entry points.
Vacuum cleaners do not get all the dirt out of carpets, no matter how powerful they are. The webbed backing on carpet is ideal for trapping and holding dirt and dust particles. So, a good 40% of the dirt tracked over the carpet is never leaving that carpet no matter how many times it is vacuumed or shampooed.
Additionally, frequent shampooing can ruin the subfloor underneath because recalling all the water out of the carpet is just as impossible as getting all the dirt out. Your best bet is to keep carpet away from high traffic entry points in your home.
Carpet Sets The Mood
Carpet can be used in any room where you want an atmosphere of intimacy, warmth, and friendship. The rooms where you like to relax and enjoy a quiet evening are the best rooms to carpet.
Related Reading: Do You Install Baseboards Before or After Flooring?