Free Carpet Information and Buying Guide
Alan Fletcher - 30 yr Carpet Expert / Consumer Advocate - I do not sell or install carpet.
Carpet Stores Graded: A to F
Homeowners deserve a fair and square deal on all aspects of buying new carpet. It is not a fair deal if you get a discount on the installation, but overpay for the carpet and padding.
Here is what 30+ years in the carpet business taught to me and how I grade various Carpet Retailers and Resellers from A to F.
#1 Locally-Owned Carpet Stores
Professor's Grade: A
With a good selection of carpet remnants stood up along the back wall, some in-stock rolls of carpet on display, a neat and tidy showroom and a good selection of brand name carpet samples to choose from... This may be the safest way to have your carpet replaced and also get a significant discount on carpet, padding and installation.
These long-standing neighborhood carpet and flooring retailers are locally owned and buy first-quality goods directly from the carpet manufacturer. They provide excellent customer service, have fair & square pricing, have knowledgeable and helpful staff, accurate measures and provide qualified carpet installers. Print my free Carpet Shopping Form
Should you ever have a carpet problem or complaint they will do whatever it takes to ensure you are completely satisfied with your purchase. The owners and staff are your neighbors who pay state and local taxes that help support your local schools, fire and police services and maintain your roads.
Not all locally-owned flooring dealers are honest and reputable. There are quite a few bad apples out there. The problem is, it's really hard to tell the good from the bad, until it's too late. Over the past 14 years, I have compiled my own "hand-picked" list of reputable locally-owned Carpet stores that I am proud to recommend to my readers.
The carpet and flooring dealers I recommend must pass my own special set of strict rules and requirements before I list them in my directory. Best Carpet Stores Near Me? My List of Recommended Carpet Stores
#2 Shop-at-Home Carpet Retailers
Professor's Grade: B+
Many people love the convenience of not having to travel from store to store in search of the perfect type, color and style of carpet or flooring and prefer having samples brought to their home. There's usually an added price to pay for the convenience of them bringing their showroom to you, so don't expect a significant discount on new carpet and flooring from these sources.
Shopping at home makes matching colors easier under the optimum lighting conditions your home has. Many locally-owned carpet dealers are now offering shop-at-home services and this can a smart and convenient way to go for those who don't want to drive all around town and deal with conflicting and confusing salespeople.
There are a few nationally advertised shop-at-home flooring dealers that I do not recommend because they tend to sell inferior products, have unreasonably high prices and use high-pressure salespeople. However, I believe that "in-home carpet shopping" is a wonderful service, especially for folks who have a hard time getting around and don't mind paying a little bit extra for the convenience.
There are many reputable shop-at-home carpet dealers that offer quality products, knowledgeable salespeople and reasonable prices but they are harder to find today because the shop-at-home concept is just getting started.
I have several reputable shop-at-home dealers listed in my Preferred Carpet Dealer Directory that I am happy to recommend, including The Carpet Guys who serve the metro Detroit Michigan area. Best places to buy new carpet and flooring? I've got you covered!
#3 Online Flooring Retailers
Professor's Grade: B-
Need Hardwoods, Ceramic Tile, Luxury Tile or Laminate Flooring? These online companies move a lot of product and can be a smart way to go if you are careful and do your homework. They have a lot more flooring products than just carpet for sale.
The biggest problem I hear about is the poor quality of the materials they might offer. For example: If you buy hardwood flooring that is considered "Seconds" (cabin-grade?) it can be very difficult to install and the amount of warped, unusable or damaged product you receive can be significant and have as much as 25% waste or more.
Buying first-quality hardwoods is much more costly but the outcome is much better than if you buy a "cabin grade" product.
It's hard to know how much material to order when you have no Idea about the amount of unusable product they will be sending you. It can be a real nightmare when you have to re-order more materials because you did not have enough to finish the job due to the amount of unforeseen waste.
You can save money buying from an online flooring wholesaler as long as you know exactly what quality or grade of carpet you are buying and know in advance exactly how the entire buying process works from start to finish. Even so, you are taking your chances because you must trust what the salesperson tell you, of fails to tell you.
Shipping costs can be high too and if you are not happy with the product you order you may have to pay dearly to ship it back and also pay a hefty re-stocking fee.
Some online flooring retailers are reputable and some are not, and knowing who to trust is the hard part. Even if you succeed in buying a good quality flooring at a discount, you still have to arrange for your own installation or install it yourself if you are so inclined.
I recommend you read all the fine print carefully and ask about their restocking fees, and return shipping costs before you agree to buy. Here is one online Carpet and Flooring Retailer that I have heard some good reviews about: Caldwellcarpet.com.
#4 800-Carpet Wholesalers
Professor's Grade: C
These are carpet and flooring wholesalers who will send you small carpet samples through the mail. You must buy their carpet virtually "sight unseen" (other than a small swatch) unless you live close enough to visit their warehouse.
The cheapest place to buy carpet is not always the best deal.
You can save money if you buy from a reputable carpet wholesaler as long as you know exactly what you are buying and fully understand how the entire carpet buying process works.
You need to understand what is expected of you, especially regarding the delivery of the carpet and what you are required to do if you need to return a roll of carpet.
Some 1-800 carpet outlets stores are reputable and some are not. The burden of being knowledgeable about your purchase falls solely upon you.
There is one carpet wholesaler in located Dalton, Georgia that I do recommend, and that is Warehouse Carpets. They have been in business since 1977 and have a very helpful and transparent website. One thing I really appreciate about Warehouse Carpets, is that they list all their staff and how to contact them. This lets me know they really care about your complete satisfaction.
#5 Franchised Carpet Resellers
Professor's Grade: C
These franchised carpet dealers are often locally-owned but are hooked up with a national carpet distributor or co-op to increase their buying power and decrease their shipping costs.
They usually place private labels on all their samples to prevent you from comparison shopping at other local carpet stores. Some re-brand their carpets and may not reveal the actual manufacturer of their products. Abbey Carpet and Floor, and Big Bob's Flooring Outlet are two franchised carpet retailers that first come to mind. There are many others.
It is often much more difficult to get carpet the manufacturer specifications from these franchised resellers, and it makes it much more difficult to comparison shop their products. Even so, you can still negotiate a fair deal if you know what you are doing and don't rely on their salespeople to make choices for you. Print my free Carpet Shopping Form
Many co-ops do not provide installation so you may have to locate a good installation crew and pay them separately. You will have to work a bit harder to schedule and orchestrate everything, and may end up paying a little more buying from a franchised flooring dealer.
They usually have a list of local carpet and flooring installers for you to call and they do offer a wide range of quality flooring products. Ten Questions To Ask Every Carpet Installer
#6 Buying Carpet from a Carpet Layer
Professor's Grade: C-
Some carpet layers have longstanding relationships with local carpet dealers, or may have a way to order new carpet and padding at near wholesale prices from local suppliers.
Carpet layers often end up with sizable leftovers from bigger carpet jobs because carpet so many salespeople over-measure their jobs. When there is a lot of carpet leftover the installer may take it home and try to sell it on Craigslist or in your local newspaper.
If you find an installer who has some leftover carpet or other flooring materials available at a very low price, you need to understand that they have a limited supply of those materials and have no way of getting any more of the exact same color or style.
There is no manufacturer's warranty on these materials whatsoever and no recourse if you end up unhappy with the performance. Still, you can find some real bargains this way.
As with any contractor you hire to do work on your property, I suggest you check references, verify their contractors license and business liability insurance to make sure they are all current and up-to-date.
Buying from a carpet layer might be an inexpensive way to go if you are just doing one or two rooms or if you need to replace carpet or flooring for a rental property. You may also want to consider buying remnants from a locally owned carpet store. How To Choose Carpet Remnants Wisely
#7 Local Carpet Warehouse or Carpet Outlet Store
Professor's Grade: C
If you want to do-it-all-yourself and save a lot of money... create a detailed diagram of your home with all the room measurements and bring your truck, some rope and maybe a tarp if it is raining!
These local carpet outlet stores offer low prices and have dozens of rolls of carpet "in-stock". They cater mostly to homeowners on a tight budget, landlords and property managers and DIY homeowners. If I were looking for the absolute cheapest carpet, a local carpet warehouse or outlet store is where I would begin my search for discount Carpet Stores near me.
Local Carpet Warehouse Retailers have plenty of inexpensive, lower-quality, defective or second-grade materials. Have them roll out the carpet before you agree to buy it to make sure there are no obvious defects.
You would be wise to check their guarantee carefully to make sure you know what you are getting into. Get everything in writing before you sign on the dotted line because once you buy it, you own it. no refunds.
The main problem when buying carpet from this type of retailer, is that they rarely have the same type, style or color of carpet available. That means if you need to buy more of the exact same carpet you bought today, it may not be available for you to buy tomorrow.
Once a roll of carpet is sold, the same type, style and dye lot (color) may be gone forever. No two rolls of carpet are exactly the same. There will be differences in color or style that may be quite obvious once it is installed. Learn more: How to measure for carpet
These dealers may offer in-house installation or they might just hand you a list of local installers for you to call and hire on your own. If you have to arrange for your own installation you must negotiate with the installer and pay them directly. Carpet Installers - 10 Questions To Ask Before You Hire
In the end, if you pay just $8.99 per yard for the carpet, don't expect it to last for 10 years.
Even though you may get a great deal on discounted carpets, always remember that there was some reason why it was not able to be sold as first-quality goods.
#8 Nationally Advertised or BIG-BOX Retailers
Professor's Grade: D
These corporately-owned nationally advertised retailers blanket the airwaves with constant and repetitive TV commercials, radio ads, billboards and bus stops! They have thousands of locations and they always have carpet on sale.
