Many carpet retailers sell remnants: smaller pieces of carpet that are rolled up and sold “as is”. Remnants are usually offered at a discounted rate compared to the regular price of the carpet. But is it really a deal, or is it a risk?
Where Do Carpet Remnants Come From?
Many people are under the impression that remnants are left-over pieces of broadloom from an installation. They think they are pieces of carpet that some other unsuspecting customer already paid for, off of which the retailer is making a double profit. This is completely untrue (except, perhaps, in some unscrupulous establishments).
In a store that carries large rolls of carpet in stock, the remnants are usually the ends of those rolls. Once a roll has only a few feet left on it (usually around 20 feet or less, but that can vary somewhat depending on the store’s space and clientele) the store staff will roll up what is left and mark it for sale as a remnant. It is much easier to sell what is left as a discounted whole rather than hope customers will buy it bit by bit.
In smaller stores that don’t carry many (or any) rolls in stock, carpet remnants are usually bought from manufacturers or suppliers. Carpet manufacturers end up with short roll ends in the same way stores do, so they tend to do the same thing: sell them off as remnants. However, typically when a manufacturer or supplier sells remnants to retailers, they do so in bulk; retailers usually must purchase a number of remnants all at once, sometimes up to 50 at a time.
Pros of Buying Carpet Remnants
As mentioned above, remnants are almost always discounted from the carpet’s original purchase price. Obviously, this is the biggest draw to buying a remnant. It allows the customer to save some money and quickly sells off the end of the roll for the retailer.
Another advantage to buying a remnant is the convenience of doing so. Usually, a customer can walk into a store selling remnants, make a selection, and walk out with the remnant. There is no wait time involved for special orders, or even for the staff to make a cut off of a larger roll. It is quick and easy and makes for a good way to get started on a weekend project.
Cons of Buying Carpet Remnants
The most obvious drawback of shopping for a remnant is the selection – or rather, lack thereof. If you are looking for a specific style of carpet in a specific color, you may have to visit a lot of stores before you come across the exact carpet you are looking for in a remnant.
Even if you are flexible regarding the carpet style and color, you still have to search for a remnant that will be a suitable size for your area. To determine the size you need, learn how to measure for carpet.
Some stores will be willing to cut down larger remnants for you to make it easier for you to install. Some may even be willing to sell you only the portion of the remnant that you require. Typically, the store would only do this if the left-over piece (the remnant of the remnant, if you will) is still large enough to sell as a decent-sized remnant. For example, if you require a 12’ x 10’ piece of carpet and you come across a remnant that is 12’ x 20’, the retailer may be willing to cut the remnant down and sell you half the remnant at half the cost, because the resulting 12’ x 10’ is still a fairly saleable piece.
Fear of the Unknown
Another significant disadvantage to purchasing a carpet remnant is that you will not necessarily be able to know for certain what carpet you are buying. If the remnant is the end of a roll that the retailer had in stock, and the salesperson knows what the carpet is and can match it to a labeled sample for you, then you are lucky.
Often, though, the salesperson may not even know what carpet it is (such as when the retailer has purchased a batch of remnants from a supplier) so there is no way to tell for sure what carpet you are buying, or even what type of fiber the carpet is made of. It is not always possible to tell the differences between synthetic fibers; nylon and polyester can be difficult to distinguish even to the trained eye. For this reason, you must deal with a salesperson you feel you can trust, who will be able to tell you at least the approximate quality of the carpet you are looking at.
Going Unprotected by a Warranty
Probably the biggest downside to buying a remnant is the lack of a warranty. Remnants are most often sold “as is”, meaning that you do not receive a warranty on the piece of carpet you are buying. Your receipt may even say only “carpet remnant” or something to that effect, without specifying the carpet.
The issue of having a warranty really depends on the intended use of the remnant. If you are simply looking for a cheap carpet to use in a low-traffic area or for a relatively short period of time, then you may not be concerned with getting a warranty on your purchase. However, if you are hoping to use a remnant to cover an area that will be subjected to a lot of traffic in a key area of your home, it would be nice to have a warranty in place to protect your investment.
So, Is It Worth It?
Ultimately, you must decide whether the money saved in buying a remnant is worth the risk of possibly having something go wrong with your carpet and having no warranty to cover it. It usually is. Generally speaking, remnants are not huge investments that would result in a big loss in the event the carpet was actually defective but had no warranty. But if you can find a remnant in a size, style, and color suitable to your needs, you can save a fair amount of money – and that’s a pretty good deal.