Porcelain Tile vs Carpet Flooring

Porcelain Tile vs Carpet Flooring

Flooring decisions are some of the toughest decisions a homeowner has to make. Those decisions are especially true when deciding between porcelain tile versus carpet. That’s because both flooring options offer a lot of positives while also having some negatives.

The answer to the question, “Which one is better, porcelain tile or carpet?” isn’t as straightforward as you might think. There are many factors that need to go into your decision.

In addition to price, look, style and comfort, you really need to assess which flooring option is best for you based on the room in your house in which it will be installed.

In this guide, we’ll explore:

Side-by-Side Comparison

 Porcelain TileCarpet
CostAround the same price; higher-end could be much more expensiveAround the same price; higher-end could be much cheaper
AppearanceMore modern and sleek with art-like designsMore traditional and "clean" looking
ComfortHard suface, uncomfortable, coldVery soft surface, comfortable, warm
MaterialsHeavier, may require extra installation costLighter, easy to install
SafetyHarder, more susceptible to tripping, breakingSofter, can cushions falls or items dropping
Noise ReductionCreates an echo effect in a roomAbsorbs noise and makes room quieter
Cleanliness and CareEasy to clean and waterproofTraps dirt, dust, pollen and allergens. Tougher to keep clean
DurabilityLasts much longer, easier to repair and maintainLasts much shorter, harder to repair and maintain
Room selectionBest for bathrooms, kitchens, entryways, enclosed patiosBest for bedrooms, family rooms, waterproof basements, hallways
Flooring GuideTile Flooring GuideCarpet Flooring Guide

Cost

Let’s start with cost, because oftentimes, that can be a driving force behind your flooring decision. If one type of flooring is much more expensive than another, and therefore out of your budget, then you would be able to eliminate one right off the bat. But that’s not the case when it comes to porcelain tile and carpet.

Carpet is often one of the most affordable flooring options on the market. The price per square foot, including support pad and installation, can range anywhere from $3 to $5. Higher-end versions of carpet can certainly go as high as $10 per square foot, but most cap out in the $5 range.

A lot of porcelain tile options will fall into that same price range. The price for porcelain tile will oftentimes start around $4.50 per square foot. That’s roughly the same range as carpet is.

But the issue with analyzing porcelain tile versus carpet from a general pricing standpoint is there can be a lot of variations in cost. First and foremost, there are many, many choices of porcelain tile, and some of those options can get quite pricey. While carpet has a high-end range as well, the price of those carpet options won’t be as much as the high-end porcelain tile options.

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Appearance

There couldn’t be two more different flooring products, appearance-wise, than porcelain tile and carpet. One is a hard surface that can take on many different looks, while the other is a soft, plush surface that can have designs and different colors. So which is better, porcelain tile or carpet?

The answer to that question is that it’s really in the eye of the beholder. Some people prefer the simple, yet sophisticated look of nice carpet. This is especially true in family rooms, bedrooms, hallways and maybe even basements.

On the other hand, some people prefer the sleek, modern look of porcelain tile. It can be a great way to add some pizzazz to a room by choosing an intricate design that can look like true artwork. This feature of porcelain tile is something that you just cannot get with carpet.

From an appearance overview standpoint, it’s hard to definitively say one is better than the other. The fact is porcelain tile and carpet are so different when it comes to what they look like that it’s truly a personal preference. Some people may prefer the look of porcelain tile while others may prefer the look of carpet.

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Comfort

Comfort is another area where the differences between porcelain tile and carpet really stand out. Porcelain tile is a hard, heavy surface. Carpet, on the other hand, is plush and soft.

From a pure comfort perspective, carpet has many advantages over porcelain tile because of this fact. Carpet absorbs heat, so it remains warm all year round, but not too warm during hotter summer months. Carpet is easy to walk on with your bare feet and soft enough for your children to play on.

Porcelain tile, meanwhile, is a very hard surface. As a result, it isn’t the most comfortable surface to walk on. It could be said that from a pure comfort standpoint, porcelain tile may be one of the most uncomfortable flooring options there is.

Porcelain tile also doesn’t conduct heat very well. This makes porcelain tile very cold to walk on. It wouldn’t be the most pleasant flooring surface to walk on with your bare feet on a cold winter morning or night.

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Materials

When choosing any floor type, it’s good to know what materials each of your options is made of. This is an important factor not just if you’re concerned about the environment but also as you’re deciding whether your home can handle one flooring surface versus the next.

Carpet is a light product that can easily be laid over just about any surface. Before it is installed, a pad is laid down first to provide extra protection and support. Then, the carpet is simply rolled out, fit up to the walls and corners and stapled safely into place.

Porcelain tile is slightly different from this aspect because it is a much heavier product. Installing it may require a self-leveling compound to be laid down first, if the room is not completely level. Then a mortar will be laid down so the tile can adhere and stay in place.

Because porcelain tile is heavier than other flooring types, it is important to make sure the sub-floor in the particular room is in good enough shape to handle the weight. More often than not, you should be just fine. If you are not, though, this could be an added cost of installing porcelain tile.

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Safety

Another of the major differences between porcelain tile and carpet is the safety of the two flooring types. This might not be an area you might think of when you’re choosing between flooring types. However, there are factors in regard to safety that you should consider.

