Best & Worst Places to Buy Carpet

Best & Worst Places to Buy Carpet

The Best & Worst Places to Buy Carpet & Flooring

By Alan Fletcher — Carpet Expert & Consumer Advocate.

Where to buy New Carpet? With over 30+ years of hands-on experience in the flooring business, I have compiled a list of Carpet & Flooring businesses who I think may or may not be worthy of your business.

A Locally-Owned Family Run Carpet Store

With a few remnants stood up along the back wall, some in-stock rolls of carpet on display, a neat and tidy showroom and a good selection of brand name carpet samples, this is my favorite choice, hands-down! These long-standing neighborhood retailers buy first-quality carpet directly from the carpet manufacturer. I firmly believe locally owned carpet dealers provide the best customer service, the best prices and are most knowledgeable. Should you ever have a problem, concern or complaint they will do whatever it takes to make sure you are completely satisfied. I have a special list of hand-picked locally owned carpet stores that I am proud to recommend. See who I recommend near you

Nationally Advertised or BIG-BOX Carpet Retailers

These corporately owned conglomerates blanket the airwaves with repetitive TV commercials, radio ads, billboards and bus stops! They have stores located all over the country and they seem to grow bigger and bolder every year. They do sell a lot of carpet and flooring but they also tend to get a lot of consumer complaints and negative reviews. I think home improvement warehouses fall into this category because they use private labels, they farm out their installations to other companies, they require 100% payment upfront at the time of purchase, and they may even charge you a fee just to measure your home. Should you have a carpet problem, they may just refer you to the installation company or have you contact the carpet manufacturer directly. In many cases, if you have a problem, no one is willing to step up and accept responsibility for your problem or complaint and you could be left holding the bag with a carpet that you are unhappy with. It amazes me when homeowners tell me they are going to buy from a home improvement warehouse just because they want to use the store’s credit card that offers a 10% discount. Don’t fall for those free or reduced cost carpet installation specials!

These are carpet and flooring peddlers who will send you small carpet samples through the mail. They want you to buy their carpet virtually sight unseen (other than a small swatch) There are no refunds on discounted carpets so you really have to be fully aware of all the fine print. You can save money if you buy from a reputable carpet wholesaler as long as you know exactly what you are buying and fully understand how the entire carpet buying process works and what is expected of you, especially with the delivery of the carpet and what you must do if you need to return a roll of carpet. Some carpet outlets stores are reputable and some are not. The burden of being knowledgeable about your purchase falls upon you.

Online Flooring Retailers

Need Hardwoods, Ceramic Tile or Laminate Flooring? These online companies move a lot of product and can be a smart way to go if you are careful and do your homework. The biggest problem I hear about is the poor quality of the materials. For example: If you buy hardwood flooring that is a low grade, it can be very difficult to install and the amount of unusable or damaged product can be significant. Buying first-quality hardwoods is much more costly but the outcome is much better than if you buy a cabin grade product and have as much as 25% waste. It’s hard to know how much material to order when you have no Idea about the amount of unusable product they will be sending you. It can be a real nightmare when you have to re-order more materials because you did not have enough to finish the job due to the amount of unforeseen waste.

Yes, you can save money if you buy from an online flooring wholesaler as long as you know exactly what quality or grade you are buying and know how the entire buying process works from start to finish. Even so, you are taking your chances because you must trust what the salesperson tell you. Shipping costs can be high too and if you are not happy with the product you may have to pay to ship it back and also pay a hefty re-stocking fee. Some online flooring retailers are reputable and some are not, and knowing the difference is the hard part. Even if you succeed in buying quality flooring at a discount, you still have to arrange for your own installation or do it yourself if you are so inclined.

Franchised Carpet Resellers

These carpet dealers are often locally-owned but are hooked up with a national carpet distributor or co-op to increase their buying power and decrease their shipping costs. They usually use private labels to prevent you from comparison shopping at other carpet local stores. It is often much more difficult to get carpet specifications from these resellers, and it makes it much more difficult to comparison shop their products. Even so, you can still negotiate a fair deal if you know what you are doing and don’t rely on their salespeople to make choices for you. Most co-ops do not provide installation so you will have to locate a good installation crew and pay them separately. You will have to work a bit harder to schedule and orchestrate everything, and may end up paying a little more buying from a franchised flooring dealer. but they usually have a list of local installers for you to call and they do offer a wide range of quality flooring products.

Buying Carpet from a Carpet Layer

Some carpet layers have longstanding relationships with local carpet dealers, or may have a way to order new carpet and padding at near wholesale prices from local suppliers. Carpet layers often end up with sizable leftovers from bigger carpet jobs because carpet so many salespeople over-measure their jobs.

When there is a lot of carpet leftover the installer may take it home and try to sell it on craigslist or in the local newspaper. If you find an installer who has some leftover carpet or other flooring materials available at a very special price, you need to understand that they have a limited supply of those materials and have no way of getting any more of the exact same color or style. There is no manufacturer’s warranty on these materials whatsoever and no recourse if you end up unhappy with the performance. Still, you can find some real bargains this way. I suggest you check references, verify their contractors license and business liability insurance to make sure they are all current and up-to-date. This might be an inexpensive way to go if you are just doing one or two rooms or if you need to replace carpet or flooring for a rental property.

Shop-at-Home Carpet Retailers

Many people love the convenience of not having to travel from store to store and prefer having samples brought to their home. It makes matching colors easier in your own home. Many locally owned carpet dealers are now offering shop-at-home services and this can a good way to go for those who don’t want to drive all around town. There are a few nationally advertised shop-at-home flooring dealers that I do not recommend because they tend to sell inferior products, have unreasonably high prices and have high-pressure salespeople. I believe that in-home carpet shopping is a wonderful service for folks who have a hard time getting around and don’t mind paying a bit extra for the convenience. There are reputable carpet dealers that offer quality products, knowledgeable salespeople and reasonable prices but they are hard to find today because the shop-at-home concept is just getting started. For those who are looking for the absolute best carpet deal, a shop-at-home service will not likely be the lowest cost option you are seeking.

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