Cost to Install Carpet
Carpet installation, while not as popular as it once was, is still a very prominent home addition across America. There’s nothing better than waking up and stepping on a soft, fluffy carpet on the way to the bathroom. In addition to the added comfort, installing carpet is almost always cheaper than the more prevalent hardwood flooring. Nevertheless, the final carper installation cost will depend on a myriad of factors.
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National Install Carpet Costs
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Table of Contents
- Cost to Install Carpet
- How Much Does It Cost To Install New Carpet?
- Popular Carpet Types & Average Prices
- Popular Carpet Materials & Average Prices
- Carpet Installation Cost Factors
- What to Ask When Getting Quotes
- Find A Pro
Cost to Install Carpet
- Minimum Cost: $200 per project (small room, budget carpet)
- Average Cost: $1,500 per project
- Maximum Cost: $4,000 per project (large room, custom installation)
How Much Does It Cost To Install New Carpet?
When you go shopping for new carpet, you are sure to see plenty of offers for “free installation” or for a fixed cost installation. Of course you should be looking for deals, but you should also be aware that things might not be as “free” as you think. Among the fees for this “free” installation are:
- Labor costs (usually $3.00 to $6.00 per yard)
- Fees for moving furniture (typically $2.00 per yard)
- Special fees for Berber carpet (about $3.00 per yard)
- Cutting charges for irregularly shaped rooms. (Cost varies depending on shape and area)
When these costs get added up, even a reasonably low $5 per yard fixed rate comes out closer to $18 or more! This is why while you should certainly take a look at such offers, you should be aware of other costs and considerations, and have every price point itemized. That way, you can compare quotes more accurately.
Popular Carpet Types & Average Prices
Carpets come in many different styles defined by how the threads are cut, twisted, or otherwise textured. Each one has its pros and cons, but with the varieties available you’re sure to find one you like.
Cut pile is made by pushing the fibers through the back of the carpet fabric, leaving the ends long and uneven. A machine then trims the fibers to a uniform length. This kind of pile is most commonly found on nylon and Berber carpets.
- Pros: Does very well in homes with pets as the fibers don’t snag on their claws.
- Cons: May not handle high foot traffic very well depending on what style you get.
Cut pile is available in different varieties. These include:
- Saxony ($2.00/sf - $7.00/sf): Saxony carpets twist two or more types of yarn together and heat fuse them to form the pillars in the cut pile. The dense pile creates a smooth finish for a polished room, but can show vacuum marks and footprints as the pile appears lighter or darker depending on which direction it is brushed.
- Plush ($3.50/sf - $4.50/sf): Plush carpets are saxony carpets with a smoother finish. High-density yarns give this carpet the appearance of velvet or velour. Like saxony, they are prone to light reflection and also show vacuum marks and footprints.
- Textured ($0.75/sf - $2.00/sf): Textured carpets are sometimes called “trackless” or “footprint free” carpets due to their superior ability to hide marks. Yarn is placed into a “stuffer box” and then steamed to create a curly texture. This process reduces the light reflection prevalent in saxony and plush carpets and helps eliminate marks and footprints. Textured carpet usually has a two-tone look from the curly fibers and is a very popular option due to its casual style and soil resistant construction.
- Friezé ($1.00/sf - $4.50/sf): Friezé (pronounced “free-ZAY”) carpets use a very high twist to produce a durable carpet as well as providing the mark-hiding benefits of a textured carpet. A less elegant style, friezé carpets are often used in commercial settings or high traffic areas.
Loop pile is made by pushing the fiber through the back of the carpet fabric and then back again, forming a loop. Unlike cut pile, loop pile is not trimmed.
- Pros: Tends to be more traffic-resistant than other styles.
- Cons: Loops can snag pets’ claws; Berber is often harder to clean because of the tight packing of the loops.
Loop pile is available in three basic types: Berber, level loop, and multi-level loop (sometimes called ‘patterned’).
