A first step in buying carpet, of course, is to plan: Think through questions
such as how much carpeting you need, where it will go, how it will be used,
and what will look good with your other furnishings. A good carpet store
can be a helpful source of advice.
You can see on our Ratings Tables that some stores were rated superior
for the advice they provide by more than 80 percent of the customers we
surveyed. But some stores are of little or no help, as indicated by their
failure to get superior ratings from even half of their surveyed customers.
You not only have to choose the best carpet for your home but also be confident
that the carpet will be properly installed. We heard again and again of
delivery delays and sloppy installations. Some outlets got top scores for
installation work from less than 40 percent of their surveyed customers.
Fortunately, some scored much higher.
How much you payeven for the exact same carpetdepends on how and where
you shop. Although carpet stores make it extremely difficult to compare
prices, you may be able to by doing the following
Find the make and style number of carpet and the type of pad you want at
any store. Choose more than one make and style you can live with, since
stores often carry different, but very similar, products.
Then call other stores, explain that you are comparing prices, and ask
for the best price it can offer you per square foot for that carpet and
pad installed the way you want it.
Most stores can order many styles that they dont carry. One way to find
stores that sell a particular brand is to check manufacturers websites.
For one style, we found prices ranging from $6,804 to $11,678 among local
stores. For another, the range was from $2,758 to $5,242.
To make sure you pay for exactly what you need, make a sketch of the area
you want carpeted, with accurate measurements. Show it or email it to several
stores, asking them to explain how they would lay out the carpet and how
much is needed. If different stores come up with different total square
footage, find out why. Before placing an order, have the store come out
to perform a final measurement. Many stores will do this for free, even
if you eventually decide not to order.
Make sure your sales contract includes in writing
Exact make, style name and number, fiber content, and color of carpet
Type, thickness, and weight of pad
Total square footage
Who is responsible for taking up and hauling away old carpeting
Reference to attached diagram of your space and confirmation that installation
in accord with that diagram is included
Payment schedule (one-third in advance is reasonable, but less is better)
Warranty on carpet and installation
Promised delivery and installation date
Make all payments by credit card to preserve your rights under the Fair
Credit Billing Act.
Additional important advice on how to deal with stores begins below, and
includes advice on how to make sure you get the type and quality of carpet
and pad you ordered.
The white carpeting in your new home doesnt match your decorand certainly
clashes with your kids inability to neatly consume food and beverages...
Your pet has stained the carpet and strategically placed furniture can
no longer cover all the spots...
Youve redone a room and need to cover the floor...
Now that your kids have finally flown the coop you get to replace that
worn, threadbare pile with something you actually like...
Yes. Its time.
Unfortunately, buying new carpeting is seldom as easy as it should be.
We hear from too many subscribers who find carpet shopping a miserable
experience at many area stores. Salespeople are often rude or inept. Installation
is often performed poorly. Delays are the norm, not the exception. Stores
private labeling practices make it difficult to compare prices. And worst
of all, some companies engage in shady business practices: incorrectly
measuring spaces in order to maximize each sale; delivering lower quality
product than what you paid for; trying to charge more than originally agreed;
adding undisclosed feesand refusing to remedy problems when they occur.
Fortunately, several companies in the area provide good advice on selection,
quality installation services, and honest business practicesfor a reasonable
price. Our ratings will help you find them.
Because carpeting dominates the decor of any room, lasts a long time, and
can cost thousands of dollars, you need to take enough time to make proper
decisions. You have to make decisions on many issues, including: color,
style, pattern, texture, padding, and price range. Start by answering a
How Will It Be Used (or Abused)?
Will you be eating or entertaining much on the carpet? Do you have pets
and/or children? If so, get carpeting with soil- and stain-resistant properties
and colors and textures (such as tweeds and irregular textures) that show
dirt the least. Ask a good carpet cleaning service
for advice, since it will have first-hand knowledge of which carpet types
and colors are easier to clean than others.
Will the carpet be installed in areas with a lot of foot traffic, such
as the front hallway, stairs, or family room? Low, dense piles generally
wear better than deep, plush piles.
Will you often sit on your floor or walk barefoot on the carpeting? Plush
textures feel soft and project a sense of luxury and elegance.
Whats Your Budget?
Carpet prices vary tremendouslyfrom less than $2 to more than $12 per
square foot depending on materials, form of construction, brand name, and
other factors. Price differences that seem small per square foot become
great by the room. For example, 500 square feet of wall-to-wall carpeting
at $2 a square foota total of $1,000seems quite modest but at $6 or $8
per square foota total of $3,000 or $4,000gets pretty intimidating. Charges
for padding, installation, and other labor are often added to the basic
carpet price. Establishing a budget forces some choices: Can you compromise
on the quality of the carpet in some rooms? Can you live with less-expensive
Prices for area rugs also vary greatlyfrom a few hundred dollars for an
inexpensive dhurry (flat-woven Indian rug) to thousands for an antique
How Much Will You Need?
