Few people have ever bought a house that is just the way they want it right out of the box. To elevate yours to dream house status, you might want to look down. Choosing flooring is a major decision because it is such an integral part of your home's design and there are so many factors to consider. Cost obviously is important, but you need to relate that to how long you expect to stay in the house. How the floor will be used is important, too, so you'll need to consider the effects of mud or sand, spills of liquids or play areas for children. Any flooring has to match your décor, and you need to think about how flooring will look if you change colors or wall treatments. You may use different flooring in different rooms.
Evaluating Strength and Durability
Laminate flooring will last much longer than carpet. Most carpeting will have to be replaced in five or 10 years, while laminates typically can last up to 30 years. Compare costs of laminate and carpet over the time you expect to be in the house. A more expensive laminate floor may throughout time be a better investment, but carpet may be a good option for a short-term stay.
Assessing Style Options
Both laminate and carpet offer style options. Laminate can resemble classic hardwood, wide plank flooring or even ceramic tile. Carpet can be plain or sculpted with designs, with short or long pile or fiber and can be obtained in many colors and patterns. Carpet is softer and much quieter to walk on, so it often is used in bedrooms and other quiet areas where you don't want bare feet to freeze and hard shoes to clunk.
Dirt and Cleanup
Laminate is more resistant to liquid spills and such things as mud and grass stains. It's easier to keep clean because dust and dirt do not adhere to it, while fine dirt particles can seep into carpeting and resist even the strongest vacuum cleaner. Laminate is good in kitchens, dining rooms and areas that get a lot of heavy traffic, like entries and play rooms.
Comparing Installation Procedures
Carpet usually requires professional installation, although you can put down some "peel and stick" types yourself. It can be installed over many substrates, from concrete to wood, and can hide slight floor irregularities. Laminate also goes on different substrates but requires professional installation, especially if special preparation of a subfloor, such as leveling, is needed. Most laminate floors "float" because their pieces lock together but don't attach to the walls. This can give them a curious bouncy effect but can make replacement of damaged areas easier.
Decor and Appearance
Laminated flooring, especially styles that resemble hardwood, are more versatile for interior decoration. You can change wall colors or add decorations without having to worry about color clashes. Bright or decorative carpet may not fit with a new decor. You also can emulate some of the feel and elegance of carpet on laminate flooring by adding area rugs which can be changed or replaced easily.
Bob Haring has been a news writer and editor for more than 50 years, mostly with the Associated Press and then as executive editor of the Tulsa, Okla. "World." Since retiring he has written freelance stories and a weekly computer security column. Haring holds a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Missouri.