Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
Buying new carpet, whether for a single room or for the entire house, is a significant financial investment. It's also a commitment to a style and design that underscores your daily living environment. A purchase this important deserves a thorough understanding of the carpet types available and the costs included when investing in your flooring. So let's start with the seemingly simple question, "How much does carpet cost?"
All things considered, a typical homeowner can expect to pay between $6-$14 per square foot for carpet, padding, and installation. That's a ballpark estimate but carpet prices vary greatly depending on the materials used. In general, there are five types of carpet materials, each with its own qualities and price range. The materials are as follows:
- Wool: $4-$20 per square foot
- Nylon: $2-$5 per square foot
- Polyester: $2.50-$3 per square foot
- Triexta: $4-$6 per square foot
- Olefin: $1-$1.50 per square foot
As noted above, these dollar amounts ranges are wide and fluctuate according to the carpet's material, the durability of padding, and how the carpet will be installed. Keep reading as we've outlined the advantages and disadvantages of specific fiber makeups, padding options, and what labor tasks are needed to ensure you have a soft, even, and comfortable floor for your home.
The Five Types Of Carpeting
The cost of carpet is going to be the biggest expense in the carpet installation process. Padding costs between $0.25-$1 per square foot. Depending on who you have install your carpet, the installation could be free. Many home improvement stores, like Lowe's and Home Depot, include free installation with the purchase of carpet. If carpet installation isn't included with the carpet purchase, you can expect to pay between $0.50-$2 per square foot for the labor.
Now let's take a closer look at the five types of carpeting to help you decide on which one will be best for your home.
Wool carpeting is one of the most eco-friendly options available. Its sources are renewable, sustainable, and require up to 1/3 less energy to produce. Not surprisingly, with these ideal characteristics, wool carpeting is among the more expensive materials, costing from $4 to $20 per square foot.
Wool carpet is durable and resilient and, if maintained properly, can last for decades. It holds dirt and soil well so that when it's vacuumed, those particles and contaminants are easily suctioned into the vacuum's bag. Wool carpeting is also hypoallergenic and a great choice for anyone who has environmental allergies.
The density of wool carpeting offers insulation and easily absorbs and releases moisture based on the humidity in the air, making it a logical choice for basements or other moisture-prone areas. However if not professionally cleaned on a regular basis, the carpet can create a hospitable environment for mold. Wool shedding and shrinking is a potential drawback, as well, but you can avoid these issues with regular upkeep and care.
Pricing options for nylon carpets are more affordable, especially given its superior durability. Prices range from $2 to $5 per square foot.
Nylon carpeting has the elasticity and strength to be a solid and durable floor covering, especially for heavily trafficked areas like a hallway or family living area. It also holds its shape well, springing back into form despite the weight from shoes or furniture. The fibers are completely mildew repellant, as long as external factors (food and spills that are not immediately remedied) are not involved.
One of the best and most practical characteristics of nylon fiber is its resistance to spills and stains, as long as it has had a chemical treatment applied. This treatment also locks in the color of the carpet and prevents fading from the sun.
While nylon carpeting is easily maintained by yearly steam cleanings, one downside is that it's not able to "breathe" or to absorb and release moisture in the way a wool carpet will. Unfortunately, because of this, nylon carpeting holds quite a bit of static.
Polyester carpet and all its significant advantages is an affordable option, at least in the short term. Expect this material to cost around $2.50-$3 per square foot.
This synthetic material has substantial advantages and, aside from Olefin, is likely the most affordable option. Polyester is inherently stain-resistant, has a low absorbance rate (no mildew!), and is very easy to clean. And best yet, polyester is soft. Polyester carpet can offer plushness, warmth, and an inviting feeling.
Polyester has other significant advantages, too. If you're looking for an expansive color palette, or if you are striving to find the "just right" shade of nearly any color, a polyester carpet is ideal.
Of course, just like all fiber materials, polyester has its disadvantages, too. It doesn't hold its luxurious feel over time and easily crushes without springing back, making its durability significantly weaker. For this reason, polyester fibers can fray, discolor, and last only for approximately 5-7 years and are not recommended for carpet in high-traffic areas.
As you may suspect, triexta and its brand names are a bit more costly, ranging from $4-$6 per square foot. Its luxurious tradeoffs may be worth it.
Triexta, more often recognized by its brand names, SmartStrand or Sorona, is a relatively new material. Despite not having many years of history behind it, it has demonstrated consistent durability, softness, and stain resistance. Mohawk, the carpet's manufacturer, has double-downed on its quality construction and offers a 15-25 year warranty on their product. That's almost unheard of in the carpet industry.
One triexta downfall is that, due to its thick plushness, it's difficult to vacuum. However, manufactures and other experts have identified the commercial vacuums which are best-suited to keep triexta carpets in optimal condition.
As with all fibers, different qualities determine a range of pricing, and olefin is no different. Costs for this carpeting per square foot fall between $1 and $1.50.
This carpet material is a great option for the right space. Of the previous 4 carpet types, olefin is the most affordable, though admittedly not as comfortable. Its fibers are shorter and not necessarily soft. But olefin's greatest challenge is that it's not very durable and only lasts approximately 3-5 years. Easily matted and crushed, this material is not recommended where there'll be consistent foot traffic.