The amount of carpet you need determines what your budget can afford. Measure
the length and width of the area. For protrusions such as doors and closets,
always measure into the deepest point and count these protrusions into
either the rooms total length or total width.
For stairs, measure each step separately (from the back of one tread to
the bottom of the riser below) and add one inch per step to allow for padding.
Then multiply that figure by the total number of steps to determine the
length of carpet needed for the entire staircase. Be sure to add in the
length for any landing.
Determine the total square footage of the area to be covered by multiplying
length times width. Your own measurements will give you the basis for roughly
estimating costs when you shop, but the store will measure more precisely
before it puts through your carpet order. Since carpeting is manufactured
in standard widths (typically 12 and 15 feet), you may have to buy more
carpeting than the actual square footage of your room.
Room-size and area rugs are sold in standard sizes, or cut to size and
bound from carpet rolls. Consider the placement of your furniture in determining
the size you need.
How Will It Fit in with Your Tastes and with Other Furnishings?
Wall-to-wall carpeting introduces a large area of unbroken color, expands
a rooms appearance, and is often the strongest element in an interior
The carpets texture and patterns should complement the style of your rooms,
whether formal or casual. As an initial step, bring fabric samples, paint
chips, pieces of wallpaper, and even couch cushions to the store to help
with your selection; and bring home carpet samples or rugs to see how they
look with your furnishings in your homes lighting.
Since good-quality carpets and rugs last for many years, choose designs,
colors, and patterns you wont tire of quickly.
Carpet colors should complement existing window treatments and furnishings,
suit your particular lifestyle, and contribute to the mood you desire for
the room. A bright-colored yellow, orange, or red carpet can liven up a
room that lacks natural light; shades of blue and green can tone down an
overly bright room. Lighter shades that make the room seem more spacious
and look more formal show dirt quickly and are therefore best suited for
relatively low-traffic areas. Darker colors such as dark grays or browns
make rooms look smaller and are best as accents or in very large rooms.
Such dark colors also tend to show lint.
In addition to the wide range of residential carpeting, consider the commercial
carpeting commonly used in offices and public buildings. Tightly woven
for durability and relatively easy maintenance, commercial carpeting may,
for example, be used in home offices, recreation rooms, and hallways and
often costs less than residential carpeting.
How Long Do You Expect to Keep the Carpet?
Well-constructed carpets last 10 years or more with normal use and care.
If you plan to move soon or change the use or furnishings of a particular
room, consider rugs rather than carpeting because rugs are portable and
wall-to-wall carpeting is not.
Carpets vary in fiber content, yarn formation, and construction.
Before the development of synthetic carpet fibers, wool was the predominant
fiber for high-quality carpets. Now, however, wool accounts for only a
small percentage of carpet sold in the U.S. Nonetheless, the feel and look
of wool remain the standards against which other fibers are judged.
Wool feels good to the touch, takes dye beautifully, lacks the shininess
sometimes found in synthetic fibers, resists crushing or flattening even
with extensive wear, and resists soiling (although it is not especially
resistant to staining). But wool carpets can be expensive.
When first introduced in carpeting over 50 years ago, nylon was not a very
attractive or well-performing fiber. Nylon carpets looked shiny and readily
showed dirt. They lacked the warm, soft feel of wool and tended to accumulate
But from the start nylon possessed certain excellent qualities, such as
exceptional resistance to abrasion, crushing, and mold. And great advances
have been made in succeeding generations of nylon fibers. The most-advanced-generation
fibers are no longer shiny; they have antistatic qualities either built
into the fiber (better) or applied to the surface (not as good); and they
are treated with stain-resisting fluorochemicals (such as Teflon or Scotchgard)
either built into the fiber (better) or applied to the surface (not as
good). Brand names of advanced-generation nylons include Stainmaster (Invista),
Anso (Shaw Industries), and Wear-Dated (Solutia).
Carpets made of these brand-name fibers may also have to meet certain fiber-manufacturer
requirements regarding density of pile and other aspects of carpet construction.
But be aware that not all nylon carpet on the market today is made with
the most recent generation of fiber. Lower priced carpets labeled 100
percent nylon or with some other generic designation may not benefit from
all the improvements of the late-generation nylons.
Nylon is currently by far the most popular carpet fiber. Depending on carpet
quality, prices range from inexpensive to as expensive as wool.
Olefin, or polypropylene, is popular for indoor-outdoor carpeting and in
low-pile commercial carpeting (which can be used in residences as well).
This synthetic fiber is very resistant to static, soil, and stains even
without special treatments. It also holds dye very well, has excellent
abrasion resistance, and does not absorb moisture. Polypropylene might
be the fiber of choice but for one failing: It crushes, or flattens, easily,
a limitation that restricts its use to low-pile carpets. Prices are generally
inexpensive to moderate.
