Which Flooring Is the Best Financial Decision?

I’m looking for a better flooring option!

Seven years ago, when I bought my condo in Florida, I loved everything about it except one thing.

The off white, Berber carpet.

The condo was new so the Berber was also new but I just hated the look. I bought the condo anyway, with a plan to immediately rip out the carpet and replace it with hardwood floors. But, weeks after buying the condo, I left  for a 6 month deployment on my first Navy ship. So my hardwood floors plans ended there.

Then, I focused on paying for graduate school with cash and paying off my debt. Fast forward to today I still have this Berber carpet.

Except now, it’s in much worse case after 7 years of living on it. On several occasions, my small Chihuahua decided it would be fun to pull up the berber carpet, then run away with it in his mouth. This left lots of areas with damaged or ripped up carpet throughout my condo. Mostly in the living room, where it matters the most.

It’s definitely time for new flooring!

New flooring completely changes a room!

The Options:

I’ve spent the last year searching 3 possible flooring options: Hardwood, Tile, and Carpet. I’ve debated about each option and am still trying to figure out the best option for my condo. Like DC at Young Adult Money, this home renovation motivated me to work hard in my 20s and save money for it.

1. Hardwood:

From the beginning, hardwood has been my first choice. But my Chihuahua likes to run around the condo when he’s excited, which is anytime someone else comes to visit. I’m worried that he will scratch the floor or make a mess on it.

Pros: The main advantage of hardwood (aside from how beautiful it is!) is that it’s a long term solution compared to carpet.

Cons: However, there is certainly the possibility of scratching the new hardwood when moving furniture or cleaning up spills to prevent water damage. And it seems like everyone has a horror story about how their dishwasher flooded and ruined the entire hardwood floor. Yikes, that sounds expensive to repair!

Cost: $10,141 for 1059 sq foot of hardwood (Anderson Hardwood, Casitablanca in Lava). The flooring quote includes hardwood, adhesive, cork underlayment, reducers, T-moldings, wood installation, and removing the current flooring (tile in the kitchen and carpet everywhere else). I got these quotes from a reliable, local flooring company that I has an A+ rating and excellent reviews on  Angie’s List.

I’m sure it can be done for cheaper, but I don’t have that skill and I’m willing to pay someone to do it right the first time. If you want to save more, Suburban Finance wrote an impressive article about using classified ads to save on home renovations.

2. Tile:

Tile is an excellent option since it’s very low maintenance yet highly durable. I also had no idea that there are now porcelain tiles that look like hardwood flooring. Instead of the traditional square tiles, these are even sold in rectangular 6 x24 planks to resemble hardwood.

Pros: Sounds like the best of both world to me: the look of hardwood with the durability and ease of tile. I was hesitant at first because  I didn’t know how these tiles would actually look in a house. But over the last 2 weeks, I’ve been to 2 friend’s houses with these Wood Look Tiles. And it looks amazing in their homes! Both friends have kids and small puppies and they love their floors because it’s low maintenance. I’m impressed! Thanks Amy and Mary Beth for answering all of my questions about wood like tile and pets.

Cons:  However, this tile can be just as expensive as hardwood flooring. It’s also very difficult to envision the new floor with one small plank. As a friend suggested, asking for a box of the tile and laying it out in one room really helped.

Cost: $10,125 for 1059 sq foot of Wood Look Tile (Heathland in Walnut). The flooring quote includes the Wood Look Tile, Durock, Thinset, installation, and removing the current flooring.

3. Carpet:

Carpet is cheap and I have other financial goals, like paying off my mortgage, so I’m considering the carpet too. I plan to keep my condo forever and rent it out one day. Carpet costs and cleans costs could really add up with renters if I had to change the carpet every 2 – 3 years.

Pros: Again, carpet is cheap.

Cons: I hate carpet. It seems like no matter how much I clean it myself or pay to have a professional clean it, the carpet always feels dirty. I can only imagine how dirty the carpet and the pad really are.

Cost: $2,636  for 1059 sq foot of Ocean Pines carpet, installed over 7/16 inch 9.9lb rebond padding. The quote includes the carpet, carpet pad,  installation, and removing the current flooring.

The Solution:

After reading an article from Budget Blonde  that puts this decision into perspective,  I thought about using money that I saved for this project towards paying off my mortgage.

But really, it’s time for new flooring. Mine is destroyed.

Right now, I think the best long term financial decision is the Wood Look Tiles. It’s  just as expensive at hardwood flooring but it’s a longer term option compared to the carpet. It’s lower maintenance than the hardwood and won’t scratch. I think long term, this tile would save me money from replacing carpet, cleaning carpet, or replacing hardwood.

I’d like to hear your thoughts. What’s the best flooring option?

***Big thanks to J. Money at Rockstar Finance  for featuring “Do You Make These 9 Budgeting Mistakes today. Be sure to read his collection of awesome money articles!***

Femme Frugality

*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on Femme Frugality and Eve of Reduction*

Photo credit


About Monica Iannacone
Monica Iannacone
Monica Iannacone is a personal finance writer who received a B.S. in International Business and an MBA from Jacksonville University. She writes about Saving, Budgeting, and Frugal Living on her blog, www.MonicaOnMoney.com. When she's not writing, she enjoys yoga, surfing, and running on the beach. Follow her on Twitter @MonicaOnMoney or Like MonicaOnMoney on Facebook.

