How to Buy Carpet: Selecting “Your” Carpet Retailer

Ok, it’s time to replace your carpet (or any type of flooring). How do you decide where to buy it? You basically have four choices: online, through a “big box” home improvement store, through a specialty flooring retailer, or with an interior designer.

In my opinion, flooring is not something to purchase over the Internet unless you are an expert. Even then, many pitfalls can arise.

I would suggest that you “buy local.” When you look a person in the eye, you can often get a good idea of the sales person’s personality and trustworthiness. Oftentimes, the carpet (or other flooring) is stocked locally for quick delivery and installation. If there is a problem, it is much easier to work with a real person, face to face, than it is anonymously over the Internet.

How do you find someone local if it’s been 15 years since your last carpet purchase? Talk to your friends and coworkers. You don’t pick a medical specialist using Yelp. You don’t choose a lawyer based on the size of their ad in the Yellow Pages (or you shouldn’t). Check around. Take your time. After all, you’ve waited many years to buy a new carpet. What are a few weeks or months more? You’ll live with this new carpet for a long time. Shouldn’t you be happy with your decision? Word of mouth is the best way to find a retailer.

If your search isn’t getting you anywhere, decide if you need an interior decorator. They have fabulous design ideas. But as a whole, they sell better to best quality goods. If you’d like better to high end quality, call a few designers and make appointments for an interview. Get a feel for their design skills. Pay attention to how their personality meshes with yours. If you have the budget, want their skills, and find someone with whom you are comfortable, you will have a successful outcome to your project.

If you want to be your own designer, read my book and become knowledgeable about carpet. Then go to several independent showrooms and some home improvement stores. You’ll find pricing very competitive. I don’t recommend shopping by price.

Most retailers have a good-better-best sales philosophy. Their ads feature “low ball” prices to get you in the store. Chances are you’ll want to upgrade to a higher quality that is more fashionable than the advertised products.

But, in my opinion, finding the right retailer and the right product is only part of the equation. Find out about the installation. Are the installers employees or subcontractors (subcontractors most of the time). If your state requires a license, do they operate under the retailer’s license or do they have their own (their own is better). Are they Certified installers (these people have a higher level of training, but can cost more)? If there is a carpet or installation problem, how and who handles it? Look at a warranty before you purchase. Is there just one — issued by the manufacturer — or does the retailer have their own satisfaction warranty? What about seams? When your home is measured before ordering the carpet, will your retailer show you a floor plan that includes a detailed seam diagram? It is important that you see, understand, and “sign off” on the seam diagram before your purchase. (Many retailers will not even mention seam placement to you.) If you are not shown a diagram, buy somewhere else!

You are spending a lot of money for new carpeting. Make sure you are happy with the retailer, the overall purchase, and the completed installation. Your carpet will live with you for a long time. Make it a “happy” time!

Who is Glenn Revere?

Glenn Revere has been a carpet expert since 1973. He’s a certified flooring inspector and the author of All About Carpets, the only book written to protect and inform you about your carpet choices, from carpet buying and carpet warranties to carpet care and maintenance. You can find him on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

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