Choosing a Retailer and Installer

 Retailer

Ask for recommendations from friends and family and consult the Better Business Bureau or local consumer protection office for complaints.  The "Seal of Approval" emblem from The Carpet and Rug Institute identifies carpet retailers and installers who have matched the institute's criteria for quality.  Good retailers have a wide variety of carpets and a knowledgeable, helpful staff.  These retailers are also willing to present complete estimates of costs.

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Installer

Most retailers also provide installation service in-house or through a contractor.  Here are some tips to use with installers:

  • Determine what services you want (i.e. door trimming, furniture moving, waterfall installation on stairs, old carpet removal and disposal, etc.)

  • Ask for recommendations from friends and family and/or contact references

  • Consult the Better Business Bureau or local consumer protection office for complaints

  • Look for the "Seal of Approval" from The Carpet and Rug Institute

  • Check for written warranties and conditions

  • Request that they follow "Residential Installation Standard 105" from The Carpet and Rug Institute or carpet manufacturer standards 

  • If you are sensitive to odors, ask the installer about low-emitting adhesives

  • Ask for proof that they are insured

  • Compare prices ($3 to $6 per square yard is typical for installation only)

  • Pay by check or credit card as a record (they usually request half upfront and the rest after installation)

NOTE:  If you decide to install the carpet yourself, see True Value's How to Install Carpet and Hometime.  You can purchase easy-to-use installation equipment at Amazon's Carpet Tools.

NOTE:  If you decide to remove the old carpet yourself, see Home Depot's Guide to Removing Carpet

Find Certified Floorcovering Installers in your area.  CFI is a nationwide network of installers who must take both written tests and practical exams (perform installation) in order to be certified.

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Quality of Carpet

Quality of construction is the major criterion for good carpet.  Tight twists, strong backing, yarn density, heatsetting, and good padding are indicators of quality.  Height or thickness of carpet fiber has nothing to do with quality.  Tall and thick carpet may seem more luxurious, but is more likely to keep dirt.

  • Tightly twisted carpet is less likely to unravel and is more durable. A twist of 4 or more is good for most areas.

  • Good backing holds carpet fibers tightly.  Most carpets have a primary backing (through which the carpet fibers are threaded) and a secondary backing that is glued to the primary backing. Latex glue holds these backings together to prevent fibers from getting loose.

  • Carpet with denser yarn is better.  Weight is usually measured in ounces.  Density (or yarn count or denier) is measured in tufts of yarn per square inch from 4 to 10 with increasing durability.

  • Heatset fibers are less likely to unravel and are more durable.

  • Cushioning or padding absorbs the impact of traffic, provides durability to carpet, adds insulation, and reduces noise.  Padding should be less than or equal to 7/16 inch thick to limit damage to the backing and carpet stretching.  Denser padding is more durable and expensive (many carpet warranties require a pad density of 5.5 lbs or greater to limit matting and crushing).  Rebond (bonded padding) is made from recycled material.  Padding is also made from rubber, prime urethane, or foam.  Good padding will not stay compressed when pinched.  For more information about carpet cushioning, see the Carpet Cushion Council website.

If you decide to purchase from a major retailer, look for performance ratings.  Home Depot has a performance appearance rating (PAR).  Carpet with a PAR of 4 or greater is good quality.  Sears also has a measurement called carpet assurance program (CAP).  Carpet with a CAP of 8 or greater is good quality.  Return to Top

Warranties

Carpet sellers often provide assurances that their carpet will perform as expected and, if not, will be replaced or repaired.  If you choose to purchase one of these warranties, make sure to understand all of the stipulations.  Be sure about what they will repair/replace under what conditions. 

  • Stains

Some warranties only cover certain stains such as food and drinks (in many cases, a deep cleaning is cheaper than a warranty).  Also, many warranties require specific maintenance so be sure to keep records of all deep cleanings. 

  • Wear

In many cases, warranties stipulate a loss of a certain amount of fiber (typically 10-15%) from crushing and abrasion before repair or replacement.  Natural carpet such as wool tend to lose fiber, but synthetic fibers are more durable.  Since 97% of carpets contain synthetic fibers, you are unlikely to need a wear warranty.

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