Buying Carpet From Lowe’s, Home Depot, Empire or Costco?

Buying Carpet From Lowe’s, Home Depot, Empire or Costco?

By Alan Fletcher – 30+ Year Carpet Expert, Trusted Consumer Advocate, aka “The Carpet Professor

What Homeowners Need to Know… Before Signing the Check!

The last time I checked, all four of these Giant National Carpet Retailers use OTHER companies to facilitate their carpet sales, measuring and/or installation services. 

That means if you ever have a carpet problem or complaint, you may have a hard time getting anyone to help you or take responsibility for making things right. 

Do You Know…

  • Home Depot, Lowe’s and Costco contract out all their measuring and installation services to various privately-held companies? 

  • Empire Today REQUIRES all their salespeople to form their own CORPORATION so they will be Independent Sales Contractors


What does this all mean to YOU the homeowner? With so many fingers in the pie it is not too hard to figure out that you might end up paying way too much for your new carpet.

These four nationally advertised conglomerates take a large chunk of the profit right off the top and then let all the other privately held companies and independent sales contractors each have a shot at making more money from your purchase. 

From costly measuring fees to needless carpet and padding upgrades, from carpet and padding removal and disposal fees to installation extra unnecessary and costly add-ons, there are plenty of ways they will try to make you cough up a lot more money before it’s all said and done. 

The Lure of a Great Sounding Deal…

  • Get Three Rooms for the Price of One!

  • Get 60% OFF New Carpet

  • Free Basic Installation!

  • Free Padding!

  • Low Price Guarantee!

Do these sales gimmicks sound familiar? Get out your magnifying glass so you can read all the fine print regarding these unbelievable offers. These advertised deals are designed to attract unsuspecting homeowners who would like to save money but don’t know how to go about doing it properly. Unfortunately, these four retail carpet-selling conglomerates are heavy hitters with deep pockets who have only one thing in mind: Making Big Money by tricking you into buying from them.

Both Lowe’s and Home Depot have been trying to lure-in unsuspecting homeowners for years by giving away low-cost or free “basic” carpet installation. They make up a portion of this sneaky sales gimmick by charging more for the carpet and padding and by greatly increasing the cost for anything extra you might need to complete the job. They increase the fees and charges for anything and everything that is considered beyond their limited definition of a “basic” installation. Their so-called “free” carpet installation that lured you in, may not be totally free once their sub-contracted measuring people and installers get a good look at what you really need to complete the project in your home. 

It’s highly likely there will be numerous extra fees & charges tacked- on to your final bill. Final bill? Yes, and they also will require that you pay for the whole carpet job IN FULL before they will place your carpet and/or flooring order. 

The final bill comes on the day of installation when the installer determines that your job additional labor for moving furniture, or any extra labor or materials that can be considered beyond the limited definition of a “Basic” carpet installation. 

These extras can easily add up to hundreds for extra fees & charges that you were not warned about. 

As Gomer Pyle would say… Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!

Home Depot’s Low-Price Guarantee? They say they will beat any competitor’s price by 10%, but according to the fine print, that’s only on identical in-stock items. That makes it virtually impossible to substantiate because they use private labels on all their carpet samples. 

They change the name of all their carpet styles and colors to make it difficult for you to comparison shop. A low-price guarantee sure sounds good until you read all their fine print.

The Big Box home improvement warehouses have been charging homeowners a measuring fee just for coming to your home and sizing you up. From what I have been told by industry insiders, their licensed & certified measuring specialists they contract with are required to measure your home using a “special method”. Does that mean they add another 5, 10 or 15% of material to the total? Likely so!

You may never know your accurate measurements for sure unless you get several bids or estimates from other local dealers, but basically the big box retailers want to make darn sure there is more than enough carpet or flooring materials to work with so they never have to worry about running short of material during installation. That might translate into you paying for a lot more for new carpet & pad then you might actually need. Just an extra 10 yards of material could easily add $250 or more to your total cost of your job. Ouch!

Empire Today likes to attract customers by airing repetitive TV ads featuring unbelievable sales offers with next day installation. If you call them, they will send a sales professional to your home who will show you samples and try to “close the sale” on the spot. Are you getting a fair & square deal? 

