how much to tip a carpet installer? Need to know today!
April 6, 2006 7:14 AM   Subscribe

I'm having all the carpet in my (pretty big) house replaced and I've got 6 carpet installers in my house right now. So far they seem to be doing an excellent job in putting in the carpet _and_ they've willingly agreed to move my son's furniture in my daughter's room and vice versa (they're switching rooms) when they put the furniture back. I know I need to tip them and I really should make it a pretty good tip since they're doing extra work, but how much would be a good tip? Because there are 6 of them, even $20 is going to add up to a pretty fair amount of money. But I want to do what's fair, particularly since they're doing a little extra and I don't want to give just $20 if they really are expecting more. So what's fair? $20? $40? More?
posted by katyjack to Home & Garden (14 answers total)
If there are 6 of them at least give them something they can split evenly. $24, $30, $36. I usually give them an amount they can go out to eat with, maybe $6-7/person?
posted by JJ86 at 7:16 AM on April 6, 2006

I was just thinking along the same lines, offer to get lunch for everyone on the job today. I'm sure they would really appreciate that. I feel it's always better to get something for others than just hand over money....
posted by killyb at 7:21 AM on April 6, 2006

You may be doing this already, but ask them if they'd like a drink. Water, limonade, gatorade anything like that.
posted by oddman at 7:47 AM on April 6, 2006

I just wanted to say that tipping nothing is also fair. You don't tip the guy that reads the power meter, or the mail man, do you? I've never known any trades people that expected a tip.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:00 AM on April 6, 2006

What's the carpet/install costing you? Because if it's $10K in carpet, $120 might look kinda cheap. But if it's $1000 in carpet, then $120 looks pretty reasonable and even generous.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:00 AM on April 6, 2006

Definitely offer hospitality to these people, they are obviously offering you "hospitality" in a sense by moving furniture, which is not technically part of thier job, even though they probably have to do it a lot. By hospitality I mean drinks, maybe even snacks, as well as a tip. Also, they have the chance to break things, or otherwise make your life miserable during this installation, and I presume they aren't doing that.

No disrespect, blue_beetle, but the difference in my opinion between these people and the ones you mention is that these people are having personal interactions with you. Carpet installers are literally camping out in your house all day and you probably have to interact with them. You tip them because they do that in a civilized and professional way. And by the way, my parents for one do tip the mailman, in the form of Christmas gifts every year.

I applaud your choice to be nice, and I second what jacquilynne says about making it proportional to the job. Around 10 percent would probably be good, but adjust it based on the situation and the size of your wallet.

When my father recently had the roof raised on his house, the contractor charged him $10000, which was very low based on other estimates. He tipped the guy $1500, because not only did he beat the other estimates by over $5000, he did the job in about half the time he said it would take, and he also did extras like put in a railing and paint the walls, which weren't part of the original agreement. This guy was willing to do all these nice things for my dad for free, as a courtesy. My dad wasn't paying him for those things, persay, he was showing a courtesy in return. There's nothing wrong with that.
posted by zhivota at 8:11 AM on April 6, 2006

You should offer personal hospitality and a tip. Offering only hospitality may feel better to some people, but it limits what the workers can do with what you've given them (they can only eat the lunch, not use it to buy dinner for their family). Make the tip proportional to the money and time spent on the job. If they're there all day, less than $20 would seem strange to me, regardless of the cost of the installation.
posted by OmieWise at 8:15 AM on April 6, 2006

I had a couple guys install carpet in 3 rooms of my house (tearing out old carpet, moving stuff out and back in, etc). We tipped each of them $20.
posted by mckenney at 8:26 AM on April 6, 2006

First of all, the tip should be proportional to the amount of work, not by the number of people. You wouldn't tip more at a restaurant if your server went on break halfway through the meal and turned your table over to a coworker. Likewise you wouldn't pay more to have your carpet installed in the first place because they sent over 6 guys to do it instead of three.

Second, make sure you're not already paying for this. I've been in situations where installers informed me up front that if I wanted furniture moved there would be an extra charge, but I've also had a carpet cleaner simply ask me if I wanted him to move furniture and then bill me extra at the end. If you've already paid up front and no fee was agreed upon, you're in the clear.

As far as the amount, whatever you think is fair. Personally I would tip around $24 (what JJ86 said about dividing evenly) but I'm usually very generous with tips (18-25% for good service in restaurants) and my girlfriend often tells me I'm leaving too much even though she has worked on tips in several jobs.

Offering them drinks, buying them lunch, etc. are nice gestures - certainly do them if you feel so inclined, but do not consider buying lunch as the gratuity. If you plan to leave a tip, do so independently of the lunch.
posted by tkolstee at 9:10 AM on April 6, 2006

$20/person won't be sneezed at. On a big job like the one you're describing, I would be thinking closer to $30 or $40, particularly if they're doing a good, quick, job of it.
posted by tkolar at 9:40 AM on April 6, 2006

I would also call back later and mention to their supervisor that the men did a good job.
posted by like_neon at 9:52 AM on April 6, 2006

Ten bucks per head. It's like you are buying them lunch, just for tomorrow. I didn't tip the carpet installers who rugged our recently remodeled attic, but the rooms were completely empty and they seemed thrilled by that fact. They were also contractors who work for the carpet store, a pretty common situation. We did tip two appliance delivery guys ten bucks each for moving our old refrigerator from the kitchen to the basement when we got a new one, since that was clearly not 'within the scope of the contract.' In general I don't tip tradespeople.
posted by fixedgear at 9:53 AM on April 6, 2006

Being blue collar myself, I generally tip whenever someone goes above and beyond the call of normal duty, as a way of saying "I appreciate the extra service and effort." Most of us sure aren't getting any extra remuneration from anywhere else, unlike the corporate world.
posted by nevercalm at 12:10 PM on April 6, 2006

I have been doing interior trim carpentry for about ten years and, as near as I can tell (at least in the RDU triangle area in central NC) tipping is not a part of the culture... even in situations closely analogous to what you describe, and even when the homeowners are very wealthy. Maybe its different where you live and, if so, I hope the trend is headed this way.

Actually, I forgot about the one time we did get a tip... but that was a fifty dollar gift certificate from Honey Baked Ham... and I don’t eat pig or cow. Other than that, some nice people that the crew really clicked with sounded us out on preferences and brought in a nice lunch or morning break from the best place around. Just ask what they really like and tell them not to bother packing a lunch for Friday. Then you could top that off with some good beer at the end of the day.
posted by Huplescat at 4:56 PM on April 6, 2006

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