Ceramic Tile vs Carpet Flooring

Ceramic Tile vs Carpet Flooring

It’s time to replace your old flooring, and you’re stuck between two very different flooring types: ceramic tile vs. carpet. Both look great, but which is best for your home?

Before pulling out your checkbook and spending your hard-earned money on new flooring, you want to make sure that you make the right selection. Instead of spending hours scouring the internet or talking to your local home improvement store clerk, we’ve compiled all of the information you need to make the most well-informed decision for your household.

In this guide, we’re going to take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of ceramic tile versus carpet. We’ll compare each flooring type side-by-side in six different categories to see where this flooring shines… and where it falls flat.

Which one is most affordable? Which is best for a house with children and pets? We’ll answer all of that and more, so read on to learn more.

In this guide, we’ll explore:

Side-by-Side Comparison

 Ceramic TileCarpet
DurabilityExtremely durable. May crack with force. Can rip, tear, stain, and show wear over time
Good For Allergies?YesNo, can trap pet hair and dander
CleaningDaily cleaning with broom, dust mop, or vacuum cleaner for bare floors. Can be wet or steam mopped for deeper cleaning. Daily cleaning with carpet sweeper or vacuum. Stain removing products or steam cleaner can be used for deeper cleaning.
ComfortHard and can be cold, if not heatedSoft, plush, and warm
Self-InstallationPossible, but special tools are requiredPossible, but special tools are required
Pet-FriendlyYesYes
Price$2 to $30+ per square foot$2 to $7 per square foot
Installation CostsAbout $5 per square foot$1 to $3 per square foot
Lifespan75 to 100+ years1 to 25 years, depending on quality
WaterproofYesNo, can be damaged by water
Flooring GuideTile Flooring GuideCarpet Flooring Guide

Durability

Everyday life in your house can get hectic. Throw in children and pets, and it can be downright chaotic. If you have heavy traffic (whether it’s of the two- or four-legged variety), you want flooring that is durable and can handle it all.

When purchasing carpet, there are three factors that determine durability. That includes the twist, density, and fiber. For the most durable flooring, look for a wear-resistant fiber that is tightly twisted and has a high density.

Carpet is great because it doesn’t face some of the issues of hard flooring, like scratching or denting. However, that doesn’t mean this flooring is totally immune to damage.

One of the drawbacks of carpet is that it can rip or tear. With a high-quality product, however, this isn’t a common occurrence, at least not in the first few years of use.

Another problem is that carpet can show wear, especially high-pile flooring. Carpets may also stain if something is spilled, although there are stain treatments that can be used on the carpet when it’s first installed, as well as stain removers that can be used after a stain occurs.

Carpet can also be damaged by water. Steam cleaners to refresh the look of carpet can safely be used. However, if there is excessive water from a spill or a flood in your home, carpet and the pad below may be prone to grown mold or mildew and will need to be professionally cleaned or replaced entirely.

This isn’t a problem with ceramic tile. Ceramic tile is resistant to water, so it can get wet. This makes it ideal for installation in rooms with high moisture or humidity, like your bathroom.

Ceramic tile is also more durable than other types of bare flooring like hardwoods. You won’t have to worry about scratches from furniture or pet claws for the most part.

However, ceramic tile can crack, especially if something heavy is dropped. Once this occurs, the tile will need to be removed and replaced.

When it comes to durability, ceramic tile comes out on top. Even though it can crack, this is a rare occurrence if the flooring is properly installed.

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Comfort

You’ll spend a lot of time walking and standing on your floors, so you want to make sure they’re comfortable. When compared side-by-side, which is the more comfortable flooring: carpet or ceramic tile?

Carpet is by far the most comfortable flooring type. It is soft, plush, and feels good under your feet. Unlike other types of flooring, it also won’t get cold, so there’s no shock in the morning when you get out of bed and put your feet on the ground.

On the flip side, ceramic tile is extremely hard. Though this hardness works in its favor to make it very durable, it also can get quite uncomfortable. It can particularly be a problem for anyone with knee, joint, or back issues.

Ceramic tile is also a cold flooring. There are under-floor heating options that can be used to warm up your tile. However, these systems can cost thousands of dollars to install.

When it comes to comfort, there is no doubt about it: carpet is the superior choice.

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Pricing

There’s no way around it: flooring is expensive. Even if you opt for the cheapest option (which typically results in a low-quality floor that needs to be replaced often), you should still expect to pay several hundred dollars just in materials. However, some flooring is far more expensive than others.

Carpet is an affordable option for many homeowners. You should expect to pay around $2 to $7 per square foot depending on the type of carpet you choose. Remember, this is only the cost of the carpet and does not include professional installation costs or the costs of tools or other materials.

Ceramic tile is a little bit more expensive, and the costs vary widely. Ceramic tile can range in price from about $2 per square foot to over $30 per square foot. Pricing varies based on a number of factors, including the size of the tile, design, and brand selected.

