Feature

Carpet versus Floorboards

Carpet and floorboard samples in the shape of feet

Carpet or floorboards: which should you be treading on?

Credit: iStockphoto

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Other manufacturers, such as Tuftmaster, have started using their waste as resources in other products like plastic fence posts and insulation.

Floorboards have a much longer lifetime because they can be refurbished when they start to look old.

In addition, more than 60,000 tonnes of high-value timber is salvaged for reuse every year, with a large contribution from flooring.

Companies such as Melbourne's Shiver Me Timbers and Brisbane's The Big Red Shed reclaim demolition hardwoods for resale. Reclaimed floorboards are so popular that the demand cannot be met.

However, not every type of wood can be reused. Some types splinter and crack easily, preventing their removal. So if you're laying new floorboards, check that you've selected timber that's suitable for reuse before you put them down.

Energy bills

Carpet may be a wiser investment if you live in a cool climate.

It can help reduce the energy bill by eight to twelve per cent by acting as an insulator, keeping in the warmth; up to 20 per cent of heat loss can occur through uninsulated floors.

But carpet has that pesky need for vacuuming. Over the course of a carpet's lifetime, you will use a few hundred kilowatt-hours of electricity keeping it clean.

On the other hand, it's possible to keep floorboards free of dirt and dust just by sweeping, along with the occasional mop.

The verdict

This isn't a tough one.

Floorboards can be sourced from sustainable forestry, last much longer, and are easily recycled. This makes them the better option for the environment.

Still, there are reasons you might prefer carpets.

As well as the soft, warm feeling under your feet, carpets can also help block out noise and reduce your heating bills.

If you are going to buy carpets, look out for the Carpet Institute of Australia's Environmental Classification Scheme.

Launched in late 2007, the scheme assesses the environmental impact of a carpet's materials and manufacturing.

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