When comparing affordable flooring, many consumers narrow their selections down to vinyl plank vs. carpet. Both flooring types come in a variety of different colors to fit any home and each are less expensive than other types of flooring such as hardwoods. However, that’s about where the similarities end.
Vinyl plank and carpet each have their own sets of benefits and drawbacks. Every home is unique and has its own unique needs when it comes to flooring – think pet-friendly or easy to clean. When put side-by-side, how do carpet and vinyl compare?
Before pulling out your wallet, learn more about these two types of flooring. By evaluating features including care and maintenance, colors, and installation, you’ll have the knowledge you need to make a wise purchasing decision.
In this guide, we’ll explore:
- Side-by-Side Comparison
- Stain Resistance
- Flooring Care
- Final Verdict
|Durability||Extremely durable but may be ripped, torn, or dented||Extremely durable but can be torn or stained|
|Cleaning||Daily cleaning with broom, dust mop, or vacuum. Heavier cleaning with wet mop and no-wax cleaner.||Daily cleaning with carpet sweeper or vacuum. Can use specialty products or steam cleaner for deeper cleaning.|
|Staining||Will not stain||Will stain, although stain-resistant carpeting and products to remove stains are available|
|Comfort||Hard flooring that does not stay warm||Soft and warm -- one of the most comfortable types of flooring|
|Self-Installation||Yes||Yes, but requires skills and special tools|
|Lifespan||Can last 20+ years||Most carpets last around 5 years, but high-end carpets can last 25+ years with regular care|
|Good for Allergy Sufferers||Yes, but may contain VOCs||Can hold dirt, dander, pollen, and dust|
|Professional Installation Costs||$1.50 to $3 per square foot||$7 to $12 per square foot|
|Flooring Guide||Vinyl Plank Flooring Guide||Carpet Flooring Guide|
Installing new flooring is a huge project that can be very time-consuming and expensive. Because of this, most consumers want to ensure they’re buying flooring that is built to last through years of foot traffic.
Vinyl plank is a very durable option. It can withstand heavy traffic, kids, and pets without scratching, denting, or dinging like hardwood floors. It is also waterproof, so you can install it in below-grade rooms or rooms where moisture accumulates without fear of warping or staining.
However, vinyl plank is made of soft vinyl which isn’t completely resistant to damage. Vinyl may be prone to fading, so if it’s installed in areas with heavy sunlight, you should use rugs to cover the floor and curtains or blinds to block the light.
Vinyl can also be punctured or tear vinyl if you drop a sharp object is dropped or drag something heavy – such as furniture – across it.
Another drawback to vinyl plank is that it can be dented over time by heavy objects like appliances and furniture. Furniture coasters can be used to help prevent this problem, or furniture can be moved from time to time.
Carpet is another durable flooring type that is also extremely affordable. Carpet won’t face the same type of damage as hard flooring, but it does come with its drawbacks.
While most carpet will withstand regular traffic and is good for homes with kids and pets, it can show wear over time, depending on what type you select. For example, a patterned carpet that combines loop and cut pile hides wear and stains, while plush carpeting can be worn down in areas of heavy traffic.
Most carpet is pet-friendly, as you can clean it regularly. However, Berber carpet is not a good choice for these households, as claws can get snagged in the fibers, potentially injuring a pet and ruining the appearance of the carpet.
Carpet is also kid-friendly, although stains can be a concern, which we will address later in this guide. It provides a soft surface for playing and for accidental falls, without the risk of slipping like on bare flooring.
Carpet can also be ripped or torn. This can occur in heavy-traffic spots that are very worn or can even happen if furniture is dragged across the floor. Tears may also occur along carpet seams or on stairs.
One major drawback is that carpet is not waterproof. Carpet that gets wet is prone to mold and you will have to properly restore it or replace it if this occurs.
Although both types of flooring are durable enough to last for years, vinyl flooring comes out on top. Though there is a risk of tearing or denting, it is more resistant to wear, staining, and water damage, making it a superior option over carpet.
For people with allergies, keeping an allergen-free home is critical. Some flooring types are better for allergy sufferers, so how do vinyl plank and carpet stand up?
Vinyl plank is a great choice for people with allergies. This bare floor option doesn’t hold dirt, dust, and dander, and it’s resistant to mold and mildew.
However, it is important to note that vinyl does contain Volatile Organic Compounds, known as VOCs. These are chemicals that can escape from the vinyl flooring and enter the air. VOCs can continue to release for months or even years after installation and may aggravate allergies or asthma.
Carpet also has VOCs but typically at much lower levels. The real concern with carpet is its tendency to hold onto allergens such as pollen, mold, and dust. This is especially true in plush carpet with a deep pile.
Even though you can vacuum carpets on a regular basis, it’s very easy for things like pet dander to get trapped within the fibers, even with regular cleaning. Pet owners with allergies typically invest in special vacuums designed to pick up pet hair and dander and steam cleaners for deeper cleaning.
Even though both types of flooring have their own drawbacks for allergy sufferers, vinyl is the better choice because it is easier to clean and does not trap allergens. When purchasing vinyl plank flooring, allergy sufferers should do their research to find products with low VOCs.
