New carpeting: from budgeting to installation

Shannon Lee | Improvement Center Columnist | May 16, 2012

When Joanna and Dennis Kennedy walked into their Reno, Nevada home for the first time, they agreed that the floors -- both carpet and tile -- would have to go. Seven years later, the job is done. The Kennedy family decided to carpet the entire second floor and one downstairs bedroom, and chose hardwood for the rest of the house.

Choosing the perfect new carpeting

Joanna and her husband went carpet shopping and almost immediately found themselves overwhelmed by the selection. They finally honed in on a carpet that looked perfect, but at $48 per square yard, was about twice what they were hoping to spend. But when they looked at carpet in the $25 range, they couldn't find anything they liked. "We ended up compromising on one that was about $43 per square yard," Joanna said. "We wanted a good quality carpet." The good news was that because they were ordering hardwood flooring from the same supplier, they received an excellent discount on their carpet purchase, obtaining it for approximately $29 per square yard.

old carpet
The contractor showed up with tape measure in hand and offered an estimate. What was the bottom line in new carpet costs? The flooring contractor estimated about $8,123 for 800 square feet of Astoria Garden Party carpet. Installation costs were $2,200 for the carpeting job. "The final cost was very close to the estimate," Joanna said.

Bumps along the way

It is a rule of thumb that at least two things can happen with any remodel: The price will go up or the work will take longer than anticipated. For Joanna, it was the latter. "We were going to do the hardwood, then the carpeting. Due to a stall related to our hardwood border color, the project was delayed by several weeks. So we decided to start with carpet instead. The night before the installation was scheduled, our flooring contractor called and asked if we had the bedrooms packed up yet. Whoops!"

Joanna and family immediately began packing, but there was no way it would happen overnight. "It's not an insignificant task! I should have spent the preceding three weekends packing up the bedrooms. I hadn't visualized all the preparation that would be necessary to completely remove everything from each room. This resulted in another delay while we packed every night and got it all done."

Another issue almost arose when installation of the new carpeting and the old flooring removal overlapped a little too much. "We were targeting this vacation time when we could be out of the house for a week," Joanna explained. "The flooring contractor asked if I would like to get started with the carpet since there was a delay in the hardwood. I almost said "sure", but then realized that dust from the tile removal might make a mess of the new carpet." It was a small "aha" moment that saved the family many days of cleaning.

A gorgeous new carpet and lessons learned

new carpet

Now that the new carpeting is installed, Joanna and her family love the look. But there were lessons learned along the way. If she could do it all over again, what would she change?

Consider these been-there, done-that tips when it's time for your own new carpeting:

  1. Always ask about discounts. Since Joanna purchased both hardwood flooring and carpet from the same supplier, she got a significant carpet discount. But that made her wonder: what kind of deal would she have gotten for the higher-priced carpet? "Always ask about discounts," she advised. "You've got nothing to lose."
  2. Prep work makes the job go faster. "If the flooring contractor can do several rooms in one day, plan to move things from room to room," Joanna advised. "Start with large rooms first, such as the master bedroom, to allow for more space. Don't forget cleaning out the closets."
  3. Check on the padding. Do you need new padding? Your contractor might not know for sure until the old carpet is gone. If that old padding needs replacement, be prepared to add that cost to your bottom line.
  4. Walk on the samples. "While the new carpet feels terrific under your feet, our footprints and vacuum lines show. If I could do it again, this time I would walk on the samples to see how the carpet fared under our feet," Joanna said.
  5. Make your expectations clear. "When the house was measured, there was a closet underneath the staircase that went unnoticed. Fortunately, we asked the contractor as work began if he was going to put carpet or hardwood in that area," Joanna said. "The contractor hadn't realized we wanted that closet floor changed, but there was enough new carpet to cover the space."

In the end, Joanna is happy with the quality of her new carpet and satisfied with the bottom line. It might have taken seven years to get the floors they really wanted, but it was worth the wait.


About the Author

Shannon Lee has written professionally for two decades on a wide variety of topics, including medical and health issues, home repair, education and relationships.