My favorite new 'project': getting new carpet! I have been in our house for nearly 8 years now. The carpet and pad were the cheap builder basic grade that's often times thrown down quickly to sell a house. After 7.5 years of muddy paws, various pet stains and general wear and tear of a busy household, it was time to start new again.
Here is Our Tips for Buying New Carpet
1. The Time of Year You Buy Does Make a Difference
The most popular time of year that people shop for carpet is in the Fall, typically as people start preparing for holiday house guests. You may think this means it's a great time to buy and that stores would offer great discounts with so many people shopping, but it doesn't. We found the typical free installation or free carpet pad upgrade but no sales that were that great. It's the simple law of supply and demand. Places seemed less likely to negotiate with demand being higher.
The second most popular time of year for carpet shopping is early Spring (March/April/May). People often wait until they receive their tax returns to make a big purchase, such as carpet, plus it's the height of spring cleaning and the weather is finally nice after a long winter. Again, sales seem to be more limited due to the demand at this time.
When is the best time to buy? Best meaning when to get the best deal... in the middle of winter, post-holidays. January/early February is the slowest month for carpet sales. This is great news for you, not great for carpet stores. Holidays are over, the weather is cold and snowy in most areas of the country and people are tightening up their purse strings after holiday spending and they haven't received their tax returns yet. We were able to get free installation and a discount off our entire total (including carpet, pad and labor) due to a great sale happening the last 2 weeks of January. More details on this below. Plus, we ordered our carpet and got it installed a week later. They had told us the standard turnaround time from order to install was 4 weeks but because it's such a slow time of year for carpet sales, we got it much faster!
Early summer is another slow time for the carpet industry. With kids getting out of school, summer vacations etc., carpet sales slow down. Another great time to shop for further discounts.
We tried to camouflage our terrible old carpet by putting a large area rug over it.
2. Take Your Time
Trust me, I know how anxious one can be once you decide to replace your old carpet. We were busting at the seams to get this done. However, patience is truly a virtue. Because we waited until January to order, we saved a lot of money. Plus, we ended up with carpet we truly love. Yes, we drug home no less than two dozen samples for our great room alone and took over a week to narrow it down to two samples. Just like when selecting paint color, it's important to look at the carpet throughout the day, with various lighting. We also wanted to ensure that it didn't clash against our furniture or surrounding hard woods.
The carpet on the left is what we chose for our dining room and stairs. Carpet on the right is what we purchased for our great room.
3. Negotiate- Don't be Afraid to Ask For Discounts
We ended up purchasing our carpet at Home Depot for a variety of reasons but most importantly, we found our favorite carpet there. We looked at several places but Home Depot will price match any offer you receive, offered free installation and they run various specials at different times of the year. We received a 10% off our total purchase by putting it on our Home Depot card (which we paid off immediately).
Once we had picked out our carpet, we ended up going to Home Depot three times before we actually placed our order. I spoke to several flooring specialists and then two managers and with each person we spoke to, I asked what the absolute best deal we could get would be. I asked about discounts on the carpet, free carpet pad with purchase, etc. The first man told us they didn't offer any special discounts or deals. The second person said they could do 5% off the carpet, if we put it on our existing Home Depot card. It wasn't until the third person who told us that if we waited one more day to place the order, Home Depot would be starting their 10% off total orders sale. Simply waiting one more day to order for the sale, we saved $300.
4. Review Your Order. Then, Review It Again
As we placed our official order, we went through every single line item in detail. This ensured that the measurements were correct, we didn't pay for any additional carpet we didn't need and allowed us to tell the installers where we wanted any seams, etc. We were lucky that our dining room didn't need any seams, but our great room at 19x15 would need one. Home Depot had originally requested the seam be put right in the area of the main walking path in and out of the room. By reviewing the order carefully, Justin saw this and requested that the seam be placed on the opposite side, which would go under our sofa. It was added reassurance that the seam wouldn't be visible and would not go in the high traffic area of the room.
Reviewing our order line by item, also helped identify areas for additional savings. We had originally decided upon the most plush carpet pad available. We were so tired of the super then carpet and pad that we had been accustomed to the past several years, that we had agreed a nicer pad was worth the investment. Looking over the order for other ways to save, Justin suggested that we use the mid-range pad for our low traffic dining room, as well as our stairs. When carpet and padding is too plush on the stairs, it can actually be a tripping hazard. By downgrading our pad in these two areas, we saved about $200. We can assure you that the mid-range pad is absolutely perfect and still feels like a huge upgrade over the existing pad. We did keep the most plush pad in the great room, where we spend most of our time. We also selected two different carpets. One patterned carpet for our dining room and stairs that is great for hiding stains and wear and tear, and one thicker, shaggier for our great room, where we lay around and play with the dogs, relax and where our baby will eventually be crawling around.
