How do you tell good carpet from bad carpet?

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I need to carpet my house. I went to a few stores today and talked with the sales guys. The price of carpet seems to be related more to the store image than the quality of the carpet. One guy emphasized the stain repellent. Other guy emphasized the importance of high density pad. One emphasized the tightness of the weave on the backside.
Quotes ranged from $3k to $7K installed for about 100 square yards of relatively ordinary carpet. I don't mind paying more for better product. I don't want to pay more for the same or inferior product.
So, what are the features/specs to look for in residential carpet? My original shag made it 38 years. I'll be dead in another 25. Don't necessarily want the cheapest crap. Just need to figure out how to read thru the salesspeak and get the most bang for the buck.
Thanks, mike
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Just to add to your problems, a friend tells me that some companies will estimate the yardage quite a bit differently than others, so they'll give you a lower per yard price, but then charge you for more yards. She was talking about advertising, however, on tv or in the paper where there is no floorplan. If they're going to install it, I gather they should give you a firm total price.
I've never bought carpet myself, but if I ever straighten up here, I may have to.
I bought my house from the original owner after he had it four years. There were no carpet scraps or kitchen linoleum scraps. He told me that was a problem for him too, when he spilled paint in the middle of the room he had nothing to patch it with. He told me he had to cut something out a closet, but strangely, I've been in all 4 carpeted closets and none were missing carpet. He must have cleaned the piece with paint and put it back where he cut out the patch material.
Anyhow, but he did leave me all the receipts. I went there and bought a fairly big piece of vinyl linoleum, which I never needed until it wasn't big enough. But they didn't have the carpet anymore.
I asked them why they didn't leave the scraps, some of which would have been big** and the manager insisted to me that if they left scraps, the wives called up and complained. My mother was a wife and she was never that stupid. she's the one who told me to keep scraps.
**Well, maybe not in the kitchen which is esactly 12x12, but he should have bought an extra 3 or 6 x 12 piece. The guy who sold me the kitchen chairs with wheels didn't tell me they would ruin the linoleum. Ugh.

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wrote:

I think I could have been more clear. So even though the total might be the same, one might be selling you cheaper carpet with an overestimate of how much you need, the ohter selling better carpet with an accurate calculation of waht you need. If the prices are the saem. But if one is charging less, it might still be overestimating what you need and selling even cheepare carpet yet. So you need to compare price per year and number of yards, in addition I suppose to trying to compare quality of carpet at one store vs. other stores. I'm going to lie down.
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I'm going to risk catching Hell and attach an article I wrote years ago concerning carpet and carpet sales practices. It was from a different time in a different region of the country, but is still quite timely and valid. Any comment or suggestions on how it can be improved would also be appreciated.
Nonny
Primer for Buying Carpet
Following the flooding and wind/rain damage from hurricane Fran, many folks in our area are in the market for some new carpet. While most carpet stores and sales people are reputable, there are some out there who are still using some of the oldest carpet sales tricks in the book. I think that it might be appropriate to share a few of these tricks and some advice with you, in the hope that you can avoid being nicked or disappointed. I won't delve deeply into the differences in quality or types of carpet, but will stick to sales techniques and tricks of the trade. Here's some carpet overview, however.
I'll keep away from cut pile, loop, saxony, berber and other TYPES of carpet, and will also stay away from yarns. Most synthetic yarns today are just fine, and the stain resistance is placed on the fibers before assembly, rather than being sprayed on after the carpet is made. When you buy carpet, you're actually buying a backing, subbacking, and face. The subbacking comes in premium (jute) or standard (synthetic) grades, with the standard being most typical. Since most carpets get worn and stained before the backing fails or separates from the face, the standard grade of backing is usually just fine. The premium grade is a bit stiffer, my hold up better to restretching later, and decreases the likelihood of wrinkles. Good installation usually prevents that anyway. For most homes, I recommend spending more on the face and worrying less about the modern backings. "Lifetime Warranty on Labor" is virtually meaningless, since carpet stores come and go AND the installer's seams seldom fail. If they do, or if carpet needs to be restretched, it is a simple and inexpensive thing to have done.
The face of the carpet can be described in terms of pile height, density, face weight and twist to the yarn. Starting with the last, the tightness to the twist of the individual tufts helps to determine how they'll hold up to unraveling and crushing. This is what causes carpet to develop a premature "fuzz" and a worn look. A twist of "4" means that the yarn is twisted four times per inch of tuft height. A high number, such as a 4 or 5, results in a stiffer yarn that is more resistant to wear, but one that also feels harder to the bare foot and covers less area of the face. . .hence more tufts are required to give the carpet a good look. The more twists, generally the better the carpet will wear.
