Our Ratings Tables will help you select carpet stores that offer great advice and quality installation work. Among reliable stores that carry carpets you like, choose one that provides the best value for the entire job—carpet, pad, and installation.

Comparing carpet prices isn’t easy. Although carpets from several major manufacturers are sold at most stores, it is often difficult to find exactly the same style and grade on display at any two stores, since thousands of styles are available. Comparing prices becomes even harder because many retailers (especially large ones) change carpets’ style names from the manufacturers’ names, and some big chains (like Home Depot, Lowe’s) have exclusive rights to sell certain carpet styles.

Price comparisons are possible, though, if the manufacturer’s 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 the table below reveals, significant store-to-store price differences exist for the same products. Our undercover shoppers called area stores and asked each to provide price quotes for 810 square feet of the same carpet, pad, and installation services. We used these prices to compute the price comparison scores reported on our Ratings Tables. The price comparison scores show how each store’s prices compared to the average price quoted for the same job. For instance, if two stores quoted on the same jobs, and one store has a price comparison score of $110 while a second store has a score of $100, this means that the first shop’s quotes averaged 10 percent higher than the second store’s.

As the table below reveals, for each of the 12 carpet brands and styles we shopped, we found big price differences. For example, for one brand and style we received price quotes ranging from $1,800 to $6,534. For another, we were quoted prices ranging from $2,880 to $5,670.

Our Undercover Shoppers Were
Quoted Big Price Differences for the
Same Carpet and Installation Work*

Carpet Brand and Style Low price Average price High price
Shaw “Silver Texture” $2,699 $3,589 $4,710
Shaw “Unrivaled Precision II” $2,430 $3,337 $4,180
Dixie Home “Innovations” $4,293 $5,536 $7,075
Dixie Home “Stanton Park” $3,078 $4,276 $5,751
Fabrica “Accolade” $5,850 $7,247 $8,640
Fabrica “Captiva” $4,824 $6,730 $8,280
Mohawk “Silent Wonder” $1,800 $2,614 $6,534
Mohawk “Exquisite Beauty” $2,880 $4,194 $5,670
Masland “Key West” $3,420 $4,248 $5,052
Masland “Grantham” $5,670 $7,057 $8,559
Anderson Tuftex “Sasha” $3,870 $4,551 $5,630
Anderson Tuftex “Good Day Sunshine” $4,050 $4,916 $6,435
* Prices include 810 square feet of carpet, 8 lb. padding, installation, and take-up and removal of old carpeting.

Before you shop, make a diagram of the spaces to be carpeted.

You can’t get a realistic cost estimate without knowing how much carpet you need. To calculate that amount, a salesperson needs 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 steps.

Get a reliable estimate of the amount of carpet needed.

Some stores take advantage of customers by charging them for more carpet than they need. To avoid this, show your diagram to salespeople at several stores and have them estimate how much your job requires. While some waste is inevitable, a good store will keep it to a minimum.

Ask stores to bid.

Once you have decided on a specific style of carpet, note the style name or number on the carpet sample tag. Then contact five or six of the favorably rated stores using our Ratings Tables, and ask for their installed price for that style and your choice of padding. Let salespeople know you are calling several
stores, and give them 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 can’t find stores that sell your style, ask the manufacturer for names of local stores that sell its carpets.

Get bottom-line prices for the entire job.

Price quotes should include—

  • Type and grade of padding
  • Whether delivery is included
  • Whether installation is included
  • Who is responsible for moving furniture
  • Whether take-up and removal of old carpet are included
  • Whether installation of new quarter-round molding at the base of the woodwork is included, if you want it (usually an add-on)
  • Whether metal or wood strips are to be provided where carpet ends at doorways
  • Whether doors that don’t clear the carpet will be cut down (which many stores won’t do)

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.

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 room—an L-shaped room, for example—will be considered two rooms by some stores.

Have the area measured, and check the installation plan.

Although your diagram will provide an estimate of square footage accurate enough for most of your shopping, you need an exact measurement and installation plan before you finally contract to buy. Examine the store’s installation plan to make sure the locations of seams are as inconspicuous as possible, that closet interiors will be carpeted (if that’s what you want), and that the carpeting will cover all the areas you want to cover. Make sure the plan utilizes carpeting as efficiently as possible.