Carpet vs Laminate Flooring: What You Need to Know Before Choosing

Gray carpet and transparent glass doors by a hallway

When looking to install new flooring in your home, you have several options to consider. Two of the most popular are carpet and laminate. While they are two wildly different types of materials, they both have their own advantages that can help you decide which one is right for you. We’ve compared carpet vs laminate here, to help you make an informed decision as to which type of flooring to add to your home.

​What is Carpet?

​Carpet is a soft flooring material made of textiles. It has a layer of fibers that are weaved together on a hard backing. This is placed over a carpet pad to give it some cushion. It can be made from polypropylene, nylon, polyester, or even wool.

Color and Patterns

Carpeting comes in a variety of colors and patterns which can help you achieve a classic or more contemporary look in your home. Many homeowners choose to run one single style of carpeting throughout their home to provide a seamless look.

Beyond a straight color, carpet also comes in a variety of patterns. Berber carpet is one common example, where the carpet is weaved into different knotting patterns.

​Pile and Fiber Lengths

Because carpeting comes in a variety of pile or fiber lengths, you can customize your carpet to the exact flow of traffic and use that a room will have. 

​Small pile carpet or area rugs work well if you have a high-use room kids or pets will be using frequently as it is less prone to damage.

Thicker fiber carpet, such as shag carpet, is ideally suited for the bedroom where you are looking for a more luxurious feel on your feet. Cleaning this thick shag carpet requires a good vacuum that can handle the fiber depth. 

Gray carpet and transparent glass doors by a hallway

Commercial Carpet

Besides your home, carpet can be installed in a commercial setting or even in retail or hospitality venues. Dyes are used to create a variety of carpet colors and patterns with no limits to the designs that can be created.

You can even choose to have your carpet different from room to room to match a certain theme you may have going on in each.

Carpet does show signs of wear over time and frequent use. It can soil easily and will need to be replaced at some point during the ownership of your home, so it's important to know how to clean a carpet with carpet cleane​r, to prolong the life of your carpet.

​Carpet Applications

​Carpet is a versatile material that can be installed almost anywhere in your home. You will most often find carpet in a living room or bedroom where you are trying to create a cozy space.

There are a variety of styles to select from, giving you plenty of options on fiber length. This allows you to select short lengths for rooms that get more wear and longer piles for rooms where you want more comfort and are not prone to as high of levels of traffic.

Carpet will not work well in a room that has a lot of moisture, like a bathroom, because it can cause mold in the fibers. It is also not ideal for a kitchen as food and other drinks and liquids such as milk can become trapped in the fibers and cause staining that is hard to remove.

​What is Laminate Flooring?

​Laminate flooring is a hard-flooring material that has a similar appearance to traditional hardwood flooring. To create laminate flooring, manufacturers use a process where multiple layers are fused or laminated together to give it a hard surface. It is very durable and has a high strength which can resist impact as well as frequent footsteps.

Color and Patterns

Laminate flooring comes in a wide range of finish colors and patterns. This allows you to create a modern or rustic look in your home.

​As we said earlier, laminate flooring most closely resembles the look of finished hardwood flooring. It can have dark, stained appearances, or bright, colorful looks.

You can have wonderful grain patterns, or more simple, modern patterns that resemble the look for a tile. Laminate flooring is extremely flexible in both its coloring and its look.

Install  and Upkeep

It is typically installed using a lock-and-click system that floats above the previous flooring surface. It can also be glued down. Many homeowners choose to install laminate flooring on their own because it is simple to cut and place.

You’ll find the laminate flooring gets its strength from the melamine resin and fiberboard at the core of the floor. A clear protective layer gives it a nice shine and helps to protect against wear. 

It doesn’t require a ton of upkeep to keep it looking its best. A dry mop made for tile floors and grout can remove most, if not all, dust and dirt that collects on its surface. You can also use ​a good vacuum for laminate floors to handle all the cleaning.

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​Laminate Floor Applications

​Because laminate mimics the look of a traditional hardwood floor, it can be installed in any room in your home where you would want a hardwood look. It is ideal for a living room or bedroom where you are looking for a clean finish.

​It will not work well in rooms that have moisture issues such as a bathroom. This works similarly to its other comparable sibling, bamboo flooring.