Face weight is a combination of the pile height and the density. The density is the number of fibers per given area of face. The more individual fibers, the more yarn is probably between your foot and the backing. A carpet with a tightly twisted yarn and very high density would obviously therefore have the most actual yarn on its face, for any given pile height, than a carpet with less twist or density.
You should also consider pile height. As the height increases, the density should also increase to prevent the carpet from matting down easily. The old "shag" carpets were examples of a generally tall pile, tight twist yarn with a low density. A short "shag" carpet with high density would approximate today's Saxony-type carpets.
One tuft tends to support an adjacent tuft in a denser carpet. The combination of the carpets density and the pile height essentially results in the carpet's face weight. A lower pile with high density might have the same face weight as a taller pile with a lower density. However, the latter will obviously matte down faster than the former. A rule of thumb to remember: The larger the "numbers," the more pile on the carpet and the more carpet face that you're buying.
Some mills once advertised the "numbers" on their carpets, but many have elected to just let the customer rely on the salesman. However, most carpet stores can get comparative data for you if you insist. Be sure to insist.
One quick way to compare carpet samples is to place your hand gently on the similar samples and move your hand back and forth a bit. The better carpet's pile will not "wiggle" and crush as easily under your palm. Another comparison is to flex the sample to see whether the pile breaks in streaks or breaks more randomly. This will help to determine how it will look and last on stair treads. Also, you can dig your fingers into the pile to see how much resistance different samples offer in reaching the backing. Insist on the "built in" stain resistance.
Tell the salesman that you want to see a good, dense saxony to use as a benchmark. Insist on the hardest "hand" or "feel" in the store. Then, take a similar saxony of lesser density and feel it. It will feel wigglier and softer to the touch. While this may be preferable to a buyer, it is also indicative that the carpet will not wear as well and may matte down sooner than the more dense version.
Loop piles, where the twisted yarn rises and returns to the backing without being cut, generally wears well, and can be found in the traditional loops and Berbers. This type of carpet is usually more difficult to seam well and the installers charge more for its installation..
"Wear" for carpet means that it loses its ability to maintain its original appearance, not just that it loses its pile. Gritty dirt and stains are the primary enemies of carpet rather than merely abrasion from walking. The grit acts as tiny scythes to cut individual fibers. Most carpets become stained and ugly LONG before they're actually worn out. Therefore, less-than-premium backed carpets of good face weight and density usually perform quite satisfactorily instead of the fanciest and most expensive ones.
The padding also has an effect on the carpet's life and enjoyment. Just as the face weight of carpet SHOULD increase with pile height, the overall weight of the pad should increase with its thickness. Natural fiber waffle pad mattes down quickly and is generally not acceptable. Urethane foams generally lack the density needed for decent padding. The high density commercial urethane pads are OK, but usually come in 1/4" and lower thickness to maintain a fire rating. There is a newer super premium urethane pad that is compressed into a waffle pattern. The result is a thinner pad for residential use that is very dense. However, it is also very expensive. This leaves "rebond" pads as the best buy. By chopping up the foam and recompressing it, a higher density can be achieved.
Carpet pad is rated by its weight per square yard. A 6-pound pad means that a square yard of it would weigh six pounds. The higher the weight, it would seem, the more resilient the pad should be. This isn't always the case, however, since pad also varies in thickness. Imagine you have an imaginary 2" thick 6-pound pad and compare it to a typical 1/2" thick 6-pound pad. Your foot would travel 2" in the former example before hitting the wood, while it would travel a maximum of 1/2" in the latter example. Over the years, folks have come to realize that a distance of about 1/2", maximum, gives a decent feel for cushion, while sparing the backing and not tiring out legs from the extra work.
If a pad "flexes" too much under foot, the continuous flexing can cause the carpet's backing to actually wear or separate from the face, resulting in premature failure. Personally, I consider a 3/8"- 6-pound rebond to be the minimum pad for myself, and prefer a 1/2" -9 pound rebond pad for quality applications. These are very difficult to locate, however. The typical carpet store standard for "premium" rebond is still the 1/2" 6-pound rebond and the "medium" grade is a 3/8" 4-pound variety. Many homes have this pad and it is satisfactory, but not the best. Should a pad exceed 1/2", it may jeopardize the carpet manufacturer's warranty. This is because the pad holds the carpet away from the inflexible floor. We've already discussed the problems with thick pads flexing too much and causing wear to the backing. Even the densest pads that are too thick, create a similar problem in permitting the backing to stretch too much.
