Choosing Carpet Roll Size
In a perfect world, you would measure the dimensions of your room and buy carpet matching those dimensions. Unfortunately, the carpet world isn’t perfect.
Carpet is produced in large rolls that come in fixed widths. Possibilities for roll widths are 12 feet, 15 feet, and 13 feet 6 inches, in order of availability. Unlike the width, the length can be any number; carpet is rolled out and cut at the desired length.
The problem with fixed width carpet rolls is it leads to waste (but this creates an opportunity for you to save–see below). To illustrate this point, let’s pretend we want to carpet a room that is 10’ by 8’, and the carpet we want is only available in 12ft rolls. The total square footage of the room is 80 square feet (10*8=80). We’ll want to order carpet to be 8’ in length (the 12ft. width will more than cover the 10ft. dimension of the room). This comes out to be 96 sq.ft. (12*8=96) with 16 sq.ft. of waste (96-80). Take a moment to write down this example if you need to—it’ll help you understand the concept.
For the math geeks
Some people have asked me, “In the example above, you need 80 square feet of carpet, so you could take 80 (the square feet needed) and divide it by 12 (the fixed length of the roll) to get 6.8 feet. If you cut the carpet at a length of 6.8 square feet, you’d have exactly enough carpet and no waste.”
This is true but it would make your room look like a disaster. The installer would have to cut the carpet in a bunch of patches, giving your room a bunch of noticeable seams. Not to mention the amount of extra time that would take the installer, would likely negate any savings on the carpet.
I want no seams. Can I pull it off?
If your room’s length OR width (doesn’t have to be both) is less than 12 feet, you won’t have any seams.
If your room’s length OR width is 12 to 15 feet, it’s possible to have no seams but will take a little more work. Remember, carpet rolls also come in 15 feet. Ask your installer or retailer if this is an option. If no seams is very important to you, you might be better off what carpets come in 15 foot rolls before you pick the carpet.
If your room is over 15 feet, you’re out of luck on no seams. But good news: a good installer can make it difficult to determine whether you have seams or not.
How to Save $1000
So now you understand why carpet installers have to order more carpet than square footage of your home. Typically to get the job done right, carpet installers require that you order 10-20% more square feet than what the carpeted rooms measure. This means you are paying 10-20% more than what you would pay in a “perfect world” scenario.
The bad news is there’s never a “perfect world” scenario. The good news is, although you can’t remove all of the waste, you can eliminate a good portion of it. You do this by strategizing what roll size to choose. Let me give you an easy example:
I’ll use the name Tim. Tim has an average sized home (2300 square feet) and needs 1800 square feet of it carpeted. All rooms are 15 feet wide and their lengths vary. He’s chosen a nylon Berber carpet. The carpet costs $3 per square foot for a grand total of $5400 before the 20% is tacked on. The extra 20% required adds $1080 (5400*20%=1080) to the total.
When Tim is about to check out, he realizes that the retailer is using a 12-foot roll. Lucky for Tim, he used to be a carpet installer, and he knows to ask if the carpet comes in a 15-foot role. The salesman checks with his manager and says that it is possible to order from the 15-foot roll.
Tim’s excited because he knows, not only will he not have to worry about seams in his carpet, but he also just saved $1080 with one simple question.
Not every story is as perfect as Tim’s
We tried to make Tim’s story an average one, but some things had to be exaggerated to get the point across. You will always have to have some amount of carpet “waste” for a few reasons. The first is that it’s very unlikely that all of your rooms are exactly the same width and all perfect rectangles. The second is the installer will require a little extra “waste” to cover for any minor mistakes in measuring or installation. The third reason is all 3 roll sizes are not always available. You will usually have 12’ and 15’ options but 13’6” is less common. With all of these reasons in mind, you still expect to save a good percentage of money by choosing the roll width wisely.
Help From a Good Installer
Now you know the impact of choosing the correct roll size can have on your bank account, but how do you act on this newfound knowledge? There are two ways: pick out the rolls yourself or hire a carpet installer and tell them you want to save money by buying the correct roll size.
Choosing the roll size yourself is a great option if you can do it. In a case like Tim’s, there is no doubt you could do it yourself. However, it gets more difficult when you have rooms that may be irregularly shaped, including closets and other areas that “stick out” of the room. You may also have a room with dimensions such as 22’ by 29’ which makes it difficult to determine what size roll would be best.
The good news is that a carpet installer should be able to figure this out for you. Good carpet installers will diagram how the carpet can be installed with any available roll size to save you money and avoid showing carpet seams.