How Much Does Carpet Installation Cost on Average?

Did you know that people have been putting carpet in their homes since 1791? And it remains one of the most popular choices of flooring for homes today. 

Carpet offers many advantages over other types of flooring, such as added comfort and affordability. But there are many factors that can impact how much you will pay for carpet installation. It can be difficult to know where to start.

While carpet installation cost will be unique to your home or apartment, there are a few general considerations for determining what product is right for you. The information below will help you get the ball rolling towards updating your old carpet or replacing your flooring. You can have confidence that you are getting a quality product for whatever budget you have. 

Carpet Basics

Before we dig into features that directly impact installation, it may be useful to think about some of the advantages of carpet in general. First, carpet offers a broad range of colors and shades that can match the style of any room. Unlike hardwoods or laminate that only come in certain colors, carpet can add almost any color, shade, or hue to your room.

Carpet also adds comfort and safety to your living space. It’s pleasant to walk on and acts as padding for your floor. If you have a home with young children, this affords an added level of safety against trips or falls. Also, hardwood or laminate flooring can be slippery. Carpet offers an added layer of grip.

Carpeting also muffles direct footsteps or other sounds in the room. This makes it particularly useful for areas of your home that tend to generate a lot of noise.

Wood or tile will show any minor scratch or scuff. But carpet can be cleaned, patched, and otherwise repaired. However, it must be properly maintained in order for it to last. Regular vacuuming and annual professional cleaning can go a long way to lengthening the life of the material.

It’s worth noting that carpet may not be suitable for every room of your house. Areas with a lot of foot traffic could quickly damage it, as could heavy furniture over time. Exposure to heavy sunlight can cause it to fade.

Carpeting may not be a good fit for basements, workspaces, or other areas prone to spills or staining. But that does not mean you can’t install carpet in these areas; it just requires the right kind.

Factors That Impact Carpet Installation Cost

According to the website Home Advisor, the average carpet cost per square foot is between $1 and $20. This means a 600 square foot room would cost between $600 and $12,000. There are a lot of variables that contribute to this wide range of pricing. Here are the major ones to consider.

Area and Labor

How much carpeting you wish to have installed will obviously impact the cost. But one thing to keep in mind is that, like many services, flooring companies will give discounts for larger projects. While doing several spaces at one time would yield a larger total price tag, it could help drive down the square-footage cost for you.

Since carpet is cut to fit a specific room, the geometry of the space most likely will not impact the total cost. However, stairs are a different story. Installers will charge extra–about $3 to $10 per stair–for carpeting the entire step and riser of a staircase.

Expect to pay even more for box stairs that have two-sided risers on each step. These will range from $15 – $25 per stair. Be sure to go over these details with a flooring expert, so that you know the total cost upfront.

There are other labor costs to consider. If the project requires ripping up old carpet and padding, there will be an added cost. If you’re installing wall-to-wall carpeting in a room, the installer may need to adjust or replace the baseboards or trim in order to accommodate the material.

It is important for the subflooring in your home to be stable and level so that the carpet lays flat. The installer may need to repair or replace your entire subfloor. And if the subflooring is a concrete slab, it may require the installation of moisture barriers to prevent mold and keep the carpet from warping.

Another big factor that could impact labor costs is furniture moving. Some flooring companies may include this service with the installation costs. Others may charge a fee. Some do not do it at all, and you would need to have the furniture removed before they arrive to put in the carpet.

Labor cost is something that a reputable flooring company will go over with you beforehand. But remember to ask about what options they offer before you commit to a contract.

Material

Material is the most impactful aspect of carpet cost. Options include wool, nylon, polyester, Triexta, and polypropylene.

Nylon, polyester, Triexta, and polypropylene all fall in the same price range: about $1.00 per square foot. Wool may cost as much as three times that. A carpet professional will be able to advise you on selecting the right material depending on the room.

Sheep wool is considered the gold standard in carpet material. It is extremely durable, as well as comfortable. But it’s also the most expensive, running about $3.00 per square foot (not counting installation or other costs).

In addition to durability, wool is best known for its elasticity. It cannot be crushed or tamped down, even after years of foot traffic. Since it’s natural, it is one of the most environmentally friendly options.

There are a few downsides to wool carpet though. It is prone to minor shedding and is susceptible to insect infestations, like moths and certain types of beetle. But most wool carpeting is treated for these flaws before installation.

Nylon is one of the most popular fabric choices for carpet. It’s also very durable, stain-resistant, and has great elasticity. There is a wide range of thicknesses for nylon carpet. This makes it available at various price points. One drawback to nylon is its lack of breathability, which means it will fluctuate with room temperature more dramatically than other materials.