For example, a chair leg, foot of a bed or other heavy and small object can actually cause permanent "dimples" in the carpet's backing when a pad is too thick. The dimples are permanent and can cause the backing to fail in that area. In heavy foot traffic areas, this problem can affect large areas of the carpet, causing premature failure.
For stairways, the same padding used on floors may be too springy for comfort. In my own home, our stairs are padded with a 1/4" commercial super high density urethane pad to prevent the "pillow" effect on the treads.
Pads are now almost all covered by a thin slippery sheet called a scrim. Pad must always be spot glued or stapled to the flooring to prevent bunching or separation of seams. The scrim gives the carpetlayer's staples something to bite into when fastening the pad to the floor AND also permits the backing to slip well over the pad for even stretching of the carpet. Always insist on a scrim. Given limited money, I strongly recommend investing in the best rebond pad available and moderating the cost of the carpeting. Remember that PAD, however, is a big markup item for the carpet stores. Be sure to consider both the PAD and the CARPET separately and not as a combined unit.
Carpet is sold usually by the square yard (called yard). It can almost always be found in 12' widths and more frequently now in 15' widths. When a room (including doorways) is wider than 12' or 15', the carpet must be seamed. Carpet has a "grain" as well, which means that ends of carpets cannot be joined to the sides. Even if the carpet is seamed side-to-side, the installer must be certain to not reverse the direction of the grain. It CAN be reversed or turned sideways in doorways where it enters a different room, however. This permits a bit more efficient use of the fixed width of the carpet.
To calculate the yardage needed, a diagram of the room is usually drawn and the SEAMS are shown with dotted lines. Likewise, the GRAIN direction of the carpet is shown. Seams are naturally kept to a minimum and kept from high traffic areas. Be sure to include the carpet that extends into doorways and allow at least a 2" "turn-up" on baseboards on either side of the room and at each end. The "turn-up" is necessary for the installer to properly trim the carpet precisely to the base board. For the stiffest premium carpets with very high face weight, the standard wall tool cannot be used. As a result, the installer must have a 4"-5" "turn-up" on the wall so that he can gain adequate leverage on the carpet to bend it fully back over on itself and then manually trim it from the back.
Seams each require at least 1" of waste on each piece of carpet. The factory sides or ends of the carpet are not just butted together. The installer must trim away at least 1" of each piece to get a perfectly straight line and unbent or uncrushed pile. Otherwise, the seam becomes highly visible.
ALWAYS REQUIRE THE SALESMAN TO SHOW YOU THE DIAGRAM AND TO SHOW YOU HOW HE CALCULATED THE YARDAGE. One of the oldest tricks in the book is to OVERestimate the yardage needed, and then reduce the "price per yard," so a FIXED overall price is then created. The salesman then actually orders or cuts the actual amount needed OR orders the amount shown on your estimate, but delivers just the amount needed This permits the salesman to quote you a LOW PRICE PER YARD (to shut out competitors), while building in the desired profit. Frequently, the difference between the amount estimated and the amount actually delivered is a source of the remnants you see sold at carpet stores.
The salesman's estimate will read like, " 100 yards of carpet, pad and labor at $25 per yard = $2,500. Since half down will usually be required to order the carpet, the actual bill of sale will read, "Per estimate, $2,500. $1,250 received 9/11/96, balance of $1250 due when completed." If the salesman KNOWS that only 90 yards will be needed, that is all that will arrive on the truck at your house. It will be installed, you'll be happy and the salesman will have made an extra $25 per yard on 10 undelivered and unneeded yards of carpet. So will the installer, usually. In comparing the salesman's price per yard at other stores, most folks will be comparing the $25 per yard figure, instead of the $2,500 overall cost.. Folks seldom have several salesmen out to their houses to measure the carpet before the sale. They should, if they cannot verify the measurements themselves.
Should you "catch" a salesman doing this, my advice is to go along with the "miscalculation" of the yardage until the salesman delivers the FINAL ESTIMATE to you. This tends to usually fix not only what the price is per yard, but also what labor is included and the price for carpeting any steps. Then, when it is in your hands, IN WRITING, ask the salesman to go over the area calculations with you. When the "error" is discovered, you will undoubtedly benefit from the usually lowballed rate per yard, but based on the HONEST calculation of area.
In a similar fashion, the best looking installation is one where the largest continuous pieces of carpet are placed in the rooms. Carpet is never seamed, or pieced, unless a room is too wide to accommodate a single piece. Naturally, this results in more waste, but the installation is better looking and longer lasting. Another old trick is for the salesman to SHOW you a diagram with the long, continuous, pieces that are required for a quality job. However, he then prepares another diagram with the carpet oriented differently to minimize waste- even though it means more seams and "piecing" of the carpet in large areas. This is quite common, since it can make a bit more profit for the seller.
