A beautiful wood floor and carpet.

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Carpet


Characteristics

Soft: The biggest draw to carpet is that it is soft. It feels great beneath bare feet, like the entire world is padded and comforting. This is particularly soothing in bedrooms, children's rooms, and some family and living room areas, where you want to promote an atmosphere of comfort and relaxation.

Warm: Carpet is going to be much warmer than hardwood floors, especially on a chilly winter morning. It acts not only like a blanket for your feet, but it also helps to insulate the room, ensuring that warmth remains indoors and doesn't slip through more porous surface materials.

Comfort: The fact that it is soft and warm makes carpet just about the most comfortable flooring material you can stand on. This can be especially important when standing for long periods of time, where harder wood floors can cause pain in feet, ankles, and knees.

Cost: Carpet is considerably less expensive than hardwood materials. While they do need to be replaced every few years, the life of the material can be greatly extended by proper care and maintenance. This makes the long term cost of carpet comparable to certain types of hardwood flooring.

Safety: The fact that it is so soft makes carpet a particularly safe flooring choice. With hardwood, a trip or fall can result in injuries and broken objects. With carpet you have a type of cushion running across the entire room, making damage from an accident much less likely.

Quiet: A major complaint about hardwood floors is that they are loud. When installed on upper levels people down below often complain that they can hear every footstep. An old installation may also squeak in certain spots. With carpet the entire floors surface is padded and insulated, so that noise won’t easily pass up or down through the level.

Children: Carpet is great if you have kids because they can get down on the floor and use the entire surface of the room as a play area that is soft, cushioned, and safe against most falls.

Advantages

Carpet delivers underfoot comfort important in health care, education and retail settings where staff, patients and students are on their feet all day.

Carpet cushions slips, falls and noise pollution.

Carpet is a natural insulator, providing additional warmth in cold seasons.

Disadvantages

Patterned carpets usually have loops that can get pulled, resulting in damage to the carpet. Patterns also have to match their surroundings, which means you may need the input of a decorator, especially if your carpet is going to be seen by prospective tenants.

Olefin (also referred to as polypropylene, polyethylene or polyolefin) carpet soils easily. This synthetic fiber is used to make clothing, upholstery, wallpaper and ropes.

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Hardwood


Characteristics

Prestige: Hardwood flooring generally commands more awe, and is more impressive than carpet. It is seen as being “high end” and “luxurious”, because it is a natural material, and its surface is unique to that particular installation.

Cleanliness: Many people feel that it is impossible to really clean carpet. Stains soak in and settle permanently, and dust and micro bacteria tend to get attracted to, and caught in the fibers of the floor. Hardwood, by contrast, has a smooth, solid surface that can be easily wiped clean. There is no where for dust or dirt to hide making it much easier to maintain than carpet.

Allergies: The fact that carpet can attract and hold dust and microorganisms can also have an effect on anyone working or living in the space; especially if they suffer from allergies. Every time you walk across the carpet millions of tiny particles can fly into the air. With hardwood, all you have to do is wipe or sweep the surface clean and you can see that it is free of those same potentially harmful particles.

Long Lasting: Properly maintained hardwood flooring can last for decades, and some of the higher end materials can last for generations. With carpet, you are going to have to rip up the floor and replace it every few years. The ability to last longer means that the initial material investment pays off more over time with hardwood floors.

Refinished: When a hardwood floor is damaged, either by a stain, or through some sort of physical trauma, it can be refinished to look like new. This involves sanding down the surface past any defects, and then re-applying the stain and or finish products to make the floor look completely revitalized. Depending on the thickness of the material this is something that can be done several times over the life of the floor.

Versatility: If you want to soften a hardwood floor and get some of the benefits of carpet in a room, you can always put a rug down covering part or nearly all of the space. The reverse is not true if you have carpet installed.

Natural and Ecologically Friendly: Carpet is made largely from petroleum, a very limited resource, and is not natural in any way. Hardwood is a natural material, it is made from trees which can be replanted and renewed. However, when buying hardwood materials you do want to do a little research and make sure that they are being harvested by an ecologically sound company in an environmentally friendly way.

