Don’t Let Finances Completely Control Your Decision Making

should we buy hardwood tile or carpetMany people make decisions simply based on what they want to do.

Then there are the rare people that make a majority of their decisions based on what makes the most financial sense.

While I wish it was easy to tell you there is one correct method about how you should make all of your decisions involving money, there isn’t.

Instead, you have to balance what you want with the money you have available to you and make the best decision you can.

Currently, my wife and I have been trying to make one of these decisions.

Hardwood vs Tile vs Carpet – Which Flooring To Buy

We’re currently considering changing out the flooring in the majority of the living area of our home.

We’ve planned to do this for a while, but now that we’re getting close, we’ve gone back and forth between a few different ideas.

The Short Term Cheapest Option – Carpet

Right now, the cheapest thing to do would be to leave the carpet as is or, if my wife really hates the current carpet, replace the carpet.

Carpet is by far the cheapest flooring option up front for us, but you’ll end up having to replace it sooner than you would likely have to replace an engineered hardwood floor or a tile floor, which are currently our other two options. Carpet can get nasty quickly, especially in high traffic areas.

The Long Term Cheapest Option – Tile

On the other end of the spectrum, hardwood look tile would likely be the most expensive option for us at this point in time up front, but would be the lowest cost over a long period of time.

Once you install it, tile requires very little maintenance and would likely last until we move out of the house or get tired of it. Unfortunately, I’m not a huge fan of tile and I worry the hardwood look tile will eventually look bad as they continue to improve on the current methods.

Our Favorite Look And Feel Option – Engineered Hardwood

Finally, we could opt for an engineered hardwood floor. This prices in between carpet and tile as far as up front cost. At the same time, engineered hardwood floors would last longer than carpet, but not as long as tile would. However, hardwood is my favorite option as far as feel and look goes.

Wood floors will get scratched and dinged over the life of the floor. If it gets bad enough, we may have to refinish the engineered hardwood, but we would only likely be able to do so once before having to replace it due to the way it is made.

How Do We Choose?

So how should we choose our new flooring? Financially, it seems like tile would make the most sense long term and carpet would make the most sense from a cash flow perspective right now.

Ultimately, if it was a truly financial decision, we would go with tile. Fortunately, nothing is just a financial decision.

Buy For Enjoyment

Money is a tool and you should use some of your money to enjoy your life. Granted, you need to make sure you’re living within your means by spending less than you earn and not incurring debt, but you shouldn’t make all of your financial decisions based on what makes the most financial sense.

Keep Cost In Mind

That said, keep cost in mind. While I would easily spend some extra money to buy something I enjoy a bit more, it should still be practical. While I might enjoy having a multi hundred thousand dollar Bentley car, it makes no sense on any level so I’ll never buy one.

However, getting hardwood floors instead of tile or carpet isn’t anywhere close to buying a Bentley so it’d probably be an okay use.

Ultimately, I think we’re going to end up going with the engineered hardwood flooring. We still have to get a few quotes to make sure pricing lines up with what we think it will, but I think we’ll enjoy hardwood the most.

Additionally, the cost isn’t that much higher over the life of the floor. This will just be one of the areas we decide to spend a little more to get some enjoyment out of our money.

What would you do? Would you go for the most cost effective long term solution, would you go with the cheapest up front solution or would you just save up and pick the option you liked best? Let me know in the comments.

Photo by: Lara604 Text added by: Lance Cothern

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About Lance Cothern

Lance Cothern, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, is the founder of Money Manifesto. You can read more about him here or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.


  1. I think you’re making the right choice. This is one of those things that you won’t have to replace again if all goes well, and you’ll get the maximum enjoyment from it.

  2. Have you considered luxury vinyl tile? It is far cheaper than the wood-look ceramic (I assume that’s the tile you were considering) and I think it looks at least if not more real than the ceramic. It is also not hard and not cold. I just put it in two bathrooms and I’m seriously considering it for the rest of the house. I have 20 year old carpet that needs to be replaced. I like the wood look but engineered wood or hard wood is so expensive and I hate hard cold ceramic tiles.

    • We considered it, but ultimately we decided against it. We really enjoy the look and feel of engineered hardwood better and honestly for resale value, wood is definitely the way to go if we should ever have to see. I’d definitely say everyone should consider it though, because it has come a long way and looks pretty decent.

  3. Great article. I would’ve made the same choice. When it comes to something that’s going to impact me for years to come, I prefer to choose the option I like best, even if it is the most expensive and I have to wait a little longer to get it in the first place. With an item that’s for short term use (like my wedding dress), I’m much more likely to factor in price heavily.

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