Shopping for carpet

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Think about how the carpet will be used before making any decisions.

  • Will it be in a formal or informal area?

  • How much traffic will move over the carpet?

  • Will the carpet be near an entrance where dirt can be tracked in?

  • How will the carpet fit your decor?

  • What kind of look or feel do you want for a room?

  • Is air quality a concern? Look for carpet that is approved by The Carpet and Rug Institute for indoor air quality.

Choose types of fiber and types of carpet based on your use requirements. 


  • Water and soil resistant carpet is treated with chemicals such as Scotchguard or Teflon to prevent fibers from absorbing stains.  Carpet fibers should be treated with these repellents before the backing is put on the carpet for better protection.  Interface Solenium, DuPont Stainmaster Plus, and Monsanto Wear Dated II are popular brands of stain resistant carpet.

  • Antistatic treatments resist static electricity from friction against carpets.  Acrylic or olefin (polypropylene) fibers are often used because of their low static level.

  • Footprint-free, trackless, or track-resistant carpets (usually level loop piles such as Berbers) are tightly twisted and hide vacuum marks and footprints.

  • Crush resistant carpets (usually textured cut pile) have tightly twisted fibers to limit crushed fibers.


There are no right choices when it comes to color.  Consult home decor magazines for advice.  Look at your surroundings to help choose a color range (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, brown, or gray).  What colors and surfaces do the walls and furniture have? Generally, wall and carpet should have at least a little contrast in color.  Take carpet samples home to get a good feel with the surrounding decor and lighting.  Flowers, plants, and candles can all contribute to the feel of a room.

Keep the following general guidelines in mind.  Darker carpets tend to show lint and dust, disguise dirt, and make a room seem smaller and cozier.  Lighter carpets tend to disguise lint and dust, show dirt (except stain resistant carpets), and make a room seem larger.  Middle tones and multicolored carpets disguise lint, dust, and dirt. Remember that carpet fibers that are dyed before being attached to backing are more colorfast. 

Depending on your decor, there is no rule that carpet has to be uniform throughout a dwelling.  Kid Carpet, for example, has whimsical carpets for children's rooms.


Multiply the length and width of each room in feet.  Most carpet is sold in widths of 12 and 15 feet.  Multiply by 1.1 for a safety factor.  Use the Carpet Estimator below to make these calculations.  Carpet retailers and installers will often offer to measure the rooms for you.  Their measurements might be more accurate and efficient because of their experience.  Irregular shaped rooms, wide spaces, hallways, closets, and seams all add to the quantity of carpet required.

Carpet Estimator 

Room Measurements
Width: Feet Inches
Length: Feet Inches


You are covering square feet ( square yards) in this room.

You need a length of about feet of 12-foot wide carpet or feet of 15-foot wide carpet.

You need a length of about yards of 12-foot wide carpet or yards of 15-foot wide carpet.

Take a look at for a more robust carpet estimator.


After considering the other more important factors, you can begin looking for a good price.  Consider buying the best quality carpet you can afford for high traffic areas such as hallways, entrances, and stairs.  Consider buying lesser quality carpet for lower traffic areas such as guest rooms.

Carpets range from $8 per square yard for olefin up to $70 per square yard for velvet cut pile.  Brand names tend to cost more.  Padding and installation cost an additional $5 to $10 per square yard.

Take notes about carpets you like and compare them from store to store.  Ask all carpet retailers to provide complete estimates including carpet, padding, installation, and other needs (such as carpet disposal and furniture moving).

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