Carpet and vinyl are affordable and highly popular flooring solutions, both for private homes and in commercial settings – and for many people who don’t have the budget for more expensive materials like wood or stone, these are two of the main choices.
Both materials have their relative strengths and weakness, so to help you understand which is best for your requirements, here we discuss the question of carpet vs vinyl flooring, allowing you make a more informed decision.
Table of Contents
- Carpet vs. Vinyl Flooring – Toughness and durability
- Carpet vs. Vinyl Flooring – Maintenance
- Carpet vs. Vinyl Flooring – Comfort
- Carpet vs. Vinyl Flooring – Noise
- Carpet vs. Vinyl Flooring – Style and color options
- Carpet vs. Vinyl Flooring – Climate
- Carpet vs. Vinyl Flooring – Price
- Carpet vs. Vinyl Flooring – DIY Installation
- Which is best?
- Think about your priorities and decide accordingly
Carpet vs. Vinyl Flooring – Toughness and durability
When it comes to choosing any type of flooring, including vinyl or carpet, toughness and durability are among the most important qualities to look for since you don’t want to have to replace your flooring after only a few years’ use.
Vinyl is a tough material that will last a long time and that won’t easily show areas of heavy foot traffic.
Although the cheap stuff can be easily damaged and will also lose its color through exposure to UV rays, quality modern vinyl flooring is resistant to water, doesn’t stain and can be expected to last up to 20 years or more.
Carpet can also be durable, but some types will begin to show areas of heavy passage through crushing or matting, so it may need to be replaced sooner, especially in an office setting. That said, loop pile carpet doesn’t tend to suffer from this problem.
Of the two, vinyl probably has the best claim to being the toughest and most durable option – but many types of carpet exist that are highly resistant too, so you shouldn’t count carpet out either.
Carpet vs. Vinyl Flooring – Maintenance
Closely related to toughness and durability is the amount of maintenance required to keep the floor in optimal condition.
Again, vinyl floors score highly here. They require minimal maintenance to keep them in perfect shape, nothing more than a regular clean with a vacuum and a wipe with a mop from time to time.
Carpet, on the other hand, requires constant vacuuming to remove dust and dirt, which can quickly build up, especially in higher pile carpets.
This might not be such a problem, but carpets are also notoriously bad for spills. If you spill liquid on a carpet, it becomes a magnet for dirt and grime, and if you spill something like wine or coffee, it can stain the carpet unless you act quickly.
Also, if moisture gets into a carpet and isn’t dealt with, it can even cause the carpet to go moldy.
Some carpets are installed as tiles – especially in office settings – and the tiles can be removed and washed or even replaced as required.
However, generally speaking, carpets require much more care than vinyl, so vinyl comes out a clear winner in this category.
Carpet vs. Vinyl Flooring – Comfort
One area where carpets perform strongly is in terms of comfort. Little can compare with the feeling of a soft, welcoming carpet under bare feet, and even harder types of carpet are comfortable to walk one.
Carpets are also a good choice for families with children since they are more forgiving to babies or toddlers who fall over on them.
Vinyl floors are hard, and although some have padding like cork installed underneath to make them more agreeable to walk on, they will never be as comfortable as carpet.
Furthermore, walking barefoot on a cold vinyl floor can be unpleasant, especially when rising during the night to answer the call of nature or when you drag yourself from your bed first thing on a cold winter’s morning.
For all these reasons, when it comes to comfort, carpet comes out on top.
Carpet vs. Vinyl Flooring – Noise
This might not be something that everyone thinks about, but carpet has a significant effect on the acoustics of a room, which is one of the main reasons that carpet has traditionally been – and still is – the most common choice for offices and meeting rooms.
Vinyl doesn’t have the same noise-reducing property, so if you are looking for a floor type for a business environment – or prefer a mellow, dampened sound in your home – carpet is the one to go for.
Carpet vs. Vinyl Flooring – Style and color options
Both carpet and vinyl offer a wide range of options when it comes to style and color.
