How do I re-carpet with confidence?
November 24, 2017 5:51 AM   Subscribe

New carpet is needed but I have all these issues. HALP

My house was built in the mid-80's (typical bi-level; photo of similar house in my profile) and is approximately 1500 square feet; 3 bedrooms, LR and hallway, stairs and finished lower level. AFAIK much of the carpet is original. And atrocious. I have wanted to re-carpet for some time but I have this presumption that every contractor or service provider is out to rip me off. I have no idea what a decent ballpark figure is for carpet. I also know nothing about carpet types, textures or colors in order to speak intelligently. In general, I have zero smarts or awareness of how remodeling stuff happens.

I think about going to a home improvement store or carpet retailer but I am always stopped by my certainty that they will see me coming a mile away and I will:
- Be very embarrassed at my lack of knowledge;
- Pay WAY more than I should;
- Pick the wrong carpet and be stuck with it.

What can I do to overcome these obstacles? What can I realistically expect to spend, so I can recognize when/if I am being taken advantage of? How long should it take?
posted by I_Love_Bananas to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I always have good luck getting a rough order of magnitude from homewyse

As fas as your feeling, try to realize that literally no one knows about X (carpeting, roofing, air conditioners etc) and at some point you have to just roll with it. My feeling is usually if the price is ok from research and they offer some concessions so i "win" even if i have no idea (free underlayment for carpet??? SWEET!!!) and mostly the person im dealing with seems pleasant, friendly, and professional and not used car smarmy i just let it go. I'm really just shopping for the relationship and experience at that point but then I'm hardly disappointed after....
posted by chasles at 6:07 AM on November 24, 2017 [3 favorites]

Get 3-5 estimates from contractors - do not feel like you have to make a commitment on the spot. Memorize the phrase "you've given me a lot to think about - thank you and I'll be in touch when I've made a decision or if I have more questions."

Do not feel like you have to commit to anyone at any point - quoting and answering questions is a part of the job and does not mean you owe them work. Rank the contractors in your head not only in price, but also in terms of the vibe you got from them (how they treated you, how certain they seemed on price, how long they estimated it would take, etc.)

If the highest on your vibe list is competitive on price, call them back with the lowest price on your list whose vibe you could live with and ask them if they can beat that price. They'll either say no or yes.
posted by notorious medium at 6:19 AM on November 24, 2017 [9 favorites]

Even professional contractors get multiple quotes for stuff like this, and sometimes prices vary wildly. The way you get comfortable with both cost and process is to talk to multiple sources. I’d probably do Lowe’s and a couple of carpet specific places to start. Tell them up front that you’re just collecting quotes and they’ll have more incentive to be competitive. In the end you’ll make your selection based on cost and trust/comfort level.

The embarrassment factor is something you just have to get over. Everyone’s a beginner at some point. We’re new homeowners,too (very similar house, even!) and we justness go with it. Maybe (likely) we will get ripped off at some point, but it’s part of the learning curve. What’s the alternative? Be paralyzed and live with the house as is forever while it slowly deteriorates? Just do it!

Also, have you looked at the Nextdoor website? Our neighborhood is fairly active on there and it’s great for getting recommendations for stuff like this.
posted by Kriesa at 6:27 AM on November 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Consider that if you want a consistent look throughout the whole house, you'll want to choose something that will stand up to heavier wear (i.e. not a taller pile), even in the bedrooms. I fell in love with a tall pile, beige carpet with flecks of color and even though one of the salespeople I spoke to said it was a better carpet for bedrooms due to how it would wear and tried to talk me into something else, I went with the guy who said it would be fine in a living and dining room with toddlers. It looked terrible in about a year and then we had to live with it for another 3-4 before tearing it up and putting in hardwood.

It took about a half day to install the carpet on the main level of our house (800sf) but it shouldn't take much more than 1 day to do the whole house, and you should ask if moving the furniture is included in the estimates you get.
posted by danielleh at 6:56 AM on November 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

This might be a good time to research flooring options, such as hardwood, unless you are committed to carpet. When we were looking at houses this past year, hardwood floors were a selling point, but not wall-to-wall carpet.