I think home improvement warehouses like Lowe's and Home Depot should be avoided because...
1) they use private labels, 2) they farm out their installations to other companies, 3) they require payment upfront at the time of purchase and 4) they may even charge you a fee to come out and measure your home.
Should you have a carpet problem, they may just tell you to contact the installation company or contact the carpet manufacturer directly. This can takes weeks to get any satisfying results.
In many cases, it is quite possible that if you have a problem or complaint, no one (from the place where you bought it) is willing to step up to help you or accept responsibility for your problem or complaint.
You could easily end up stuck with a carpet that you are unhappy with. If you are interested, do a Google search for "home depot carpet installation complaints" to see what some homeowners have to say, then decide for yourself.
#9 Wholesale Clubs
Professor's Grade: B-
These are Carpet, Flooring and Surface Suppliers for Trade Professionals and their Clients. Most are franchises and are locally owned and operated. Most Wholesale Clubs have corporate websites and feature local showrooms with knowledgeable staff to assist homeowners with material choices.
Homeowners can visit their showroom and buy products from these wholesale distributors only if they are invited by a trade member. Members typically include builders, contractors, remodelers, installers, interior designers, architects, real estate professionals, and more.
You can find material for your floors, windows, counters and cabinets. Many also carry vinyl, tile, wood, carpet, laminate, cabinets, countertops, faucets, sinks, showers, tubs, toilets, vanities and more.
Some of these co-ops are:
(some folks call it "Contractors Furnishings Mart")
The word "wholesale" seems a bit misleading to me when considering how these co-ops actually work. Personally, I consider wholesale pricing to be a valid term only when you buy products directly from the manufacturer. This is not what happens when you buy products or materials from a Wholesale Club.
While the Wholesale Club does order products and materials directly from the manufacturer, they mark up the goods so they can make a reasonable profit. (It costs a lot of money to operate a retail showroom and hire people to run it.)
The Trade Member has the option to add on a profit percentage of their choosing. That amount could be 0% if they are nice, or up to 40% if they think you can afford it.
So the homeowner does not pay the actual wholesale price. They pay the wholesale price plus the add on amounts by the Wholesale Club AND by the Trade Member.
So here is a simple example of how much the homeowner could end up paying for 100 Yards of Carpet. (I'm adding in just the average markups)
Manufacturer's Wholesale Cost $2000
Wholesale Club markup 20% $ 400
Trade Member's add-on 20% $ 400
Homeowner Price $2800.
So you see, the homeowner does not really get a true wholesale price. Buying from a Wholesale Club might be cheaper than buying the exact same product at another retail store own the street, but that would depend on how much your item has been marked up. They are not going to reveal the total amount of markup to you.
If your Trade Professional wants to add on a higher profit percentage, then you might end up paying a lot more than you would at the local carpet store down the street. My Preferred Carpet Dealer Directory
Wholesale Clubs are not all alike
Some carry a larger selection of products to cater to home remodeling of all types. Others limit their products to carpet, flooring and window treatments.
Homeowners can only gain access to their showroom and all the benefits they have to offer by working with a paid member of the Wholesale Club. This could be a carpet installer, a real estate agent or a remodeling contractor to name a few.
Wholesale Clubs are real handy for contractors who want to have a nice place to send their clients. Personally I think the Trade Members are the real winners here. They get the benefit of having a nice showroom with knowledgeable staff and not have to pay to operate it. They also make a few bucks from the sale of products to their clients.
New Home Builders
Builders really like to use the Wholesale Club service so their customers have a place to go to choose colors, styles and available upgrade options all in one place. The Builder doesn't have to hold their hand every step of the way and also earns a substantial commission on everything the new homeowner orders.
Limited To Industry Professionals
There is a strict application process for contractors and industry professionals who want to join a Wholesale Club. Applicants must prove they are properly licensed and must comply with all state and local requirements.
• Licensed Flooring Contractors must submit a copy of their state issued Contractor’s License.
• Retailers must submit a copy of their reseller’s license and state issued Business License.
Qualified Carpet Installation
Homeowners may be required to make arrangements to obtain qualified installation for any materials ordered through a Wholesale Club, and pay for those services separately. Carpet Installers - 10 Questions To Ask Before You Hire
Buying through a Wholesale Club Member could be a great way to save money on new carpet and flooring. It is handy to have everything you need on display with someone there to answer all your questions. In the end, it all comes down to how much you are being charged for the service.
My advice, always get at least three bids from several local sources.
Free Carpet Shopping Form
Print and use my free
to help narrow down your choices.
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Not only must you hire a qualified carpet installer, you must also choose the right grade of carpet and padding too. Just as important is making sure you buy from an honest and reputable carpet and flooring dealer. That's how to buy new carpet like a pro! See who I recommend near you.