To counter this, insist that YOU get a copy of the original diagram and a note of the actual length of the carpet required. Then, when the roll arrives with the installer, compare the required length with the cut length that is usually written on the roll or on the shipping label. Here in Raleigh, one paint store that also sells carpet is very bad about doing this. Insist that the installer follow the seaming directions from the salesman's plans, unless the installer can actually REDUCE the number of seams.
Another ploy that still "pops up" occasionally is the store "accidentally" delivering a different pad or carpet than the one actually ordered. For example, the store might sell you "carpet and pad per quote," but then send the installer to your house with a carpet of identical color, but one grade removed from the one your "thought" you were buying. Pad can be easily switched as well, so don't just rely on the color. LOOK FOR LABELS, mill ID numbers, and other identification on both the carpet and pad. Be sure to compare these to what is delivered to your home. If possible, have a sample on hand of both the expected pad and carpet for comparison. Measure pile height and compare the "hand" or "feel" of the sample with the roll.
There is usually a separate installation charge for carpeting stairs, depending upon the degree of difficulty. Wrapped stairs (where the carpet is fastened to the back of a tread and then "looped" over the tread to the riser- also called "waterfall" ) is least expensive, where "upholstered" (where the carpet is tacked to both the top and bottom of the riser and wrapped around the tread- also called "nosed") is slightly more expensive. The prices charged for the additional labor vary greatly between carpet stores. I've seen ranges from $3.50 per step to $8 per step), in addition to the labor for the yardage used. Since the store pays its contract installers for labor based upon the yardage sold, plus a bit more per stair tread, this is a negotiable item. IT IS FREQUENTLY INFLATED BY THE SALESMAN SO THAT HE CAN USE A LOWER "YARDAGE" PRICE IN THE EVENT YOU SHOULD SHOP AROUND. Most installers today are paid in the range of $3 per yard for installation ($4.25 for Berber) , $3 per tread for stairs, $1 per yard for furniture moving and $1 per yard for tear-out and removal of old carpet.
The carpet used to cover stairs may be cut tread-by-tread and not necessarily needs to be a continuous piece. This permits the installer to use pieces of scrap efficiently. However, the installer would prefer to use continuous strips to minimize the cutting necessary.
Most salesmen will merely calculate the carpet required to cover the stairs separately, thus increasing the yardage they say you will be needing. ALWAYS REQUIRE THE SALESMAN TO SHOW YOU HIS DIAGRAM OF THE ROOMS AND TO SHOW YOU WHERE THE SCRAP WILL BE, AND IF IT CAN BE USED FOR STAIRS. Remember, however, that turn-up, seaming and doorways can use up a lot of carpet. Typical stairs use 20" of carpet for the tread and riser, by whatever the width is. The grain on a stairway is as important as in a room. Should the grain be rotated on a particular tread, the carpet could have a different "color" or "look." A good installation keeps the grain oriented the same for all stair treads.
Should you find that you have very large 12' wide sections of carpet remaining after the installation is complete, contact the carpet seller and ask what his policy is for OVERESTIMATES of carpet. Since you relied on him, as an expert, to measure the carpet, he might be liable to you for any overestimate.
Pad is sold by the yard as well. However, since pad has no "grain" and is out of sight, the amount of pad used is almost always about 10% LESS than the amount of carpet. This is due to the necessary waste of carpet in keeping the grain running in the same direction, for turnup and to minimize seams. SHOULD PAD BE PRICED SEPARATELY, NEVER PERMIT THE SALESMAN TO MERELY USE THE CARPET YARDAGE TO CALCULATE THE PAD YARDAGE. This trick of quoting the same "yardate" for pad as for carpet is used almost universally by carpet salesmen. Insist on a separate calculation.
Speaking of pad, don't let the salesman automatically sell you new pad with a recarpeting. Pad is one of the biggest markup items in the store and almost always a hard-sell item. Pad that has been flooded, soaked with pet urine, is crushed, has lost its resiliency, is delaminating from the scrim or is flaking, should be replaced. However, even the cheapest urethane (foam) pads can usually have a life expectancy of two or more carpets, if it hasn't been damaged by pet urine or excess traffic.
The lesson I learned early in life is to get a GOOD pad. In most cases, the more weight a pad has per square yard, the more resiliency that the pad will have. I always have purchased the heaviest weight of rebond pad possible, and have used it through two and as many as three changes of carpet. Pad on our stairways is always a 1/4" commercial high density urethane to keep the steps from being "pillows." This practically lasts forever. REMEMBER THAT IT TAKES LESS YARDAGE OF PAD THAN CARPET IN ALMOST ALL CASES. NEVER LET THE SALESMAN JUST USE THE CALCULATION FOR CARPET TO JUDGE THE YARDAGE OF PAD REQUIRED.
