Laminate vs Carpet Flooring

Laminate vs Carpet Flooring

By Fortino Rosas / September 18, 2021 / 6 Comments

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    Many people have pondered the comparison of laminate vs. carpet. Which one is better to use? Or, rather, which is better for your specific needs?

    There are plenty of variables from which to choose when deciding between picking a laminate floor or a carpet floor. From room of the house and how it’s going to be used, to the people most likely to occupy the room in which you’re installing the floor, there are many factors from which to choose.

    In this guide, we’ll explore:

    Side-by-Side Comparison

    CostAffordable; about the sameAffordable; about the same
    Cleanliness and careEasier to clean; hides dirtAbsorbs moisture, pollen and other allergies
    DurabilityLasts 8-15 years but easier to repairLast 8-15 years but harder to repair
    UpkeepWeekly cleaning; no extensive maintenanceWeekly cleaning; deep steam cleaning at least once a year
    Appearance and compositionMade to look like hardwood floorsMade to look like a textured floor
    ChoicesFewer choices; made to replicate wood or stoneMore choices; not bound to replicate other products
    ComfortHarder than carpet, but still comfortableSofter and more pleasant, especially on bare feet
    Insulation and noise reductionMuch louder and colder rooms because of lack of absorptionQuieter rooms and better for your home's insulation
    Flooring GuideLaminate Flooring GuideCarpet Flooring Guide


    Let’s get the topic of cost out of the way right off the bat. Cost is often an important determining factor when it comes to making a choice between any two or more products. That is especially the case when it comes to flooring choices.

    That’s because flooring is normally priced on a per-square-foot basis. The more square feet you have in your room, the more expensive the cost will be.

    The differences between laminate and carpet are fairly negligible when it comes to price. That is to say that most laminate flooring and carpets are right around the same price. So, it’s often hard to discern which one is better based off pricing alone.

    It’s a good thing that the price difference between laminate and carpet is negligible. What it means is that you can make your selection on flooring type.

    You base that on other important factors. It is not just whether you can afford one flooring type over the next, for your particular situation.

    That being said, the higher-end “high pile” carpeting options are likely to be more expensive than some of the high-end laminate flooring choices. So if you’re leaning toward getting a higher-end type of flooring, keep in mind that your carpet choices might be a little pricier than the laminate options available to you.

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    Cleanliness and Care

    Cleanliness and care are two of the biggest differences between laminate flooring and carpet. Laminate flooring is more similar to hardwood flooring in this regard.

    As such, laminate flooring doesn’t hide dirt and build-up in any crevices. It is often considered more hygienic and hypoallergenic than carpet is.

    Carpet, on the other hand, tends to absorb a lot of odors, dust, moisture and other things that would make you and your vacuum cleaner cringe. As a result, if you or your family members have allergies to dust, pollen or even pet dander, then carpet might not be the best choice for you.

    Also, if you don’t like to clean your floors multiple times a week, then laminate may be the better option.

    Because of the fact that it soaks up moisture, carpet is also not a great option for certain rooms of your house. Those include bathrooms, kitchens and possibly even basements.

    It depends on whether your basement is waterproof or not. Laminate flooring is often found in kitchens and basements. That is because it does not absorb the moisture as easily as carpet does.

    It’s also another reason why carpet nowadays is more often found in rooms of the house such as living rooms and bedrooms. These are places where a lot of people congregate.

    However, they don’t often eat or drink there. They are also rooms that aren’t subject to as much moisture as bathrooms and basements.

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    Durability is a key concern when you’re making the choice between any two products, but especially flooring. Who wants to be replacing their flooring every other year? It’s expensive enough as it is to install the first time, and to coordinate the style and colors between your flooring and everything else in that room and in the rest of your house.

    On the low, low end, both laminate flooring and carpet can last fewer than three years. That’s not a very long shelf life. It’s why even if you can’t afford the higher-end options, it’s important that you save up and not opt for the cheapest option available, either.

    In terms of simple life span, both laminate and carpet will last anywhere from 8 to 15 years. But durability is more thank just about simply how many years it will last before it you have to replace it completely. Instead, durability is also about wear and tear in the meantime, between the time of installation and the time you need to replace it completely.

    It’s easier to replace or repair smaller parts or sections of laminate flooring than it is carpet. That’s because you can simply snap most laminate flooring into place. That makes replacing or repairing a small section fairly simple.

    You can cut and remove carpet, on the other hand, with a knife, first. Then, the replacement piece needs to be cut at the exact same size. Finally, you need to replace it in the spot of the old portion of carpet. It may even leave a noticeable seam once you replace it.