But what olefin lacks in durability and comfort is made up for by its undeniable budget-friendliness and optimal stain, mold, and mildew resistance. It is ideal for basements, bathrooms, porches, and outdoor patios because of its inability to absorb moisture. However, even though the construction of olefin carpet might not last more than a few years, it can still look very nice. In fact, a high-quality olefin carpet can often mimic the look of an expensive wool floor covering.
What Should You Look For When Buying Carpet?
To ensure that your carpet looks inviting and comfortable, there are a few considerations to keep an eye on, namely the texture, padding, and labor installation process.
Pile refers to the yarn pieces that create your carpet, pile height is the verticle length of the yarn, and pile density refers to the number of tufts that run from edge to edge of the carpet.
Essentially, the piles are a series of loops sewn into the carpet's backing and when the top of these loops are cut straight across, it is called pile cut. This method creates the plushness of a carpet. Loop pile is when the yarn strands are not cut and are usually sewn together quite tightly. Berber type carpets are an example of a loop pile. Finally cut loop pile is a mixture of cut strands and uncut loops. This varies the pile height, creating texture and patterns in the rug itself.
The padding underneath your carpet is a necessary component. Carpet pads provide a bit of cushion and softness to your floor; they also nicely absorb sound. More importantly, however, a carpet pad holds up the carpet to maintain its form, making the carpet even more durable. Carpet pads are sold in a variety of types, with different thicknesses.
Contrary to logical thought, a thicker pad doesn't always mean more comfort. It's possible that a pad can be too thick, weakening its durability and often causing installation difficulties. Should the pad be too tall, a carpet's backing may wrinkle, bend, and break over time.
A more important measurement to consider for padding its durability is a pad's density. Flooring professionals generally recommend that a 6 lb. padding density is both appropriate and affordable; however, if you can bump it up to 8 lbs., your carpet will achieve maximum durability.
Rebond, the most commonly used carpet pad, is made of bonded urethane and offers most homeowners the best combination of durability and affordability. The average cost for Rebond padding is $0.90 per square foot.
Your final factor to consider is installation. Yes, it's possible to make it a DYI project, but if you really want your carpet to look its best and last for years, it's worth hiring a professional installer. The flooring professional will first remove baseboards, pull out your old carpeting, and inspect your subfloor. If the subfloor is too old or damaged, it will have to be repaired, most likely for an added fee.
After the subfloor is prepped, the installer will lay and adhere the padding to the floor, unroll the new carpet, stretch it, cut it to the correct size, and staple it into place. If multiple pieces are needed, your flooring professional will ensure they seamlessly fit together. Finally, the installer will cut precisely around any unusual shapes and objects to ensure a snug fit and reattach the baseboards.
How Do You Calculate Carpet Prices?
First, you need to know the size of the space you wish to carpet. Measure the width and length of the room and multiply those numbers. Your answer will be the square footage measurement for that space. Example: 10' x 12' = 120 square feet.
Second, determine the price of the carpet you've chosen and multiply that by your square footage number from above. Example: carpet costs $3 per square foot, so 120 x $3.00 = $360.
Last, experts recommend multiplying your total by 1.1 so you'll have a small surplus for any unforeseen issues during installation. Example: $360 x 1.1 = $396 total price for carpet.
Repeat this same process for estimating carpet padding. Or if you don't want to do the math yourself, there are several online carpet calculators. This one at Concalulator is helpful as well as this one from The Perfect Carpet.
What Is The Best Month To Buy Carpet?
So, you know your room measurements, the advantages and disadvantages of carpet styles, and you've determined what you want. Now when can you get the best deal?
If you're looking for the year's upcoming trends and new arrivals, shop springtime, April -May. This is when carpet manufacturers are revealing their new products to retail carpet stores.
If you're looking for the best pricing, shop from mid-December to the end of January. During these months, carpet retailers aim to clear their floors for the new incoming spring products and are able to discount carpet and/or negotiate better prices for you, the customer.
As an additional tip, avoid buying during these busy times:
- Pre-holidays, late October through mid-December
- Tax refund season, late February-end of April
- Summer months (prime time for remodeling), mid-June through the end of August
Are Carpet Tiles Cheaper Than Carpet?
Yes, carpet tiles are a less expensive alternative to wall-to-wall carpet. On average, pre-backed carpet tiles, 12"-24" squares of carpet, range from $1.10-$4.00 per square foot. They are also quicker to install and require less cutting. They're also easier to move, manage, and clean.
And in recent years, color and design options have greatly improved so you can count on a colorful and unique custom pattern. An additional bonus is that individual carpet tiles can be replaced on an as-needed basis, rather than replacing the entire carpet.
The downside of carpet tiles is that they are not very durable. The tiles are glued to the floor and, over time, they can peel up or fray easily. They also lack the seamless appearance that traditional carpeting has. Despite these differences, carpet tiles are extremely budget-friendly.
Buying the right carpet for your home isn't as simple as it sounds, but as long as you know what qualities you want, which materials will meet your standards, and what the cost estimates are, you can feel confident you've done everything necessary to make it a sound financial investment. Your last step in this process is to just enjoy the look and feel of your new home flooring!
Want to know even more carpeting tips? Be sure to check out the following articles: