6 tips for carpet shopping

By The Old House Web

Unless your house is floored simply with wood and tile, you're going to have to shop for wall-to-wall carpeting at some point. Carpet shopping can be frustrating since lots of confusing terms are used in the industry and it can be hard to figure out which product is right for you. However, here are some tips to get you past the salesperson's jargon and onto a nice new carpeted floor:

1. Do your homework before Halloween. The vast majority of carpet sales are made in the fall as homeowners try to spruce up their homes before the holidays. This also means that there can be delivery delays on popular styles and colors from the carpet factory due to weather and demand, and retailers are not likely to have many sales during this busy period. Plan on the type of carpet you'd like earlier in the year and shop around the first of the year or the end of summer for the best deals.

2. Pay attention to the padding. Although you won't see it, you'll be able to feel the padding underneath your carpet for years, and if it's not a good match you'll know it very quickly. Good carpeting can flatten and become dirtier faster when it's paired with a pad that doesn't work. The thickness of the pad is also critical. The pad needs to be dense enough to provide a good base for the carpet, without being so high that it pulls the carpet from the tack strip.

The Carpet and Rug Institute recommends that most residential carpet cushions should be no more than 7/16 inch thick and no less than 1/4 inch with 6 pounds per cubic feet density, while a Berber or low profile carpet would use a cushion no more than 3/8 inch thick with 8 pounds density. This means that the surface, whether it's urethane foam or rubber, can take up to 8 pounds of pressure before flattening. Dealers can give you more specifics on the different types of padding.

3. What do you have in stock? Most dealers carry popular brands and shades in their warehouses year round, but it's not a bad idea to let the retailer know what color range you're looking for and ask if they have any rolls in stock that might fit what you're looking for. You may get a deal on carpeting that's been in storage for the past year, and you won't have to wait for the factory to send it.

4. Shop for remnants. Every dealer has remnants, which are incomplete rolls from previous jobs. Consider using remnants if you're looking to carpet specific rooms rather than the whole house. This solution could give each room a different look and can save you a lot compared to the cost of a new roll -- one dealer mentions 70 percent savings.

5. Get the lowdown about installations. Your new carpet and padding are going to need some professional TLC to look great from day one. Ask your dealer about how the installations are handled. Specifically, will the installers be moving furniture out of the room and back inside? How much installation experience do they have? What will they do if you notice ripples in the carpet surface after a few weeks?

6. Ask about the lines. Carpeting comes in 15-foot wide rolls, which means that if you have a room that's wider than 15 feet there will be a seam somewhere. Manufacturers have become very adept at creating weaves and piles that hide seams, but it doesn't hurt to ask before the work starts about how seams are handled, how they are attached and where they will be located.

Overall, read through the warranty before you buy so you know about anything you have to do to maintain the product, such as bi-annual cleaning, and see how long the warranty is for the labor on the installation.

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