- Berber ($0.50/sf - $8.50/sf): Berber carpets are made with natural tone fibers usually from wool, nylon or olefin (a strong synthetic fiber). Having a very tight weave, Berber is both stain-resistant and denser than other styles making it a durable choice. However, Berber is very heavy and difficult to cut, which makes it more expensive to install.
- Level Loop ($1.30/sf - $4.00/sf): Level loop is a smooth carpet made from tufted loops at an even height. While durable and easy to care for, level loop can feel hard and stiff compared to other styles.
- Multi-level Loop (price depends on pattern): Multi-level loop carpets have a 3D pattern woven into them by pulling the fibers taller or shorter depending on the design. Anything from geometric shapes to graceful waves is possible. The cost is usually dependent on the pattern chosen with a base cost close to the price of level loop. Because of the varying fiber lengths, multi-level loop is prone to trapping dirt and requires frequent vacuuming.
Loop & Cut Pile ($1.00/sf - $6.00/sf)
This style combines loops and cut pile pillars to create trendy patterns or styles. Patterns often look inscribed into the carpet due to the varying heights of the fibers. Loop and cut patterns also often utilize different hues as well as heights which helps disguise wear and tear on the pattern. Loop and cut tends to be softer than loop pile, but does not offer the same durability.
- Pros: Loop and cut tends to be softer than loop pile while providing a muted but interesting aesthetic
- Cons: Can look worn-out with heavy use even if it’s still okay.
Popular Carpet Materials & Average Prices
As well as different styles and patterns, carpet comes in different materials. As with the styles, each material type has its own pros and cons.
Wool ($4.50/sf - $10.00/sf)
Wool is a natural fiber from the fleece of sheep or lambs. For over 2,000 years, it has been one of the finest materials for making carpets.
- Because it is an opaque fiber, it doesn’t show soil as easily
- Stands up to the heaviest foot traffic easily
- Excellent insulating qualities
- Good absorbency, it takes to dyes quite well
- Easy to clean
- Naturally flame retardant
- Processing cost makes it very expensive
- Prone to distortion under excess agitation, especially under heated conditions
- Stains easily due to its good absorbency
- Chemically sensitive, it must be cleaned with water-based cleaners with a pH between 5.5 and 8.
Nylon ($1.00/sf - $6.50/sf)
Nylon’s durability and strength combined with its affordability have made it the most popular choice for home carpeting. Nylon is also mildew-resistant and quickly bounces back when stretched or pulled. However, nylon’s absorbency may lead to staining and/or pilling.
- Good elasticity, it can stretch a third of its original length and bounce back again
- Very hard wearing
- Modern nylon carpets are static resistant
- Keeps its twist, crimp, and dye very well
- Dries quickly making it less prone to absorbing spilled liquids
- Mildew resistant (can still be damaged from an over-watered plant)
- Handles cleaning well
- Almost always acid dyed, so it can have problems with bleaching, fading, pet urine, etc.
Triexta ($1.25/sf - $5.00/sf)
One of the newest fibers on the market, triexta is a synthetic designed for durability and stain resistance which makes it an affordable option for homes with children or pets.
- Very stain and fade resistant
- Wide variety of colors and styles
- Cleans easily
- Low resistance to oil-based stains, which can become permanent if not cleaned up immediately. Make sure you avoid that carpet repair bill.
- Although a test withstood two weeks of exposure to the elephant, rhino and camel enclosures at the Dallas Zoo and cleaned up to its original appearance, it hasn’t been around long enough for adequate comparisons to currently existing fibers.
Polyester ($0.25/sf - $4.50/sf)
Polyester’s popularity comes and goes over the years. Relatively inexpensive to produce, it is constantly being re-introduced to the carpet industry.
- Very resistant to fading, bleaching, and soil dye reactions
- Low absorbency, resists water staining quite well
- Difficult to dye which limits the variety
- Not resistant to oil-based stains. If they are not cleaned up immediately, they can chemically bond with the polyester and become permanent.
- Can lose the crimp easily, which is a property of polyester and not a defect, but the industry is working on this
Olefin ($0.50/sf - $2.25/sf)
Originally designed to be used as an outdoor material, olefin carpet has become a choice for interior carpeting. Olefin feels similar to wool and provides a durable choice like nylon. A versatile fabric, it gets used in carpet backings, face yarns and even Astroturf!
