How Professional Carpet Installation Works

Well-installed carpet can be a beautiful addition to your home.
Well-installed carpet can be a beautiful addition to your home.
Photo by Chad Magiera

Upon returning home to your condo after a long day at the office, all you want is some peace and quiet. As the front door closes behind you and the outside world fades, you remove your shoes and walk over to the couch to relax. Unfortunately, before you can clear your head, the downstairs neighbor begins playing opera music -- again -- at a volume loud enough to be considered a live performance. Not the quietest welcome home.

One of the advantages of carpet is that it dampens the noise around you. In fact, carpeting can create a comfortable, soft feel throughout your home. Carpet can also be a beautiful accessory and can really liven up a room; often, the color and style of your carpet is as important to your home's design as the furniture you select.

Once you've picked out the perfect combination of style and color, it's time to decide whether you are going to hire a professional to install it or make a go of doing it on your own. There are a lot of things to consider before you tackle carpet installation yourself. Often, it might be best to bring in a professional to do the job.

The two approaches -- working on your own and having professionals do the installation for you -- each has its advantages. The determining factors for both revolve around cost, effort, equipment and how much time you are willing to invest in the project.

On the next page, we'll look at some of the pros and cons of professional installation versus do-it-yourself (DIY) installation.

 

Professional vs. DIY Carpet Installation

Before you decide to plunk down the money for a pro, you might want to know more about the advantages and disadvantages of DIY installation.

Right off the bat, a major advantage of installing your own carpet is that you will save money, because the usual expenses of installation, labor and old carpet removal will be eliminated. The only large costs on your end will be the carpet itself and any specialty tools that you might need to rent or buy (see sidebar). Also, the timing of the job is entirely up to you. Instead of waiting for the installation window most companies give you, you can begin the job whenever you wish and work at your own pace. Finally, the quality of the job is in your hands. If you're worried about hiring a company only to find out later that they have done a poor job, then this is your chance to make your carpet look its best.

That being said, there are definitely some downsides to tackling the project on your own. For example, if you find that the installation is a bit more difficult than you expected, but you have already laid some portions and cut others, then your carpet warranty will most likely no longer be honored. So, if you've done a poor job, there's no one to help you cover the cost. Also, the equipment can be difficult to use and may cause problems for someone who has never tried to lay carpet before. While carpet installation can be a DIY project, it's important to remember that it's also a large undertaking and one that requires a lot of work and determination.

If you have decided against DIY installation, it's time to look into what a professional job can offer. First, let's see how you can find a reputable installer in your area.

Choosing Professional Carpet Installation Providers

A carpet installer lays down the underpad before moving on to the carpet.
A carpet installer lays down the underpad before moving on to the carpet.
©iStockphoto.com/pastorscott

As we've discussed, carpet installation is a big job, and if you're going to go with professionals, you want to make sure you're getting the best work for the price you pay. The first thing you'll need to do is search for an installer. There are many companies out there that will do carpet installation, including large home-improvement stores. Also, most carpet retailers have their own installation staff. The upside to working with your retailer is that your carpet and installation should be fully covered by a warranty; however, it will be more expensive than going with an independent contractor. If you do want to hire an independent installer that will provide the same level of service, you might have to do a bit more searching.

There are services on the Web that can provide the names of local installers. These sites work under a sort of umbrella method, meaning that the site is a larger group that the installers register with to have their names listed. Typically, the installers have to meet certain requirements and standards to sign up, so you can trust that you're getting a true professional that will do quality work [source: Certified Floorcovering Installers].

So what are those standards? For most certified installers, it means they must have been in business for at least two years prior to certification. Also, they must complete several tests that will cover their abilities to install floorcoverings, as well as their knowledge of various governmental and business standards. Knowing that you have a certified installer will not only help you rest easy, but also ensure that you have some recourse should the job be done poorly. It's always a good idea when working with installers to make sure to ask for references of their work, so you can judge for yourself how well they've done in the past [source: CFI Carpet Certification].

Now that you have chosen your installer, what should you expect on the installation day? First, they will remove your old carpet, and most installers will dispose of it for an extra fee. Then they will lay down an underpad, which will make your new carpet more comfortable. An underpad is a foam pad that will make your carpet feel softer when you're walking on it, and it will also help dampen noise. After the underpad has been laid, the installer will begin with the carpet.

