New homes, fixer-uppers, and remodels are faced with that all important question. What flooring should be installed? Will it be carpet, with its warm, inviting, and oh-so comfortable nature. Or will it be hardwoods, with their time-honored tradition and durability?

Regardless if you're a designer, do-it-yourselfer, or builder, the choice is yours: hardwoods or carpet?

For most it comes down to price, longevity, and maintenance.

For price, low and medium grade carpet may cost less up-front, but the average lifespan of carpet is only 10 to 15 years, so you will be looking to replace the carpet several times over your own lifetime. And you must figure into that cost the yearly cleanings that are a necessity to keep healthy and attractive carpets.

Hardwoods range widely in price, depending on their popularity, but there are affordable options for most any project. In addition, hardwoods can last a lifetime with proper care, even if they may need to be sanded and refinished down the road.

Hardwoods are low on the maintenance scale, with "proper maintenance" being key to a beautiful, long life for your hardwoods. Lowe's For Pros recommends:

  • Use a damp cloth to blot up spills as soon as they happen.
  • Sweep, dust and vacuum floors regularly with a hard floor attachment to prevent dirt and grit accumulation, which can scratch or dull the floor finish.
  • Periodically use a hardwood floor cleaner specifically formulated for use on pre-finished hardwood floors.
  • Don't wet mop or wash the floor with soap, water, oil-soap detergent or any other liquid cleaning material. This could cause warping and swelling and void the warranty.
  • Do not use steel wool, abrasive cleaners or strong ammoniated or chlorinated cleaners.
  • Avoid buffing or a polishing machine on prefinished floors.
  • For tough spots on hardwood floors such as oil, paint, markers, lipstick, ink or tar, use acetone or nail polish remover on a clean white cloth, then wipe the area with a damp cloth to remove any remaining residue.
  • For spots such as candle wax or chewing gum, harden the spot with ice and then gently scrape with a plastic scraper, such as a credit card.

Hardwood floors can also be a sound ecological choice. Wood is a natural resource, and fast growing varieties, such as Bamboo (which is really a grass), offer even more green incentive.

Additionally, the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology recommends that house dust allergy sufferers "remove wall-to-wall carpets from the bedroom if possible." Have a child with asthma? Ninety percent of asthma sufferers are allergic to dust mites. And dust mites love carpet.

Carpet installation itself also rears another ugly head. There are chemicals used in most modern carpets that emit fumes for months and years to come. These fumes can cause headaches and runny eyes and nose. There are, however, natural options available for more eco-friendly carpets. These options, though, will more than likely add to your overall cost.

The choice is entirely up to you on which flooring option is right for you. Be sure to do your due diligence with research and price comparisons before making any final decisions!

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