Polyester is often used in deep-pile carpets because of its soft, luxurious
feel. Because it is not as resistant to crushing as nylon, polyester tends
to be used for dense carpets in low-traffic areas, where the density supports
DuPont manufactures a relatively new polyester marketed as SmartStrand
(and sometimes called triexta, its generic name). Because it feels and
wears so differently from other polyesters, and because it is partially
made from recycled materials, it actually gets its own designation in the
carpet business. In addition to being very soft, it is more stain-resistant
and doesnt flatten as easily as the older polyesters. Although it has
built-in stain resistance, it can be difficult to clean and should be vacuumed
more often than other carpet fibers.
Most polyester carpets are inexpensive to moderately priced.
Whatever fiber is used for carpet pile must be processed into strands;
and the strands, in turn, must be twisted together into yarn.
In cut-pile carpet, the tighter a yarns twist, the crisper looking and
longer wearing the carpet. Heat-set twists last longer.
In general, thin yarns give a smoother, more velvety look than coarse yarns.
The most common way to make carpets today is by tufting. To make a tufted
carpet, a machine with hundreds of yarn-threaded needles pushes yarn through
a backing fabric, forming loops as the needles push in and pull out. The
loops are held in place with latex adhesive, and a secondary backing is
glued to the primary backing to provide strength and stability. The specifics
of construction vary in several ways.
In some carpets, the tufts of yarn are spaced much more densely than in
others. Density is determined by the number of tufts per unit of surface
area and the thickness of individual tufts. All else being equal, the denser
the pile the better the carpet. This is because the individual tufts in
dense carpet support each other, so that the carpet is less likely to appear
matted, and wear occurs only at the top of each tuft rather than along
the tufts side.
Carpet surfaces come in many pile textures
Level loophas a surface of loops of uniform height, creating a pebbly
appearance. This is generally the most durable texture. Also, it is easy
to vacuum and doesnt show footprints. Most commercial carpeting and the
Berber carpet style have level-loop textures.
Multi-level loopis similar to level loop except that the loops vary in
height. Multi-level loop carpet hides dirt better than level loop but is
more difficult to vacuum.
Plushis carpet with the tops of all the loops cut off. Because the yarn
doesnt have much twist, plush has a soft, luxurious look and feel, but
tends to readily show dirt. It is also subject to shading, an apparent
change in color tone that occurs when bent yarns reflect light in different
directions. Shading can be minimized by vacuuming, making sure all yarn
tufts bend in the same direction.
Saxonyis similar to plush except that the yarn is more tightly twisted.
As a result, individual yarn tips are more springy and more discernible
to the eye. Saxony tends to be somewhat more durable than plush and less
subject to shading.
Frieze, or twistconsists of cut pile in which the yarn is so tightly twisted
that the ends tend to bend over, creating a nubby appearance. This surface
wears well and hides footprints and dirt.
Shaghas yarn, either cut or uncut, 1 1/2 to more than three inches long.
The pieces of yarn are widely spaced but fall over each other to cover
the carpet surface. Shag hides dust but is difficult to vacuum.
Cut-and-loophas a surface in which some, but not all, of the loops are
cut. The surface may be level or sculptured. This type of surface hides
dirt and footprints well.
Good padding minimizes carpet flattening and wear by absorbing part of
the impact of traffic. Padding also creates a softer walking surface, insulates
cold floors, absorbs noise, prevents carpet from shifting, makes irregular
floors feel more even, and makes carpet feel deeper and more luxurious.
The choice of padding depends on the type of carpet, where and how it will
be used, your preference for greater or less buoyancy, and other factors.
Carpet pads differ in content and performance, and each type comes in a
variety of weights.
As a rule, the heavier the pad the better the performance. High-traffic
areas should have a heavy but relatively thin pad. For a bouncier, more
luxurious feel, such as in a bedroom, use a thicker pad. But dont confuse
thick, soft padding with good padding. Bouncy padding can make a thin carpet
feel more luxurious but shorten its life by letting the backing flex too
much. The Carpet and Rug Institute recommends that padding be no thicker
than one-half inch.
Several types of padding are available
Rebonded polyurethane foam, also known as rebond, is made from bonded-together
fragments of urethane foam and is usually heavier than prime urethane padding.
A weight of five pounds per cubic foot at a thickness of one-half inch
should be sufficient for high-traffic areas. Heavier cushion, up to 14
pounds per cubic foot, feels firmer.
Fiber padding is recommended for high-traffic areas such as halls and stairs
and for area rugs. It feels quite firm and not very bouncy underfoot. Fiber
padding is made from jute, animal hair, a combination of the two, or a
combination of jute and nylon or other synthetic fiber. A pad weighing
40 ounces per square yard is good for moderate-traffic area, but youll
need a 48-ounce pad for more heavily used rooms or stairs.