Many people aren't aware that a quality installation requires that carpet be brought to room temperature before being installed. Cold carpet doesn't stretch well and can even affect the adhesion of seaming material. A good installation usually requires that the carpet be at room temperature. If the carpet is in a roll, it can take as long as 3-4 days at room temperature before the interior of the roll is warm enough. If the installer should leave the carpet in his truck overnight during the winter, it could jepoardize the quality of the installation and result in wrinkles, loose carpet and bad seams.
Should the carpet arrive "cold" at your home, insist that the installer unroll the carpet and leave it overnight to warm up to house temperature of 65 degrees or more. Likewise, carpet that IS already warm can be installed in a cold room or stairway, so long as the installer only takes the minimum amount of warmed carpet into the room or stairway at a time as necessary.
I prefer to have carpet bid on a component basis. This would include things as 1) remove and return furniture to the room, 2) remove and dispose of old carpet, 3) remove and dispose of old pad (see above), 4) install new carpet, 5) wrap or upholster stairs, 6) special work (if any) 7) price of pad, per yard, and 8) price of carpet per yard. Tackless strip and normal seaming is included usually in the price of carpet installation.
Many stores now price the carpet on an overall price per yard. This is very ambiguous, which is precisely what the salesman wants, and lends itself well to overestimating the yardage needed. Which of the above components are included? What is the price of the pad? Is furniture moving/reinstallation included? What is the additional price for stairs? Is there a separate charge for disposal of the old carpet and pad? What quality of pad is included? What is the additional price per yard to upgrade the pad? Is sales tax included? If you live in NC, remember that there is no sales tax on LABOR. Break it out from the estimate, so that you aren't "accidentally" charged 6% on the labor portion of the bill.
Most stores leave it to the salesman to "break out" the components. Should you wish to upgrade to a better pad, the allowance built into the "overall price" for the suggested pad may vary between salesmen, and even on a day-to-day basis with the same salesman. I know of one store in the Raleigh area which merely subtracts their COST of the pad from the overall price, should pad not be included. This means they attempt to make the profit on the pad whether you use it or not. Another local store may include moving furniture in its overall price, while another charges $1.25 per yard and another charges $50 per room. One store charges $4 per tread for upholstered stairs, while another charges $8 for the same service.
Carpet is made at mills. Frequently, the same mills may make carpet one week for one "brand name" and for another the next week. Many times, the carpet produced at the mill may just have different labels slapped on it, including "brand names," store names and private labels. The carpets coming from one "brand name" may be actually be woven at different mills, depending on whether its a saxony, berber, loop, or other type. While the "brand names" may demand a bit more quality control for their own run within each mill, the simple fact that different types of carpets are usually woven by different subcontracting mills means that loyalty to one brand name is virtually meaningless. Here is where a good salesman's advice is important.
Even within a BRAND NAME, the carpet stores may place different NAMES and NAMES FOR COLORS on the carpet samples. This is called "Private Labeling." This is an attempt to prevent the consumer from comparing the prices of a specific sample at competing stores. I have had in my possession two identical samples of Karistan-brand carpet from two competing local carpet stores. One was labeled as Milan in the color Grindstone. The other was labeled as Venet in the color of Mauve. A third store could not identify either sample with its own Karistan "name" for the samples, but could locate their OWN name and color name from the manufacturer's code on the back of both samples.
This confusion is deliberate and is fostered by almost all carpet stores and retailers. A mill, such as Coronet in Dalton GA, may make a plush carpet (that IT calls model 111) in 15 colors, numbered 0-14) that has the following specs: Backing is "B", pile height is x/y", twist is x.y, density is zzzz, face weight is xxxx, filament is ccc, with random steam crushing. Now, with the advent of computers, virtually any carpet store or retailer can assign a private name and color name to that carpet. For you technical types, the mill then uses a computer that could be compared to a DNS. Even a small carpet store actually orders under its OWN name and color name. The mill's DNS then translates that into the mill's own line and color, but prints the label and shipping label using the little carpet store's own names. Obtaining the TRUE name or model # of the carpet from the mill is almost like trying to obtain a state secret from the pentagon! A mill will simply will not identify a carpet sample.
