hardwood floors

When you’re apartment hunting, there are a lot of big-picture considerations — the neighborhood, the commute to work, size of the apartment, your budget, pet policies and more. Most people on the search are attracted to hardwood floors over carpets, but what many people fail to realize is that hardwood floors are not necessarily always better.

Is it a good idea to rent an apartment with a hardwood floor? It depends.

Here are some of the pros and cons to consider while apartment hunting.

The pros of having hardwood floors

They’re beautiful

Hardwood floors can add elegance and aesthetic appeal to apartments. Plus, their neutral shades complement most furniture pieces.

Dirt doesn’t show up

While it doesn’t vanish on its own, it’s certainly a lot easier to remove dust from a hardwood floor than from carpet. Sweep or vacuum the floor, and the dirt’s gone. Carpet, on the other hand, has to be vacuumed and occasionally steam cleaned.

No carpet dents

Over time, a substantial piece of furniture will leave an impression when resting on carpet. If you like to move furniture around, those dents could detract from your apartment’s appeal. There are ways to remove these scars from your carpet, but you may prefer not to deal with the issue.

The cons of having hardwood floors 

carpet

Noise levels

When you put on leather soled or high-heeled shoes and walk across a hardwood floor, you’ll hear it (and so will your roomie.) But it’s likely even worse for the people who live downstairs. To them, it may sound like you’re wearing ski boots. So if you live on an upper floor, be a good neighbor and add some area rugs or wear your slippers.

If you’re thinking about moving into a unit below an apartment with hardwood floors, you might want to schedule your tour while your upstairs neighbors are home to assess the noise level. Another alternative is to talk to neighbors at the complex who live in similar units. Depending on how the building was constructed, hardwood floors can be very noisy.

Renter’s Tip: As an aside, most traditional tile flooring is even noisier than hardwood floors.

They are hard

It’s no surprise that hardwood floors are hard!

And when you get out of bed in the morning, there’s something comforting about feeling soft carpet fibers between your toes instead of an inflexible floor. If you have a toddler just learning to crawl, a carpet is much friendlier to young knees. Finally, sometimes it’s fun to relax and watch a movie or play with Fido on a carpet.

They succumb to scratches

Speaking of Fido, have you clipped his nails recently? If you have pets, there’s a good chance that they’ll scratch a hardwood floor as they walk around. Even if there are no four-legged creatures in your household, hardwood floors can fall victim to the hazards of moving furniture. You can try to prevent this by sticking pads on your furniture or using mover sliders. Certain types of hardwood floors are more susceptible to scratches than others.

Sound quality and acoustics

In some rooms, perhaps where you plan to watch your TV with surround sound speakers, you want good acoustics. However, sound waves and hard surfaces don’t get along well. Just as a ball bounces higher on a hardwood floor than on a carpet, so does a soundwave. When it does, the sound reverberates and loses its clarity.

They don’t like moisture

Because hardwood floors are porous, they are not a good match for humidity and water. That’s why you’re less likely to see hardwood floors in kitchens and bathrooms than other living areas. If you spill something and mop it up quickly, you’ll probably get away with it. However, if the dishwasher leaks or you drip dry on a hardwood bathroom floor, you may see some staining and buckling.

Note: An engineered wood floor in an apartment will be more resilient. It’s usually a composite wood product that uses adhesives and other methods to bind together wood particles, fibers and veneers. The veneer on the top provides the aesthetic appeal while the lower layers offer greater stability than hardwood that comes straight from Mother Nature.

Carolyn Frith, a content consultant who owns Carolyn Frith Marketing, aims to rid the world of snore-and-bore writing on the web. Topics she covers range from Philadelphia events and real estate options to a variety of other content.

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The Apartment Guide Blog is your premier source for all things apartment related. From your initial search to your next move and everything in between, we’ve got you covered with all the tips, tricks and advice you’re looking for. We also sprinkle in a little industry news like rental trends and city lists from time to time if that’s your thing.

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