Avoid regret when getting new carpet

Harry Tishler knows flooring. His family's experience spans more than a century.  He says because people don't buy carpet very often – with proper maintenance it lasts about 10 years – they often make mistakes when trying to select the right color or texture.

"One of the things that some people do is they'll take it outside in the natural light and they'll try and get the true color. Well, the issue is you don't live outside so the carpet's not gonna have the same appearance outside as it is inside," he said.

"Selecting the color of the carpet you're going to put in your house can be a bit tricky," added Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List. "A lot of times people take the sample and are looking at it really up close. Your best bet is to lay it down in the room you are going to be having the carpet installed and look at it from a distance like you are walking in the room. Also, be sure you are looking at it in different lighting. Look at it at night when the lights overhead are on and also during the day when the sun is shining in."

Once you've picked your new carpet, don't overlook the importance of padding. 

"The padding is the least expensive component of a carpet purchase. So, to move from a basic rate pad up to one step up or a slightly more dense cushion is very, very minimal dollars and everyone should consider it or at least get the option to buy better cushion," said Tishler.

Before the carpet installation begins, talk with your installer about seams and where they'll be placed.

"Having an invisible seam is not something a company can promise before they actually install the carpet. It's a little tricky. So, if they are promising invisible seams they are probably over selling in that scenario," Hicks recommended.

While seams are unavoidable, you can minimize their appearance by making sure they run with the direction of the light or you can make sure they're placed under furniture.

Angie's List says don't forget to ask what's included in the price of the carpet – does it include padding and installation?  You should also ask about charges for miscellaneous services like removing and hauling away old carpet, moving furniture or upholstering carpet on steps.

Although proper maintenance can dramatically extend the life of your carpet, every carpet that sees regular use will need to be replaced sooner or later. Some of the signs can be obvious, but there are others that may be more subtle.

Angie's List: 6 Signs Your Carpet Needs Replaced

  • Stains in carpet. Are you covering up stains with furniture and rugs when cleaning fails to remove them? If your house is starting to resemble a minefield, it's time to replace the carpet. Most carpets come with a stain-resistant finish, but over time, the treatment fades and eventually leaves the carpet unprotected.
  • Wear and tear. Has your carpet seen better days? Are you putting rugs all over it to cover rips and tears, or rearranging furniture to cover defects? Are your kids scared to lay on it? Matted carpet, tears and significant wear on the main walkways are major signs your carpet is on its death bed. Polyester carpet fibers have a reputation of matting and losing their form. Once it falls down and loses its tuft, it doesn't return to normal, even with professional cleaning. Nylon carpeting, however, is typically more resilient than polyester and responds well to carpet cleaning, even when matted down.
  • Stinky carpet. If you own a pet or haven't cleaned in a while, you may notice a lingering smell on your carpet, but the odor should be gone or noticeably diminished after a proper cleaning. If it doesn't, this means that the odor has penetrated deep into the carpet fibers, the carpet pad or the subfloor, and it may even indicate mold and mildew growth. In cases like these, it's often more cost effective to replace the entire carpet completely in order to fully eliminate the odor or odors
  • Condition of carpet padding. Carpet padding is like the pillow under the case, the carpet is nothing but a layer of fabric without the padding. It helps support the carpet, working as a foundation and making it comfortable to walk and lay on. It buffers sounds and keeps a room quieter and even improves insulation. However, carpet padding also absorbs a lot of spills, and cleaning the carpet doesn't necessarily clean the padding. Signs of aging padding include unevenness, wrinkles and a crinkling sound when someone walks over it
  • Increased allergy symptoms. Often, older carpets catch and retain more allergens and particulate matter, which may cause your allergies to act up. If you notice an increase in allergies, one source may be your older carpet.
  • Old carpet. Are you still using the 1970s shag carpet that came with your house? Have you had it cleaned several times? Believe it or not, carpet doesn't last forever, even with good care. Most manufacturers say carpet should last for 10 years with proper care. After 10 years, signs of wear show on the major walkways and the carpet fibers start losing their texture and tuft. If you find yourself cleaning the carpet over and over and not getting the results you want, it might be time to lay the carpet to rest. Signs of old carpet include color loss, fading, matting, ripples, wrinkles and lack of padding support.

  • Angie's List Guide to Carpets: http://www.angieslist.com/flooring/carpeting.htm