"Ask An Expert" is a totally free service.
We know from experience that launching a flooring project can be confusing. This site is designed to address some commonly asked questions.
Here are some questions that we hear frequently:
Q: "do I need to replace the carpet padding each time the carpet is replaced?"
A: It depends. If the pad is odor free and not excessively worn, no. However, it is often difficult or impossible to remove pet and/or chemical odors from carpet pad.
One option might be to replace only the pad that is overly worn or smelly. In this case, your installer should be able to identify which areas need replacing.
Q: I was told by an installer that power stretching is unnecessary. Is this true?
A: Absolutely not. Some installers choose to skip the somewhat more involved process of power stretching. In my opinion (and that of the Carpet/Rug Institute,) power stretching is absolutely necessary for insuring wrinkle-free carpet.
Q: What is the going price for installing carpet?
A: In general, $4.50 per square yard is fair for both the consumer and the installer. It's often physical, detail-oriented work, but it's not impossible.
Q: What is the best pad to install?
A: It depends on the job. Carpet pad is measured according to density per cubic foot. A denser pad will typically last longer, but will not be as "squishy," as a less expensive pad. Ask your installer about the weight of the pad, the expected life of the pad and the price.
Typically, the highest quality carpet padding, (in a residential installation, a 1/2", eight lb. "rebond," pad should last as much as ten to fifteen years and will feel firm. For a more cushiony feel, a five or six lb. pad will last as much as ten years and feel softer. Both will wear well, assuming the pad is provided by a reputable company such as Mohawk, Future Foam and a few others.)
Q: My carpet has bubble and ripples. Will that happen again if I have the carpet replaced?
A: If your installer uses a power stretching device, and uses it correctly, most likely not. (In rare instances, there are defects in the carpet that cause rippling, but most likely, your carpet was installed incorrectly.)
Make sure that your installer "power stretches," your carpet. Otherwise, it's quite possible the new carpet will start to "bubble," within just a few years.
Q: My carpet is bubbled and rippled. What can I do?
A: Hire an experienced installer to re-stretch the carpet. Assuming the carpet is clean and not otherwise damaged, the quality of the installation can be restored to "near-new."
Q: How much do carpet repairs cost?
A: Expect a charge of approximately $50 per hour. Remember that the installer performing the repair has to travel to your home or office and may have to reschedule other jobs in order to fix your carpet. $50 per hour is a very fair price, considering it might save you the time and expense of replacing a large piece of carpet.
Q: I can see the seams in my carpet. What should I do?
A: It depends. To a trained eye, most seams are in some way visible. That having been said, what is an 'acceptable,' seam?
As a homeowner, I would have two concerns. First, are the seams unsightly enough that they might make it difficult or even impossible for me to sell my house. This is something you need to discuss with the people from whom you bought the carpet.
Secondly, are the seams technically correct, or will they somehow contribute to premature wear or other failure in the carpet. To understand if a seam is technically correct, consult the document entitled, CR-105 on the website carpet-rug.org.
In either case, you should notify the company that sold you the carpet of any problems as soon as possible.
Q: Do I need to move furniture?
A: Furniture can often be a huge problem for installers and double the time required to perform a particular installation.
Best advice is talk it over. We know that some customers are elderly and/or physically unable to move furniture.
Often, it's not so much the 'heavy,' or 'bulky,' pieces of furniture that frustrate the installer. Moreso, the job is assessed based on the number of times a particular piece of furniture (or pieces of furniture,) must be moved, or the likelihood of accidentally damaging something.
My advice is that the customer and the installer should be clear on what pieces of furniture need to be moved, where these items will be kept during the installation, and if there is to be any additional charge for the service.
Q: I looked at the carpet in the 'big box stores.' You know, "Home Depot," "Carpet Exchange," "Lowe's," etc. Their prices seem to be pretty reasonable. Why should I risk using a local installer?
A: Good question. Big box stores have some advantages. They can provide 'in-stock carpet," almost immediately and meet or beat local installers' prices. However, the 'in-stock,' carpet is most likely limited in style and quality to those rolls that you see on the revolving carousel.
Should you choose to 'custom-order,' carpet, please shop around. Ask if there are additional costs for freight and/or handling. Also, ask if there are any additional charges for delivery, etc.
You might find that the prices in the big stores are quite a bit higher, and delivery times are about the same no matter where the carpet is purchased.
Q: How do I know if I'm getting good carpet?
A: Generally speaking, more than 90% of carpet is produced by just two companies, Mohawk Flooring and Shaw Flooring (and their subsidiaries, such as Alladin, Philadelphia, Queen, World, Horizon, Tufftex, etc.)
In my experience, each company makes a good product.
As a consumer, the best thing to do is to get some education on the matter. Read the fine print in the sample books or product data sheets. Compare the length of the warranty for the price a particular carpet. Study exactly what the warranty covers in the event of a problem. And, of course, shop around.
Q: I found a style of carpet that I like in one of those big "discount," stores. However, I looked around, and can't seem to find the same carpet anywhere else. What's happening?
A: Some of the "discount," stores buy standard products from the carpet mills and then assign these carpets new and unique style names, style numbers, color names, etc. In our opinion, and although the stores will never admit to it, this is their way of preventing you from doing any comparison shopping.
If you find a piece of carpet that you like, but would rather buy your carpet locally, show a sample of the carpet to a trained salesperson or installer. In most cases, he or she can find a product that is similar, or identical to the one that you picked out in the other store.