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    Both laminate flooring and carpet require weekly upkeep to keep them clean and help extend their lifespan. The good news, though, is that the differences between upkeep for laminate and carpet are fairly minor. So which is better?

    Laminate flooring requires at least weekly vacuuming and some sweeping here and there, depending on the mess that has been created in the room. On the positive side, laminate doesn’t need any buffing or re-finishing at any point during its lifespan, which is a main reason why it’s an attractive alternative to hardwood flooring.

    Carpet, meanwhile, requires that same weekly cleaning via the vacuum. However, one of the main differences between laminate flooring and carpet is that carpeting usually requires a deep steam cleaning at least once a year. The frequency of the deep cleaning could also increase depending on how you use the room, whether you have pets or just how messy you, your family and your guests are.

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    Appearance and Composition

    This category of choices is really about what one person likes versus what another person likes. When you’re discussing the appearance of laminate versus carpet, it’s really a discussion of personal preference. Some may prefer the appearance of laminate, while others might prefer that of carpet.

    Manufacturers design laminate flooring to resemble the look of traditional hardwood floors. It’s a floating tongue-and-groove style of flooring, meaning each piece locks easily into the next for easy installation. It can come in styles of manufactured wood, stone, tile and even ceramic shapes and styles, to name a few.

    Carpet, meanwhile, is a textile floor covering with an upper layer of pile that attaches to some sort of backing. The installer places the backing face-down and tacks it to the sub-floor. The padded upper layer is face up, providing both the design, look and feel of the flooring.

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    If you’re a person that likes choices, then carpet might be the way to go. That’s based simply on the wide range of options that carpet presents for designers over laminate flooring.

    Manufacturers make laminate flooring specifically to replicate hardwood flooring and stone. So that limits the variety and number of choices available.

    What you see is what you get with laminate flooring. The product is either going to look like a wood product of different grains and colors, or it’s going to look like a type of stone of different textures and colors.

    Carpet, on the other hand, has much more versatility. That is because it does not have to replicate any other type of product.

    Carpet is a product unto itself. And today, manufacturers and designers are fully taking advantage of this fact, creating more and more intricate carpet designers every day, for any number of looks, textures, feels, colors, shapes and sizes.

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    When it comes right down to it, one of the most important factors when you’re choosing a flooring type is the comfort. Unless you’re outfitting a very formal room in a very formal house – where comfort is often not a consideration, at least over look – comfort is extremely important. So which is better, laminate or carpet?

    In terms of pure comfort, carpet has a slight advantage here. Because it has extra padding on its bottom layer and a soft, plush top layer, people often consider carpet the more comfortable option of the two. Carpets are soft on your feet, especially when you’re not wearing shoes, which is why people often have it in their bedrooms.

    That isn’t to say that laminate flooring isn’t comfortable. On the contrary, laminate flooring today does have the necessary support in its layers to not make it too hard on your feet.

    Manufacturers engineer today’s laminate flooring options with extra padding and “give.” That makes the product more pleasant to walk on than it once was.

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    Insulation and Noise Reduction

    These are two areas that a lot of people might not think about. But insulation and noise reduction are two very important factors that everyone should consider when they’re making a choice of which type of flooring to use for their home.

    Noise, hot air and cold air all travel up and down your home, from foundation to roof and wall to wall, and different types of flooring will either allow it to happen or impede it from happening.

    As you can probably imagine, carpet is a great absorber of noise and is a great insulator. Carpet can make rooms quieter by absorbing the noise that travels through it, making it an ideal option for bedrooms and dry basements in this regard. It also helps keep a room at a more pleasant temperature, especially in the winter months when your home can have trouble retaining heat.

    On the contrary, laminate flooring is really quite the opposite in these two areas. On the noise front, laminate flooring doesn’t have any absorption power, so it often creates an echo effect in rooms. At the same time, its lack of absorption allows heat to escape the room and your home, and often makes it quite cold to walk on in those chilly months.

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    Which one is better: carpet or laminate flooring?

    Laminate and carpet are two completely different flooring types, and which one will be better for your home depends on your specific needs. Both alternatives are affordable and last between 8 and 15 years. Laminate is easy to clean and looks like hardwood, but doesn’t absorb sounds.
    Carpets are softer; more comfortable to the feet; come in many variations, colors, and sizes; and provide a textured look; however, carpets are also harder to clean and repair and aren’t the best solution for people prone to allergies.

    Is laminate flooring colder than carpet?

    Carpet is the warmest flooring alternative and feels much softer to the feet compared to laminate. If you live in a cold climate and love stepping on a warm surface, then you should pick a carpet.
    Laminate is a popular option for rooms where carpets will be too hard to maintain, such as kitchens. In these areas, you can keep your feet warm with small rugs.

