Free Carpet Information and Buying Guide
Alan Fletcher - 30 Yr Carpet Expert / Consumer Advocate - I do not sell carpet.
How To Avoid Carpet
Accurate Carpet Measurements?
If you were to blindly trust a dishonest or inexperienced carpet salesperson to determine the correct measurements for your home, you could easily be over-charged for materials. That includes overpaying for the carpet, the padding and the installation cost too.
Most local carpet stores have an estimator who does all the in-home measuring. That's all they do. They come to your home, they measure and make diagrams showing how the carpet will be laid out from room to room, on stairs and all the details that matter. They don't try to sell it to you or show you carpet samples.
Shop-at-home Carpet sellers like Empire Today and Costco have contracted with an independent company or salespersons who do the measuring, show you carpet samples and do the selling too. These salespeople would like to close the sale in just one visit to your home if they can. Yes they also can provide financing if you need it.
What is Carpet Over-Measuring?
Most two-bedroom homes require about 100 square yards of carpet, or 900 square feet. If you were to select a carpet that cost $20 per square yard installed, for 100 yards your total price would be two thousand dollars.
When the salesperson measures your home, all they have to do is say that you need 110 yards of carpet, your total price would then be $2200.00, a difference of $200! It really is that easy to overcharge you for materials and labor, and it is very common!
Carpet measuring is a learned ability and it takes years to get really proficient at it. An experienced carpet estimator can save you a lot of money by efficiently and strategically measuring your home and utilizing leftover carpet from one area and use it in another area to help reduce the amount of material waste.
In contrast, an inexperienced carpet salesperson can mistakenly over-measure, and not make good use of material and end up charging you hundreds more for carpet, padding and labor than necessary! But even worse...
An unscrupulous carpet salesperson can intentionally over-measure your home and over-charge you by hundreds or more for carpet padding and labor... and you may never be aware of it.
Any homeowner could easily be over-measured by 10, 20, 30 yards or more and never know it. This could easily cost you hundreds or even thousands more than necessary. If you have a large home, you could be overcharged for thousands of dollars and never know it! You need to learn how to avoid this common carpet scam, and many other common carpet scams. Read on...
Some Carpet Salespeople are Terrible at Measuring
Measuring for Carpet is not easy and it takes years to truly master it. It took me ten years to become proficient at measuring for carpet. Some homes are easy to measure. Some are really difficult to measure. One room is simple. Add a few more rooms and a staircase and a hallway and it gets more challenging.
A large home with many angles and curves and it can become a logistical nightmare and time-consuming to measure strategically. In this case, what do inexperienced carpet salespeople generally do? Over-measure. Why? They would rather order too much material than order too little material.
It's very embarrassing for them to order too little material and not have enough carpet to finish the job. It's an obvious sign of incompetence and inexperience. This fact alone should make you take a deep breath and consider your situation carefully if your home is large or has a difficult layout.
Do you have a large home or have a difficult layout?
You need to have your home measured by an experienced professional, and verify the measurements at least once or twice before you commit to buying. Some carpet salespeople are well trained and can save you the most money by measuring your home accurately and create a plan to minimizing waste.
Some salespeople are poor at measuring and they can easily cost you hundreds in excess material and labor charges. Whether they are just bad at measuring, don't care or just make simple mistakes with their calculations, you shouldn't be charged for more material than you actually require.
The best way to avoid an incompetent measuring job or an outright measuring scam is to get several estimates from several different sources and compare side by side. But realize this, it's not easy to know which estimate is the most accurate.
You can't assume the lowest estimate is the most accurate. The last thing you want is to not order enough material to do the job. This is why I have created my own hand-picked list of locally owned Carpet Dealers. See who I recommend near you
Who's Measurements are Accurate?
If you get three carpet estimates, you will get three totally different measuring results. This is because measuring for carpet is an art. Every carpet estimator measures a little bit differently.
For example, some estimators add an extra 5% for seaming while others add a few extra inches in material length for each room.
But beware: the lowest measuring estimate is not always the most accurate so you have to be careful who's estimate you choose to trust, and ultimately agree to purchase from.
Sneaky Pete's Carpet Measuring
Some sneaky carpet salespeople might give you a false measurement total that is a few yards less than all the other bids/estimates you get. They do this purposely to reduce the total bid price just a little bit. They are prepared to add the missing yards back to your total after you agree to buy from them, and you will never be aware of it.
