Never, under any circumstance, should you base a carpet purchase decision solely on warranty. While the warranty may sound convincing, read the fine print. Most warranties offer very little piece of mind once you understand the warranty coverage.
The most common carpet warranty is a “wear” warranty. The definition of “wear” in the consumers mind may be somewhat different than “wear” in the manufacturers mind. Wear warranties were initiated when nylon was attempting to replace wool as the fiber of choice in carpet constructions. Since wool was a natural hair fiber, it had the tendency to “wear” down through abrasion. Bald spots would actually develop in highly trafficked pivot areas. In other areas the wool fiber would become so thin, the backing could easily be seen.
Since nylon was highly abrasion resistant, foot traffic had very little effect on this tough new fiber. To capitalize on this, a five year wear warranty was issued with all nylon constructions to publicize the fact that nylon would not wear away.
Unfortunately, in the consumer’s mind, the definition of wear has been lost. Currently, the consumer has the impression that “wear” relates to maintaining appearance levels. If this is your definition of wear, you are bound for disappointment.
Other warranties such as matting and crushing should be reviewed carefully as well. Matting is the intermingling of yarn tips or untwisting of the yarn. There may be an acceptable loss of twist built into these warrantees that may be unacceptable to the average consumer. These are not absolute warrantees. Crushing, or the flattening of the pile, may have a clause that states if the pile can be restored to within a certain percent of the original pile height, the warranty does not apply. Hot water extraction and a pile rake will usually restore pile height which upholds the warranty. Of course, the first foot step will flatten the pile fiber once again.
An appearance warranty is by far the best warranty available, but these warrantees are murky. The best recommendation is to have the salesperson paraphrase the warranty for you and put in writing their description of what the warranty states.
If a carpet installation warranty is issued by the retailer, ask that it be written on the sales contract. What is not covered by a manufacturers warranty- Most consumer complaints are not related to a manufacturing defect. Many complaints can be attributed to improper carpet installation, improper carpet care, or misinterpretation of warranties.
The most common complaint involving carpet is related to improper carpet installation. These complaints should be directed to the carpet retailer or carpet installation subcontractor if the carpet installation was not contracted by the retailer.
Improper care and maintenance related problems is another common consumer complaint. Often, appearance changes in traffic areas, color changes, excessive soiling, and staining can be attributed to improper care and maintenance. Some warranties require that receipts for professional cleaning services be supplied for verification of proper care.
Another common warranty issue is the incidence of water intrusion or flood damage. Most carpet manufacturers void warrantees after flood damage has occurred. Most insurance companies prefer to restore carpet that has been subjected to water damage. Since manufacturers rarely become involved in the details of these water intrusion events, they are uncertain how the carpet will continue to perform after flooding.
Finally, many carpet complaints can be attributed to misinterpretation of specific warranties. The most common warranty misinterpretations are related to wear and stains. Many consumers assume that changes in the appearance of traffic areas is related to wear. However, most wear warranties cover a loss of pile fiber rather than a change in appearance. Most stain warranties cover common food and beverage stains, but consumers often file claims prior to adequate removal attempts. Newer stain warranties require the consumer to contact an area carpet cleaner and the manufacturer will intervene only if the stain cannot be removed. Other items that are not covered under stain warranties include bleaching agents, chemical agents, and fading. For a complete description of all items covered under all warranties, obtain a written copy of all warranties prior to carpet installation.
Buying carpet is the third most expensive consumer purchase. The Buying Carpeting section of the Carpet Buyers Handbook addresses a number of consumer questions, when shopping for carpet. Carpet benefits, carpet myths, how to budget for carpeting, carpet cushion selection, where to buy carpet, questions to ask when buying carpeting, carpet warranty issues, and carpet color selection are each discussed in detail. For questions related to Carpet R-value, acoustics, and safety issue visit our carpet benefits tab. For carpet myths, such as Kawasaki Syndrome, carpet allergies, and carpet chemical emissions visit our Carpet Myths section. For carpet measuring for installation, visit budgeting for carpet.