When shopping for carpet, look for little extras that can help lower the price. One local Color Tile store was offering a 10% discount on any purchase, should you open a charge account with the store. Investigating the charge account, I learn that it has no fixed finance charges and can be prepaid at any time. I also learned that the store accepts Visa and Mastercard for the purchase or to pay off any credit balance. By merely opening the charge account, I saved about $3 per yard on my carpet purchase. The other special deal was "one year same as cash." Since I earn about 5% tax free on my savings, this equates to a savings of about $1.50 per yard when waiting the full year to pay off the purchase. Then, by using my GM or Ford credit cards to pay the balance off when I get the statement, I have earned another 5% in the rebate of the purchse of a GM or Ford auto or truck, or approximately another $1.50 per yard! "One year same as cash" is yet another way to keep your own money drawing interest for another year. Remember, carpet is a high-profit margin item and the final price is much more negotiable than even buying an automobile. The "final price" for the carpet at the Color Tile store was about $30 per yard, but with the additional discount, year to pay and GM discount, I saved another $6 per yard!
Installers may be store employees, but most are contract installers. The contract installers have a pre-agreed price list on file with the store for various installation types and services, and the store merely calls them to schedule a time for them to do your installation. Installers that are actual employees of the store probably are more consistent in their installation quality, but this is not a certainty. Even a store that brags about having ONLY its own installers-employees doing your carpet MAY call a contract installer when they get more business than their own installers can handle. When you purchase carpet through a lumber yard, paint store, tile store or department store, the chances are good that they have a list of contract installers that they call to do your job. At the given time, the contract installer goes to the store to pick up the roll of carpet and pad, drives to your home and does what has been agreed upon. He then returns to the store to dispose of any removed carpet in its dumpster and presents the store with his bill for the installation. Most stores actually mark up this installation fee, furniture moving and removal/disposal to make an additional profit.
On the other hand, the store also usually stands behind the workmanship of contract installers. Should a seam later fail, should the carpet be flawed or even if the installer damages your home or furniture, you will deal with the STORE and not the installer later on. Most contract installers are as competent as the employee- installers and may do work for a number of paint stores, lumber yards or other carpet sellers. One day, the installer might be installing for Home Depot and the following day for Color Tile or Builder's Square.
On the day new carpet is to arrive- or the day before- ALL installers (whether contract or employee) require YOU to remove any small items from the tops of furniture. None will move the furniture if things may fall off or be damaged. They will move big pieces, but will not do so if there is a risk of breaking things. Likewise, they will disassemble beds and shelf units, but will not remake the beds with bedding. Most installers also will NOT vacuum the carpet after installation. That is a job for the homeowner and remember to have PLENTY of vacuum bags. Most new installations may average a vacuum bag per room, due to the new carpet lint and the little "wooly worms" from trimmed carpet. Be sure to also tell the installer if you would like him to save any of the bigger scraps. Many of the larger scraps can be EDGE BOUND by the installer to make wonderful walk-off carpet mats for entry ways. The typical charge for binding is $1.25 per foot of binding, including the matching binding itself.
What I've been discussing is the traditional way that carpet is sold and installed in a home. It is a highly competitive retail business. For the moment, let's take a look at the types of retailers we've been discussing.
Carpet Retailer: Here, we have a store that sells primarily carpet and hard surface floor coverings. It might be called a name like XXX Carpet and Tile. The store would have a showroom filled with brand name samples like Keristan, Mohawk, Bigelow etc. and probably another showroom or area that would have its own private label stock. (Remember, however, even the brand name carpets you see in the main showroom have probably been relabled to prevent you from comparing at another store) The brand names would almost always be higher priced than the private label counterpart. Should you select a brand name, the store then calls the brand name's WAREHOUSE and orders the appropriate length of carpet. The brand name distributor is the one responsible for determining which MILL makes which type of carpet in which color for the brand name's label. The brand name distributor is the one who orders huge quantities of a particular carpet from some mill and stocks the rolls in his warehouse. Some department stores may also rely heavily on brand-name carpet. Remember, however, that the brand name applies almost always to just the WHOLESALER and NOT to the actual manufacturering mill.
The retailer, however, may also have a private label carpet as well. Here, the retailer seldom stocks the carpet in the store. Instead, the retailer calls the MILL himself and tells them to "cut 150' of XXXX in color YYY and ship it to me." The mill then decodes the store's own name for the carpet and color, takes a roll out of its own inventory, makes the cut, wraps the carpet, slaps on a custom label for the store and loads it on a truck headed to the store. While there may be generic "wholesalers" with "warehouses" of private label carpet, most private label carpet is shipped directly from the mill.
Department Stores (like Sears) Here, chains of stores might actually have some of their own private label carpets in their own warehouses- or at least the most popular styles. Otherwise, they order their carpet orders from the mills just like the retail carpet stores. Sears salespeople will usually tell you which mill makes their carpet, but will not/cannot tell you the actual mill model number for the carpet.
