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Carpet Q & A - Carpet Buying Questions and Answers

By Alan Fletcher - aka The Carpet Professor - 30-Year Flooring Expert and Consumer Advocate

 

Hi Alan, 

Read your ebook and loved all the information.  I went armed with my requirements to three carpet dealers this last week, feeling very smart I might add.  The problem I'm running into is that no one seems to have the weight, density, twist information and it's not on the carpet sample.  

 

One salesman was good enough to call the manufacturer but no one there seemed to know the twist number (or even what it was).  Another one gave a twist of 4.5 on an extremely high quality/expensive (63.3 & 2779) carpet and I have since figured out that number isn't the twist but their rating system of 1 to 5. I've tried Shaw and Royalty directly on line with very limited success - just the weight on the Shaw site and nothing for Royalty.  

 

Bottom line:  I've had no success in comparing quality in the carpets I've looked at.  I live in a small town area (Medford/Ashland, Oregon) and the carpet stores have limited numbers of samples.  The two locally owned stores don't have the same carpets to directly comparison shop.  And, of course Carpet One has all private labels. I told the salesman that buying carpet without the spec information was like buying a car because the color is pretty and the seats are soft (don't have a clue what's under the hood.)  

 

Of course he wasn't impressed with my analogy.  I have three of them coming out to measure and I have a few carpet samples here at home but am in a quandary as to what would be a good value.  I asked each salesman to come with the necessary information relating to each sample I took from them but have my doubts whether they will do it and/or the information will be accurate.  Any thoughts on carpet quality/price comparison? Thanks, C.J.

 

Hi CJ

 

It's getting more difficult to get the dealers to supply the carpet specs, but they do have access to it. You have to be insistent in many cases before they will make the call to the manufacturer. Calling their distributor will not yield the results, so carpet one and others who get their carpet from a secondary source have to dig deeper. It's just not right that consumers should be denied this info. As far as twist rates go, you can count the twists yourself, it's the number of twists per inch, so if the tuft is longer or shorter than an inch you will have to take that into consideration. I look forward to hearing back from you when you have all three bids in hand. They do make a power stretcher for stairs, but few installer use it, so the knee kicker is still the main tool used for stairs.

 

Alan

 

 

Alan,

 

I found a customer service e-mail for Shaw carpet manufacturer and asked them directly for the specs on two carpets I'm considering.  I actually got an answer so if I can get the manufacturer name and style name, maybe that's the way to go. None of the manufacturer general websites are user friendly for finding a particular carpet nor do they have the specs so it takes an e-mail.  Are you familiar with a division of Carpet One called No Frills?  It is under the Lippert's company name. Thanks. C.J.

 

Hi CJ,

 

Every locally owned carpet dealer that buys directly from the mill has a mill representative that services their account. These reps have all the specs or have access to all the carpet specs.

 

On the other hand, Carpet one is a huge conglomerate franchise with hundreds of stores. They get their stock from the carpet one source distributor that re-labels popular carpets from Mohawk, Shaw and Beaulieu among others. Their dealers don't have a local mill rep to call. The corporate office does not reveal much about their carpets so that they can limit comparison shopping, and they are reluctant to provide any carpet specifics to consumers. You can try to dicker with them, or negotiate to some degree, but they have a billion dollar company with a huge national advertising budget. This means they don't need to negotiate with you.

 

Personally I would rather buy from a smaller dealer, who is more willing to negotiate a better deal and still provide first class service on a more personal level. I know you are limited by your location, but you still have the upper hand in a down economy to play your cards well and win.

 

Put those carpets side by side, compare a Nylon BCF to a Nylon BCF and use common sense to determine the best quality. You know enough to choose wisely. Take your time and keep emailing me if you have questions!

 

Alan

 

 

Alan,

 

I'm still working on getting all the information on the carpets we are considering.  I'll let you know the particulars and the price when I get them.  No one (we've been to three different places) seems to be willing to negotiate prices -- first price is their last price and as far as I can tell, they are similar in what they are charging.  I've told them I'm getting multiple bids but they hang firm.

I have a question about specialty pads.  The dealer we probably are going to buy from is touting a moisture-barrier scrim that is attached to the top side of the pad.  You said it may make pet urine and odor problems worse --- How?  Is it likely that water could get trapped in the pad under the moisture barrier and not dry very well?  Is it easier to clean liquid accidents and pet urine without the moisture barrier? They want $3.24 a yard for their moisture barrier pad.  Thanks. C.J.

 

Hi CJ,

 

The price they are charging for the pad $3.24 per yard is reasonable. My goal is to prevent consumers from spending a fortune on a pad they don't need. This price does not worry me unless you have a serious pet accident issue. If I understand you correctly, the total price for the rebond moisture barrier pad is $3.24 per yard, not per square foot or as an upgrade price above and beyond the regular price for pad.

 

Most rebond pads have a plastic surface that acts like a moisture barrier of sorts. Padding is stapled down on wood floors and has seams down the middle of the room at every 6 feet widths so even the most costly (so called) moisture barrier pads are not completely sealed and moisture proof. Any liquid in sufficient quantity will find a way to soak through the pad and into to the subfloor.

 

So many dealers charge so much more for moisture barrier pad. The moisture barrier is not a good thing if you have a serious pet urine problem. Why? Pet urine initially creates a small stain on the top of the carpet (about 3 inches in diameter) and then when it reaches the moisture barrier pad, it spreads out into a much larger diameter underneath the carpet (on top of the pad) and eventually dries undetected. Dried pet urine is worst in hot summer months. This makes it virtually impossible for it to be cleaned from the surface and increases the source of the odor under the carpet. Even if you immediately clean the 3" spot you see on the surface of the carpet, the larger area underneath that is affected will go undetected and be a source of odor every time the carpet is disturbed (walked on).

