Okay, I know it sounds dramatic, but… let’s call it passion. The deal is for my wife to sit and watch Property Brothers and similar shows (House Hunters, Rehab Addict, etc), and being the wonderful husband that I am, I’ll sit and watch them with her. HOWEVER, I began to notice a pattern that has been troubling me. They ALWAYS take any carpet they find OUTSIDE the house and NEVER put a new carpet INSIDE the house. Now, to be honest, I think they still use rugs in the rooms sometimes, but they don’t really talk about it much. However, just as a stranger who sees an animal being mistreated will step in to protect it, I will step in to protect the CARPET from these ferocious attacks. But first, a quick review of “who am I” to weigh in on this topic, like, what gives me the right to comment on this? I’m glad you asked!

I started a long time ago when I was about 7 years old and started vacuuming the carpet in my own bedroom. I’m not lying. The truth is, I grew up in Sacramento, CA in the 60’s and we didn’t even have carpet. I can’t even remember a particular time when my wife claimed that we rented a machine to clean the carpet in our apartment in Lewiston, ID and since she has never lied yet, I’m sure it’s true. But then in 1974 I started working for a cleaning company here in Moses Lake, WA that was cleaning all kinds of floors including carpet. About two years later I had a brief 2 year stint as a corporate pilot and flight instructor and then started my own carpet cleaning/janitorial business in Dayton. After two years I sold it and came back and took over the Moses Lake business I used to work for which was now exclusively carpet (and upholstery) cleaning. Since then, I have personally been on over 10,000 carpet cleaning jobs. During that time I also became a Certified Floor Inspector for the Northwest US. This includes looking at issues with carpet, laminate, hardwood, tile, vinyl, etc. and have performed several thousand inspections over the last 20 years. I have also written a book and numerous articles on different types of floor coverings. So, all that to say, I know a “thing or two” on the subject, so there you go!

Now I am not naive. I understand that when a culture has certain preferences, etc. it is almost impossible to go against that. And in our culture here in the United States at this time in history, carpet just isn’t, well, “cool”! That’s not to say it’s not better or worse, it’s about perception. So, here is my case for carpet over alternative flooring.

Just to throw you off, I’m going to start by saying that carpet is NOT as good as other floor coverings.

1) You can NOT install it yourself. Don’t even try. Laminate? Sure! Wood, tile? You’ll have much better luck with that than with the rug.

2) Traffic zones. I said it there. You’ll rarely get traffic areas on hard surfaces, but you can often get that on carpet. And, the traffic areas may or may not be dirt. Let me explain. When I am inspecting a carpet for a “wear” complaint in traffic areas, I will keep a bright light on the “wear” area. If I can still see the dark area in the traffic area, then that’s dirt. It just needs to be cleaned. That’s good news. However, if it no longer looks dark, it is due to fiber abrasion. Here’s the deal. When a rug is constructed, the threads are made up of numerous “filaments” that are thinner than a human hair and have a smooth surface. If a rug is not properly maintained with regular vacuuming and cleaning, particles in the fibers can start to scratch the smooth surface of the strands, and of course this happens mostly in TRAFFIC areas. Eventually you will have a dark area that may also have dirt on it, but even after cleaning it will still look dark because it is now WORN. As I tell my clients, we can clean the dirt, but we can’t do anything about the wear and tear.

3) This is not a physical/technical benefit, but a hardwood floor in particular can increase the resale value of your home if that is in the plans for the future.

4) Carpet typically won’t last as long as a hard surface, although some people like to know that they can change their flooring every 10-15 years as new designs/flavors come on the market instead of being locked into a “year 50”. wooden floor

Well, here are the advantages of carpet over hard surface flooring:

1) Can’t slip (especially good for stairs!).

2) Regular maintenance is easy. Plug in the vacuum, go vacuum, put the vacuum away. However, I am not a fan of the Roomba type of robotic vacuum as its suction/particle removal capabilities are VERY limited.

3) Total cost including installation is cheaper than hard surfaces.

4) Carpet is very forgiving of any moisture issues compared especially to hardwood and engineered wood. This is especially true over a concrete subfloor.

5) No annoying popping/banging noises with normal foot traffic, and also adds a thermal barrier to the floor of the house, especially over a concrete subfloor.

6) It is more aesthetically pleasing. Well, for me it is. This is what I have seen over the years. In the 70’s we had carpet in every room, including the kitchen and bathrooms. We had curtains on the windows along with net curtains. We even had bean bags! Wait, who cares about beanbags? Anyway, fast forward to today. When was the last time you saw curtains on someone’s windows? I still do it from time to time, but not very often. And now the rug in the kitchen/bathrooms is so weird and of course it makes sense. However, I am going to someone’s house in Seattle for a floor inspection, and they have vertical or horizontal vinyl blinds, and Pergo throughout the house. The problem for me with hard surfaces is that they are, well,… hard. I feel that our homes have become less attractive as a place to escape from the harsh outside world, less of a soft cocoon of comfort and protection from the outside world than they used to be. For me, the ideal house would have tile in the bathrooms, kitchen and laundry room, hardwood/laminate in the living room and dining room, maybe with a carpet in the dining room and then carpet in the family room, foyer, stairs and rooms. But, there is another problem that comes up more and more with our aging population.

7) Many people are beginning to notice that their joints and bodies in general ache when living in a house with hard surfaces. There are many stories lately where a couple is being talked into getting rid of their rug (related to allergies, etc) and now they are almost completely immobilized by the discordance of walking on hard wood or tile floors.

And then 8) which I was saving for last. What many people think is a weakness of the rug is actually a benefit, if the rug is properly maintained. The carpet has been accused of generating dust. What the mat DOES do is trap dust/allergens that get in through the air and through people’s shoes, that’s one of its BENEFITS. Instead of that stuff floating around in the air, it gets stuck in the carpet until removed with a vacuum (with a HEPA filter, of course) and finally a professional cleaning. Some procedures that would also help would be wearing “house” shoes/slippers and leaving regular shoes at the door. It’s amazing all the things your shoes get left on the soles when you wear them. It’s best to keep that out of your house as much as possible. Another is to have entrance mats (outside and inside) at entry points. I would even suggest having entrance mats that are made with olefin front fibers. Olefin “likes” oil-based residues, such as those left on shoes from walking through a parking lot. Instead of all of that coming into your home, olefin entry rugs/rugs will remove much of it automatically when you enter your home.

So, those are some of the basic pros and cons of carpet vs. hard surface floor coverings. If you opt for hardwood floors because that’s what you like, then that makes a lot of sense. You may like the new vinyl planks that are so popular (Allure, etc.) But what I have noticed as a flooring inspector is that ANY type of flooring can and will have problems a certain percentage of the time. Any information you can get ahead of time is vital and quite readily available, though I’d avoid websites where every product they describe is “wonderful” and “amazing.” Rather, a third party site where they’re not trying to make money selling what they’re describing makes more sense. Freeflooringhelp.com is one of those places where you could at least start your research. And by the way, don’t tell the Property Brothers about my challenge because I think they are much taller than me!

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