Paint and Tile Stores: These stores operate about like Sears and almost universally order carpet directly from the mill. Color Tile, for example has a very large selection of private label samples, but does not actually stock anything. The lumber yards are the same way. References to "I have to order that from our warehouse," translates into "I need to call the mill and have your carpet cut and shipped here."
The reason I am mentioning the stocking/warehouse/mill differences is that most stores can order almost anyone's carpet for you, if you can find out the mill and mill number for model and color! This makes things very competitive for an aggressive shopper. At the same time, you can hire a contract installer to do the same job for you that a store would supply, without adding in the store's markup. Just by knowing the "magic" of how carpet is ordered under private labels from mills can save you money. For example, you could approach a lumber yard or carpet retailer to offer them a $1.00 per yard profit over their true cost if they will just order the carpet for you that you like from the mill.
Builders have another "secret" that is not usually well known to homeowners. Many builders of tract-type housing routinely send trucks to Dalton Georgia to buy carpet from "wholesalers." Dalton is to carpet what High Point is to furniture here in NC. About 85% of the carpet made in the US is made within 100 miles of Dalton and two huge mills (Coronet and Shaw Industry "Cabin Craft") are actually located within the city itself. The mills manufacturing the brand name and private label carpets have overruns, returns, non-payments and actual "seconds" that are bought and remarketed by a number of open-to-the-public "wholesalers" in the area. In addition, the "wholesalers" operate a VERY discount retailing operation. Most have samples from the mills in their showrooms and can order the selected carpet cut direct from the mill for you.
We were in the process of doing some redecoration and decided to recarpet our home. There was a "deadline," since our son was to be married and we expected company by a particular date. When we ordered our carpet locally from a "tile and carpet"-type store, we actually ended up underestimating the amount of carpet that would be required. To get the carpet here in time, the store called the mill in Dalton and I drove there in my pickup to get the remaining 22' piece of carpet to finish the job. From Raleigh, Dalton is 450 miles away, via I-40 to Knoxville TN, then down I-75 to Dalton.
I drove to Coronet mill, which was the mill that made our carpet, and they quickly loaded on the roll of carpet. I then decided that I would also prowl the "wholesaler" market at virtually every intersection with I-75 to see what bargains I could find for a recarpeting of our basement. Most of the "wholesaler" places are similar to any carpet store, except that they have huge warehouses attached, offering immediate delivery of the overstock/overrun material they've already purchased from the mills. You wander along aisles with the salesman, looking at ROLLS of carpet labeled by mill and length. In the front is usually a showroom that has racks of samples of the other offerings of the mills in the area, that can be ordered and usually picked up on the same day.
In my own case, I located a roll of carpet by the same mill as our upstairs carpet in the saxony design. It was identical to our own carpet, except that it had a slightly shorter pile height. Overall, my impression was that the prices of carpet "on the roll" in Dalton is about 40% to 50% of the "after-negotiation" price of the identical carpet here in Raleigh. Naturally, some of the difference can be attributed to the cost of shipping, but it is still FAR less expensive. The trade-off is that you may have to select carpet that is available that day- and the selection is continually changing. In my own case, the overall savings on my basement carpet was about $1,000 AFTER gas, room and several meals at <shudder>Wendy's along the way. This is a good return for a couple of days seeing beautiful trees and mountains along the way.
Carpet is rolled so that the rolls are 12' long. This fits nicely in a pickup truck with the tailgate down, and the wholesaler BAGS the carpet to keep rain from damaging it in transit. The weight of carpet varies greatly by type and density, but an extremely dense carpet roll 157' long weighed in at less than 800#. This means that using an estimate of 4# per square yard would yield a safe estimate on weight. Even the smallest "Rice-Burner" pickups could easily haul a whole-house of carpet.
Good luck with your carpet purchases and remember, most stores are honest and try to do a good job. However, even the best store may try to gain a competitive edge over another by using a "trick" such as all-in-one pricing or overestimating the need.
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George wrote:

Thank you- that was very enlightening. Bottom line is, it reinforces my distaste for WW carpet even more. Gimme hardwood with the occasional area rug small enough to wash in the big-boy washer at the laundromat.
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You shouldn't wash a real area rug in a washing machine, all that tumbling around will place many years of wear on a real carpet...
When carpets are washed by someone who knows what they are doing they are unrolled flat onto a conveyor belt and run through a machine with sprayer heads which spray cleaning solution/rinse water onto the carpet as it passes underneath on the conveyor... It is then blown with warm air to remove excess water and hung to dry on a racking system in a humidity controlled warmed space...
