Best Place to Buy Carpet
What is the best place to buy carpet?
I get many emails asking some variation of this fairly often.
It’s a challenging question because it doesn’t have a straightforward answer for a couple of reasons.
1. Every location is different: Maybe Pheonix, AZ has a few excellent local retailers, but Madison, WI’s local retailers are known to do horrible work (this isn’t true–just for example purposes). Even some of the major big box stores can vary quite a bit area to area.
2. Every person is different: Some people want the store that sells the cheapest carpet. They’re okay with the hassle that this retailer won’t help them measure, has no return policy, and is hit-or-miss on carpet quality. Other people want know hassles–price isn’t a factor–less headaches is. All of these require different stores.
So instead of telling you where to buy carpet, I’m going to break down the 6 type of carpet retailers. I’ll give you my opinions from talking to 100s of carpet shoppers.
This should give you a good idea of the best place to buy your carpet.
“Big Box” Retailers or National Chains
These are the companies you know whether you like it or not. They have enormous marketing budgets and that put their name and their sales pitch in front of you constantly. Some of these retailers only focus is selling carpet/flooring (Empire Today), while others (eg. Home Depot or Lowe’s) selling carpet is just a sector of their business.
One big advantage of buying from these companies is you know they’ll always be there. Even if the store you buy from closes, you can probably find another identical store 10 miles away. This is important when it comes to possible defects in your carpet; you need someone to complain to. Another advantage is many of these stores do a high volume of business, so they can afford to have a large amount of carpet in stock for you to choose from. Many people also find these stores convenient. You usually know where to go to find these stores, you don’t have to research their reputation (it’s usually well known), you know their deals (or at least what they say in their marketing) and they’ll usually pick out your padding and installer for you.
There are some drawbacks to these big businesses. One disadvantage is that many are notorious for getting you in the door with a deal that sounds irresistible, but by the time you get the final bill, a bunch of “fine print” charges make it more than you would have paid elsewhere. They’re also known for being unhelpful. Their sales staff may not be properly trained in carpet, or worse, might be incentivized to sell a certain type of carpet, rather than what’s best for you. Most of these stores contract out installation. This wouldn’t matter except when it comes to a problem with your carpet, many people have found that these large retailers put the blame on someone else (eg. the installer or manufacturer) and won’t help with your problem.
Local Carpet Stores
This is the business that has less than 10 locations (often 1-3 locations) and may be family owned. Many of the disadvantages of major retailers are advantages of local stores. These stores often have knowledgeable staff that is more than willing to help you. Word of mouth business is often how they survive financially, so giving you great customer service is their only option. You’re also less likely to be surprised by what you’re charged. Their pricing is usually very straightforward.
At this point, it may seem like I’m glorifying local carpet stores, but there are some things you should watch for. The first is you will need to research the store. Make sure it is established in your community and doing okay financially—if it isn’t, there’s a chance you could get poor carpet or get scammed just before the company closes up its doors. It’s also unlikely that these companies get their carpet at as low of a cost as the “big box” retailers. In theory, this means they can’t offer you as low of a price. In reality, “big box” stores usually spend so much money on marketing that the prices end up being very similar when it comes to the final bill.
Online and 1800 Carpet Retailers
These kinds of carpet retailers can be described in 2 words: risk, reward. Many of these carpet retailers will be based out of Georgia, the hub of carpet manufacturing. They typically work by sending you samples, you pick the exact carpet you want, then a carpet installer affiliated with the online retailer visits your home to measure and eventually install the carpet. While it’s important to educate yourself anytime you’re buying carpet, it is critical when dealing with online or 1800 retailers. You need to know exactly what type of carpet you’re getting, be familiar with common scams, and be able to research the retailer to make sure they’re reputable. If this sounds like something you want to do, there’s potential for huge savings, and we wrote an article on online carpet shopping to help you out.
Buying from Carpet Installers
Note: Choosing a good carpet installer can be difficult, but there are companies like HomeAdvisor that will do the homework for you. These installers can often also help you buy your carpet. Click here to enter a form with your zip code to get free quotes from pre-qualified installers in your area. (full disclosure: I get a small commission but I do recommend them)
If you need a small area carpeted, you might want to call a carpet installer. Salespeople often over-measure homes for carpet, and the extra carpet ends up with the carpet installer. They may use this for patching damaged carpet, or they may have enough to sell to you to carpet a room. Most installers don’t have a large storage area, so they have no interest in keeping this carpet around for a long time. This means they will likely sell it to you for cheap. Keep in mind, warranties may be non-existent on this type of carpet—this can be a negotiating point for getting the carpet a reduced cost. If you have a small area you need to be carpeted and want a great deal, consider calling carpet installers in your area and ask them if they can help you out.
It’s possible for carpet installer to work with a carpet wholesaler and sell carpet to houses. This makes the installer more of a shop-at-home retailer, which I’ll describe next…
Shop-at-Home Carpet Retailers
Some retailers bring the shopping to you. They’ll come to your home with catalogs and samples from which you can choose. They’ll setup for your home to be measured and the carpet delivered/installed. This can be very convenient, but it’s also usually a little pricier. Similar to online retailers, you’ll also want to know carpet and the company you’re dealing with very well; these types of businesses are in good position to sell you worthless carpet and be nowhere to find by the time you realized you’ve been ripped off. As long as you know what you’re getting and trust the reputation of the company who’s selling it to you, this can be a great way to buy carpet for those who don’t want to fight traffic and shop in-store.
Sometimes I will be asked about carpet wholesalers. Technically a wholesaler only sells to businesses, not individuals. Some companies have manufacturers or wholesalers might also have a retail side of their business. Most of the time when a customer comes across a “wholesaler,” it is just a normal carpet retailer who wants their carpet to sound cheaper.
Captain’s parting words!
Now you should know the best place to buy carpet for you.
Maybe that the most dependable, cheapest, easiest, most convenient, need a big house carpeted or a small room, there’s a carpet retailer for everyone.
Wherever you choose to buy, it helps to do your own homework, so I’d check out our unbiased carpet buying guide.
Still have any questions on where to buy your carpet? I’m happy to answer in the comments below.