5. DIY, as much as possible
Although the installation was free, there was a charge for carpet removal to the tune of $325 for the dining room, great room and stairs. I am so thankful to be married to someone who shares in my love of DIY and yearns to learn new skills around the house. Justin asked several questions about the carpet removal process, something neither of us have ever done, and was assured that it was a pretty easy process. We watched a few YouTube tutorials and Justin was confident he could handle it. He also contacted the city about carpet disposal and was told that as long as the old carpet was cut into manageable rolls and rolled up, they would pick it up along with our weekly trash/recycle. We asked Home Depot to omit the carpet removal and disposal from our order.
Terrible iPhone quality pic of Justin removing the dining room carpet and pad.
Justin managed to remove the carpet and pad from each room by himself in about 30 minutes per room. He used a box cutter to cut strips in the old carpet and padding, rolled each section up and used duct tape to secure the rolls. We placed all of our old carpet out on trash/recycle day and it was all removed.
His father, Pete, was a huge help is moving the furniture out of the way. He brought over a big box of furniture sliders, which has proved to be worth their weight in gold. Although our house was in a bit of disarray for a few days, with the furniture from our great room and dining room shoved into our kitchen and breakfast room, it was well worth the savings. Plus, it allowed Justin to make some necessary repairs and properly prep our subfloor. see below
6. Take Advantage of a Cleared Out Room to Make Any Necessary Repairs
Another benefit of Justin removing the carpet himself was that he was able to fix some floor squeaks through the subfloor. We had a sizable LOUD squeak in our great room and some small areas that would squeak in our dining room. This happens when the subfloor becomes loose. Justin and his father worked to re-secure the subfloor to the beams. They used 2" and 3" coarse threaded screws where necessary to tighten up the flooring. Now, our floors are nice and quiet!!! Such a huge improvement.
7. Ensure That Old Smells Do Not Permeate (in our case pet related)
Now on to the truly disgusting aspect of old carpet---regardless of how many times you vacuum or steam clean, pet stains can seep through all the way to the subfloor. This can also be said for a home that has been smoked in or has a lot of other random spills. Carpet absorbs these spills and the bare subfloor can as well. Although our subfloors looked to be in good shape and we didn't really see any stains, we decided to be overly cautious. Once Justin had removed the carpet and removed any loose staples, he vacuumed the subfloor, which had lots of loose dirt. Yuck.
The dining room subfloor after a coat of Kilz.
He then rolled Kilz Primer over the subfloor. This is the only primer that is specifically made for odor and stain blocking. This ensures that any lingering smells/stains/etc are officially removed. Please note that if you are pregnant, you will want to leave the house while someone does this. The smell of this primer is strong! It does disappear within a half a day though. Because subfloors are basically bare wood, they really absorb paint.We went through 2 full gallons of Kilz between our dining room and great room, and this was doing a fairly thin coat and not going all the way to edges of the room.
We repeated the same removal and priming process in our great room.
Some Before and After Photos
I realize that the before and after in our great room does not photograph in a way that shows just how vastly different it looks in person. The new carpet is a good three shades darker, so much more plush and soft and is an obvious major upgrade than the old, beige thin carpet.
This is an super old photo of the dining room but showed enough of the old carpet to compare.
Here's The Breakdown of Our SavingsStarting/Original Order Total was $3,000.
This included old carpet removal, free install, upgraded pad and carpet for our dining room, great room and stairs.
By removing the old carpet ourselves, we saved $325.
By using the mid-range pad in our low traffic dining room and stairs (but keeping the plush pad in our great room), we saved $200.
Ordering during the 10% off total purchase Home Depot promotion, we saved $265.
We redeemed our credit card reward points for $325 of Home Depot gift cards
Our total out of pocket costs= $1901.27
*Please note that the Home Depot promotion was for new and existing card holders. We had an existing card that we used but then immediately paid off the total. The credit card reward points have been saved up for the past year. We charge our daily expenses (fuel, groceries, etc) on our credit card and then pay off the balance in full each month. We get the benefits of the reward points but never, ever pay interest. We realize that not everyone uses credit cards and we do not advocate charging items that you cannot afford. We used money we had set aside for new carpet but utilized the HD credit card for the additional savings only.
We were really happy with the entire process and absolutely love our new carpet. It has made such a huge difference! Hope this helps anyone looking to replace old carpet.
-S & J