~~ Evan
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There was some TV show or other that showed how they cleaned Persian rugs in Persia - with a hose and a push broom!
R
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RicodJour wrote:

dining nook gets too nasty, that is about how it will probably get washed. Except I'll use the push broom to clean the bay in the coin-op car wash, lay the rug on its face, and blow the dirt out from the back. When the rinse water runs clear, I'll flip it over and float out any debris. Only part I haven't figured out yet is how to get it home. Maybe I'll get lucky and score a cheap pressure washer on craigs list.
--
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wrote:

That wouldn't necessarily be the best way to do it. That might just be the only way they thought of to do it, the successor to a bucket from the stream. IIRC, real Persian carpets are made by children instead of going to school, and when the Shah was in charge, he insisted that children go to school and the supply of authentic, hand-made Persian rugs dropped substantially and the price went up a lot. (Was that when the cheap machine made imitations started showing up? I don't know.)
After he was overthown around 1976, the ibbydibbydawb folks permitted child labor again, and while in some cities life is pretty modern for many, I think in parts of Iran it's still like the 15th century.

That's a pretty good idea. Probably most of the bays are oil-free. Go to a place near home. Put a plastic sheet or just a blanket on your roof and drape the carpet over the roof, folding as many times as needed. Tie it on especially at the front and drive slowly. Since it's wet, I think the tail end won't flap in the breeze much, but you could have someone in a chase car blow his horn if there's trouble. (Wait. You guys probably have those thiggermajigs, sellfones.) Or you could just stop periodically, get out, and see if it's flappying. Oh yeah, close the car windows or you'll have local dirt and essence of persian child dripping in your windows. Wait, yours is faux-persional so your okay on the second one.
Maybe

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Evan wrote:

I'm not talking hand-dyed and hand-tied Persian rugs here. Yeah, I've seen on TOH and other shows how those have to be cleaned. Fortunately, the cost of those is well higher on the food chain than I will ever be.
I was speaking of the basically disposable rugs like you get at BigLots or Kmart, to put near weather doors, beside the bed, at the bottom of the stairs so your feet can 'see' the bottom when your arms are full, that sort of thing. Rugs where if they last five years, they don't owe you anything.
--
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On 08/12/2010 11:14 PM, aemeijers wrote:

I managed to get a really nice Chinese-made "Persian" rug off Craigslist for something like $900 for my living room. I defy anyone to tell the difference between it and the real deal. Sometimes you get lucky. Love walking on it in bare feet, too.
nate
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The way you tell is to turn it over and count the density of the stitches on the back.
Sometimes you get lucky. Love

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On 08/17/2010 04:31 PM, Higgs Boson wrote:

Like I said, I defy you to tell the difference. This one is dense; as much as if not more so than the "real" one in the guest bedroom.
I've seen some rugs of *lesser* quality from the middle east. If you know what you're looking for, you can still get good deals, especially 2nd-hand.
nate
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I have two small Oriental rungs -- the real thing-. Once in a long while, I take them outside, hose them off, use a little cool water soap, rinse VERY well, allow to dry in the sun.
Wouldn't work with my room-size Kashmiri carpet, so I just vacuum and hope for the best. Doesn't get heavy wear, so let us pray.
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Wow, that was the most amazing gracious act I've ever seen on this or any NG! You sure as hell know your "carpet and carpet sales practices!" Now if we had somebody like you for every aspect of house building and repairing, we'd all be home free! Thanks, pal!
HB
[... article...]
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That was the most amazing gracious act I've every seen on this or any NG! You sure as hell know your "carpet and carpet sales practices!. Now if we had somebody like you for every aspect of house building and repair, we'd all be home free. Thanks, pal!
HB
[....article...]
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It did, but I'm sure he liked hearing it again!
R
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Years since I worked in textile fibers R&D and choosing carpet is even hard for me. I would look for nylon with fibers designed for carpet, antistain coating and built in antistat. I'd look for high basis weight and choose a color that would not show dirt, Good underlay is also important.
If you got away with a shag carpet lasting 38 years, it is not a high traffic area as shag is not known for longevity.
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mike wrote:

In my view, good carpet is that which you don't have in your house.
Oh, I'm sure there's a place for it, but, for me, tile and laminate are so much better. * Cheaper * Easier to clean * Invulnerable to stains * Longer lasting * Do not harbor nasties like odors, dust mites, particles of unknown or unspeakable origin * Won't rip or tear, wrinkle, or snag something * Easier to change motif by the revision of throw rugs
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You should have prefaced your comments with 'OT'.
R
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