Carpet Installation Cost - Carpet Installer Qualifications
by Alan Fletcher - 30-Year Carpet Expert & Consumer Advocate
Carpet installation fees and charges vary widely depending on your location, how difficult your job is, and the type, style and grade of Carpet you select.
What Homeowners Need to Know...
In the Southern states where the sun is always shining, carpet installation prices are typically much lower than in the northern states. For example, in Miami, Florida, from ads I found placed on Craigslist, you can have carpet installed between $3.60 to 4.95 per yard. If you look at the service directories of the local newspapers you might find someone with a lower price.
I’m not saying hiring blindly from Craigslist or a service directory would get you a qualified flooring installer, but there are always plenty of hungry carpet installers in almost every state who are willing to work very hard for very little money.
How To Find a Qualified Carpet Installer
Make sure your installer is qualified to install your grade of carpet.
Don’t assume that every carpet installer who says they have 20 years of experience is qualified to install your carpet. I figure that less than 30% of all carpet installers are properly trained to install a good quality carpet in a residential setting.
Most flooring installers start out as a carpet layer's helper, and after several months working as a helper they might buy some carpet tools, buy a used van and then place an ad in the local service directory or on Craigslist to drum up some carpet installation business.
If you have an apartment or low-end rental property that needs new carpet or flooring, these new and inexperienced flooring installers may be able to install a low-quality carpet for you at a reasonable price. They may also be able to install new vinyl flooring or laminate flooring for you at a discount.
However, if you need to install a good quality carpet or flooring in a residential or custom home scenario, then you need to hire a more experienced or a more seasoned installer.
Installation prices are negotiable and determined by years of experience.
It took me a full 10 years to become a good installer. It took me a full 20 years to become a great installer. It took me 30 years to realize that I needed to stop laying carpet and flooring as my body was falling apart at the seams.
I guess what I am saying is that someone who is 24 years old cannot have a full 10 years of installation experience, however, someone who is 40 years old can have 20 years of experience. Expect to pay a bit more for the older guy and a little less for the younger guy. You must consider the complexity of your job and hire an installer who has enough experience and is qualified to get YOUR job done right the first time.
Asking for and checking out several references is wise and making sure they are licensed and bonded (if required by your state) and have business liability insurance. Learn more about your state requirements: State License Requirements for Carpet Installers
The states with the lowest carpet installation costs have typically been Florida, Texas, New Mexico, and Southern California. Other southern states like Louisiana, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Arkansas and Southern Arizona have fairly inexpensive carpet labor and installation costs too. Prices will range nationally from $2.25 per yard to $6.50 per yard depending on the difficulty of the job and the grade of the carpet selected.
The highest carpet installation prices are in the Northeastern states like New York, Virginia, Massachusetts and Ohio and also in the Pacific Northwest like Oregon and Washington and Northern California. Prices may range from $3.50 per yard for a medium grade plush style carpet to $6.50 per yard for a heavy duty looped Berber style carpet.
Savvy Homeowners Can Negotiate Better Deals.
Negotiating with your (independent) flooring installer is another area where you can save some money. This option does not apply if the installers are provided by and paid by the carpet retailer as part of a package deal where you purchased your new carpet or flooring.
In our current economy as of January 2018, I find there are still a few hungry carpet installers out there looking for work. This is good news for those consumers who have money to spend on home renovations and are willing to do a little legwork to find a qualified carpet installer and negotiate a good deal. If you are willing to haggle with your installer you might get a really good deal on carpet or flooring installation.
If you have a little ambition, It's possible to negotiate as much as 10 to 25% off their normal carpet installation charge, especially if you are willing to pay them in cash at the end of the day. (But always get a detailed written receipt and insist on at least a full 1-year written warranty) You never want to sacrifice quality installation in exchange for a discount on price, so be sure you make it clear that you expect a first class job, even if they agree to do the job for less than their usual charge.
How To Find a Qualified Carpet Installer
Buying Carpet or Flooring at Wholesale Prices.
If you can afford to buy rolls of carpet or large quantities of tile, laminate or vinyl flooring, you can get a much better deal than if you order smaller quantities. So, if you have a large home, an apartment complex or several rental properties that you plan to renovate in the near future, then it might be wise for you to buy your flooring in bulk to save money over the long run. You need to have a place to store the materials and you need to hire independent installers and pay them directly.
