We Were Blindsided by the Cost of This Common Household Upgrade

Don't overpay for this home improvement.

When I bought my first home — the one I would live in for 14 years — it was small, just under 1,000 square feet, and there were hardwood floors throughout. At one point, I decided to carpet two of the rooms. They weren’t that big, so it didn’t cost that much. No big deal.

Cut to my current home, in which every room needed new carpet. I was thinking, “No problem — shouldn’t be too bad.” I was adamant about putting in carpet throughout the house. I called several places and ended up going with the popular place we had seen a million commercials and billboards for over the years.

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Looking back, it’s funny. I went through the entire house showing the carpet guy how much carpet I wanted, how I wanted thick padding so you sink into the carpet and on and on and on. He was very accommodating, typing my every word into the tablet. I was excited. My husband and I had a new home; we were doing other small renovation projects throughout and fresh carpet would be the finishing touch. The eager carpet guy (who saw dollar signs in the commission he’d receive) looked up at me after calculating and said, “Great, Mrs. Kelly. That will run you about $20,000.”

Whoa, Nelly. Hold on a minute. Twenty-thousand dollars for three bedrooms, a living room, a dining room and one flight of stairs? Talk about serious sticker shock. Our budget was nowhere near that. It was more like $5,000 — which really may have been too low, but we had no clue.

At this point, we knew that we had to look at alternatives and do a little more research. Here is what we found.

Retail Carpet Stores

The stores with commercials on every channel often spend a lot of marketing dollars touting their quality carpets at low prices. When you deal with these stores, though, they push the pricier, plushier options. That’s how they get you.

You can certainly watch for sales and negotiate. Some may think you can’t negotiate the price of your carpet, but you definitely can (at least, we eventually did). Just be willing to walk away if they don’t come down on the price.

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Discount and Wholesale Carpet Stores

This is a great option, as there are a lot of discount stores out there that have nice carpet at reasonable prices. The main draw is that they are direct wholesalers of the carpet, so while there is obviously some markup, there is no retail markup. Therefore, you are cutting out the middleman. Some of the colors and options may be limited, but if you are patient and flexible, you can really get nice carpeting.

Home Improvement Stores

These could possibly be just as expensive as retail stores, depending on the type of carpet you want. What I like, however, is that you have numerous options to choose from. They also run a lot of specials, which you may not find in other places, and if you are a senior or a vet, they often offer additional discounts.

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The Winning Combination

In the end, we bought from two places. We went with that first retail company to carpet our bedroom and the hallway stairs because I really did like what I had chosen originally. I also negotiated down to a price I could live with. My husband wanted the den carpeted, as well, since that is where family and friends gather, so we found a good deal from a discount store for that room. As for the rest of the house, thank goodness the other rooms had nice hardwood floors underneath.

Amazing how reality will change what you just have to have. I went from needing the whole house carpeted to just having the two rooms and stairs done to stay within my budget. Instead of spending $20,000, we spent $2,500 — and I love the results.

If you’re in the market for new carpet, be sure to do your research and shop around. You might be surprised at all the great, affordable options out there.

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