Sponge rubber padding works well in moderate-traffic areas. While a pad
of at least 64 ounces per square yard should be sufficient for most home
uses, sponge rubber padding is available in heavier weightsup to 120 ounces
per square yard. Sponge in a flat sheet feels firmer than sponge formed
into a waffled configuration.
Prime urethane foam padding performs well in low-traffic areas. The less
the pad weighs per cubic foot, the softer it feels. Urethane foam padding
should weigh at least 2 1/2 to three pounds per cubic foot.
Before contracting for installation of padding, check several points. See
if the padding tears easily. Place samples on the floor covered with a
carpet sample and walk on them to get an idea of the feel the padding will
give your carpet. Make sure the padding is the right weight and thickness
for the area where it will be used. If you can get a thinner padding that
will perform properly, avoid a thicker one whose thickness may raise the
carpet too high for doors to swing open into the room; if so, you may need
to cut off the bottom of the doors.
Like carpeting, most area rugs benefit from an underlay. Padding under
area rugs helps secure them in places where people might slip and fall,
and prevents the rub-off of color by non-dye-fast rugs such as some dhurries.
A good fiber pad is usually best for area rugs. There are several varieties
of useful anti-slip material, often made in a honeycomb structure.
Many stores include padding in the price of the carpet. Be sure to check
out the quality of whats offered and, if necessary, find out if you can
upgrade for an extra charge.
Once you have determined the type of carpet you want, approximate square
footage, and your budget, youre ready to begin shopping.
Youll want to do your shopping, of course, at stores where you can get
good advice, good selection, quality installation services, and honest
business practicesat reasonable prices. The ratings reported on our Ratings Tables will help you find them. We asked area consumers (primarily CHECKBOOK
and Consumer Reports subscribers) to rate carpet stores and carpet installation
companies they had used as inferior, adequate, or superior on several
questions. Our Ratings Tables show the percent of each companys surveyed
customers who rated it superior on each question. (Our Ratings Tables
list all companies that received at least 10 ratings for either carpet
selling services or installation services. For more information on our
customer surveys and other research methods, click here.)
Stores vary in attractiveness and convenience of display. Most stores display
wall-to-wall carpet samples on racks or in sample books, while carpet remnants
and rugs are hung from racks, stacked, or stored in rolls around the store.
Its important that stores have good lighting and enough room to lay out
a rug or remnant to see what it looks like open on the floor.
The selection and size of remnants change frequently. Some stores have
a hundred or more different colors and styles of remnants; others have
very few. Our Ratings Tables report how surveyed consumers rated each
store on ease of looking at/testing products.
Once youve found carpeting you like, see how it goes with your furnishings
before you make a final purchase. Shop at stores that let you take home
carpet samples and/or area rugs; most stores offer this service. Also find
out if the store will bind carpets for area rugs or arrange for custom-made
rugs. Some carpet stores also offer carpet or rug cleaning, repairs, appraisals,
restoration, or design services.
Youre likely to have a lot of questions about the carpets in the store
and options for your rooms. Our Ratings Tables show how stores were
rated for advice on choice and use of products and related questions.
As you can see, some stores got very low ratings on this question.
We also asked customers to rate companies on reliability (standing behind
products, delivering on time, etc.) and promptness of service. On both
questions, the portion of surveyed customers rating stores superior ranged
from less than 40 percent to more than 90 percent.
In addition to ratings from customers, for firms that were evaluated in
our last full, published article, our Ratings Tables shows counts of
complaints we gathered from local Better Business Bureaus (BBB) for a recent
three-year period. For more information on reported complaint counts, click
Unless you are a deeply committed do-it-yourselfer, youll want professionals
to install your carpet. Almost all stores that sell wall-to-wall carpet
offer installation services. Some use their own employees for the work;
others contract out installations.
Installation problems are among the most common source of carpet buyers
complaints. A poor job, such as inadequate stretching of carpet, or uneven,
bumpy, or loose seams, can ruin the appearance and durability of even an
Our Ratings Tables show what percentage of surveyed customers rated
each companys installation service superior for doing work properly,
promptness, and overall performance. Several companies were rated superior
on some or all of these criteria by 40 percent or fewer of surveyed customers,
but others were rated superior more than 80 percent of the time.
If youre thinking about installing the carpet yourself, several good online
guides and how-to books on carpet installation are available. DIY installation
kits and other special equipmentsuch as knee kickers (to stretch carpet),
seaming irons, and hot-melt carpet seam tapeare available at most equipment
rental stores and for no extra charge at some carpet stores.
The quality of a stores warranty is a good indicator of the reliability
of its sales and installation operations. Most carpet stores and installers
offer written warranties on carpet installation work. Most warranties are
valid for a year from the date of installation, but some are valid longer
(up to three years, in some cases). Some explicitly disclaim responsibility
for visible seams so long as the installation has been performed in a workmanlike
manner in accordance with industry standards, but dont assume visible
seams are covered even in warranties that lack this explicit disclaimer.
