If you’re on the market for a new carpet, you’ve probably asked yourself the same questions I did not so long ago…
– Where should I buy it from?
– Will they take care of the installation?
– Do they have all the choices available?
– Is the after-sale service good?
– Do I have a guarantee?
Don’t worry! I promise this is not as complicated as it may seem.
In this post we’re going to be looking at 8 different ways of buying a carpet with their pros and cons: Big-box stores, franchises, co-operatives, shop-at-home stores, Craiglist, etc. And I’m going to teach you everything I know!
In this blog we receive a lot of questions form other readers like you. And we’ve learned a lot from our readers experience with the different stores. Together with our own expertise, we bring you this guide!
I hope you like it!
Before we Start
But before we start, let me point out one thing…
If you want to have those questions answered, we have guides prepared just for you! But remember to come back here once you’ve finished reading the guides:
– If you want to know what type of carpet you should buy, check our post: Ultimate Guide to All types of Carpets
That being said, let’s get started!
Common ways to buy a carpet
These are the 5 most common ways of buying a carpet. These options aren’t necessarily the best depending on your needs and budget, but they are the simplest to execute.
You have Big-box stores, franchises, chain stores, co-operatives, locally owned and shop-at-home stores almost anywhere in the country.
We’ll start with the bigger players and move down from there to smaller companies.
Big-Box Stores (Home Depot, etc.)
Who hasn’t seen those Home Depot or Lowe’s TV commercials? They pay for radio ads, billboards, and even bus stops! And they do it for a good reason… they have so many locations all over the country that they can afford it.
This is the first place most people go get informed about the different types of carpets, to take a look at different colors, etc.
Many people hate these companies because they’ve put many small stores out of business. But it doesn’t seem to have affected them from a consumer point of view. They sell A LOT of carpets.
This is a tough one to explain because many big-box companies have a “low price guarantee” policy. That leads the consumer to believe that the prices are the best they’ll ever find.
But this isn’t always true because many times they use private labels. That means that you’ll never be able to find a lower price in any store simply because they don’t exist on any other store.
That being said… they do offer very competitive prices! Sometimes great (depending on the time of the year you buy).
CAUTION!But be careful! These companies are well-known for charing for a lot of extras such as: measuring your home, transporting the carpet to your hose, and even the screws that are needed for the installation! Make sure you ask exactly what it will cost you or you won’t find out until it’s too late.
The service at these companies is very polarized. Some people have wonderful experiences and some people hate their service. Literally, hate. And there’s a good reason too.
Big-box companies usually don’t have the greatest sales team in stores (they might not be experts or have only basic training). But even if you happen to find a great salesperson and know exactly what you want, you might still have problems. They’ll ask you to pay upfront and will tell you that they will install it for you. Everything should be a smooth ride from there, right? Wrong.
In real life, they simply hire local carpet professionals to install the carpet for them. But they’re not their employees and communication between those contractors and the Big Box company is not always great. They could take weeks to install your carpet! (We’ve seen this many many times).
If you happen to run into a great professional, you should be fine. But you could also run into someone who doesn’t have a lot of experience. Or even worse… someone who doesn’t care.
These companies don’t pay a lot to the installers. And those installers usually sell carpets themselves on a local store and have clients of their own. Since they make way more money with their own clients than with those who were referred by a Home Depot, who do you think they’ll try to keep happy? They’ll try to get your installation done asap and spend more time with their “real” clients.
Selection isn’t bad, but it isn’t great either. Why? Because in general, big-box companies will try to push their brand of carpet. They will offer other premium carpets, but since they make far more money with their own brand they other brands will be quite expensive too.
I simply have no words to describe how terrible the after-sale in these companies is. Terrible. Just Terrible.
If you have any problem or complaint, it’s notoriously difficult to solve them. They try to make you give up by not solving the issue right away. And even if they do try to solve the issue right away… they sometimes can’t do anything.
Why? Because the installer might not be cooperating. You might think this is uncommon… but it’s not.
Franchises and Chain Stores
You already know what a Franchise is. They are locally owned but have an agreement with a parent company that provides them with the inventory, the pricing, the logo, etc.
Chain stores are stores that are directly owned by the parent company and simply employ staff to operate the stores.
But there’s not a big difference between them. The parent company basically controls everything in both cases.
Chain stores are expensive. Period. They do a lot of advertising and those costs are passed on to the end consumer. It’s also hard to compare prices because they almost always use private labels.
Franchises and Chain Stores have an outstanding service! And that’s true especially for Franchises. The owners and their staff usually know a lot about carpets and will cater to your every need.
They have the best selection you’ll ever find. If you read our guide on the different types of carpets, you’ll know what I mean.
They carry carpets from most major manufacturers but also use private labels. So ask before you buy so you can compare prices!
It depends. Some Franchises and Chain Stores use sub-contractors, some hire employees to do the installation for them. That makes a huge difference! If you decide to buy your carpet here, please ask this first: Will a subcontractor install the carpet? If the answer is yes, you might have the same problems we mentioned that the big-box have. If the answer is no, you’re good to go.
CAUTION!Some Carpet guarantees require a professional deep clean every couple of months. Since franchises and chain stores have such a huge selection, make sure you ask what the guarantee conditions are before you buy.
Co-operative Store (Carpet One, etc.)
These stores are similar to franchises, but with one big difference. They’re all independently owned. There’s no parent company telling them exactly what to do every step of the way. Co-operative stores get together to buy from manufacturers. Because they have more buying power, they get better prices.
It’s hard to tell the difference with franchises because they can all have the same brand name and their own private labels. In the US a big well-known co-operative is Carpet One
Prices are usually lower than franchises and chain stores, but it’s hard to tell. They do have to pay every month to be part of the co-operative, so the carpets aren’t cheap. But they don’t spend on ads like the big parent companies do.
