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Carpet Professor

Buying Carpet From a Home Improvement Store?

©2022 Alan Fletcher - Consumer Advocate


Tempted by Big Box Carpet Installation Specials?

Should I buy carpet from a home improvement warehouse?


Many homeowners buy new carpet from a home improvement warehouse like Lowe's and Home Depot and are perfectly happy with their purchase. On the flipside, there are plenty of customers who are not happy with their carpet purchase and I want you to know why. 


The goal of every home improvement store is to make it as fast and easy as possible for their customers to buy new carpet. They want you to come into their store, pick out a carpet that looks good to you, have your home measured and have you sign the contract before you change your mind. They collect all the money upfront, then they order the carpet and schedule your carpet to be installed in about two to four weeks. 



What can possibly go wrong...

Sometimes everything goes just right and you end up a happy camper. Sometimes not. Soon comes the day of installation. At this point you will be very excited. You will have told all your friends about getting new carpet. Installation day: You took the day off work, moved out the furniture, made special arrangements for your pets or children to be out of the way and then the phone rings.....


"Hi Mrs. Jones, this is Tom from the home improvement store. Sorry, we can't install your carpet today there has been a small problem." you are told.  "What is the problem?" you ask. 


Maybe the carpet was never shipped, maybe it hasn't been manufactured yet, maybe the truck was delayed due to bad weather. Maybe they shipped the wrong carpet, maybe they shipped your carpet to the wrong store, maybe the installer is sick. There could be any number of reasons why they can't install your carpet when they said they would. 


"Don't worry we will call you back later today and let you know when we can install your carpet." Tom tells you. 


So you wait all day. Nothing. No calls. You finally decide to call them back to see what is going on. You ask for Tom, but Tom is gone for the day so they transfer you to another salesperson named Bill. Bill knows nothing about your carpet or your installation situation so you spend the next five minutes explaining to him all about your problem and concerns. "Let me look into this and call you back" says Bill.



Are you getting the picture?


This is the same treatment you could endure if you have a complaint after your carpet is installed too. Does it always go this way, of course not. Home improvement stores have plenty of happy and satisfied customers. They are working hard to solve some of these common carpet complaints. You can read about common consumer complaints by doing a search on the internet. They are easy to find. Should you buy carpet from a home improvement store? You decide. But first read the rest of the story. 



Measuring your home for carpet


Need them to measure how much carpet you need? They may charge you $75 or more to come out and measure your home and it is not refundable if you don't buy carpet from them, However, if you do buy from them it may be applied to the carpet purchase. 


Home Improvement stores don't pay their employees at the top of the pay scale so they often hire people who may not have very much experience. This is particularly true in the area of carpet and flooring. Professionals with years of flooring experience are not generally willing to work for $10 to $15 per hour. This means that the person who is offering you advice or measuring your home may not be very good at it. What this means is that you may be charged for more carpet then you actually need. At $20 to $40 per yard, if you are "over-measured" just 10 yards can cost you an extra $200 to $400.


On the flipside of this, if the person measuring your home makes a simple mistake and doesn't order enough carpet, then you will not have enough carpet to finish the job. They won't discover this until they come to install the carpet. You will have moved out the furniture and made many special arrangements preparing to have your carpet installed. To their surprise they will have to reorder more carpet and come back to complete the job in a few weeks. Sometimes the same carpet is not available or you can't get the same dye-lot. Now you have carpet that doesn't match the rest of the house. 



Best Carpet Selection


Not all carpet is created equal. Selecting the wrong carpet can be a costly mistake. Don't expect carpet salespeople to steer you in the right direction. They often know very little about the products they sell. You have to buy a carpet that will meet your needs and lifestyle as well as your budget. You can't just pick out a carpet that looks good and expect it to do a good job for you. You have to buy the right carpet based on your own special circumstances. Do you have kids? pets? How many people live in your home? do you entertain often? How long do you want it to last? what is your budget for this project? which rooms are you doing? These and many more questions must be answered in order to determine which carpet will be "right" for you. 


This means you have to do your homework. You can't just ask the salesperson at a home improvement store what they recommend. They do not know what is "right" for you. Buying carpet is a large and important expense that you must take very seriously. Buying carpet is not as easy as it was 20 or 30 years ago. Do you know anything about carpet fibers? Do you know anything about carpet styles? What makes one carpet better than another? There is a lot to learn about carpet before you should buy. This is the homework I am talking about.



Carpet Padding Choices


The same goes for padding. Choose the wrong padding and you void the carpet warranty. Choose the wrong padding and your carpet will not last as long as it was intended. Choose the wrong padding and you will pay way too much for a newfangled product that will not benefit you. This advice is not just for buying at home improvement stores, it applies to buying carpet and pad at any carpet store. You have to do your homework in order to keep from being ripped off or making a serious and costly mistake. 



Carpet Installation Concerns


The same goes for carpet installation. Would you be able to tell a good carpet install verses a bad carpet install? If installed improperly, your carpet life span could be cut in half. Three out of four carpet installers are not properly trained. This is one of the biggest problems when buying carpet from a home improvement store. They have a hard time finding qualified carpet installers who are willing to work with them. Most home improvement warehouses now use an outside company to do their carpet installations. If you have a problem it could be difficult to get a fast remedy, if at all. So how do you protect yourself? Knowledge is power.





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