Among reliable stores that carry carpets you like, choose one that provides
the best value for the entire jobcarpet, pad, and installation.
Comparing carpet prices is not easy. Although carpets from several major
manufacturers are sold at most stores, it is often difficult to find exactly
the same carpet style and grade on display at any two stores, since thousands
of styles are available. Comparing prices becomes even harder because many
retailers (especially the bigger stores) change carpets style names from
the names bestowed by the manufacturers, and some chains, Home Depot and
Lowes, for example, have exclusive rights to sell certain carpet styles.
Price comparisons are possible, though, if the manufacturers style name
or number appears on the carpet label and you can find at least two stores
that sell it. As long as you provide the correct style information, many
stores will provide per-square-foot price quotes over the phone for carpet
manufacturers they regularly carry.
Take the time to do some shopping. As Table 1 reveals, significant store-to-store
price differences exist for the same products. Our shoppers called area
stores and, without revealing their affiliation with CHECKBOOK, asked each
to provide price quotes for 720 square feet of the same carpet, pad, and
installation services. As you can see, for Fabrica Dolce, we received price
quotes ranging from $6,804 to $11,678. For Shaw Sandy Hollow, we were quoted
prices ranging from $2,758 to $5,242. For many of the 10 carpets we shopped,
we found differences of at least 50 percent.
|Abbey Carpet, El Cerrito||$4,255||$5,616||$8,842||$8,546||$5,004||$3,852||$4,032|| ||$5,292||$6,228|
|Abbey Carpet, San Francisco||$5,242||$5,638||$8,597||$8,064|| || || || || || |
|Abbey Flooring Center/Conklin Brothers, San Jose||$3,809||$5,321||$9,137||$8,705|| || || || ||$5,400||$6,120|
|Al’s Carpets, Pacifica||$2,758||$4,082|| || || ||$3,218||$2,952|| || || |
|Amber Flooring, Morgan Hill|| || || || || || || || ||$4,198||$4,673|
|Armstrong Carpet & Linoleum, San Francisco||$3,442||$5,040||$8,719||$8,482||$4,558|| ||$4,003|| ||$5,040||$5,998|
|Bittick’s Carpets & Interiors, San Jose||$4,637||$4,723||$7,783||$8,366||$3,902||$3,701||$4,608||$3,672||$7,366||$7,366|
|California Carpet & Rugs, San Carlos|| || ||$8,935||$8,460|| || || ||$3,744||$5,148||$6,170|
|California Carpet & Rugs, San Francisco|| || ||$11,678||$11,282|| || || || ||$6,797||$6,797|
|Carpet One Floor & Home, San Ramon|| || ||$6,804||$6,386||$3,607||$3,103|| || ||$4,270||$5,018|
|Carpet One of Livermore, Livermore|| || ||$8,381||$7,870|| || || || || || |
|City Carpets, San Rafael||$4,889||$5,969||$10,433||$10,433||$5,969||$4,889||$5,249||$5,249||$7,193||$8,280|
|Dick’s Carpet One Floor & Home, Berkeley|| || ||$7,121||$6,703|| || || || || || |
|Dick’s Carpet One Floor & Home, Oakland||$3,089||$3,830||$7,279||$6,725||$3,708||$3,067||$3,175||$3,226||$4,313||$5,170|
|Floor Dimensions, Berkeley||$3,442||$4,363||$7,070||$7,070|| || ||$4,759||$4,759||$4,694||$5,472|
|Floor Dimensions, El Sobrante|| ||$4,183||$6,984||$6,984||$4,313|| || ||$3,514||$4,608||$5,386|
|The Floor Store, Richmond||$3,838||$3,737||$7,841||$7,553||$4,025||$5,177||$3,377||$3,233|| || |
|MMM Carpets, Santa Clara|| || || || ||$5,112|| || || || || |
|S & G Carpet & More, San Jose||$3,110||$3,377|| || ||$3,362||$2,930||$3,038||$2,995|| || |
|Straus Carpets, Oakland||$2,866||$4,183||$7,229||$7,229||$4,154||$3,463||$3,499||$3,427||$4,781||$5,573|
You may save moneyand youll certainly reduce the risk of service foul-upsby
following a few guidelines when dealing with stores.
Make a Diagram of the Spaces to Be Carpeted Before You Shop
You cant get a realistic cost picture without knowing how much carpet
you need. To calculate that amount, a salesperson will need to see a carefully
prepared diagram of the area to be carpeted, showing doorways and closets
and other protrusions. It should also indicate the height and depth of
Get a Reliable Estimate of the Amount of Carpet Needed
One way some stores take advantage of customers is by charging for more
carpet than they need.
