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Advice For First Time Carpet Buyers





Buying carpet for the first time has been described by some people as being similar to purchasing your first car.  The experience can be an overwhelming, tiring experience in futility.  There are too many samples, too many colors, and the salespeople are sometimes worse than high pressure used car salesmen.  I’m going to help simplify the experience by giving you some easy carpet buying tips.

The first step of your carpet adventure begins when you make a choice on where to shop.  Sure you may save a few bucks by shopping at a smaller carpet discounter where the salesmen assure you that they can “cut you a good deal,” but when problems arise can you count on them to be there for you?  There are all kinds of problems that can and do arise during carpet installations.  Everything from loom oil on the carpet, to dye lot variations, to plain old installer error can occur.  And if you just purchased your carpet at “Elmo’s Super Dirt Cheap Bargain Carpet Store,” how confident are you that they’ll take the necessary measures to fix problems that may occur, including ordering new carpet if necessary?  We recommend sticking to the larger name brand retailers that will stand behind their products like “The Great Indoors” or “Expo” just to name a couple.  Purchase your carpet from a store that you can trust because although installation problems are fairly rare, they do occur.

Now you’re ready to start shopping for carpet.  Upon first entering the carpet department you’ll be bombarded by a seemingly endless supply of styles, colors, and other choices.  Do you want a berber or a cut pile?  Is it really necessary to pay extra for Nylon Tactesse?  Hopefully you’ve already read our basic guide on How To Choose Carpet describing the different styles, material types, and stain resistance choices available, and have at least a small inkling of what you’re interested in.  If you haven’t, then it might be helpful to you to begin there and then come back after you’re done reading.

I recommend that you first narrow it down to what basic style you prefer.  Do you want a cut pile, a berber, or a patterned carpet?  Pick one of the three and go from there.  Once you’ve chosen a basic style, go up and down every aisle of the carpet department.  View every style in your choice available and narrow it down further if possible.  For instance if you’ve decided that you want some type of a soft cut pile carpet, are you looking for a very formal plush, a basic standard cut pile, or would you prefer a more casual looking Frieze?  If possible narrow your style choice down as far as possible.  At this point you’re not concerned with color.  Worrying about color will only add to the confusion.

Hopefully you’ve found a few styles that look promising.  Now it’s time to start examining your color options.  Often times stores will let customers borrow their carpet samples which will leave gaps in their color palettes.  If you find a style that you really like but not a color, ask the salesperson if they have a color book available.  If you are able to locate a color from the book, ask the salesperson to mail you a sample.  Most stores will do this for free.  Keep in mind when selecting a color that after being installed, the carpet will often look slightly lighter or darker than the sample (anywhere from ¼ to ½ a shade depending on your lighting and the carpet style).

Ask the salesman to borrow whichever samples you’ve found that you think might work out.  Try not to feel pressured into selecting the perfect carpet on your first trip.  Most people will be back for new samples anywhere from 3-5 times on average before finally selecting a carpet.  The colors will look different when you take them out of the florescent store lighting and into sunlight.  They’ll also look different based upon which room you set them down in and will change further throughout the day as the sun rises and falls.  Be sure to check the samples throughout the day so you can see their true color range.

One question I’m often asked is “How do I deal with the carpet salesmen?”  People are naturally wary of salesmen, especially if they make them feel pressured.  It’s also hard to tell if what a carpet salesperson is telling you is the truth or if they’re just trying to make a sale.  One of the most common lines we’ve heard from carpet salesmen is that Stainmaster will protect you from everything from pet droppings to body fluids.  While being a fantastic product, Stainmaster isn’t an invisible high tech shield.  If your salesperson promises you carpet that is impervious to stains and will last 40 years, then ask for a new salesman.

There are many knowledgeable, honest carpet salesmen out there who provide a great service in helping you select a carpet to fit your specific needs.  Having said that, it's best not to rely upon them entirely for information.  Do your own research ahead of time so that you at least know the basics.  Know what the difference is between Stainmaster and Scotchguard.  Know which types of carpet will show footprints and the styles that won’t.  Be informed, it can save you a bundle when purchasing carpet.

Another item that is often overlooked when shopping for carpet is the quality of the installers the store uses.  Does the store use its own installers or do they contract out.  If they contract out who do they use and how long has the company been in business.  How is their record with the Better Business Bureau?  You might get one heck of a deal on carpet by shopping at “Moe’s Happy Basement Carpet Store,” but it won’t mean a thing if the install goes bad and Moe has left town.

The key items to remember when purchasing carpet for the first time are to be informed, borrow lots of samples, and to take your time.  Purchasing carpet should be an enjoyable, laid back experience.  Take your time and do your research before ever stepping foot inside a carpet store.  Good luck!