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Budgeting for Carpet

By Michael Hilton

Now that the decision to move forward with your carpet purchase has been made, it is time to determine how much carpet will be needed, set a budget, and establish the range of acceptable carpet colors for design purposes. While color and cost amount to the most important buying decisions for most consumers, they are easily the single largest reasons for disenchantment with a new carpet performance. Too much emphasis is placed on color coordination within an established budget. This warning cannot be overstated and will appear throughout this guide.

The first step in establishing a budget is to diagram the area to be carpeted and perform an informal "lay-out" to determine the amount of carpet needed. This layout is to be used for your own rough estimation purposes! Before purchasing carpet, always insist that the retailer come to your home, make a visual site inspection, and create his or her own carpet installation diagram. This diagram does not have to be elaborate, but principal traffic patterns, closets, natural lighting sources (such as windows), and doorways should be noted. Keep in mind that carpet is manufactured in a linear fashion and the direction of manufacture must be consistent throughout the carpet installation to maintain texture, pattern, and even color consistency. While this will be explained in more detail later, at present you should be aware that the carpet pile leans in the direction of manufacture. When the direction of this pile lean is altered, light is reflected differently which causes a slight color change. When the pile direction is turned during carpet installation, it may appear that the color changes at the seam.

Carpet is manufactured in variety of widths, (12 ft, 13'6", and 15 ft) but most carpet is manufactured in 12-foot widths only. Simply measuring the dimensions of a room may not provide an accurate carpet measurement of the amount required. For example, a 10-ft by 10-ft room provides an area of 100 square feet. Since carpet is manufactured in 12-foot widths, 100 square feet equals 12 ft (width) by 8' 4";#34 (length) of carpet. Purchasing only 100 square ft of carpet would require seaming the 2 foot waste on from the 12 foot width as six 2 ft by 1' 8" seams across the length of the carpet to fit the 10 ft by 10 ft room. In this instance, 120 square feet of carpet would be required to properly install a 100 square foot room.

To compensate for these variables, it is best use a diagram to lay out the carpet, using scrap in closets and keeping in mind that the direction of manufacture must remain the same throughout the carpet installation. Consider the following layout diagram:

The layout of carpet is much the same as laying out a puzzle, except rather than having a predetermined place where the pieces go, the primary rule is that all carpet must be laid in the same manufactured direction.

A few other rules should be considered:

  • Seams should never fall perpendicular to doorways
  • Seams should run toward primary light sources when possible
  • Except in the case of stairs, which can be quarter turned, carpet should always run in the same direction.
  • Begin measurements in the center of doorways rather than at the base of walls.
  • Patterned goods, such as Berbers, require an additional 10% overage for pattern matching.

After establishing the estimated linear footage (12' x 44'), this number must be converted to square yards or square feet in some areas. To obtain square feet needed, simply multiply the length (44 feet) by the width (12 feet) to obtain 528 square feet. If the carpet is sold by the square yard divide this number by 9 (528 divided by 9 = 58.66 square yards). This allows you to establish a unit price for your budget.

Assuming you have established a $1500 budget for carpet only, the budgeted amount divided by the square feet of carpet needed (528 ft2) would provide the cost per square foot for carpet only ($2.84 per ft2 or $25.57 per yd2). Carpet installation and carpet cushion (carpet padding) prices should be added to this amount, but in most cases $1 per square foot should more than cover the cost of these goods and services. In some geographic areas, this number could be as little as half of this amount.

Carpet Color Selection

After establishing your budget and estimating the footage required, it is time to consider color choices. Color was probably the very first thing that came to mind when you began to think about buying new carpet. That's because color can be manipulated like a magic wand to create nearly any mood or effects you wish.

You may have heard that dark colors make a room look smaller. This is true. So you should stay away from dark colors --- right? Wrong! If your objective is to create a warm, cozy and sheltered look, a smaller "feel" is exactly what you want and dark, rich colors like hunter green or burgundy can work great. If a dark color is what you love, and it helps you capture the mood you want, go for it!

Pastels on the other hand, tend to enlarge a space. These colors create a restful and soothing mood. They're ideal when you want a formal, orderly and romantic tone.