Laminate flooring cannot be saturated with water as it will ruin the finish and cause damage to the surface. It does, however, have a durable surface which holds up well to scratches and dents through wear and tear.

​Carpet vs Laminate Flooring

​There are many considerations to keep in mind when you are choosing between carpet and laminate flooring.

  • ​Carpet is more traditional than laminate flooring ​and easier for quick install.
  • Laminate flooring can give the look of a classy, finished product without the expense of hardwood flooring.
  • Because laminate flooring is not ​considered to be a "high value product", when compared to traditional hardwood or tile flooring. Many home buyers frown upon its installation in a home, and it does nothing to increase a house value when it is installed.

You can easily choose a quality carpet that is lush and ample which will entice home buyers, especially if it is newer and kept clean. With the endless possibilities available in carpet length and styles, you can select a material which will hold up well to the traffic of the room.

Laminate also comes in a bevy of styles, patterns, and colors. It can scratch and dull with overuse of the flooring.

Brown wood design laminate flooring close up

High Traffic Areas

Rooms with high traffic areas will do well with a berber carpet, which is designed to withstand the demands of frequent footsteps. Depending on the surface you select for your laminate flooring, you may not be able to get as much durability.

Hypo-allergenic

Laminate, however, is a very hypoallergenic surface. You can easily remove dust and dirt with a dry mop and clean it with an approved cleaning solution for a deeper clean. It doesn’t harbor allergens like carpet does or need a thorough cleaning with a machine, or a vacuum with a HEPA filter.

Spills and Dirt

Carpet can hold in dirt and dust and stain if you are not careful. Spills on a laminate floor can be wiped clean. They can seep deep into the carpet fibers and reappear even after careful cleaning.

Related: ​We've answered the question: Should You Dust or Vacuum First?

​Carpet Maintenance

To maintain your carpet, you will need to vacuum on a regular basis. This can help keep allergens to a minimum and reduce the unsightliness of your carpet if there are crumbs or dirt that has collected.

For more thorough cleaning, you will need to use a carpet cleaning machine and a carpet cleaning solution that digs down deep to lift dirt and nasty stains from its fibers.

​Laminate Maintenance

Vacuuming on a regular basis is just as important with laminate flooring as it is with carpet. Dirt that is on your flooring can get ground into the fragile floor, scratching it permanently. Vacuuming and sweeping helps to avoid this from happening.

Make sure to pick a vacuum that is designed specifically for laminate. The vacuum needs to have soft plastic wheels, and a brush roller that can be disengaged (or no brush roller at all.

Longevity​

Laminate flooring, if properly cared for, can last for many years without losing its lustrous finish. Carpet will age over time and require replacing, especially if it is soiled, pooped on by pets, or has frequent wear marks that ruin the fibers.

Budget

When it comes down to your budget, it is more affordable to add carpet to your home than laminate, depending on the style you choose. You can cover a large surface area with carpet easily without racking up a significant cost.

Laminate can be costlier, depending on the material your select. You will probably have to pay more to have it installed in a large room instead of carpet.

Cute english bulldog laying on top of a shag carpet on brown laminate floors

Installation

One of the biggest factors in deciding between carpet and laminate is the installation time. Carpet can be installed rapidly in one piece as it is cut to the shape of the room and glued/tacked down.

Laminate flooring typically uses a floating system that locks in place that has to be painstakingly installed piece-by-piece. You must pay attention to the pattern of the floor so no two joints line up, which can be time-consuming if you attempt the project on your own.

Feel and Sound

Many homeowners choose carpet because of the cushioning effect it has as you walk on it. Laminate, while placed over a cushioning pad, can be noisy and hard as you walk on it. It also is a cold surface that can be uncomfortable on bare feet. Many like the feel of carpet and prefer it over laminate just for this reason.

​Conclusion

​When you look at carpet vs laminate, there is a lot to consider. Generally speaking, carpet is a safer option to pick. It is a more versatile product that will keep your home feeling comfortable.

However, if you have an allergy problem, laminate might be a better option. There are also a lot of laminate options for flooring nowadays that add a very high-end feel to your home. Just make sure you are aware of the dangers of scratching and water damage that come with this type of flooring.

About the Author Allen Michael

Allen Michael is the Founder and Editor of Home Viable, a website that he started to provide readers with tips on home efficiency and automation. He draws on his engineering background combined with his family-of-four experiences for his articles.

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