wall to wall carpet

Probably the most important decision you have to make when buying carpet is what style you want. Or put another way, what you want your home to look like when it’s done. Are you interested in something casual or formal? Do you want a carpet with many colors in it or do you want it solid? Do you like a long shaggy pile or do want the shorter, lower profile type? Before you even head to your local store, these are things you should give some thought to.

All the other variables (like the density, color or stain resistance) are secondary until you figure this out first.

The way I would start my shopping experience is to visit some local carpet stores. If there are any in your area that has large warehouses, that is your best, first stop. After all, it is too hard to visualize what a house full of carpet will look like off tiny samples. Big warehouses have rolls of carpet and tons of remnants in big chunks so you can see what a big piece looks like.

If you are able to take some rough measurements, do so and bring them with you. If you have a set budget (and most people do), this will help keep you looking at products you can afford. There’s nothing worse than falling in love with a high end carpet that you find out later is twice your budget!

Quoting Yardage

Almost always, customers want to argue with carpet stores over how much yardage they need. You can’t take the square footage of a room, divide it by 9 to get square yardage, and then order that amount because you will not have enough carpet. Carpet always needs to run the same direction, and since carpet usually comes in 12′ widths, there is always a bit of waste that goes in the garbage. There is no way around it and you have to pay for it. We know that a factor of 15% will usually cover this difference. So if you do the math and figure out you need 100 square yards, you’ll actually need 115 if you don’t want to run short.

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When To Buy

How long do you plan to live in your home? If you aren’t sure, this is something you should spend a little time thinking about before you make your purchase. If you think you will sell within 5 years then you need to make sure the product you choose will still look good in that amount of time. If you choose something cheap, you’ll have to replace it before you move and that can be expensive. If you are selling it now, make sure the quality is sufficient to match the price range the home is selling in. If you aren’t planning to move, then any and all options are on the table.

Planning Ahead

Let’s face it, replacing carpet is a pain. All your furniture has to be moved. The installers will gladly do it but they charge for that. The more you can do, the less it will cost. The installers typically won’t unhook and set your electronics so you have to disconnect them before they get there. Dressers should have the drawers removed ahead of time and the tops cleared. If you have a mess under your bed – like most of us do – then you need to move your stuff. Nothing can be in the room so everything has to have a plan. If you don’t have anywhere to move your furniture, most installers will try to stack it in one room then move it all into another room to install that one. Pianos, water beds, and unmovable objects have to be planned for ahead of time.

If you’re willing to do some work to save money, there are a few things you can do. Moving your furniture is a start. In addition, if you are willing to pull up your own carpet that will usually save you $1 per yard. If you are willing to haul it to off, then that’s another $1 to you. That said, if you choose to do this, do NOT pull up the tack strips around the wall. Leave those down because they can be reused. When you pull up the old pad makes sure you hammer the old staples down so no fuzz is sticking out. You don’t need to pull all the staples, just make sure they are flat to the floor. If you have any squeaks in your floor this is the time to nail the floors down better. If there is any pet damage, this is the time to apply the proper treatments to eliminate those odors.

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Picking A Color, Style, & Stain Resistance

One of the most important things you need to remember is that ALL carpets lighten in color when you put them down. Always pick a color one shade darker than what you want. You should always pick a color a tad darker than what you are visualizing.

What style of carpet should you be looking at? If you want ease of care, the lower, flatter ones are far and away the best choice. The longer piles are three times more work to maintain.

What about quality and stain resistance? Stain resistance is so good I wouldn’t recommend one brand over another. Most manufacturers have really good warranties so don’t worry about that. The quality of carpet is more important. I do not recommend a nylon over a polyester or vice versa. I recommend you spend at least $30 per square yard on the carpet with $35-55 being even better. Make sure you match this up with a pad that is among their highest quality as well. A pad with a moisture barrier is always a good choice too.

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The Buying Process

When you have chosen a carpet that you like, someone will be out to measure. It could be the salesperson, an installer or someone that does nothing but measuring. It’s important that you take that opportunity to ask questions and/or discuss anything that concerns you. Here’s a handful of questions worth asking:

  • The new carpet is much thicker than my current carpet, will the doors clear? If not, who will be fixing that?
  • How many days will this job take and does someone need to be here the whole time?
  • If I don’t like something, do I call you or the carpet store? What about a year from now?
  • What time will you be showing up in the mornings?

Even specific questions and concerns are useful. For instance, if there’s a seam in the living room currently and you don’t like it, talk about that – there’s always a solution.

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Warranty Factors

Can you use your old pad? Maybe? The first question is how old is it? If the pads are older than five years, then the answer is no. The warranties all state that the carpet pad has to be replaced at the same time as the carpet. If you decide to keep your pad when you replace your carpet, it will not have a factory warranty.

In addition to this, you need to vacuum your carpet regularly. This is part of the factory warranty as well and depends on the amount of traffic your home gets. When soil and other things get into the carpet, wearing will take place at an accelerated rate if it is not vacuumed.

Make sure you have a spot cleaner on hand after you get your new carpet, but professional cleanings should also take place about once a year in order to stay compliant with the warranty.

Enjoying Your Carpet

Anyone who has ever remodeled a home knows that paint and carpet can make an old, rundown home look remarkable and new. The other big difference is how the carpet feels. When you walk on new carpet, it’s incredibly soft. Every step you take is a reminder of how much better it feels. This is usually a combination of the carpet and a new pad. Save some scraps of the new carpet and store it somewhere (i.e. don’t use as a floor mat). If your new carpet becomes permanently stained somehow, having a chunk in the same dye lot is always good for repairs.