Strong contrasts of colors are lively, exciting and energetic and can be a bold statement for your family's style of living.

Color can also change the feel of a room. In northward facing rooms and in cool climates, you can "warm up" the room with a warm color scheme featuring reds, yellows, oranges, peaches and apricots. In south facing rooms and in warm climates, a room can be made to feel more comfortable by using cool colors such as blues, purples, greens and teals. The carpet industry has a distinct advantage in requiring very short lead times from product conception, to production, to sampling and resell. As a result, the carpet industry is able to monitor color choices offered by the furniture industry, as well as other interior furnishings industries and provide complementary colors within a few weeks notice. Unfortunately, for the consumer, far too much emphasis is placed on coordinating colors and far too little emphasis on color prudence. Few consumers realize that carpet is a fabric exposed to foot traffic. Few materials subjected to this type of daily abuse and maintenance neglect perform with equal results. Foot traffic and soil type should be carefully considered when selecting carpet color.

In the days before Stainmaster®, it went without question that carpet was subject to stains and soil and color prudence was a matter of standard carpet selection. Carpets were principally drab browns, gold's, or avocado's and colors were selected to hide these immortal sins. After the release of stain-resist technology, carpet became a fashion statement with beautiful blue's, teal's, and even white's. While these products clean more readily than the older products, they do not hide soil as well as their forerunners because of color choice.

In selecting carpet color these facts should be considered. Now that you realize the impact color can have on the mood of a room, you can make your choice of color with greater confidence. Now where do you start? If you're redecorating, often an existing fabric, or a cherished piece of furniture can be a starting point and can stimulate your creativity. Working around an existing piece is an excellent way to start when making your color choice. Important: it is rarely desirable to match a color exactly. More visual interest is created by blending colors.

If the room is empty, start with the color that gets your creative juices flowing. If it's not a color that other household members love, the problem may be solved by the clever use of a color scheme that coordinates your choice with several colors. Carpet color is an emotional issue. But with these color selection tips, you can enter a carpet retailer with more confidence!

Lighting has a direct effect on the mood of a room and can create some of the most dramatic results. But it is one of the most neglected and underutilized design elements. Low voltage recessed lighting, halogen fixtures and floor and table lamps with opaque shades can all add further drama and intimacy to a space. The light distribution is directed at specific objects, not the entire room.

Ceiling surface-mounted fixtures, recessed down lights, lamps with translucent shades and floor lamps all create a bright, open and cheerful mood. When you see a room with lighting you like, pay attention to how it is done. Then you'll be able to incorporate those ideas in your own home.

Rather than gathering throw pillows and choosing a specific color to match, consider selecting a number of colors and a variety of lighter and darker shades. Consider the type of soil tracked into your home, how often carpet will be cleaned, the frequency of vacuuming, and the amount and type of carpet stains that will be subjected. Once these issues have been considered, the color choice may assure your future happiness with your purchase. Remember, newer carpets may clean more easily than older carpets, but they must be cleaned with regularity. They will not prevent the appearance of soil. It is possible to be pleased with white carpet as long as you understand and are willing to provide the carpet care required.

With these issues addressed, collect a variety of color preferences from wallpaper samples, throw pillows, furniture fabrics, and draperies and begin your search for a carpet retailer in which you have faith.

Now the process becomes confusing. You may encounter numerous carpet fiber types, Berber carpet and trackless, olefin and polyester, various brand names, conflicting information from retailers, foam cushion and rebond carpet padding, 5-year warranties and 10-year warranties, matting warranties and crushing warranties, stain warranties and stain assurances, and so on. The next few sections have been designed to address these issues and more. They may be more detailed than necessary, but once you have obtained samples from retailers and spread them across the floor for comparison, most of your questions should be addressed.

About the Author
Michael Hilton was the original creator of Carpet Buyers Handbook. Having owned and operated a carpet wholesale company, Hilton has a vast knowledge about all-things carpet related as well as other types of flooring.

Other Helpful Links
Carpet Benefits
Purchase Decision
Budgeting for Carpet
Shopping for Carpet
Private Labeling
Where to Shop for Carpet
Carpet Measuring
Carpet Tile
Carpet Tile Installation
Indoor Outdoor Carpet
Enjoying Your New Carpet

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