The Dos and Don'ts of Choosing a Carpet

Designer showing carpet samples to client.
Ghislain & Marie David de Lossy / Getty Images

Buying new carpet can be overwhelming, because there are so many choices and decisions to be made. Here is a helpful guide to what to do, and what not to do, when shopping for new broadloom.

Know Your Stuff

Do learn about the fiber types, and figure out which one would work best for you. Not all carpet fibers are created equal; for example, there are natural fibers, such as wool, and synthetic fibers, which are more commonly used in wall-to-wall carpet.

Be sure to get an understanding of the characteristics of each fiber type, so that when you go shopping, you can almost immediately narrow down your selection.

Don’t assume that one fiber is always better than another. Each fiber type has its strengths, but the other components of the carpet have an equally big impact on how the carpet will perform.

Do learn about the manufacturer’s ratings and warranties offered on the product. Carpet is typically a big investment for most people, so make sure that you are buying a product that is covered for your particular situation. (For example, many warranties don’t cover stairs, so if you are buying carpet for your stairs, then be sure to look for a warranty that includes stairs.)

Don’t assume that warranties don’t matter. Many customers tell me they don’t believe the warranties offered by manufacturers. My response is, even if you never plan to use them, the warranty demonstrates the faith that the manufacturer has in its product.

If the warranty does not provide long or comprehensive coverage, then that is a good indication that the manufacturer does not expect the carpet to stand up well for a long period of time.

Do Some Research

Do get at least a basic understanding of how to tell the quality of a carpet. You don’t have to become an expert on the subject, but if you have an overall sense of the various factors that contribute to a carpet’s quality and how well it will perform, then you can avoid choosing the wrong carpet.

Don’t pay too much attention to the face weight of the carpet. Unfortunately, too many salespeople use the face weight as an important selling feature and have led customers to believe that a higher face weight equals a better carpet. This is not always the case, and buying a carpet based on its face weight alone can result in buying a carpet that does not meet your needs. Learn why you shouldn’t judge a carpet on its weight.

Do some of your own research to see what reviews say about the product you are considering. Ask friends or family who have recently bought carpet, or go online and perform a search of the carpet you are looking at. Most people are happy to share their experience and thoughts on their product. But…

Don’t believe everything you read. Keep in mind that reviews online can be posted by anyone – that anonymous user could be an employee of the company trying to boost the product’s image, or even a competitor trying to destroy it. Try to find review written by an impartial, reputable writer. If you’re interested, check out my reviews of carpet brands.

Finding a Retailer

Do shop around and find a retailer you are comfortable with. Many people feel vulnerable when shopping for carpet, because the quality of the carpet is not always immediately apparent, so often customers have to trust the salesperson.

Make sure that you deal with a salesperson you feel you can trust, at a store where you can expect to have a positive experience. Here are five questions you should ask your retailer to be sure they are right for you.

Don’t assume that a big box store or national chain will always be the best place to buy. They spend big money on advertising campaigns designed to make you believe that they are the least expensive or the most knowledgeable, but that is not always the case. To help you decide where to buy your carpet, check out this comparison of carpet dealers.

Do talk to your salesperson about their recommendations – they are the expert! Once you have found a retailer with whom you feel comfortable, then be sure to get their input on your purchase. A good salesperson has a lot of knowledge and experience to share with you and will help you choose the carpet that will leave you satisfied, in order to have your referrals and repeat business.

Don’t allow yourself to be talked into something you don’t feel comfortable with. Welcome your salesperson’s input, but if you feel like they are pushing you to buy a product that you’re not completely sold on, then walk away. They may not have your best interests at heart.

Do get several quotes on the product you have chosen. You may find that the price varies significantly from retailer to retailer, so once you have selected a carpet, get a price from two or three retailers. Make sure that the price is inclusive of everything you will need – if you are having your carpet installed, make sure that all installation charges and taxes are included; if you are buying the carpet only, make sure that the underpad and any other materials you will need are included, as well as taxes.

Don’t try to compare quotes on different products. If you are getting a quote from Company A and one from Company B, make sure they are both quoting on the same carpet, or at least the same quality of carpet. Otherwise, you are not giving the retailers a fair chance at winning your business, and you are not giving yourself the benefit of knowing for certain which retailer can offer the best price.

Decide What You Like

Do decide on a style you like that works for you. While there are hundreds of carpets available, they can all be narrowed down into one of only a few style categories. Learn about the benefits and drawbacks of each carpet style, so that you know if it will work in your home.

Don’t base your decision solely on the look of the carpet. Obviously, you have to like the way the carpet looks since you will be living with it every day. But, choosing a carpet without considering the details of its construction could mean that the carpet won’t look the same in a few years’ time, due to poor performance or staining and soiling.

Do take samples home! The color of the carpet will appear different under various lighting conditions, so the way it looks at the store may not be how it will look in your home.

Ask the salesperson for a sample of the carpet that you can borrow, even if it is just a small piece. Here are some tips on how to pick a carpet from a small sample piece.

Don’t make an impulse buy, or else you may end up regretting it. If you are working with a deadline for your new carpet (such as an upcoming event you're hosting) then be sure to give yourself enough time to follow the suggestions in this article (researching the product, visiting different retailers, bringing samples home) so that you will know for certain that you have found the right product for your home, and the right retailer to sell it to you.