Using your diagram, ask salespersons at several stores to estimate how
much youll need. Getting the grain of the carpet to look right, and
to locate seams in acceptable places, usually requires more square feet
of carpet than the exact area of the room. So while some waste is inevitable,
a good store will plan installations that keep waste to a minimum.
Ask all salespersons to explain their measurements. If estimates differ,
find out why.
Decide on the Full Specifications of Your Job and Compare the Bottom-Line
Price for the Entire Job
To get a realistic cost picture, you must have a clear understanding of
exactly what services are to be performed. Before making final price comparisons,
What type and grade of padding you want;
Whether delivery is to be included in the contract price;
Whether you want the store to do the installation;
Whether the installer will have to move furniture;
Whether the installer will be expected to pull up old carpet;
Whether the installer will be expected to haul away old carpet and any
debris from the new job;
Whether replacement of quarter-round molding at the base of the woodwork
is included (usually not);
Whether metal or wood strips are to be provided where carpet ends at doorways;
Whether the price includes the cost of cutting off the bottoms of any doors
that dont clear the carpet (usually not).
Since stores price jobs differently, its important to get the bottom-line
cost for the entire package of product and services. If you are willing
to do some tasks yourselfsuch as pulling up old carpet or hauling away
debrisyou can often save money.
Get Stores to Compete
Once you have decided on a specific style of carpet, note the style name
or number: It should appear on the carpet sample tag. Then contact five
or six of the stores rated favorably on our Ratings Tables and ask
for their installed price for that style and your choice of padding. Let
each salesperson know that you are calling several stores, and that they
have only one chance to bid. Although stores will seldom stock the style
you want, many will be able to get it from the factory. If you cant find
stores that sell your style, ask the manufacturer for names of local stores
that sell its carpets.
Salespersons at many stores are authorized to negotiate price. If you need
a lot of carpet, argue that this should entitle you to a good price. But
even if you are buying very little, negotiation can save you money. Just
make sure salespersons know you are prepared to buy elsewherefor that
reason, its best to negotiate by phone so the salesperson will believe
that you will hang up and call someplace else. You can find out the lowest
price for a particular stylea starting point for your negotiatingby checking
prices at mail-order outlets.
Beware of Free Offers
The cost of free installation is often built into the price of the carpet.
You are likely to get a lower price for the carpet itself somewhere else
where installation is not free. As previously noted, if the price of the
carpet includes padding, check the quality of whats offered and, if necessary,
find out if you can upgrade for an extra charge.
Beware of Advertisements Quoting Prices by the Room
The rooms envisioned by those ads are likely to be a lot smaller than yours.
And there is a good chance that what you consider one rooman L-shaped
room, for examplewill be considered two rooms by some stores.
Have the Area Measured and Check the Installation Plan
Although your diagram will provide an estimate of required square footage
accurate enough for most of your shopping, you need an exact measurement
and installation plan before you finally contract to buy. Many stores will
send someone to your home to measure and prepare an installation plan at
no cost and no obligation to buy. Have more than one store do this, to
make sure you dont pay for more carpeting than you need.
Examine the stores installation plan to make sure the locations of seams
are as inconspicuous as possible, that closet interiors will be carpeted
(if thats what you want), and that the carpeting will cover all the areasand
only the areasyou want to cover.
Also, make sure the plan utilizes carpeting as efficiently as possible.
If you think the carpeting can be arranged differently to reduce the amount
required, press the point.
Make Sure the Correct Carpet Is Delivered
Because some stores have taken advantage of consumers by delivering carpet
of a different style and quality than what the customer ordered, be ready
to make sure you get what you paid for. You can purchase a labeled sample
of the carpet youve ordered, which most stores sell for less than $20,
and compare it to the item they deliver.
Unfortunately, however, even experts cant be certain that two pieces of
carpet are the same. A store may try to pass off a carpet that looks about
the same as what you ordered, but wont wear as well.
If the store orders directly from a mill, make sure your purchase contract
requires the store to provide a copy of its factory invoice for the carpet,
showing your name and the style, color, and amount of carpet the factory
shipped. If the store provides such an invoice, you can be reasonably confident
that it will bring the proper carpet to your home.
If you purchase a remnant or a style of carpet the store has in stock,
make sure you get what you paid for by writing your name in marker or crayon
on the back of the remnant or roll.
Make Sure You Get the Proper Pad
As with carpet, once you get a sample of the pad youve ordered, its relatively
easy to compare that sample to the pad thats actually delivered.
Agree on a Delivery Date
Stores are often more optimistic about delivery dates before you sign a
purchase contract than after. If prompt delivery is important, reach an
Agree on a Payment Schedule
Youll have more leverage to push for speedy delivery and insist on corrections
of product and workmanship defects if your store is waiting for payment.
Most stores will accept a deposittypically one-third to one-halfwith
the carpet order and expect the balance when the job is completed. Some
stores are flexible about the deposit amount, depending on the particular
job, so try to put down as small a deposit as possible.