They may try to convince you that the other bids you received were higher because they were over-measuring you. This is a sneaky sales trick and if you fall for it, you too will think the other stores were trying to rip you off. They were not.
Salespeople often close the sale because they use sneaky sales tricks and gimmicks to fool you into a false sense of security, all with a smile on their face. But in the end they win because they can make up any difference in cost by fudging the numbers. If you agree to buy from them you will likely end up paying more than you bargained for.
Some salespeople won't show you their measurements or give you a copy of your room diagrams, but instead will try to convince you to agree to "One Price for the Whole Job".
While this is a common practice that many honest retailers use, you still should be able to get a basic breakdown of the cost of carpet, the cost of padding and the cost for installation, if you ask for it.
You should always ask for the measurement totals and make sure you know exactly what you are being charged for each separate item: cost of the carpet, the pad, the installation, any extra fees and charges.
Some dealers resist giving a detailed invoice, but at the very least you must receive a sales receipt or invoice that shows the cost of the carpet (how much per square yard or square foot) shown separate from the cost of the padding and installation.
Why? A sales receipt showing the cost of the carpet separate from the cost of padding and installation will be required by the carpet manufacturer should you ever have a need to file a warranty claim. The sales receipt or invoice must show exactly how much you paid (per square yard or by square foot) for the carpet alone.
Carpet Measuring Suggestions:
If your are unsure about the amount of carpet your home requires, you might be wise to pay a small fee of $60 to $150 to hire an independent carpet installer to measure your home. The bigger your home, the more it will cost to have a carpet installer come by and measure it for you. It would be wise to ask for a diagram that shows where the seams will go.
Carpet seams are often considered to be the weakest link in any carpet installation. It is important to not have seams located in major walkways, in front of couches and in areas with chairs (as in the dining room) if at all possible.
Carpet seam placements can often be strategically moved away from common walkways, major thoroughfares and near furniture to limit the amount of carpet wear and tear created over time.
Sometimes carpet seams cannot be placed out of the way.
There are only so many seaming options to choose from. It's great when a seam can be placed away from the main walkway, but depending on the room size and shape, in cannot always be avoided. Discuss your carpet seam placements with whoever is measuring your home.
Ask for a diagram and discuss all options. If they refuse to give you a diagram, or discuss where the seams can be placed, then I suggest you shop somewhere else.
You can also ask about various installation options you may consider such as: types and colors of transitions, nap direction, custom stair and upholstering options.
Always get everything you want and discuss in writing. Never rely on the promised word or handshake of any salesperson. Make sure it is written in the contract before you sign. Be sure to ask for a simple diagram showing the seam placements for each room.
Advice from an Experienced Carpet Installer
You can learn a lot from a seasoned carpet installer. Their knowledge and experience differs greatly from most retail carpet salespeople. Why? Carpet installers have years of hands-on experience with all types of carpet in many applications.
Many carpet installers with more than 20 years of experience, know a lot about the durability and longevity of various types and styles of carpet. They handle it every day.
Advice from an Inexperienced Salesperson
On the other hand, many retail carpet salespeople obtain the majority their product knowledge from manufacturer brochures and from reading flooring trade publications. How many carpet installation jobs have they been on?
Salespeople often lack sufficient hands-on experience to advise homeowners about suitable products. Some are better trained at closing the sale then they are at providing accurate and useful carpet information and advice.
Where to Find an Independent Carpet Installer?
I prefer the package deal where the carpet retailer provides the carpet, padding and installation for one price. If you decide to hire an independent installer then you will be taking on the risks that go along with that.
To help you avoid trouble, I created a 10 question form you can use to help vet any installer you consider hiring. It totally free and you can print it up if you want: 10 Questions For Independent Carpet Installers
Craigslist usually has a list of carpet installers, and many larger cities have a Carpet Layers Union that you can call. You can also contact an organization called Professional Training and Certification for Flooring Installers - CFI.org to locate a qualified carpet or flooring installer near you.
Proper Carpet Care and Maintenance
Make sure you get and read a complete copy of the manufacturers carpet warranty and follow the care and maintenance suggestions to the letter. Pay close attention to the periodic carpet cleaning required and accurate record keeping requirements. Many carpet manufacturers warranties are available for download online.