Historically, carpet has outsold almost all other types of floor covering in the US, having been accountable at its height for almost 60% of all floor covering sold. In fact, carpet represents over 50% of a typical floor-covering dealer’s purchases, according to a white paper written by the Indian River Consulting Group in conjunction with the North American Association of Floor Covering Distributors and the National Wood Flooring Association.
However, sales of carpet have been trending down since the 70’s. Hard surfaces are gaining in popularity and increasingly taking over their share of the floor covering market. According to an article published on MSN, Is Carpet Dead, “sale of hardwood floors, for example, grew more than 11% between 2003 and 2004, to more than 10% of the flooring market.”
We have a couple of guesses as to why the ever-popular carpet is taking a back seat to other types of flooring:
- $. Carpet used to be the cheaper option but due to increased efficiencies in the manufacturing of wood, laminate and tile, inexpensive options can be found in all three categories.
- Maintenance. In the past, hard surfaces required substantial annual maintenance, therefore, the relative ease of maintaining carpet was more attractive. Advances in the finishing of hard surfaces has taken out much of the maintenance and helped hard surfaces find their way into homes and businesses.
- Variety. Carpet is and has been available in a variety of colors, styles and designs, whereas hard surfaces were relatively limited. Exotic species, new manufacturing techniques, new finishing techniques, and clever installation techniques have added depth and interest to the hard surface flooring options available.
- Installation. Carpet is easy to replace and easy to install, so it feels like less of a commitment, whereas hard surfaces tend to be thought of as permanent. However, significant advances have been made in the installation of wood, laminate and tile, making it much more palatable to choose a hard surface.
- Warranties. Hard surfaces are now coming with 25 – 30 year manufacturer’s warranties, unheard of in the past.
While carpet is still the highest-selling type of floor covering, hard surfaces are quickly catching up. Continued improvements in manufacturing, installation and maintenance will only help hard surfaces become more popular.
At Flooring HQ, more and more customers are asking for hard surface products. They want ease of maintenance, longevity and products that don’t trap dust and dirt. Typically, customers want to place a hard surface floor covering in high traffic areas and place carpet in bedrooms. In terms of hard surfaces, laminate and tile outsell wood. Advances in the laminate industry mean that customers can purchase a floor covering that looks like wood, but that’s more durable and cost effective than a real wood product.