Replacing carpet with hardwood enhances a home's appearance, improves maintenance and cleanliness, and increases the home's resale value.
When the carpet reaches the end of its lifespan, this is often the perfect time to transition to hardwood flooring. Even carpet in good condition may be a candidate for removal and replacement with hardwood flooring. Learn whether replacing carpet with hardwood is right for you and for your home.
5 Reasons to Replace Carpet With Hardwood
Upgrade Home's Appearance
Hardwood flooring lends an elegant, refined appearance to any home. While many types of carpet are attractive, hardwood flooring has a universal appeal and a natural beauty that fits with nearly every style of home.
Improve Cleaning and Maintenance
With the right vacuum, it's not hard to keep carpet cleaned on a regular basis. Occasional cleaning with a carpet cleaner or visits by a carpet cleaning company will help to deep-clean the carpet. Even so, hardwood flooring is easier to deep-clean than carpet. Hardwood flooring has no pile or fibers that trap dust and allergens. Sweeping and dry-mopping are best for hardwood flooring.
Increase Floor's Lifespan
Carpet generally lasts up to 15 years, even if it's well-maintained. Solid hardwood flooring can last 50 years, and even up to 100 years. This means that wood flooring can last as long as three to six times as long as carpet.
So, if you plan to live in the home for the long-term, hardwood flooring might prove to be less expensive than carpet.
When hardwood flooring wears down, it can be sanded, refinished, and returned to like-new condition. As carpet wears down, tears can be repaired and the pile fluffed up, but the carpet cannot be renewed like hardwood: the wear is gradual and irreversible.
Improve Home's Resale Value
Hardwood flooring attracts homebuyers. A study conducted by the National Association of Home Builders found that 33 percent of potential homebuyers feel that hardwood flooring is an essential or a must-have and 49 percent feel that hardwood flooring is desirable.
Cost of Replacing Carpet With Hardwood
The cost of replacing carpet with hardwood consists of three other costs: carpet removal, carpet disposal, and hardwood flooring installation.
- Carpet removal: When hiring professionals, expect to pay $1 to $5 per square foot for carpet removal. To remove the carpet yourself, the cost will be nothing.
- Carpet disposal: Dispose of the carpet in a rented dumpster. A 20-yard dumpster, large enough to take all of the carpet from a small to medium house, will cost about $380 per week.
- Hardwood flooring installation: Hardwood flooring costs from $8 to $12 per square foot for unfinished white oak to around $13 to $18 for imported cabreuva or kempas flooring, installed.
Pros and Cons of Replacing Carpet With Hardwood
Increased resale value
Easier to deep-clean
Loss of soundproofing
5 Reasons to Keep Carpet in Place
Not all carpet needs to be removed and replaced with hardwood flooring. In some cases, carpet is a better choice than transitioning to hardwood flooring.
True floor-to-floor soundproofing is achieved by methods such as separating surfaces. But carpet and padding will substantially reduce noise between floors and muffle sounds within a room.
Carpet works well in bedrooms, especially in children's rooms, because it is soft, warm, and welcoming. In dry basements, carpet warms up the space and makes it more comfortable and habitable.
Hardwood flooring can be softened with runners and area rugs. It's possible to add radiant heating under hardwood flooring, but this does represent another expense. Plus, a system of wood sleepers must be built below the hardwood to accommodate the radiant heating elements.
Replacing carpet with hardwood is more expensive than replacing it with new carpet or with many other types of flooring. Installed new carpet costs about 60 percent of the cost of installed hardwood flooring.
After minor flooding or dampness, carpet will fare much better than hardwood flooring. Neither hardwood flooring nor carpet are the best choices for damp areas. For that, choose resilient flooring such as vinyl or ceramic tile.
But between hardwood and carpet, synthetic fiber carpet has the ability to dry out and return to normal, especially when the carpet and padding are stripped back and aired out with fans. Hardwood flooring can be irreparably damaged by water.
Replacing carpet with hardwood can mean installation difficulties not found with new carpet or other types of floor coverings.
Hardwood flooring must be nailed down to its subfloor, so a concrete subfloor requires special preparations including a vapor retarding membrane (polyethylene film) and an intervening subfloor substrate or a sleeper system. By contrast, carpet is a far more forgiving material when it comes to difficult subflooring. Carpet and padding can be installed directly on concrete.
Where to Install Hardwood Flooring
Install hardwood flooring in any dry common or private area of the home. Common areas are living rooms, hallways, great rooms, offices, and dining areas. Private areas are bedrooms.
Hardwood flooring can be installed in kitchens, as long as there are no ongoing moisture problems. Because kitchens experience moisture, water-resistant flooring such as resilient flooring or tile is often installed here, too.
Avoid installing hardwood flooring in wet rooms like bathrooms, saunas or hot tubs, damp basements, or laundry rooms that have moisture issues.
How to Save When Replacing Carpet With Hardwood
- Remove the carpet yourself.
- Dispose of the carpet by yourself with approved sources.
- Install engineered wood flooring instead of solid hardwood.
- Install the wood floor yourself.
- Move furniture before the installers come.
- Remove baseboards by yourself.
- Install hardwood in just part of the house, not all of it.
How to Replace Carpet With Hardwood
Remove the Baseboards
Remove wall baseboards by gently prying them away from the wall with a pry bar. Insert a piece of cardboard between the pry bar and the wall to protect the wall.
Start at a Corner
Start at a corner of the carpet to begin removing it. Grab the carpet pile by hand or with the claw end of a hammer and peel up or back.
Cut Sections Off
Roll back the carpet and cut it every few feet to reduce the weight of each section. Use a utility knife and cut on the back of the carpet.
Remove Tack Strips
Slide the pry bar under the tack strips to remove them from the subfloor. Wear safety glasses and thick gloves. All tack strips must be removed.
Scrape Off Adhesive
Use a floor scraper to remove all remnants of carpet glue. Even tacked carpet may have some glue near the center.
Add Subfloor Substrate (Concrete)
For concrete bases, add an intervening subfloor substrate such as a floating, anchored, or glue-down subfloor or a sleeper system.
Plan the Installation
Plan the direction of the hardwood flooring. Floorboards should be staggered.
Undercut door casings and trim.
Nail Down Flooring
Nail the flooring down to the substrate with the power-assisted nailer. Provide an expansion gap around the perimeter.
Is it a good idea to replace carpet with hardwood?
Whether it's a good idea to replace carpet with hardwood depends on the house, your needs, and your budget. Traditionally styled homes may be better suited to hardwood than to carpet. You may desire the look, feel, and maintenance advantages of hardwood over carpet. You must have the budget for hardwood flooring, too.
Do houses sell better with carpet or hardwood floors?
Houses tend to sell better with hardwood floors than with carpet. One report indicates that 82 percent of potential homebuyers feel that hardwood floors are essential or desirable.
Is it better to have hardwood or carpet in bedrooms?
Because carpet is warm and soft underfoot, many owners prefer to have carpet instead of hardwood flooring in their bedrooms. It's possible to have a hardwood-carpet combination, too: hardwood flooring in the common areas, carpet in the bedrooms.
Customer Outreach Toolkit. National Wood Flooring Association
Quint, Rose. What Home Buyers Really Want. National Association of Home Builders
How to Install Hardwood Floors with Electric Radiant Heating. Warmly Yours
Wood Flooring Installation Guidelines. National Wood Flooring Association
Wood Floor Facts: Concrete Subfloors. National Wood Flooring Association