It’s hard to compare prices because they always try to push their own private labels. Overall we can say that they’re less expensive than franchises and chain stores. But the difference isn’t as huge as many people would think.
Just like franchises and chain stores, they usually have great service. You can expect their owners (and staff) to know a lot about carpets and to help you with any questions you may have.
The selection is not that great. The reason is that co-operatives’ strength relies on buying a lot of products at the time. So most of the time they end up buying all their carpets from the same carpet mill.
It will seem, however, as if they have a lot of different carpets. That’s because they purposely private label them to look different so the consumer doesn’t notice. But keep in mind that one carpet mill can produce many different types of carpets. So you’ll probably find one style that you like.
Just like it happened with franchises and chain stores, it will drastically depend on whether or not they’re installing the carpets themselves. Please ask before you buy! It’s more important than you might think.
Locally-Owned (Family) Stores
These stores are usually a couple of generations old! You can bet that they must provide good service or else they would have disappeared. They’re almost always family-owned and don’t report to a parent company.
Independent retailers not as expensive as you might think. They don’t have a lot of buying power from the mills, but they don’t have to pay to a co-operative either.
What’s great about local stores is that you can negotiate the price. The more you buy, the better price you’ll get!
I’ve seen many 3rd generation independently owned shops. That basically means that for over 100 years that family has tried different carpets, talked about carpets in dinners and celebrations and proudly passed on what they knew.
What I’m trying to say is… they know what they’re talking about.
These stores are usually located in small cities. And since their services are well known to the community, they’ll always strive to provide good service.
Their selection is usually going to be broader than a co-operative store, but not as large as a franchise or chain store. They usually work with 2 or 3 manufacturers. But that’s about it.
They do have the ability, however, of buying from a different mill if a client asks them to do so. That’s going to be expensive, but it’s something they can do.
Most independent stores install the carpet themselves! And that’s great because if you have any problem you know who to call. And they can’t afford to have an unhappy customer. They’ll make sure that your carpet is properly installed always.
CAUTION!In recent years more and more independent stores are hiring sub-contractors. This usually happens because their children don’t want to work at the store anymore. Ask to make sure that they’re installing the carpet themselves.
Some sellers avoid having to own stores and simply send you a catalog with samples so you can choose the one that you like best.
Many people like the convenience of not having to move from home. It also helps decide the color inside your own home. That way you can test the different colors with your walls, your furniture, etc.
Some other people like to talk to an expert who can explain the differences between all the types of carpets.
You may think that should be inexpensive because they don’t have stores. However, these companies tend to spend a lot of money on marketing.
They’re very attractive to impulsive buyers, so some shop-at-home companies will try to sell very few (but very expensive) carpets. Seniors are their preferred target. Some other companies offer good and competitive prices.
If you know what you want and know a little bit about how to choose a carpet, you should be fine. If you’d like to learn about this topic, check our guide: Everything you need to know to buy a carpet.
On the other hand, if you don’t know that much about carpets you may want to talk to a professional. It really comes down to what you want.
Selection is quite often very limited. They might send you a different catalog depending on your budget. But you won’t have a lot to choose from.
Just like big-box companies, it’s an absolute nightmare. They always use a sub-contractor to install the carpet and you might be extremely lucky and have your carpet installed without a problem or terribly unlucky. And if you’re unlucky… it will be hard and tedious to deal with a company that’s probably hundreds of miles away and an installer that might not care about your complaints. It’s a risk you must be willing to take.
If you’re really looking for a cheaper alternative and would love to know about the best way to get super inexpensive deals, this section is for you.
We’ll be covering 3 ways you can buy a carpet and save tons of money! Although… it’s risky. You’ll see why in a minute.
The first way of getting a great deal on your carpet is by buying the carpet directly from the installer.
This is easier said than done.
Only a handful of times will a carpet installer have enough excess carpet (from a previous job) to fit your needs exactly. And it has to be a carpet you like! What if you like the quality, but hate the color? Or vice versa?
But if everything seems fine, jackpot! The installer will usually sell you the carpet at a very discounted price because it costed him close to nothing. And the installation should be ok too, considering that he’s making money installing the carpet too.
But if you happen to have any problems, there’s no company to ask for a refund to. It’s a risky operation but could be quite profitable.
Craiglist or Local Newspaper
The problem with the previously described method is that not many homeowners will let their carpet installers keep the excess carpet. If (for whatever reason) there’s a lot left, they usually sell it on Craigslist or place an add on a local newspaper.
You know why this is such a problem… You have to pick it up yourself; you have to find a carpet installer yourself, there’s no refund nor way of buying more carpet if you need to.
Most of the people who buy a carpet on Craiglist do so because they want to install the carpet themselves.
If that’s the case and you’re very tight on money, try looking every now and then. Eventually, a good deal will come up.
Carpet Warehouse or Outlet
Last but not least we have the carpet warehouse or outlet. You can think of it as a big and carpet-specific Craiglist.
These Carpet Warehouses will sell you leftovers, lower-quality or defective carpets. They’re very appealing to landlords and property managers because they’re very inexpensive.
If they do have the same type, style, and color you were looking for, make sure they roll out the carpet before you agree to buy it. They might not want to, but it’s the only way you’ll make sure that the carpet is in good shape.
They will help you out choosing the carpet, but don’t expect the greatest service ever. And make sure you buy as much as you need! They might not have the same carpet just one week later.
As you have seen, there’s no such thing as a perfect option. But there is a better option if you know what you need and how much you’re willing to spend.
I really hope you found this guide useful!