Our neighborhood Nextdoor is great for getting recommendations on contractors, as well as what people paid. Our neighbors have also been a good source of information.
posted by research monkey at 8:52 AM on November 24, 2017 [5 favorites]

Seriously think of alternate flooring with area rugs in high traffic areas. So much easier to clean. When you have the carpet ripped out, you'll understand just how much dirt gets trapped in carpeting..

Don't skimp on the cheapest underlay. Friends of mine with a carpet business say you can make a cheaper carpet look, feel, and last better with a quality underlay, and an expensive carpet with poor quality underlay won't be near as satisfactory right from the start. Seen it. Believe it.
posted by BlueHorse at 9:34 AM on November 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

Regardless of what flooring type you decide on, definitely get multiple quotes. At least 3, though 5 is better. Getting multiple quotes will give you a sense of the ballpark cost, and in the process, you’ll learn enough to have a sense of when someone is totally full of it.

When I owned a home, I signed up for Angie’s List. Usually you can join for a year at fairly low cost (like tens of dollars). It was a good source of reviews and helped me identify 3-5 people to call for quotes.

In my experience with getting multiple quotes from any kind of contractors or service providers, one is usually super expensive, and one is usually a total condescending jerk. Sometimes these are the same one; sometimes not. But it’s an expected part of the process, and indicates why getting multiple quotes is so important.
posted by snowmentality at 9:42 AM on November 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

If there are stains that have soaked through to the subfloor, which is quite likely, a coat of Kilz should be applied to the subfloor before new carpet is laid. That probably means that you rip out the old carpet yourself so you can pull the old staples, vacuum the subfloor, and perhaps even give it a good washing before putting down the Kilz. Carpet installers will rip out the old carpet but IME never clean up the subfloor, let alone apply Kilz.

When you get quotes for the job, make sure that they include hauling away the old carpet and padding. In our area, the garbage haulers will take just one roll per week as part of the regular trash service. You will have many, many rolls of carpet and padding to discard.

Even if you want the same carpet throughout your house, don't plan on having it all laid at the same time unless your house is totally barren of furniture. A room about to get new carpet has to be totally empty.

If you're planning to paint any of the rooms, schedule that for after the carpet is laid. It sounds counterintuitive, but painters are used to working around carpet and won't drip paint, even onto older carpet. Carpet installers, on the other hand, are not always careful to avoid bumping and scuffing walls.
posted by DrGail at 9:51 AM on November 24, 2017 [3 favorites]

I would first head to the wholesale flooring showroom to get an idea of the type of carpet you like and want for your home. (That's where an architect or builder will send you to see samples so it won't be weird to go there to just look around. Your contractor will eventually be buying from them.)

When you get bids from installers, specify the exact product or product type (24 oz broadloom, 23 oz carpet tiles etc.) so you get an actual comparison rather than having one guy be cheaper because he's going to install a cheaper product.
posted by vespabelle at 10:16 AM on November 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

You can ask what the installation cost will be, if it's separate from the carpet price per square foot. Beyond that, you can look around at a bunch of different carpet samples, see how much they all cost, and estimate/compare for yourself.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 2:59 PM on November 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Carpet is usually laid over pad. Ask how much the pad is before you commit.
RE painting after new carpet is laid: Carpet installers need to stretch the carpet so it does not wrinkle. Stretchers are long bars that end against the wall - thus possible damage. There are also knee kickers used to stretch carpet, but they do more damage to the user than to the room.
posted by Cranberry at 11:24 PM on November 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Oh, hey: When I bought carpet most recently, it was about $3.50/square foot, plus the fanciest pad which was like $.75/square foot. There were a lot of carpets available in that $3-$4 range, but you could spend up to $12/square foot for super-fancy zebra-print luxo carpet, if you wanted.

Earlier, when buying carpet to sell my house, I bought the in-stock on-sale carpet for something like $1.99/square foot.

Both cases were an empty house.

They will have samplers of different kinds of carpet and different colors that they will probably let you take with you to look and see how it looks in your house, and narrow things down.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 7:30 AM on November 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

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