However, due to dying techniques and technology, carpet allows you to have either more color and fewer patterns or vice versa – you can’t have both.
Vinyl, in contrast, has no such limits. Vinyl can be used to imitate almost any other material, including wood, tile and stone – and modern high-end vinyl can be so realistic that most people won’t even notice it’s not the real thing if you don’t point it out to them.
Of course, part of this comes down to the kind of effect you’re trying to create – and carpet does also offer texture options that vinyl doesn’t have – but on the whole, vinyl is the more versatile in terms of the range of styles it can be used to produce.
Although, of course, this counts for nothing if the carpeted look is the one you want to go for!
Carpet vs. Vinyl Flooring – Climate
An important consideration – but perhaps not the first everyone thinks of – is the suitability of each material in different climates. However, carpets and vinyl perform better in different climatic regions, so this could be a significant factor when choosing.
Carpets are usually seen as a recommended option in colder areas. They provide insulation, which can help keep your house warm and contribute to reducing heating bills, and they are also more comfortable to walk on barefoot during colder weather, as we have already seen.
Vinyl tends to be a better choice in hotter areas, especially those with Mediterranean or sub-tropical climates. It is also better than carpet in humid areas where excessive moisture can cause carpets to deteriorate or even develop mold.
Remember also that vinyl can fade through exposure to the sun, although this is more of a problem with cheap vinyl than with higher quality products.
In this category, it’s hard to pick a winner since the best choice depends on where you live – but this is a point to bear in mind when choosing between vinyl and carpet for your floor.
Carpet vs. Vinyl Flooring – Price
In terms of the price, carpet and vinyl are both relatively affordable options. You can find examples of each right at the bottom end of the price range for only a few dollars per square foot – although always remember that you get what you pay for.
More expensive versions of both will set you back a little more, but the raw price of high-quality carpet will probably be slightly higher than the price of top-end vinyl.
However, when talking about the price, you also need to factor in the price of installation as well as the cost of looking after the floor throughout its life.
Carpet costs more to install since it’s a more labor-intensive job, so this adds to the amount you’ll pay up-front. The thing to remember about carpet, though, is that it will cost far more to look after once it’s installed, so long-term, vinyl is by far the cheaper option.
Carpet vs. Vinyl Flooring – DIY Installation
If you consider yourself a bit handy, you might think you can save yourself some cash by doing the installation yourself.
Vinyl is ideal for DIY installation, and even people with little previous DIY experience should be able to do it. Some vinyl planks or tiles come with adhesive on the back, so all you need to do is peel off the paper and lay them in place. You don’t even need any specialist tools for the job.
Carpet is more complicated, but DIY installation is still a possibility. However, you’ll need a few specialist tools to do the job, which will also bump up your expenses if you don’t already have access to them.
Which is best?
When choosing between carpet and vinyl floors, there are so many points to consider, and there is no simple way to say one is better than the other.
If you live in a place with a certain climate, this could be a major factor in your decision-making process – it may be that you live in an area that dictates that vinyl floor is advisable due to the temperature and the humidity, in which case, the choice shouldn’t be too hard.
If you have young children, you might decide to go with carpet to prevent them from hurting themselves whenever they fall over, but you might also prefer the idea of low-maintenance vinyl in households with children and animals because vinyl is easier to clean.
In office settings, carpet is still preferred due to its acoustic properties, and in both offices and homes, many people will also prefer the comfort that even low pile carpet offers compared to hard, cold vinyl.
And of course, when it comes to that cozy, homely feeling of luxurious high pile carpet between your toes, vinyl simply can’t compete.
So in short, there are lots of factors to consider.
Think about your priorities and decide accordingly
As you can probably see, there’s no objective winner, so to help you choose, the best thing to do is to make a list of your priorities and see which surface is the best match.
That way, by being clear about your requirements and then referring to our guide, it should be a much easier task to decide whether to opt for carpet or vinyl for your floors.