Flooring: Carpet or Laminate?

We discuss the pros and cons of these two budget friendly flooring choices.

Flooring selections

When it comes to making flooring decisions for your home, it can seem as though there’s more options than you know what to do with. Hard floors are increasing in popularity through properties, but they’re not for everyone. In the end, your flooring decision should be based upon what kind of performance you need and the aesthetics you desire; although budget may factor into it, too. So what’s best for what and what will work for you? Read on for our beginner’s guide to carpet and laminate, so you can make an informed purchase decision for your flooring.

Carpet vs Laminate: Performance

Of course, carpet and laminate are very different materials and so what the room is likely to be used for must be considered when it comes to choosing an appropriate flooring for it. Ask yourself:
- Does the flooring need to be water or dirt resistant?
- Will there be children or pets in the room who are likely to make it dirty quickly and in need of frequent cleaning?
- How much maintenance are you prepared to carry out to keep the floor clean?
- Do you have, or intend on installing, underfloor heating?
- Does anyone living in the house have allergies that need to be considered?
- Does the room have a tendency to get particularly hot or cold?
- Is the room home to a lot of noise, and would a flooring type that didn’t echo or amplify this be appropriate?
All of these should help you decide what flooring type will be more suitable for the room – and of course, you don’t need to have the same flooring material in every room of the house. Carpets can be more difficult to clean but laminate can feel colder. Laminate is also water resistant so is ideal for rooms such as bathrooms, WCs and kitchens.

Carpet vs Laminate: Material

While there are several types of both carpet and laminate, each is broadly made of the same material.
Laminate is made of a photographic image of timber, stone or other material, or a pattern, fixed to a core board made from compressed fibres. This is then covered in a wear layer made from melamine, which offers a durable and waterproof finish.
Carpets are made from either natural or synthetic materials woven together and usually rolled out onto a floor for installation, then cut into the correct shape. Most commonly, carpets are made from wool, manmade nylon or polypropylene. The finish can be either a deep pile carpet or a smoother, thinner finish.

Carpet vs Laminate: Installation

The laying of both carpet and laminate can be done as a DIY job, but there is a difference in the ease of installation.
Generally speaking, laminates are very easy to lay and so are a favourite amongst those hoping to give it a go themselves. Some laminate flooring is available as a click-together type solution with no need for nails or glue, while others may need a bonding solution between layers. Check the details of your laminate flooring to understand the best method for installation, as well as whether it requires a sub-layer to be put down. Laminate always needs to acclimatise to the room it’s going to be installed in, so leave it in there for at least 48 hours before you fit it.
Carpet can be laid as a DIY job but is a little trickier and may require some specialist tools such as a sharp carpet cutter. In many cases, when you buy carpet you’ll also be able to purchase the services of a specialist carpet fitter who will be able to advise you on exactly how much you’ll need and install it within your home at an agreed time and date.

Carpet vs Laminate: Maintenance

Of course, the maintenance of your flooring needs to be considered; especially if you’re installing the flooring into a busy area of the home.
Laminate flooring is, for the most part, wipe clean and so any spills or messes can usually be mopped up fairly quickly. However, you should check the exact water resistance of laminate before installing it – as some types of this flooring are specifically designed for rooms more prone to leakages and spillages (such as kitchens and bathrooms). You should also consider the marking and impact of heeled shoes and any pet’s paws, as these can do irreparable damage that will result in the flooring eventually needing replacement.
The exact maintenance of carpets depends on the materials in them and the pile finish. Most carpet types will require regular hoovering and the use of specialist carpet cleaning products to shampoo out any stains or spillages. Carpets, by their nature, are not waterproof, and so though you may find liquids can be drawn out of them with the use of paper towels, it’s likely that some moisture will remain even after drying. Darker coloured carpets will hide stains and marks easier.

Carpet vs Laminate: Cost

Today, both carpet and laminate are comparable in cost.
Generally speaking, you can expect laminate flooring to cost between £10-£35 per m/2, but it’s important to note that quality varies hugely through such products and so you may find that the lower priced laminates form a false economy; forcing a short term solution that means you have to invest in a replacement sooner.
Carpet also starts around the £10-£35 per m/2 mark, higher quality, natural material and deep pile carpets sit at anywhere between £35-£65 per m/2. Fairly often, you may also find that you need to purchase carpet installation services from the same retailer.

The Bottom Line

There’s pros and cons to both carpet and laminate, but when you start to think about the room usage and those walking through it, the decision between them should be fairly easy to reach. No matter what you choose, you need it to feel good and look good – and whatever ticks those boxes for you is the one to go for!

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