Of course, paying for the job is an important, if dreaded, part of the process. Rates will vary from contractor to contractor, but they typically charge by the amount of carpet installed, and prices usually range from $3.50 to $6 per square yard. There are also fees for disposing of the old carpet and laying down a new underpad, should that be needed [source: House Flipping Helper].

Now that you've chosen a contractor and know how much you might spend, let's look at some of the benefits of professional installation.

Benefits of Professional Carpet Installation

A professional carpet installer pays great attention to detail.
A professional carpet installer pays great attention to detail.
©iStockphoto.com/dirkr

If you're known as a professional, that implies that you're excellent at what you do. The same goes with carpet installers. When you call in a pro to install your new plush, you expect a certain level of quality and knowledge that the job will be done to exacting standards. Installing your own carpet could end up in any number of ways, but if you hire those who know the process, hopefully you'll end up with a job well done.

Even if the worst-case scenario occurs -- for example, if you find huge ripples in your new flooring, the seams are showing, or the carpet is lifting away from the walls -- you know you have some recourse against the contractor or retailer that installed it. When working with professionals, you should have the guarantee that the job will be done right the first time, or you won't have to pay for the repairs.

The best way to avoid mistakes is to make sure the carpet is put in place correctly the first time. Do you remember the knee-kicker? The carpet stretcher? The crazy-looking tool known as the seam roller? These are all specialized tools and in the wrong hands could cause utter chaos! Well, not chaos, perhaps, but you could end up damaging your carpet permanently if you aren't careful. However, under the guidance of professionals, these tools usually are used correctly and leave you stress-free.

And what does stress-free carpet installation look like? To begin with, the carpet will meet the walls snugly and without any edges showing. Also, the carpet will be smooth and won't show any bumps or ridges. Finally, any seams where the installers had to put two sections of carpet together won't be noticeable at first glance. These are the most important elements of a job well done.

Next, we'll look at some of the problems that may arise with professional carpet installation.

Problems with Professional Carpet Installation

As we discussed before, having work done by professionals is sure to cost more than doing it on your own. In that sense, one of the major disadvantages of hiring a contractor is simply that it would be cheaper to install the carpet yourself.

Also, while it's expensive to hire a contractor, a lot of them haven't been able to raise their prices as quickly as the cost of supplies has risen. This problem leaves the professional installer needing more jobs today to make the same amount of money he or she did 10 years ago [source: Carpet Buyers Handbook]. What that means for you as the customer is that there is a chance they might rush through the job in order to rack up more jobs in a day. A rushed job is rarely a good job, and with carpeting, that can make a huge difference in quality.

Another thing to keep in mind is that using a contractor that might not be as reputable as others could end up costing you more in the long run. Remember, using a carpet retailer will mean that you are covered under the retailer's warranty. There is a chance that, by using an independent contractor to install your carpet, you might void the warranty and not be covered should something go wrong with the installation. That means that if the installer makes a mistake, it will probably cost you more in the long run to fix it.

Some things to look for in a poorly done installation include the following: frayed edges where the carpet meets the wall, seams that don't match or are aligned improperly, or bumps and ridges in the carpet. Often, repairs on these types of mistakes are time-consuming and costly -- all reasons to be careful when choosing your installer.

Hopefully, you're ready to decide if you need to hire a professional carpet installer. Read on for more information and links to help you get fully settled in with your new carpet.

Related Articles

More Great Links

Sources

  • Anderson, Murray. "How to Install Carpet."DoItYourself.com. 2007. (10 Sept. 2010) http://www.doityourself.com/stry/howtoinstallcarpet
  • Carpet Buyers Handbook. "Finding a Carpet Installer."2010. (10 Sept. 2010) http://www.carpetbuyershandbook.com/carpet-installation/find-carpet-installer/finding-a-carpet-installer.php
  • Certified Floorcovering Installers. "Find a CFI Installer or Inspector in your Area"and "CFI Carpet Certification."2010. (10 Sept. 2010) http://cfiinstallers.com/home.html
  • FlooringKnowledge.com. "Do-It-Yourself Versus Professional Installation."2004. (10 Sept. 2010) http://www.flooringknowledge.com/contents/diyarticle.aspx?articleid=25&zoneid=24
  • Hometime How-To. "Fastening Tackless Strip and Pad."2010. (10 Sept. 2010) http://www.hometime.com/Howto/projects/flooring/floor_8.htm
  • House Flipping Helper. "Carpet Installation Prices."2010. (10 Sept. 2010) http://www.house-flipping-helper.com/carpet-installation-prices.html