"Looped Berber Carpets are much more difficult to install than other styles and the installation cost may be as much as $2 per yard higher than a standard plush-style carpet. Selecting a Patterned Carpet Style may also increase the installation cost as well as increase the amount of Carpet material needed to complete the job."
Learn more about Carpet Styles
"If you buy carpet from a reputable carpet dealer you would be better off using the installers that have a longstanding relationship with the flooring dealer, instead of hiring an independent installer off of Craigslist."
Most Retailers Bundle the Cost for Carpet, Padding and Installation.
To get your best TOTAL carpet deal, you will have to negotiate with the carpet dealers of your choice and not be afraid to ask the retailer for a discount or other incentives for you to buy from them. The smart homeowner always gets at least three bids/estimates and then takes plenty of time to negotiate a better deal. Patience is key here, and those who wait for the price to come down are the winners. Be sure you are comparing apples to apples!
Learn how to Compare Carpet
I think that asking for a minimum of a 10% to 15% discount is very reasonable as long as you are ready to write a check at the end of the day. If you are daring, ask for a 20% discount and see what happens. They may say no, but you have nothing to lose by asking. Just be sure you have selected the right carpet and padding that will meet your needs and goals!
Take my free Carpet Foot Traffic Test to see what grade of carpet you need to buy.
Carpet Installation Cost - Getting the job done right!
The main thing you want to be sure of, is that the carpet installers are qualified and experienced with the type of carpet and job you are doing, and that they will use a power-stretcher to install your carpet. Gone are the days where a simple knee-kicker will do the trick unless you’re installing cheap carpet in a very small room on a very hot day. Carpet needs to be stretched in tight, and the only way to ensure this is to use a power-stretcher. If they don’t use a power-stretcher, then find an installer that does!
TYPICAL CARPET INSTALLATION CHARGES
(for Oregon / Washington / Idaho`)
Standard Installation Over Wood Floors:
Plush/Shag $5.00 / yard
Berber/Looped Pile $6.00 / yard
Additional Installation Fees:
Pattern Match $1.00 / yard
Over Concrete $1.00 / yard
Glue Down $1.00 / yard
Floor Prep $35.00 / hour per person
Transitions $2.00 / foot
R&R Wood Base $2.00 / foot
Take Up & Haul Away $2.00 / yard
Standard Box / Waterfall $5.00 per stair
Contoured $7.50 per stair
Additional Stair Fees:
Wrapped Ends $7.50 per stair
Pie Shaped $5.00 per stair
Minimum Carpet Installation Charge: $150.00
Minimum Carpet Repair Charge: $100.00
Carpet Installation Scams
Some carpet retailers choose to make additional profit by adding an extra fee or surcharge on top of the standard going rate for carpet installation charges, often adding as much as 25% to the total installation cost. I feel this is an unfair charge to the consumer and a slap in the face to the installer. Carpet retailers already make a fair and reasonable profit from the markup on carpet and pad. If you find that a carpet dealer has exorbitant installation charges, I suggest you shop elsewhere!
Carpet Installation Cost - Beyond the scope of a "basic" carpet installation
Some home improvement stores now offer super low-cost specials on carpet installation. These super-duper specials sound too good to be true. Just $37 for carpet installation sounds like a great deal when you first hear about it, but in the end, is it really as good as it sounds? Maybe you should ask, who is doing the installation? Are they qualified? What if you are not satisfied with the installation? How do you get a quick remedy? You should be wary.
While they continue to change the advertised prices for their "basic" carpet installation on a frequent basis, I have found that Home Depot and Lowe's basic carpet installation service does not cover very much ground. The key wording here is "basic" What is a basic installation? What is their definition of a "basic carpet installation?
Apparently, if your carpet installation job is not considered "Basic" and is determined to be more difficult or more involved, then you may find that the final bill for your carpet install is much higher than you had expected. Don’t assume that their advertised low price for installation is valid for you in your situation.
After the installer shows up at your home with your new carpet, you may be faced with a sizable and unexpected extra fees and services that were beyond their limited definition of a "Basic Install".
About Carpet Installation and Sales Gimmicks:
I've been in the carpet business for 3 decades and I've seen every trick in the book. Trust me on this: Don't fall for any "wow factor" sales gimmicks. Don't trust any television ad that says if you buy one room of flooring then they will give you two rooms of flooring for free. Don't be so gullible. The fine print will beat you every time and you will not get the great deal you hoped for.