22 thoughts on “Which Flooring Is the Best Financial Decision?

  1. Laminate prices must have gone up since my last friend was doing renovations. It was a lot cheaper for her and easy to install, but it didn’t quite sit or look right.

  2. I’m so glad you didn’t even consider laminate! I know so many people who have used it and it’s definitely a cheap alternative, but it’s just not the same. You can just tell the quality is horrible. Never heard of those tiles before! Hope it all works out!

  3. is there concrete under the carpet? i love the look of stained concrete floors, they are easy to maintain and super low cost!

  4. Monica – Have you considered luxury vinyl planks? Even the high-end offerings would likely be half the cost of wood. I have them throughout my 1400 sf house and we paid $6500 installed. The most common comment from visitors is, “I love your hardwood floors.”

  5. When we moved into our condo two and a half years ago we replaced the flooring. We used carpeting and laminate (wood look) planks in my office and my daughters room. (We left the existing hardwood in place). I love the wood look laminate. It looks amazing and is so easy to maintain. I’m almost sorry I carpeted any of the house.

  6. I hate carpet, too. I ripped up some disgusting berber carpet. It was making me sick, literally (dust, trapped cleaning solution, etc). I recently purchased laminate for living room, dining, and hall and carpet for bedrooms. (It’s a small home, 1400 sq ft.) And although, I almost cried when I chose carpet for bedrooms, I knew it was the best solution for my budget. In Houston, it’s really humid and real wood is not recommended unless you buy engineered wood ($$$). Laminate is common. Check out textured styles; these have patterns and grooves that mimic real wood. Take a picture when your project is done.

  7. I like the flooring in the photo you chose for the post, haha. We have laminate and I am not a huge fan of it. It’s really, really loud and doesn’t absorb any of the sound like a hardwood or carpet would. I don’t like carpet, either though. It traps dust which my sinuses hate. If you get a hardwood that looks better with wear and tear then scratches aren’t a problem!

  8. What about laminate wood-looking floors? There are some super durable ones out there that you could likely get for much less than actual wood, and they are easy to install yourself too, if you decided to go that route.

  9. Because it is for looong term, I’d go for wood even with the initial shock of having it installed as flooring. But then, there’s the dog and as you mentioned, the horror of other accidents that can do damage. This is where my light bulb goes off. :(

  10. You could go with a dual solution. When we remodeled our main floor, we put tile in the kitchen and laundry area with hardwood in the dining room and living room. We have two big dogs and four kids who have been all over the hardwood. We bought the in-stock Bruce hardwood from Home Depot and have loved it’s look. A quality hardwood will not scratch as much as you think. Plus I think any small scratches add to the character of the hardwood over time.

  11. I like hardwood. It’s warm and inviting. I think if you get real hardwood, it should hold up pretty well to scratching.
    Maybe you can just get some nice rugs to cover up the carpet for now.

  12. I prefer wood to carpet any day. I’m not familiar with tiles that look like wood, but if they are more durable, perhaps that’s the better option, especially if you plan to rent out the condo some day. Good luck with your decision and I can’t wait to see the results!

  13. In my perfect home I’d have hardwood floors. Where I’m at it we will probably just replace the carpet because the current carpet is really old and we need a less expensive fix in case we change around the layout of our house. In your case I would go with either hardwood or Wood Look Tiles, like you said.

  14. I always liked wood floors. My first and second apartment had hardwood floors. I currently have Mexican paver tiles and I do not like them, but it is expensive to replace. I want to time it with the kitchen and bathroom remodel in 2-3 years.

  15. Seems like tile would be the most pet friendly solution. It would be harder for them to scratch. Also, if the dog ever had an accident, you wouldn’t have to worry about them staining or wrecking the flooring. It seems like tile would be much easier to clean up.

  16. Thanks for the mention! The new flooring sounds great! Can’t wait to see the wood tiles. I really love home design and keeping everything fresh and updated. Your house is going to look so gorgeous with the new floors! It’s those crazy 22 year olds on HGTV that refuse to even see the potential of a home that drive me crazy haha! ;)

    • You’re welcome, Cat! I love how creative your articles always are so I knew I could find a fun article from BudgetBlonde to link to :) I’ll be sure to post pictures of the wood tiles or whichever flooring I choose. We’re planning on doing the stairs ourselves too! Thanks for stopping by!

  17. Whoa! That is expensive! I’m DIY’er, so I am only familiar with material costs, which is usually about 1/3 of the total bid.

    Don’t forget tiles can break, grout lines can chip out, it needs to be sealed and it isn’t waterproof!

    At that cost, I would ask the contractor if you could put in heated floors. They’re heavenly, even in the warmest parts of the country. It’s easy to lay yourself if you can get the power hooked up.

    • I agree that it’s expensive, which is the main reason that I haven’t done the floors yet. As much as I’d like to do it myself, I don’t know how to do it. We are planning on doing the stairs remodel ourselves though, keep reading for that article soon! Thanks for the advice on tile and it’s other disadvantages. Happy Holidays!

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