 

Does this make sense to you?

 

Alan

 

 

Alan,  Thanks for your answer.  Yes it makes sense.  The price for moisture barrier padding is per yard.  It's 36 cents a sq. foot.  My carpet measurements (three people came to measure) came out to be 58, 87 and 60.  Obviously the middle one is off.  My measurements were a challenge since the hallway is a large "U" shape (approx. 44 feet total) with a small bedroom (9 X 11 & 8.5 X 9.5) at each end plus a set of stairs.  The person with the 60 sq. yd. measurement did add 4 yards because I didn't want more than one seam in the U hallway.  The other seams will be at the doorways to the bedrooms (and a couple of closet sections).

Back to the padding:  The store said they would order two rolls of non-moisture barrier padding for me.  Don't know the price yet.  But we don't have a pet urine problem since our dog has been totally house trained for three years and has doggie doors for immediate outside access even if we aren't home.  My other concern would be if we spilled a liquid and the padding got wet underneath the barrier.  Would it dry okay? Spills shouldn't be a problem since, other than the dog, there are only two adults in the house. Thanks. C.J.

 

 

Hi CJ,

 

In your situation, the MB pad wouldn't hurt. Like I said, most rebond pads have a thin layer of plastic on the surface. Is that a 6 or 8 pound rebond? 7/16" thick? that's what you need, and the 8 pound would be better than a 6. Other than that, isn't it amazing how the measuring can swing so far? 87 yards to 58 that's a 29 yard difference!

 

Alan

 

 

Alan, What's your opinion on carpet with soft back?  It feels almost like felt on the back of the carpet versus a very rough backing for other carpets. Thanks. C.J.

 

 

Hi C.J.

 

From where I stand, soft back is just another added expense with little benefit to the consumer. It is not a necessary feature if you use a qualified carpet installer who is careful to not scratch your walls when they bring in the carpet and use a power stretcher to stretch in the carpet.

 

Alan Fletcher

 

 

Alan, That's what I thought. Thanks. C.J.

 

 

Hi C.J.

 

It's been a month since I've heard from you and I wanted to check in on you to see how your carpet purchase went. Did everything go alright? Who did you buy from, and would you recommend them? What was the name of the person that helped you? I hope I was helpful to you in your search for the right carpet. Your response will help me help others in your area.

 

Regards,

 

Alan Fletcher

 

 

Hi Alan, 

First of all:  bless you for your wonderful ebook.  Everything went well with one exception and perhaps this is normal but I wouldn't think so.  The installer's helper installed the carpet (very forcefully) on the stairs with a knee kicker (this manual form of stretching was something I expected).  But the day after they left, my husband and I found about four places on the stairs where entire tufts (like two or three in each instance) came loose when we pulled gently with thumb and forefinger.  We initially panicked and thought the carpet was unraveling but once the loose fibers were gone, the carpet looked fine.  The stairs was the only place we found this problem and I have since figured the person was too vigorous with the knee kicker and the grippers ripped these fibers from the backing. One tuft even had a piece of backing on it.  Could that be the case?  The installer didn't vacuum and I thought that should be part of finishing his job but he didn't see it that way.  I probably wouldn't hire this person again even though the carpet installation looks great. 

This part totally has nothing to do with the actual installation but I have to admit the installer did irritate me with his inappropriate sense of humor.  When I spoke of guarantees from the different carpet stores, his reply was he guaranteed his work...until the check cleared.  Ha, ha -- not funny.  That comment as well as a few others did not sit well with me. By the way, he actually guarantees his work for one year and he did check out fine with the BBB and the Oregon State Contractor's Licensing Board.

The carpet store I recommend without hesitation is "No Frills Flooring" located in Medford, Oregon, best carpet store in our valley.  They went the extra mile to get me everything I wanted.  They didn't balk at my request for specifications on each carpet -- went right to their computer, contacted the manufacturer, and printed out a spec sheet for me.  Also, the carpets are all labeled with the mill name and the original carpet names, no hiding behind phony names to confuse the customer.  They don't hire subcontractors to install your carpet but will give you a list of a dozen people who do the work -- you are on your own to choose someone and hire them.  Since this is what I wanted to do anyway, it worked well for me.

I noticed you don't have a recommendation for our area and urge you to include No Frills Flooring.  I went to four different carpet stores and this one was by far the best. The name of the person who helped me at No Frills is Dick Kyker.  He was very helpful, as well as patient and I was impressed with his follow through.  The padding I bought from them didn't have the density designated on my invoice, so I asked Dick to give me some kind of verification for my records that I purchased an 8 pound, 7/16 pad.  Even though it was after the carpet/material was completely paid for and installed, he didn't forget and mailed me the pad specification sheet.

My friends rely on me for recommendations because they all know I'm a fanatic about research and thoroughly check out each product, company and/or service person.  In fact, I have a "good" list and a "bad" list for all kinds of products and services in our area.  Once again, I found your book invaluable and well worth the $15 price.  Left to our own devices we might have ended up at Carpet One -- the store that was the most expensive and had the least quality of carpet.  The salespeople at Carpet One refused to talk specifics about their carpets and kept circling back around to their wonderful warranties and guarantees (which we both know are mostly baloney). 

Oh and by the way, one of the salesmen at No Frills Flooring knew about your ebook and said even he learned things from it that he didn't know.  If you would like to use any excerpts from my letter for your web site, please feel free.  

 

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The Carpet Professor's

Carpet Buying Guide

By Alan Fletcher - 30-year Carpet Expert & Consumer Advocate

 

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