You need to be absolutely sure your new carpet has been installed properly. You cannot afford to take chances by having your expensive new carpet installed cheaply by a third party who may have left town shortly after installing your carpet. If you want to get the scoop on these types of carpet installation specials and scams to look out for, click here to learn more: Big Box Carpet Installation Specials
Carpet Installation Cost - Removing your old Carpet and Padding
Tearing out and disposing of your old carpet and padding can cost anywhere from $1.00 to $2.00 per yard or maybe more. An experienced Carpet Installation crew of three can remove 100 yards of carpet and pad in less than an hour on a normal job. I personally think $1.00 per yard is a fair price to remove the old carpet and padding. Most Carpet Retailers provide a large dumpster available for their installers to use.
However, I think a reasonable dump fee is a fair charge if the installer you hire has to haul your old carpet and pad to a landfill or recycling center. It takes quite a bit of time and energy to do that and local dump fees have been on the rise. Installers may charge a dump fee of $25 to $75 depending on how much old carpet and pad you have to haul away.
Carpet Installation Costs for Mobile Homes
If you need new carpet for a mobile home, there is going to be some added costs to remove the old carpet and pad if it is the original carpet. When mobile homes are made, they put down the carpet and then install the walls right down on top of the carpet and padding. This makes it very hard to remove the old carpet because it has to be cut at the base of all the walls and then new tackless strips must be installed. It takes more time to do the job right.
Most carpet installers do not like installing new carpet in mobile homes because the outer walls are not sturdy enough to leverage the foot of a power stretcher. This means using other more time consuming methods to get the carpet stretched in properly. Floor repairs are also more difficult to perform because mobile homes are built over a metal frame, not the standard 16" on-center wooden floor joists that most homes utilize. Expect to pay more if you need any floor repairs done.
Carpet Installation - Installing New Tackless Strips
All new construction jobs will require that new tack strips be installed. It’s easier to install tackless strips on a wood floor than on a concrete slab. The fee for new tack strips on wood might be an additional .50 to 1.00 per yard. The fee for installing tack strips over concrete might be an additional $1.00 to $2.00 per yard or more. In existing homes with damaged tack strips that need to be replaced, the fee should be about $2.00 to $3.00 per each four-foot section that must be replaced. (tackless strips come in 4' foot lengths)
Carpet Installation Fees - What are Carpet Tackless Strips?
Tackless strips (often called tack-strip) are wooden strips with sharp pins that are installed all around the perimeter of each room near to the walls. Tackless strips are about 1" wide and 4 feet long. These tackless strips are what hold your carpet to the floor and allow it to be stretched-in tightly to prevent wrinkles. The sharp pins hold the carpet tight because they are angled towards the wall. They are nailed down to the floor. The carpet padding is butted up against the inner side of the strips. The carpet goes over the pad and stretched over the top of the tackless strips. Then the raw edge of the carpet is tucked into the wall and floor crevice or underneath the wall molding for a nice finished look.
Carpet Installation Fees - Carpet Transitions and Thresholds
The raw edge of the carpet will eventually end or butt up to another carpet or other types of flooring at the entry doorways and at kitchens, baths and utility rooms and must have a transition installed of some type. Examples are: Carpet to carpet, Carpet to vinyl, carpet to hardwoods, carpet to vinyl tiles, and carpet to ceramic tile are some of the most common locations where a transition or threshold of some type will be necessary.
When one carpet meets another carpet in a doorway, the two carpets may be seamed together directly underneath the door if doesn't look too unsightly, and as long as there is only a small height variance between the two carpets. You shouldn't seam together a low-pile carpet with a high-profile carpet. Not only would it look bad, it could cause excessive wear on one side of the seam. Consult your estimator or installer to discuss all your options.
Transitions can be made of wood, metal, rubber or plastic. Each transition is available in different quality levels depending on the application. The correct transition must be used to ensure a long life without failing. The cost of transitions vary widely and should be discussed with your carpet estimator/retailer/installer before the bid final is drawn up.
The least costly transitions are generally priced at $1.00 to $2.00 per lineal foot and are commonly gold or silver aluminum metals. A rubber transition in a utilitarian application should cost about $3-$5 per lineal foot.
A transition of pre-finished hardwoods can easily cost $5 to $20 per foot lineal or more. Brass or other specialized transitions can be quite costly.
The Future Of Carpet Installation Prices
Over the next decade, as our economy gradually recovers and the housing market regains market value, I expect the price of all carpet and flooring products and installation prices to increase significantly. I expect a 25% increase in all flooring product prices and a 35% increase in carpet and flooring installation costs within the next 10 years.