- Very moisture resistant, it absorbs only 1/10 of 1% of its weight in water
- Very stain resistant
- Very resistant to stains from chemicals and bleaches
- Very resistant to fading
- Not very resilient, traffic areas and areas subject to furniture tend to lie down and not regain their original shape
- Heat sensitive, it has a melting point of 300 degrees Fahrenheit, but damage can occur at lower temperatures
- Can suffer damage from dragging heavy items across it
- Oil-based stains can become permanent if not cleaned up immediately
- Can show soil if not cleaned properly
Once you’ve decided to put in new carpet, there are other things to think about. Moldings, thresholds, and baseboards are among the extras that come along with the project of carpet installation.
If your new carpet is going to be transitioning into another type of flooring (such as tile or hardwoods), you will need to make sure you install the appropriate threshold both for function and for decoration. Carpet reducer or end molding provides a safe transition between hard floors and your new carpet. The price of these transitions varies widely, so be sure to discuss them when shopping for quotes. In general, a cheap gold or silver colored one can cost about $1 to $2 per foot, a heavier duty rubberized one is about $3 to $5 per foot, and pre-finished hardwood can cost from $5 to $20 per foot.
If your new carpet connects to an exterior door, you may also need a new threshold. Thresholds usually have to be cut to measure and are made from aluminum or pre-finished hardwood (which is more expensive). The threshold should create a smooth seam and provide safe transition that also protects your new carpet from fraying. They almost always have to be cut to fit and can cost around $50.
You may also need to hire a carpenter to trim and re-hang doors if your new carpet is significantly higher than your old carpet. Some carpet installers offer this as an extra service, so be sure to ask when you’re shopping for quotes.
While carpet installers can usually work around your existing trim, in some cases, it may be necessary to remove your current baseboards and/or moldings. Discuss with your installer whether this is necessary and what sort of fee will be involved. You may also be responsible for touching up the paint on your trim after carpet installation.
Carpet Installation Cost Factors
There are several factors that can affect the cost of your carpet installation. Among them are the quality of carpet, your location, the size of the room, your furnishings, and any disposal fees.
- Quality of Carpet: Some carpet is very hard-wearing, meaning that it can handle high foot traffic and furniture without wearing down very fast or developing “footprints” left behind when you move the furniture. Others are meant just to cover a bare floor in a little-used area. The more durable or stain-resistant a carpet is, the more it’s likely to cost.
- Location: The labor cost is lower in some states and even in some regions within states (such as Southern California) than in others. Also, in southern states where the weather is normally warmer than in the north, many people opt for tile or hardwood flooring instead of carpets, making them less expensive.
- Size & Layout: The size of your room is an obvious cost factor. The larger the area that you need carpeted, the more it will cost. However, an oddly shaped room, such as an octagonal room or one with angles, alcoves, or other features will require extra labor to cut correctly.
- Stairs: If your room has stairs, the length, width, and height of your staircase can be as much as the cost of carpeting a small room. If there are railings to be cut around, the cost can go higher. Generally, a normal 15-foot staircase with a landing can cost from $220 to $800.
- Furnishings: It’s always best to prepare your room for a carpet installation by removing any furniture from the room. This allows the crew to get right to work. However, if you are unable to remove the furniture, ask the installer about having the crew move the furniture for you and be sure it’s included in any quote you receive. On average, having the crew remove your furniture adds about $2 per square yard to your total cost. Also be sure that returning the furniture is included in the cost.
- Disposal: Never assume that disposal is included in a quote. Ask about it before agreeing to anything. It will usually cost about $1 to $4 per square yard. If your project involves multiple stories or levels of your home, this cost can go higher.
- Square Foot or Square Yard? Carpet is sold by the square yard. A carpet installer may give you a price based on square feet. This is actually a sales gimmick to make the price look lower. To figure out the cost per square yard, multiply the square foot cost by nine. It’s a fairly common practice, but a reputable installer will have no problem quoting you a price per square yard.