One of the most important factors for many consumers when choosing flooring is whether or not it is resistant to stains. This is especially important in households with children that have spills or homes with pets where an accident may occur.
Vinyl flooring is extremely resistant to stains. It will not stain when you spill liquids or when a pet has an accident. Although it may fade over time when exposed to light, it will not stain through regular, everyday use.
In some cases, there may be spots that are tough to clean on vinyl plank flooring, like ink or nail polish. You can easily clean those using acetone or nail polish remover without damaging the flooring.
Carpets, on the other hand, can easily stain. Mud, pet accidents, and spilled liquids can all leave behind tough stains.
Some manufacturers have released stain-resistant carpets that do not stain as easily. There are also products you can apply to carpeting to make it more resistant to stains.
Carpet owners should always work quickly to clean up spills. You can use specially-designed carpet cleaning products, steam cleaners, and even traditional household cleaning items like white vinegar to remove carpet stains.
Because you must take special care to prevent and clean stains on carpet, vinyl plank flooring takes this round. It is easy to clean and in most cases will not stain at all, making it a great choice for any household.
When pricing out flooring, installation costs must also be considered. Installation costs can be as much as, if not more than, the flooring itself. This is why so many consumers are choosing to tackle flooring installation themselves.
When comparing vinyl plank with carpet, which is easier to install? For homeowners who don’t want to take on the project themselves, how do installation costs compare?
There are two ways to install vinyl flooring. The first way is to install it as a floating floor. This does not require nails or adhesives, and the flooring easily clicks together to keep it securely in place.
This type of installation requires very few tools – just a measuring tape and a utility knife to cut each plank to size. Installing a floating vinyl plank flooring is quite simple, even for consumers who have never done flooring before.
There’s also an even easier way to install vinyl plank. This is with peel-and-stick planks. These planks have a paper backing that you remove to reveal adhesive, which secures the planks to the subfloor underneath.
People can install peel-and-stick vinyl plank flooring in just hours. It requires no special skills. Installation also does not require many tools.
For consumers who would rather leave the job to a professional, installation costs for vinyl plank flooring range anywhere from $1.50 to $3 per square foot.
Carpet can be easy to install, although people definitely need some know-how before starting the job. Installing carpet is far more labor intensive than installing vinyl flooring.
In addition to being more labor intensive, you will need more tools and materials. That includes carpet padding, tackles strips, adhesives, carpet stretchers, a carpet knife, and a knee kicker. Some of these tools can be very expensive, although you can buy them from many home improvement stores to reduce costs.
Although prices vary by area, the cost for professional installation of carpet averages around $7 to $12 per square foot, which is significantly higher than the installation costs for vinyl plank.
Because installation is so much easier and professional installation is more affordable, vinyl plank is the winner in this match-up.
One big factor that many consumers consider when purchasing new flooring is how easy it is to care for and maintain. Are vinyl plank and carpet easy to care for, or are there special considerations that consumers should take into account before making their purchase?
Vinyl flooring is extremely easy to clean and maintain. You can do daily cleaning with a broom, dust mop, or vacuum cleaner for bare floor use. For more extensive cleaning, you can use a wet mop with a no-wax cleaner.
Vinyl flooring may look dull over time, but never use wax on it. Instead, use a polish designed for use on vinyl to restore its shine.
You can clean carpet using a carpet sweeper, broom, or the easiest tool to use – a vacuum cleaner. There are products you can purchase to eliminate odors or stains on carpet. To restore carpets, you can buy or rent a steam cleaner.
Because it doesn’t require special equipment or cleaners, vinyl is the easiest to clean when compared to carpet. While daily care for carpet isn’t too extensive, removing stains and odors can be a difficult and expensive task.
Comfort level is another important consideration when purchasing new flooring. Which provides the most comfort – vinyl flooring or carpet?
Vinyl is one of the least comfortable types of flooring. Because it is a bare floor, it does not offer the softness of carpet. Vinyl can get cold, as well – not ideal for those chilly mornings.
A padded underlayment can be installed under a floating vinyl plank flooring to provide some comfort. However, it is a hard flooring surface, so it can be tough on the legs, knees, and back.
Carpet is the most comfortable and padded type of flooring. Carpet is soft and doesn’t get cold like hard floors. Many households with children choose carpeting for their kids because it provides a soft surface for walking and playing, and it also will not get slippery like vinyl.
Compared side-by-side, carpet is by far the most comfortable type of flooring. Even low-pile carpets are warmer and softer than vinyl plank flooring, while higher pile, plush carpeting is extremely soft and a top choice for many consumers.
In many ways, vinyl plank is superior to carpet. It is more affordable, easier to install and clean, and more durable and resistant to staining. With proper care, vinyl flooring can easily last 20 years or even longer.
Vinyl planks is a great choice for any DIY homeowner and is a good choice for allergy sufferers. It is also ideal for homes with children and pets. It’s also available in many styles and colors to suit any home.
However, consumers that are seeking a more comfortable flooring or have allergies to VOCs may want to consider purchasing carpet. There are many different types of carpet available in a variety of colors, making it easy to find the perfect flooring.
Both vinyl and carpet have their benefits and drawbacks, and consumers should weigh these out and consider all of their choices before spending their hard-earned money on new flooring.