    Which is cheaper to install: carpet or laminate flooring?

    The labor for installing carpets will cost anywhere between $0.50 and $1 per square foot, the padding between $0.30 and 0.60 per square foot, and additional costs (moving furniture, cuts) between $0.50 and $2 per square foot. So overall, it will cost you around $1.30 and $3.60 per square foot to install carpets.
    Installing laminate costs more, and you can expect to pay between $4 and $8 per square foot. This price includes labor and materials such as underlayment, glue, etc. As you can see, this is a costlier alternative; however, you can try following the instructions and install it yourself.

    How much does laminate flooring cost compared to carpet?

    The cost of laminate varies depending on the thickness, style, quality, durability, brand, room size, etc.; however, on average, one square foot of laminate costs anywhere from $2 to $6. To this cost, you should also add the labor and materials costs that vary from $4 to $8 per square foot.
    Carpets are much cheaper and start at $1 per square foot, but can go up to $20 for high-quality wool carpets. The costs for installation and materials range between $1.30 and $3.60.

    Is it hard to replace carpet with laminate?

    In most cases, it won’t be hard to replace your carpet with laminate. If you love DIY projects, then this will be a great one to try at home. Laminate is one of the easiest floors to install, so if the subfloor is even and the underlayment is good, you’ll just follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
    After removing the carpet, you can prepare the subfloor and underlayment. The next step is to install the laminate planks row by row and create a pattern that will be aesthetically pleasing. 

    Can I install laminate flooring on top of carpet?

    Generally, it’s not recommended that you place laminate on top of carpets. Carpets are soft, so they don’t provide enough support to be a subfloor. Also, as you walk on top of carpets you create indentations, so laying laminate on top of carpet and then walking on it could cause the system that locks the laminate planks to be damaged from all the changes.
    Another reason why carpets aren’t a good idea under laminate is that they can be a breeding ground for mold, mildew, and insects. Again, the best solution is to remove the carpets, then install the laminate.

    Final Verdict

    So which is the best choice between laminate flooring and carpet? The answer depends on two main areas: location in the house and makeup of the people and things in it.

    Laminate is the preferred choice in kitchens, bathrooms, entryways and other living areas of the home, and in homes that have pets or if the people in the home are prone to allergies or are messier. Carpet, meanwhile, is the better choice in bedrooms and other potential living areas.

    That is the case especially if you need to reduce noise in a certain area. It is also helpful if you are worried about insulation for your home and don’t have any pets or serious allergies.

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    About Fortino Rosas

    Chief Floor Critic, 32 years of experience in flooring installation and sales

    Fortino Rosas is an independent flooring contractor with 32 years of experience in residential and commercial flooring installation and sales. He joined the Floor Critics team to share his expertise with our readers. Fortino has acquired vast knowledge and skills in the areas of product selection, space planning, and installation. He has installed flooring in residential, government, and commercial office projects in the Midwest. Visit Website.

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    6 thoughts on “Laminate vs Carpet Flooring”

    1. Good day,
      I learned a lot from your article. We are selling our home and have carpet through out. The kitchen and dining and main hallway as well as the powder room are all porcelain tile. The carpet in living room and bedrooms is ok and has been taken care of with regular cleaning but the family room probably needs to be redone it’s clean but looks tired. No we I’m wondering if I would get more money if I had laminate or hardwood installed in the main floor living room and family rooms. 2 realtors said no not going to get more money but people have mentioned that it has carpets like it was a swear wood lol what do you think I should do?

      1. I’m currently buying a home (I’m female and 34 years old, for reference). I really dislike carpet and even when i see a home has brand new carpet in it, all I can think of is how I will have to replace it. Bedrooms are acceptable with carpet, but then you have to worry about color, etc. I’ve seen so many homes for sale with brown carpet (uck! Not my style) or white (!) carpet. With laminate, people can put down any rugs they choose. It’s easier to clean, healthier, modern-looking. A buyer who hates carpet won’t buy a home with carpet. A buyer who loves carpet can always put down a nice rug. Win-win.

    2. Will, great article! I am a flooring installation contractor and love to read content such as this to stay on top of my work and to help myself better inform my customers as well. Keep up the great work!

    3. Hello Sir,
      If I switch from laminate flooring to carpet with padding, is there any estimate of how much noise reduction from return vents and AC motor could be anticipated. The Furnace/AC unit is right where return vent is. The vent vicinity is loud with sir passing through it and rumbling of the motor. Thanks so much.

      1. Hello! Just passed by this post and wondering if you still needed an answer. Hard floors create an echo, so the noise difference between carpet and laminate will be dramatic. The carpet will absorb a lot of the noise as opposed to bouncing it around.

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