Advantages

Wood enhances the beauty of a room and can increase the feel of comfort in public spaces, says New York interior designer Robin Wilson. "Also, many people feel that hardwood can be symbolic of the durability of a business." Other benefits of hardwood floors include:

Damaged wood can be sanded and refinished, rather than replaced.

Wood doesn’t collect as much dust and allergens.

Disadvantages

Wood expands during periods of high humidity. If installed incorrectly, hardwood floors can buckle against a wall.

Wood floors can fade, splinter, dent or break, and they’re highly sensitive to the moisture from hot water heaters, bathrooms or washer leaks.

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Tile


Characteristics

Ceramic tile flooring offers so many different styles and looks that it’s impossible to mention them all here. Regardless of the type of tile you choose, however, ceramic tile is a durable, nonporous, and most importantly, beautiful flooring choice for any home. It is more difficult to install than some other options, so you’ll probably want to hire a professional tile installer, and it can chip and scratch under heavy use. Unlike larger flooring systems, however, you can replace individual tiles instead of an entire floor if any of your tiles gets seriously damaged.

Stone tile flooring has a lot in common with ceramic tile, with the exception that stone is much tougher. Granite, marble, travertine, and sandstone are just a few examples of stone that is commonly made into flooring tile. Keep in mind that different finishes require different amounts of care, so be sure to take that into account before you purchase. A polished marble surface will show scratches and scuffs much more readily than a tumbled one, for example. Stone tile is usually laid with a tighter setting, minimizing grout exposure, but it also places a greater reliance on sealant to offset stone’s porous nature. More expensive than ceramic tile, stone is still not usually in the same cost category as hardwood flooring.

Installation

Tile floors work great for bathrooms, kitchens and hallways because they can withstand the everyday wear and tear that comes with these highly trafficked rooms. Installing tile may be a DIY task for some ambitious homeowners, but there is a lot of labor involved as well as materials, like a wet saw. To professionally install tile floors, expect to pay around $3,724 for 500 square feet.

Repairs

When it comes to repairs, a homeowner can’t only look at the average costs reported. One must consider the lifetime of each flooring option, the traffic the floors sees and the extent of the damage. Despite the fact that the average cost for tile repairs ($300-$600) is more than hardwood or carpet ($150-$300), tile is more often looked as a cheaper alternative.

When repairing tile floors, you or the pro must ensure that the concrete holding the tile down is level with existing tiles, in addition to maintaining the existing pattern. The more complex this is, the more the repair will cost. Because tiles are laid one by one, a professional should be able to remove just a couple of tiles and replace them. For a simple repair of a few tiles in a floor, expect to pay about $100 in materials, depending on the amount of tiles as they are priced individually. Overall, with labor, this is a $300 to $600 job for an established, reputable business.

Cleaning

Much like hardwood, a majority of homeowners will choose to clean their tile floors themselves. After all, some good TLC is usually all you need to keep your tile floors looking as good as new. However, there are special machines that pros use to clean those tougher stains caught in the tile or grout.

By using a large steam cleaning machine and a special mix of chemicals, professional cleaners will be able to restore the luster of tiles. Other pros use their hands to get to those tough stains. Either way, if you hire a professional, plan on paying approximately $401 for cleaning tile floors.

Advantages

Ceramic tile is not that cold. Ceramic tile reflects the room temperature and holds onto that temperature for a long time. At times it can be cold. There are products out there that can be installed prior to tile installation that can warm up a floor.

Floor tiles are expected to be the fastest growing ceramic tiles at an estimated CAGR of 9.4% from 2012 to 2018 (Transparency Market Research).

Tile is waterproof. However, the grout joints connecting the tile do allow water transmission. This is where an improper installation can result in a structural problem and a costly replacement. The best thing to do for the grout is to seal it and keep any cracks caulked. Simple maintenance will give your tile a long life.

Tile floors do not squeak, which can occur with hardwood.

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