What to Ask When Getting Quotes
As with any contractor you intend to hire, you need to interview them and ask questions. Your house is a major investment and you don’t want just anybody working on it! Here are some key questions you should ask any prospective carpet installer:
What’s included in the quote?
An installer may give you a price for “basic installation.” Ask them to define their basic installation. “Basic” is a very ambiguous term, and unless clearly defined in writing, can quickly become obsolete if the installer encounters anything they consider unusual. Also, be sure the quote includes the carpet padding and tackboard (the strips along the edge of the room that hold the carpet in place).
What extra charges do you expect?
A carpet installer should see your room(s) before giving you a quote. There may be extra charges if the carpet has to be cut around floor registers, built-in furniture or other features. A large room will have seams that will take extra labor to properly install so that they are not noticeable. Because it is heavy, Berber carpet can incur an extra charge.
Do you charge extra for certain brands?
If you have a specific brand of carpet that you prefer (such as one with a reputation for stain resistance or for wear-and-tear durability), ask if there is an extra fee. Since the carpet itself may cost more than what the installer normally uses, expect this to be reflected in the quote. Also, if you choose to have Berber carpet installed, it usually costs more because it is thick, heavy and harder to cut.
What are your qualifications?
Not all states require certifications to be a carpet installer. Check with your state’s licensing department. If there is no requirement, then following up on references is that much more important.
A good installer should be able to give you three to five references from within the last year or two. Follow up on these references to see how well their installations have held up.
Also ask if they have read the Carpet and Rug Institute’s CRI105 Residential Carpet Installation Standard. A copy is available for free from their website, so you can get a copy for yourself. This will tell you if the installer is doing the job properly or not.
Are you bonded and insured?
Do not hire anyone who isn’t insured. Any injury that happens on your property would be your responsibility. No matter how inexpensive they are, protect yourself against medical bills and lawsuits.
What equipment do you use?
Installing a carpet correctly requires certain specific equipment. Some installers insist that “knee-kickers” do just fine when installing a carpet. However, a properly installed carpet requires the use of a power stretcher. A power stretcher will pull the carpet taut, even accounting for the 1% to 2% stretching a carpet normally does over the course of its lifetime. Knee-kickers are only used to tap the edges of the carpet into place. They are no substitute for a power stretcher.
How long do you expect the job to take?
A 12’x12’ room should take a two-person team two days from start to finish. Much of the work will involve measuring, cutting, laying down padding, tapping down nails, installing tackboard and otherwise preparing the floor. Larger rooms will take more time, and if there is a problem under your carpet, such as floorboards that need replacing, your project could take longer. While you don’t want someone to take too long, you should also be wary of times that seem too short. They may be rushing through the job and making costly errors.
Talk to me about quality
A good contractor will gladly tell you about the steps they will take to make sure you get the best quality work for your budget, including the kinds of materials they intend to use. You should be able to tell how enthusiastic they are about leaving a good impression with their customers by how they respond to this.
What kind of warranty do you provide?
A good professional installer will stand behind their work. A carpet will have a manufacturer’s warranty, but the installer should also have a warranty for their work. Ask if the installation services fall under the manufacturer's warranty or whether your contractor offers protection for their services.
If you are buying a significantly thicker carpet, you may also wish to ask if installing the new carpet will cause problems opening and closing doors. The installer can often re-hang them so they open and close properly.
Inspect the carpet before your installers leave. Be sure that the carpet is free of frayed edges, visible seams or bumps. Communicate any problems quickly and clearly and make sure you know the installer’s policy on refunds or replacements.
Find A Pro
Installing a new carpet is a great way to give a tired room a facelift. It can lighten a room, soften a room or just make it more interesting. However, be wary of “free installation” and “fixed price” offers. Investigate them thoroughly and learn what all of the fees and other costs are before accepting one. Pick a fabric type that will handle the sort of traffic and wear you expect and that has the look you want. Hire a good, professional installer, and within a couple of days you’ll be able to enjoy a nice, new carpet!
Last updated on Aug 18, 2016
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