Check the Warranty on the Carpet
Fiber companies provide most carpet warranties, which cover two areas.
The first is manufacturing defects, such as holes or color bleeds, which
are usually limited to first-quality carpets, not seconds. The second area
is carpet wear, with manufacturers warranties typically guaranteeing not
more than 10 percent (20 percent in some cases) loss of surface pile fibers
within a period of 10 years. Warranties seldom cover tears, burns, pulls,
cuts, spills, matting, soiling/staining, fading, odor, or damage due to
improper installation or improper cleaning methods or agents. Because carpet
usually becomes permanently matted and dirty long before it wears out,
fiber warranties are not as valuable as they might seem. In some cases,
a fiber company will offer an additional warranty on another feature of
the carpet, such as stain resistance. Carpeting installed on stairs and
in hallways is typically excluded from product warranties.
Some stores offer warranties covering the same carpet problems addressed
by manufacturers warranties.
Check the Installation Warranty
The best guarantees are in effect for a long period and have few, if any,
qualifiers. An example of a good warranty is the following: [Installer]
guarantees the installation of your carpet against defects in workmanship
for the life of your carpet. If your installer doesnt ordinarily offer
a written warranty this good, ask it to include one in your written contract.
Get a Contract Incorporating All that Youve Agreed on
Your contract should cover, at least
Full description of the product and services included in the price;
Style name and number, color, fiber content, and manufacturer of the carpeting
you are purchasing;
Weight, thickness, and type of padding;
Brief description of the kind of use carpet will be subjected toto serve
as evidence that the store said the carpet was suitable for this purpose;
Delivery and installation date;
Reference incorporating the installation plan;
If carpet is ordered from the mill, a promise to deliver factory invoice
for carpet showing your name, style name, and color; and
If the carpet is a remnant, a promise to provide the specific piece of
carpet you have marked as yours.
Carefully note any disclaimers of store responsibility. Several of the
contracts we reviewed contained boilerplate language relieving the store
of any responsibility for damage to walls or furniture. In order to get
your business, a store may allow you to strike language you consider unacceptable.
Prepare Your Home Before the Installer Arrives
If youve agreed to move furniture or pull up old carpet, for example,
dont make the installer wait for you to do your part.
Check the Carpeting and Padding Before It Is Installed
Better to find any defects before installation. Look for discolorations,
dye spots, streaks, holes, or yarn flaws. Also check to see if color or
quality is significantly different from the retailers sample. If youve
demanded a factory invoice, check it. Reject the carpet if its defective
or not what you ordered.
Check the Installation Job Before You Pay
Look for wrinkles or ripples, gaps between wall and carpet edge, unusually
conspicuous seams, irregular seams, inconsistent shaping of carpet on steps,
failure to match the grain or pattern of the carpet, glue on walls, unusual
damage to walls or other furnishings, stains or glue on the carpet itself,
and other defects. If theres a significant installation defect, get it
corrected before you pay.
Pay by Credit Card
If there is a problem with delays or you receive incorrect or defective
merchandise, paying by credit card gives you the right to withhold payment
under the Fair Credit Billing Act and the policies of most credit card
companies. You will first be required to make every reasonable effort to
resolve the dispute on your own.
After youve spent hundreds, and maybe thousands, of dollars on carpeting,
youll certainly want to prolong its life.
The most important carpet-care practice is regular vacuuming. Another key
to carpet life is to clean up spills quickly and get an overall professional
cleaning when the carpet becomes visibly dirty. Click here for our article on area carpet cleaners.
It helps to understand the causes and cures of other carpet problems:
During the manufacturing process, yarn ends can get buried in the carpet
pile and later sprout up above the pile level. Use scissors to cut the
sprout even with the carpet surface. Dont pull a high tuft out of the
carpet, as you may pull out other fibers as well. You can snip off carpet
snags the same way as sprouts, but very large snags may need professional
The surface of some types of carpet can develop small balls of fiber known
as pilling. As with sprouts and snags, you can snip off pilling. If the
problem covers a large area, though, call in an expert. Another problem,
fuzzing, occurs in older loop carpets when fibers break due to wear and
tear. Clip excess fuzz, but call your carpet store if fuzzing continues.
To prevent spots of pile from becoming crushed or flattened, place rubber
or plastic glides, cups, or other special carpet-protector pads underneath
heavy furniture. Also, periodically rearranging your furniture helps avoid
flattened spotsand changing traffic patterns promotes more even wear.
You can often bring crushed pile back up by releasing steam from an iron
a few inches above the flattened area, allowing the steam to penetrate
the pile, and then brushing briskly.
Damp weather and humidity can cause wall-to-wall carpet to buckle or ripple.
These problems are usually temporary, but if they dont disappear soon
after the weather becomes drier, youll need to have the carpet restretched.
