In our on-going saga of bring our new house up to snuff and out of the 90s and into the modern, I tackled the Family Room. As with the rest of our house, our family room was trapped in a bad flashback into the 90s and came with a majorly heavy stained brown carpet.
The carpet, sadly, was a good quality carpet, but between the oil and grease stains tracked in from the garage and the numerous pet stains, it was preferred and definitely looked like it was going to have to go. (Hip Hip Hooray was my mantra as despite its good-ish quality, I did not like the pile and really didn’t like the color.)
At least that was the plan until I started pricing carpet. OMG!!! When did this simple and mass used medium for floor become so ungodly expensive! I should say ideally I would have loved hardwood but my husband really wanted carpet AND the previous owners had already put in laminate hardwood like flooring. I couldn’t in cost or time rationalize pulling the entire downstairs’ flooring up (save the kitchen) because it was laminate. It looked ok for my tastes and was in really good condition. Getting the boys to be careful was going to be a challenge in keeping it that way but it was still not practical to remove it. Which meant matching it would be difficult. So hardwood was out. Carpet was in. I did give my husband one stipulation in the battle of floors…since it was a high traffic area, I preferred a tighter and shorter pile so the carpet would look like new longer…i.e. less worn over time. And I really, really, really, did I say really, wanted a pattern like squares or abstract built into the pile.
That brings me back to my OMG! I began pricing carpet. For a good quality carpet all in pad, labor, haul away and carpet you can figure between $4 and $8 a square foot. For a rather decent but not outlandish sized family room of 12 x 15 and an extra 3 ½ feet to cover extra areas, I was getting quotes between $1200 to $1500. And these were non patterned, simple run of the mill in stock carpets. Nothing fancy about them. Here is a reality check on that price. I laid engineered hardwood with a ¼” thick wood layer with underlayment, glue for both, and bought the tools for a 19 x 11 room for LESS than $1,000. Neither my husband nor I could believe that we could get hardwood for less than carpet so we went on a hunt and here is what I have found out.
- Empire Carpet vs. Home Depot/Lowe’s – Empire will give you an all in quote but be prepared to be haggled and negotiate. Their first offer will not be their best offer. If you want a wide variety of choices, they can special order but their best deals are in stock carpets. With Home Depot/Lowe’s, be prepared, you will be nickeled and dimed – meaning you will have separate prices each for estimate, pad, carpet, tacking strips, removal, haul away and installation. You are slightly limited in selection as they can only provide you with their brands and a few they contract with. Everything is special order and takes about 3 weeks. In the end, it’s about the same price and time between these two.
- If you go to specialty stores, ask to see their remnants to get the best deals. If you have a room under 12 x 12 this can be an awesome savings. If not, ask for their specials, deals or discontinued items that they have in-stock. If they don’t have to order it, then it can be a savings to you.
- Avoid contractor grade carpet. These tend to have a small density – the number of threads – and can look thin fast. It may be cheap in price but you will be replacing it very quickly. In the long run, it will cost you more.
- Do you have pets? Ask if the carpet is scotchguarded (most these days are) but also ask if you can get the pet protected pad. This is really important. If you have every had a pet have an accident, the reason you can’t get rid of the smell even though the color is gone, it’s because it absorbed into the pad. Plus, if you ever have to replace the carpet, you can save yourself money if the pad is in good condition. The pet protected pad repels liquids from absorbing and therefore the pad from deteriorating.
- Speaking of pads, when it comes to carpeting, it is all about the pad. It really doesn’t matter how thick the pile of your carpet is, it will eventually, actually quickly, wear down. What does matter is the thickness of the pad. A good quality pad is about 6 to 8lbs. Anywhere between these two and you will have a very plush carpet under your feet. Just make sure with the pad height and carpet height you can close doors.
- Look for a contractor supplier or wholesale supplier if possible. You may need a contractor’s license, but not always, to access these places but they offer the best deals. This is the route we ended up going. My husband remembered Contractor Carpet Center and boy were we pleased once we went. First, the remnant selection was awesome but our room put us out of the remnant category. Second, Ed was great, friendly, and not pushy. He shared some awesome tips, including that if I wanted a textured pattern be aware of two things: textures wear and you will lose it over time and two if you have to seam, be advise that on certain patterns, you need to order more carpet to match up the pattern. He also shared that carpets that are hand stretched over time will creep while those using hydraulic stretched installation will be the best stretch and should not creep through the life of the carpet. Third, the price was awesome!
- If at all possible get larger samples to take to your home and see what they look like in your home. Lighting plays a huge role in what looks like what in a room. What might be bright and airy under the lights of the store suddenly can become dark and dreary under your lights.
- This last one is kind of a no brainer leap considering everything else I have said but HIRE THIS ONE OUT. There are too many tricks, tips and tools with the installation that this one is best hired out and this coming from Ms. DIY herself.
When we were all done I got the short pile textured carpet I wanted and we got it in this beautiful gray beige called Hazy. We got a 6 pound pad, all the tack strips, and installation for our family room. We also got the upstairs bedroom taken care of by having them switch the carpet from what is now my office and into what is now our guestroom. AND they hauled everything away – old carpet, old pad from upstairs and down. And they did this for under $800 which for those of you doing the math right now is a savings between $400 and $600 and that included extra work!!!
In the end, while I still love the idea of uniformed deep toned hardwood throughout our bottom floor, I have to admit, I love our new carpet. It blends beautiful with all the thresholds of other materials. It is soft under the feet, easy to maintain and I love the color and abstract texture and how they work beautifully with the rest of the room.