Smart and careful shoppers always research and compare when they are buying carpets. Trouble is, no matter how much time you spend picking out the perfect carpet for your home, the carpet installation process is where it can go all wrong. Your subfloor may need preparation, the under pad you chose may be inadequate, and the thresholds and room transitions may be inferior. And if that’s not enough, then you might get separating seams and unsightly sags and bumps. Whew!
What is the existing floor surface?
Will you be laying the carpet on an existing hardwood floor or floor tile? This may require a different approach to the under pad than a bare concrete floor. Even if you have a pristine new floor onto which you want to add carpeting, you still need a quality under pad.
Room transitions, base moldings, doors, and stairways
Room Transitions: If you’re planning to have every room in the whole house carpeted, then you might not need any transitions from room to room. However, anywhere you have a transition from a carpeted room to a non-carpeted room is going to require a transition.
Should the transition match the carpet or the type of flooring in the other room? If you have hardwood in the other room, you may want to use a hardwood transition in the doorway if, and that’s a big if, the hardwood transition strip doesn’t provide a tripping hazard.
Base moldings: Unless both your carpeting and under-pad together are paper thin; you’re probably going to have to re-position or replace your base molding. A good part of the time they aren’t very expensive, but it depends on what you already have.
Cutting the doors: The doors to the various rooms inside your home are meant to have an air gap on the bottom. If you have the same hardwood floor everywhere, then the air gap is minimal.
If you decide to choose a luscious Berber carpet and a cushy-comfy under pad on either side of the door, then you’re going to have to figure out how to compensate for the airflow. Some people install vents. Other people cut an inch or so off the bottom of the door. This is definitely not a DIY project.
Stairway Regulations: If your home has stairs and you’re thinking about carpeting, there are some important regulations to consider. Each step’s height, including the first step and the last step, must be within the allowed variance. Yes, it’s complicated, and it’s important. You wouldn’t believe how many people fall and suffer serious injuries when the step is somehow taller or shorter than they expect.
Do you have pet-proof carpeting?
Can anything be more entertaining than watching an energetic cat or dog perform amazing feats of agility on a carpet? Any carpet gives them an excellent grip to show off their best. Unfortunately, accidents can happen, and I hope you have the type of carpet that can handle it.
Some top-quality carpets are stain-resistant, and they include a barrier that will prevent pet accidents from soaking through to the flooring materials underneath. Here again, the under pad you choose plays an important part. A top-quality under pad will also handle pet accidents and help prevent mold and mildew.
Sometimes high traffic may require outdoor carpet
Outdoor carpeting these days is so good that I defy anyone to spot a good quality outdoor carpet as anything but a good indoor quality carpet. It may not be your first choice for a living room, but it can be a wise flooring option for a mudroom or a very high-traffic corridor to the outdoors.
“What’s all that noise upstairs?”
You guessed it, adding a carpet and under-pad can reduce the transfer of noise from room to room and from floor to floor. The heavier the carpet fibers and the thicker the under pad, the less noise will go through. Some under-pads are specifically designed to reduce noise transfer. This alone can make it worth it to spend more time thinking about under padding.
An overview of under-pads
How dense will the pad be? Underpads are commonly measured in weights per cubic foot, and somehow but some math I won’t ever understand, this is sort of related to the thickness. Don’t ask me to explain it.
The denser the pad, the better the protection for your carpeting. When you think of the hundreds of thousands of times carpets are trampled on, it stands to reason that they will last longer with a dense under pad that provides shock absorption for the carpet fibers.
Rubber Pads, felt pads, and urethane under pads are the most common types available. They each have their advantages, and the type of carpet you have and the subfloor involved can help determine which will work best for you.
Carpet tiles means easy carpet replacement
If you’re a little worried about a particular room and whether or not any carpeting will be able to stand up to the use and abuse, it’s time to consider carpet tiles. No matter what happens, it’s easy to replace a carpet tile or two, or three, or however many are necessary. When you choose carpet tiles, it makes it easy to take as many samples home to see what they will look like in the actual room.
Shop till you drop, but please insist on professional installers
Do all the research you like to find the carpet you want but please double and triple check the reputation the store has for installation. Some outlets may have some decent products and some good prices, but the installation is where they cut corners. When you’re buying carpet, it’s really a package deal.
Also, make sure the carpet installation cost is included along with all the necessary incidentals. That’s why it’s so important to look for a local store you can trust and make sure both the products and services they offer have an excellent track record.