Of all carpet materials, polyester is the most resistant to fading. This makes it a great choice if you are interested in vibrant colors. It’s also resistant to staining and is very soft and comfortable. But polyester is less durable than materials like wool or nylon. So, it is best to use it in lower-traffic areas.

Triexta is a name brand of a synthetic carpet material that is similar to polyester. It is extremely stain- and water-resistant, even without any added protectant. This is why it is popular for basements and other areas that have a lot of moisture.

Triexta is reasonably priced for its level of durability. One drawback though is that it can be more difficult to clean. Even regular vacuuming can be a challenge.

If you want a fabric that is easy to clean, polypropylene is it. It’s another synthetic material used in carpeting that is a popular choice for families with young children or pets. It’s easy to remove spills and stains from polypropylene carpet. For this reason, it has become a more economical alternative to wool. One downside to it is that it is more flammable than other carpet materials. So, it should not be used in rooms with fireplaces.

Style

In addition to a variety of colors and materials, carpet style options vary as well. Different styles can complement diverse decorating schemes or room functions. There are four main types of carpet style: berber; saxony; frieze; and “cut and loop.”

Berber is a “loop” style residential carpet that resembles many commercial ones. The fabrics are tightly sewn into the backing. This greatly increases the durability of the carpet and makes berber style very popular for handling heavy foot traffic. 

Saxony is a medium-height carpet that is quite versatile. It looks great in formal settings but also is used in high-traffic areas since it can minimize footprints.

Frieze is a longer cut carpet that has a more casual feel since the fibers can lay in different directions. It is what most people think of when referring to “shag” carpet.

“Cut and loop” carpet features some fibers that have been shorn and others that have been looped. This produces a pattern design in the fabric and gives it a modern look.

In general, frieze carpet design is the most affordable. Berber and “cut and loop” designs will be slightly more expensive but in the same range. Saxony style is the most expensive.

Another thing that will impact cost is the thickness of the fibers in the carpet. Thicker carpet produces a more plush and comfortable feel but will increase the price.

Padding

Carpet padding sits on the subfloor and is an important component of carpeting. It keeps the carpet backing–what the fabric is woven into–in place. It also contributes to softness, insulation, and noise reduction. In most cases, the carpet padding should be replaced any time new carpet is installed.

The main things to consider with padding are thickness and weight. Different carpets require varying levels of thickness in padding. And heavy padding generally equals greater durability. However, depending on the location in your home, heavier padding may not be necessary.

The main types of carpet padding are foam, fiber, and rubber. Standard foam padding often comes free with carpet installation. However, it is the least durable and should only be used in extremely low-traffic areas.

Frothed foam padding, or “memory foam,” returns to its original form after it is depressed. It is on the other end of the price spectrum from standard foam and is a popular choice both because of its durability and comfort.

Synthetic and natural fiber paddings work well with some short-fiber carpets and are very reasonable in price. Also, some carpet warranties call for fiber padding. The drawbacks are that these pads are not very spongy or soft. Also, natural fiber padding can be prone to mold in high-moisture areas.

Rubber padding comes in two different categories. Waffle rubber is a good midrange product. It is very durable and is comparable in price to frothed foam padding. Slab rubber padding is perhaps the most durable option. It is also the most expensive. These can last decades and work well with special features like radiant heating (see below).

Extra Features

A final factor that will impact the total cost of carpet installation is any extra features you opt for. Carpets can be made to be fade- and stain-resistant, as well as hypoallergenic. And additives can be applied to the carpet to make it water-resistant. Also, carpet padding can be treated to resist things like pet urine and odors.

Radiant heating is a feature that can help keep drafty rooms at a comfortable temperature. This is a system that efficiently and silently produces radiant heat underneath the carpet. These have become popular especially in older homes. In terms of cost, it can add up to $20 per square foot, but it is a feature that is difficult to add later on. Note that some types of carpet work better with radiant heating than others.

Be sure to discuss these options upfront with a flooring expert. If there are features that you definitely want, then it may help narrow down the available products that can accommodate them.

Why Wait

Most flooring companies will give you a free estimate. While this may involve some time going over the details with several different companies, it can help save you a lot of money. You can find the best price for the product you want.

Be sure to read online reviews, and see what other customers are saying. Consider all of your options. There also are online resources to help you further explore carpet options. With this and the information above you will be equipped to begin the process of selecting a product that will improve the comfort and value of your home.

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