Floor covering is so important to consider when planning your new home or your home renovation. It can help you to define areas in your home (especially if your home is an open-plan design) and add a touch of colour or texture to an otherwise dull room. While there is a huge selection of choices to consider, from natural wooden floorboards, to tiling, stone or vinyl flooring, two of the most common and popular floor coverings are carpet and laminate flooring.
But which should you choose to furnish your home?
Choosing between carpet and laminate
While they are both popular choices for home builders and renovators, these two options couldn’t be more different! We’ll go through some of their different features to help you decide which is best for you and your home.
Laminate is made from an aggregate of wood particles that have been combined with resin and wax and subjected to high heat and immense pressure to form high-density panels. These panels then fused with three other layers to produce the laminate flooring.
Laminate flooring resembles photorealistic patterns and images of wood and stone and is often used as a cheaper alternative to floorboards, while providing the same elegant look.
Carpet is a textile floor covering that consists of a top layer of ‘pile’, normally made from wool, nylon, polyester or polypropylene that is attached to a backing. It can come in a wide array of designs, colours, textures and materials to suit just about any style and budget.
Carpet is quite simple to install as the process is not technically demanding. After prepping the floor so that is clean and smooth, the carpet installer places a ‘smooth edge’ or ‘gripper’ around the perimeter of the room to give something for the carpet to attach to. They then install underlay or underfelt where required, securing with a staple hammer, then simply rolls out the appropriate measurement of carpet and secures it to the smooth edge, first by stretching it to make the carpet taut. On average, it normally takes about three to four hours to install 50 m2 of carpet depending on how many joins are required.
Laminate, however, involves a lot of work and has some technical aspects to it. Part of the process involves taking measurements, tracing and cutting the planks into the right lengths, and then the actual installation of the planks, as well as the process that goes into making sure that the floor is level and installing any underlay required. This process tends to become trickier when installing laminate in difficult areas like wardrobes, doorways and oddly shaped rooms.
On average, it would take you about 1 day to laminate about 50m2, although a professional laminate installer is likely to work faster.
3. Maintenance and Durability
Although both carpets and laminate have a shorter life expectancy when compared to other floor coverings, carpets generally tend to deteriorate at a faster rate. This is because carpets are made from fibres which can become stained if not attended to immediately and as a result, they are subjected to constant vacuuming and cleaning. This causes the fibres to break down much faster resulting in wear and tear. Carpets normally last about 10 to 15 years with proper care and will normally need to be replaced after that time.
Laminate, however, has a tough protective layer that insulates the wooden panel from the elements. Through proper maintenance and care, this material can last well over 20 years.
Laminate flooring requires more work than carpets to keep it in pristine condition as it tends to show dust and smudges quite easily.
Laminate floors can easily be ‘dry mopped’ with a hand spray water bottle but avoid heavy wet mopping or steam cleaning the laminate as it can damage it as it does not like an excess of water.
In contrast, carpets can simply be vacuumed or occasionally steam cleaned and don’t show dirt quite as easily. You can even purchase special stain resistant carpets made from special materials that can make it easier to clean up accidental spills.
The cost is comparatively pretty similar between the two choices depending on your budget. The average cost of an entry level laminate ranges between at around $25-$35 per m2 or around $50 per m2 for a more luxurious option. These prices include an acoustic underlay. If you need a professional to install your laminate then another $20m2 is a good approximate.
The average cost of an entry level carpet ranges from $30 – $40 per m2 all the way up to $200 or higher for a luxury carpet installed on a standard underlay. Of course carpets have more choice in materials, finishes, pile heights and textures which accounts for the large range of prices, where the difference in pricing for laminate mainly comes down to the design and thickness of the laminate.
When considering the costs of floor coverings, keep in mind the long-term costs, for example cleaning, maintenance and the frequency of replacement to make a more informed decision.
So, which one should you choose?
In general, laminate flooring is a superb choice for rooms with limited foot traffic, or where shoes are not worn indoors and where spills occur less frequently. In such situations, it is easier to clean and the maintenance cost is low. Carpets, on the other hand, are ideal for rooms meant to relax or to add that “cozy” feeling to rooms like living rooms or bedrooms.
But don’t just settle for one or the other. Find a creative way to incorporate both into your household to gain the best of both worlds!