Like carpet, this pricing does not include the price of professional installation, tools, and additional materials needed for installation.

Although some prices may be comparable, looking at the full price range shows that carpet is significantly less expensive than ceramic tile.

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Installation

While we’re talking about pricing, there’s something else that contributes to how much you’ll pay for your new flooring: installation. Which flooring is the cheapest to install? Which is the easiest to install if you choose to take on the job yourself?

If you opt to hire a professional carpet installer, pricing is fairly inexpensive. You should expect to pay around $1 to $3 per square foot for installation.

If you want to take on the task yourself, you’ll have a large project on your hands. The job involves preparing the subfloor, installing tackless strips and carpet padding, measuring and trimming the carpet, and stretching it using a power stretcher.

You’ll also need additional tools including a knee kicker to properly install your carpet. These tools can get expensive, although you can rent them by the day or week from your local home improvement store.

It isn’t impossible to install carpet, but it does help to watch online tutorials and step-by-step instructions to make sure you do the job properly. The key to installing carpet is having the right tools, knowing what to expect during the process, and taking your time.

The cost to install ceramic tile flooring is around $5 per square foot, which is more expensive than professional installation of carpet.

Tackling the job yourself is also no easy task, but like carpet, it’s not impossible. You will need to prep your subfloor, apply mortar to adhere the tile, use spacers between each tile, spread the grout, and cut tiles as needed.

Installing tile can be a very messy job, so you need to prepare to get your hands dirty. You’ll also need special tools including a wet tile saw. You can typically rent those if you don’t want to spend hundreds purchasing your own.

Just as you would when installing carpet, read step-by-step instructions and watch tutorials to understand the tile installation process. Take your time and make sure you have everything you need to do the job correctly before you begin.

Because installing both carpet and ceramic tile can be difficult, most homeowners opt to hire a professional to complete the job. Because carpet has less expensive installation costs, it is the winner in the installation category.

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Lifespan

You’re about to drop hundreds (or thousands) of dollars on your new flooring, so you want it to last. After all, who wants to spend time and money installing new flooring over and over throughout the years? Of these two types of flooring, which has the longest lifespan?

The lifespan of carpet varies widely based on the type of carpet you’ve purchased. A very low-grade carpet (like the type found in most apartments) will only last for 1 to 3 years. Medium-grade carpets have a lifespan of 5 to 15 years. Top-of-the-line, high-grade carpets can last between 15 and 25 years with proper care.

Ceramic tile has one of the longest lifespans of any type of flooring. Most ceramic tile can easily last a lifetime, with a lifespan between 75 to 100 years with proper care.

If you want a floor that will last through many years of use, ceramic tile is the right choice for you.

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Care & Maintenance

With jobs, kids, and other daily tasks, few people have hours to devote to keeping their floors looking their best. If you’re always on the go but want flooring that still looks great with little care and maintenance, which is the better choice between carpet and ceramic tile?

Daily cleaning of carpet is fairly easy. You can pick up dirt and debris using a carpet vacuum cleaner. A carpet sweeper is also a handy tool to have around when you don’t feel like lugging out a bulky vacuum cleaner every time you clean.

If you have pets, carpet can trap pet hair and dander. You should purchase a vacuum cleaner specifically for homes with pets to minimize pet hair and dander on your floors.

If you need a deeper clean, this step is a little more tricky but not impossible. You can purchase carpet stain removing products to clean up most stains. Applying a carpet protectant when you first install carpet can also help cut down on stains.

If you need to refresh your carpets, you can purchase or rent a steam cleaner. These machines use special cleaners to help your carpets to be clean and smell fresh.

Tile is one of the easiest types of flooring to clean. For most daily cleaning, using a broom, dust mop, or vacuum specifically for hard floor use is sufficient for picking up dirt, dust, and debris.

When tile gets really dirty, you can use a wet tile mop with a mild, non-abrasive cleaner. If your grout is extremely dirty, you may need to do a cleaning with a soft brush. If there are stains on the grout, there are products specifically to remove stains. Or, you can use a grout paint to refresh it.

Even though cleaning both types of flooring isn’t difficult, tile comes out on top. Because it does not stain, a quick run with a broom and mop is all it takes for ceramic tile to look its best.

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Final Verdict

Carpet and tile both would look great in any home. However, what you’re looking for in your new flooring will determine which you select for your own home.

If you want long-lasting, durable flooring that’s easy to maintain and can be installed in moist, humid rooms like bathrooms, you can’t go wrong with ceramic tile. This flooring can last up to 100 years and requires minimal care throughout its lifetime.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for soft, more comfortable flooring that is extremely affordable, carpet is a great choice. This flooring is an ideal choice for most rooms, including family rooms, living rooms, and bedrooms.

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Nikki Seppala

About Nikki Seppala

Nikki is an experienced writer and editor and has worked in industries that range from home improvement to entrepreneurship. For over 10 years, she's used her unique talent and love of the written word to uncover the stories that people want to read.

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