carpet vs cork flooring

Carpet vs Cork Flooring

Comparing cork and carpet flooring?

In many ways, they’re two completely different floors. In other ways, they’re extremely similar.

For instance, here are a few things both floors are good at:

  • good value floor
  • soft
  • sound dampening

But which is the best?

And there are other things that cork or carpet may be good at but the other is not. And sometimes even the floor itself, whether it’s cork or carpet, performs well in certain areas but other times it doesn’t.

The point of this article is to break down both floors in categories that may be important to you. If there’s anything I don’t cover, let me know in the comments below.

Cost

We all want the most beautiful home décor that our pocketbooks and wallets can afford. Carpet is a common flooring material whose affordability reflects its prevalence and popularity. Average carpet prices, including installation, can range from $2 to $10 per square foot. For most cases, expect to spend around $5 per square foot.

Cork is also very inexpensive, yet it has a wider range in price due to variation in color and construction. The average cost for a square foot of cork can go from $1.10 up to $7.

The winner? Tie.

Durability

What’s the point of eye-catching flooring, if it does not stand up to the wear of your family’s everyday activity? Durability is an important aspect of floor hunting. Carpeted floors have a very long life of durability if they are kept clean and well-maintained. Carpet is very durable, lasting up to a decade without consideration of replacement.

Cork can also be very durable if well maintained. Because of its porous material, it must be sealed every 5 years so that it maintains its waterproof surface. It can also be permanently stained by oil, dirt and certain spills. There is an additional risk of puncturing cork with certain objects.

The winner? Carpet.

Comfort

The practical side of flooring demands a certain level a comfort if we are going to be walking on it with our feet for years to come. The amount of thickness you choose for carpeting will make a difference in how comfortable it is for your feet. Overall carpet is known to be a very comfortable flooring choice.

Cork is a “hard” flooring that has a softness that naturally lends itself to comfort; yet is not cold in temperature like other kinds of hard flooring. Cork has a give to it where it slightly dips inward as you walk creating less resistance to your soles. Due to its softness, it can even be used as a material for children’s play areas.

The winner? Tie.

Sound Dampening

Another aspect of comfort is how well the floors absorb sound. The soft texture of carpet does not usually allow sound to flow through the home. Carpet usually does a good job of dampening sound. In fact, it’s one of the best floors for dampening sound.

Cork flooring also has a soft texture that also does a great job insulating sound. This goes for both footsteps and “air noise” like voices. In fact, sometimes cork is used just as an insulator under another flooring to reduce noise. If you’re choosing these two floors and noise dampening is the key, go with cork.

The winner? Cork.

Eco-friendliness

With the environment becoming a bigger concern, it is worth considering how the choices we make in home furnishings affect the world around us. Since carpet is made up of 90% synthetic fibers like polyester, nylon, and polypropylene, it is not as bio-degradable once it is finally tossed out. There are some carpet options that are more eco-friendly.

Cork has gained a lot of its popularity DUE to its eco-friendly nature. The extraction process for cork does not harm trees. Cork flooring does not release any toxic gases into the air if it is burned accidentally or on purpose. Since cork comes naturally from the bark of trees, it is bio-degradable.

The winner? Cork.

Which Floor is Better for Allergens?

Health is a real concern when choosing flooring that will fit with the entire family.

The bottom layer of carpet, even when vacuumed regularly, can house particles of hair, dust, sand and other small particles. Some people argue this makes carpet bad for allergies. Others argue that carpet acts as a giant home filter to get allergens out of your air, where they are trapped to be vacuumed up (vs hard flooring where the allergens are constantly blowing around in the air).

Cork makes it easier to sweep away allergy-causing particles. Since cork is porous some of these particles may find their way into the flooring but not to the extent that it would with carpet. In addition, cork has suberin which is a natural mold inhibitor and prevents it from rotting.

The winner? Tie.

Which Floor Looks Better?

A carpeted floor lends itself to versatility in design, texture, pattern, and color allowing it to fit into nearly any décor and any style. For this reason, carpet can look great in about any home.

Cork is not quite as versatile in its look. There are not many colors or textures to choose from and its style is limited to a narrower décor. However, if you like the look, you like the look.

The winner? Carpet.

Captain’s parting words!

Cork is a wonderful flooring option if you are interested in having an eco-friendly, easy-going style to your home. Carpet is a classic option and has the versatility needed to pull off nearly any look you can imagine.

With the categories above, you should be able to decide which fits best in your home. If you want to go with carpet, check out our unbiased carpet buying guide (don’t have a guide for cork… yet). If you still have any questions on carpet or cork, let me know in the comments below.

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