Weather can also contribute to problems of static in carpets. If your carpet
does not have antistatic protection, if necessary use a humidifier to help
control static buildup.
Exposure to direct sunlight causes fading, with reds, blues, and dark colors
the most susceptible. Closing drapes, blinds, or shadesespecially on windows
that receive direct sunlightreduces fading.
Foot traffic and vacuuming cause pile fibers to change angles, making the
carpet appear shaded. Shading is particularly noticeable on luxurious cut
pile carpets, especially plushes in solid colors. Vacuuming the pile in
one direction will temporarily fix shading.
Halls and Family Room
In these high-traffic areas, good choices are a low, densely packed cut
pile or a level-loop carpet, such as a Berber or a commercial type.
Nylon or (in a level loop) polypropylene wears well. A neutral or tweedy
color minimizes the visibility of dirt; avoid lighter colors in the family
room, where food might be spilled. A firm fiber or rebond pad is best.
A plush or Saxony usually holds up. An advanced-generation nylon or wool
looks goodin any color that fits the rest of the decor. A good-quality,
firm rebond pad feels comfortable and wears well.
Unless use is heavy, same as for living roombut treat carpet for stain
resistance and buy medium or darker colors. If use is heavy, consider options
similar to those for a family room.
Because use is generally light, a less-expensive carpet will do. Deep pile,
even if not especially dense, can be used with a relatively spongy pad
that feels soft. Polyester, an advanced-generation nylon, wool, or wool
mix feels good. Any color will do.
There are several keys to carpet and rug quality
Fiber type. Wool is generally considered a very high-quality fiber, as
are the most-advanced-generation nylons. But depending on their purpose,
other fibers, such as olefin, may better serve your needs. Carpet labels
indicate the type of fiber.
Twist. Yarn should have a heat-set twist to hold its shape over the long
run. Labels usually indicate whether a yarns twist is heat-set.
Density. The density of the yarn tufts on the face of carpeting is very
important for minimizing wear and preventing flattening, or matting. Because
labels seldom disclose density, you have to check it by digging into the
carpet with your fingertips to see how easily they push through to the
backing. Or conduct the grin test by folding the carpet onto itself,
with the backing on the inside of the fold; then check how much backing
is visible between the tufts at the fold. You may also be able to obtain
some information on density or face weight (a combined measure of density
and pile height) from a store salesperson.
Chemically sensitive or allergy-prone individuals have complained of watery
eyes; runny noses; burning sensations in the eyes, nose, and throat; headaches;
rashes; and fatigue related to gasses caused by newly installed carpet
and pad and the adhesives used in their installation. This problem led
to the creation of the Indoor Air Quality Carpet Testing Program conducted
by the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI), which develops ways to reduce emissions
from carpet. Under the program, carpet manufacturers submit carpets to
an independent laboratory that measures emissions of volatile organic compounds
(VOCs). If emissions do not exceed a specified level after 24 hours in
a testing chamber, the manufacturer can attach a green-and-white Green
Label shown above. Carpets meeting an even higher standard are eligible
for Green Label Plus certification.
Look for carpet carrying at least the Green Label. Although these carpets
still give off some emissions, the CRI says the average level of emissions
from carpets tested has dropped dramatically since the program began.
Even carpet meeting CRI standards must be installed properly to achieve
specified emission results. Write into the installation contract: Carpet
must be installed according to Carpet and Rug Institute Standard 105.
You can take other steps to reduce carpets exposure to air problems: If
adhesives and/or a pad will be used, request that they have low chemical
emissions. Water-based, environmentally friendly adhesives with low emissions
are available from numerous manufacturers. Vacuum old carpet before it
is removed; this will reduce airborne dust, dirt, and mites. Also, vacuum
the sub-floor before new carpet is laid. Finally, ventilate the room where
the carpet is installed for several days, if possible with an exhaust fan.
Carpet stores and their installation crews make a lot of their customers
unhappy. Below is a summary of the various kinds of complaints in reviews
by surveyed consumers.
Poor customer serviceStaff was incompetent, rude, or disorganized. Mentioned
in 44 percent of complaints.
Subpar installation work. (41 percent)
Reliability issuesCompany did not fulfill promises, did not promptly address
problems raised by customer, did not stand behind its products, or did
not work with customer to satisfy billing disputes. (31 percent)
PromptnessCompany missed appointments or took longer than promised to
complete work. (20 percent)
Bait-and-switch or overchargeCompany tried to charge more than originally
agreed, attempted a bait-and-switch sales strategy, added undisclosed extra
fees, increased sale by ordering too much product, or used false sales
prices. (14 percent)
PriceToo expensive. (7 percent)
Product switcherooCompany tried to supply a lower quality carpet or padding
than customer ordered. (6 percent)
Poor product qualityCompany supplied defective product. (6 percent)
Limited selectionCompany did not offer enough selection to meet customers
needs. (4 percent)