Carpet is considered the safer flooring type for a few reasons. First and foremost, it is one continuous piece of material, so there aren’t many concerns revolving around tripping and falling. And if a trip or fall does occur, or if someone drops a breakable item, the padding of the carpet will help to serve as a cushion.

Porcelain tile, meanwhile, does present a few safety concerns. First, as a hard surface, it doesn’t provide much of a cushion at all if someone were to fall. In addition, because it is hard, fragile items are more likely to break and shatter if they are dropped.

Another safety item to consider is that porcelain tile comes in separate squares, with grout applied in between each. This could serve as a potential tripping hazard if someone’s foot gets caught in between.

Finally, porcelain tile floors are thicker than a lot of other flooring types, so a tripping hazard might occur between rooms that require a transition from a thinner flooring like hardwood to the thicker porcelain tile floor.

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Noise Reduction

Another area homeowners might overlook when they’re making a flooring decision is how a particular type of flooring might affect the noise of a room. But this is an area you should definitely consider when weighing your options. So which is better for noise reduction, porcelain tile or carpet?

In a very similar way to how it absorbs warmth, carpet also has great absorption properties when it comes to noise. Carpet is a great muffler of noise for any room. This is why it’s a great option for typically noisier rooms where a lot of people congregate.

On the flip side, porcelain tile doesn’t have these same absorption properties. Much like it doesn’t absorb warmth, porcelain tile doesn’t have the ability to absorb noise. In fact, noise bounces off porcelain tile, which can create an “echo effect” in the room.

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Cleanliness and Care

Up until this point, you might be asking yourself what advantages, if any, does porcelain tile have versus carpet. Other than price and appearance, which at best are an even swap, carpet seems to be the more favorable choice. However, this is where the advantages of porcelain tile begin to come into play.

Because it is a hard surface, porcelain tile is very, very easy to clean. It’s even better than hardwood floors in this regard, because porcelain tile is waterproof. That means you can use wet cleaning products to mop a porcelain tile floor and remove stains, and of course – use your tile vacuum often.

While the porcelain tiles themselves are waterproof, the grout in between is not. Because of this, you don’t want to use too much water, as it could seep in through the grout and get to the sub-floor below. Basically, this just means you should make sure you clean up spills and don’t submerge the porcelain tile floor in water.

Carpet, on the other hand, is much tougher to keep clean and pristine. Carpet’s fibers serve as traps for dust, pollen and other allergens, which is one of its biggest downfalls. Because of this, people with allergies often don’t choose carpet (or invest in a super-powered vacuum made specifically for allergy sufferers).

To keep carpet clean, you have to vacuum it at least once a week, but preferably more. If something spills on a carpet or dirt stains it, you’ll have to either hire a professional to deep clean it or have a machine that can handle the job.

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Durability

When you are making the choice between porcelain tile and carpet, one of the factors you should keep in mind is durability. How a flooring type stands up to everyday wear and tear, and how long a floor will last, are two very important factors for everyone to consider. So which is better in this case, porcelain tile or carpet?

When it comes to durability, porcelain tile has a lot of advantages. A good porcelain tile that is installed properly, cared for and not abused can last at least 50 years. This is a really great feature of porcelain tile, because that means the cost of purchase and installation is spread out over a long usage time.

It is possible to damage porcelain tile, though. They can crack or break and require maintenance or repair. But the great part about porcelain tile is maintenance and repair are easy and inexpensive because you can easily replace just one floor tile without the need to replace the entire floor.

Carpet maintenance is a little more in-depth. As mentioned before, stains are harder to remove, and damage to a section of carpet is harder to replace. In addition, even the best carpets may only last up to 15 years, requiring you to replace the entire floor surface as many as three to four times in the time a porcelain tile floor will last.

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Room Selection

Perhaps the final determining factor in whether you should choose a porcelain tile floor or a carpet floor is the room in which the flooring will be installed. This factor is an important one no matter what types of flooring you’re choosing between. However, it may never be more important than when you’re deciding between porcelain tile and carpet.

Because it is a hard, waterproof surface, porcelain tile is an outstanding choice for high-traffic areas where liquid is or spills occur. This means it is a great choice for bathrooms, entryways, kitchens and even enclosed patios or porches.

Carpet, meanwhile, is a great choice for bedrooms, family rooms, hallways and basements, as long as they’re waterproof. That’s because carpet is soft, warm and absorbs noise, making these rooms all a great fit for carpet.

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Final Verdict

When you’re making the choice between porcelain tile and carpet for your flooring needs, you’re making a choice between two very different products that both have pros and cons. There are vast differences in style and look, safety, durability, comfort and room fit. The cost could end up being comparable, but that’s about where the similarities end.

If you are looking to bring some style, contrast and design to your home, choosing a porcelain tile in your bathrooms, kitchen, entryway and enclosed patio would be a great option for you. If you are more traditional and are looking for comfort, warmth and noise reduction, then carpet would be a great choice for your bedrooms, hallways, family rooms and waterproof basements.

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Will R

About Will R

Will R. is a creative writer, editor and storyteller. He has been working in the fields of journalism, marketing and public relations for the last 14 years.

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