How long will these flooring products last in your home based on your level of foot traffic? Are they trying to sell you a low-quality Polyester carpet and say it’s as durable as a Nylon Carpet? These are just a few questions that you need solid answers to before you should commit yourself to buying from any shop-at-home flooring retailer. 

All these retailers all use private labels on their products and use independent contractors to measure, sell or install their products. If you have a complaint, you may have to deal directly with the independent contractors to get a remedy. Have a Carpet defect? You’ll have to contact the carpet manufacturer. Have an installation problem? You’ll have to contact the carpet installer. Did the salesperson misrepresent the product you purchased? You will have to contact the independently contracted salesperson. If you can’t get a remedy you may have to file a claim in small claims court.

Costco members are shown a small display with a rack full of miniature carpet samples. (Lately they have been taking the samples down) See the photo at the top of this page? If you grab their free brochure you will be provided with a phone number to call to start your in-home Carpet Consultation Process. A salesperson will bring samples to your home and be happy to write up your order and arrange for installation. 

While they do carry some good quality carpet, be prepared for sticker shock when you see what the total cost will be. Again, you can’t comparison shop easily because they change the carpet style names and colors to thwart you. You would need to take their carpet samples with you into other carpet stores to try to compare both samples side by side. It’s definitely not easy to do. 

I’ve spent over 30-years in the carpet business and my father was a mill rep for 35 years. I know what I am talking about. If you are in the market for new carpet or flooring of any kind, I think you should consider buying from one of the dealers that I have listed in my Preferred Carpet Dealer Directory

It’s taken me years to locate, investigate and identify these locally owned and family-run businesses and I think they are the best of the best here in America!

I suggest you visit several flooring retailers near you, get several estimates and be sure visit a carpet store that I recommend if you can. You decide for yourself who to buy from. When it’s all said and done, I think you will agree that my preferred dealers are the most knowledgeable, Reliable and reputable! 

You’ll be treated with respect, get a fair & square deal and get great customer service… Before, during and after the sale. See who I recommend near you! Visit Alan’s List of Recommended Carpet Dealers (don’t forget to print up my free coupon so you can get up to $100 off new carpet!)

There’s a lot more you need to learn before you head out to shop for new carpet. 

Should I buy New Carpet from Lowe’s or Home Depot?

Common Consumer Carpet Problems & Complaints

Alan’s List of Recommended Carpet Dealers

Who Or What Causes Carpet Wrinkles?

Top 10 Causes for Carpet Wrinkles, Ripples or Waves

Any new carpet can quickly develop wrinkles, especially if your carpet was not stretched in properly in the first place. However, there are many other reasons why your carpet might develop wrinkles, carpet waves or carpet ripples.

Here are my Top 10 main causes of carpet wrinkles and who or what may be the cause of your problems.

Don’t be a victim of a carpet scam, you need to know your best recourse and what can do about it to have a successful resolution to your carpet wrinkle problem for the least cost to you.

Read my full article Top 10 Cause for Carpet Wrinkles, Ripples or Waves

If your carpet is still under warranty, begin your carpet complaint by contacting the retailer where you purchased your new carpet. You want them to come to your home and inspect your carpet.

You need to give the dealer or retailer sufficient time to investigate and come to some conclusion as to the probable cause of your carpet problem and hopefully figure out who may be responsible for your carpet wrinkles. If they fall short and don’t satisfy you then you need to consider other options.


Free Carpet Buying Checklist

Check out my free Carpet Buying and Installation Checklist for Homeowners

By Alan Fletcher – Carpet Expert and Consumer advocate

Learn what questions you need to ask and what you need to do before,during and after you have new carpet installed in your home!

Learn little-known insider tricks and tips to make sure you get the job done right the first time and what you must do to keep your new carpet warranty in force. Discover smart ways to ensure you side-step common consumer mishaps and avoid costly carpet buying and installation problems and mistakes.

Print or View Checklist

Visit my website for more carpet buying information: Carpet Professor.com

Frieze and Berber Carpet Styles

My friends over at The Carpet Guys in Detroit MI have a new post on their blog about the differences between Frieze and Berber carpet styles that is a very worthwhile read for any consumer in the market for new carpet. Here is their blog link: http://bit.ly/1SZZg94

Most homeowners quickly discover that selecting new carpet is difficult, time consuming and confusing. CarpetProfessor.com was created to help educate homeowners sort through all the nonsense. If you don’t do your carpet homework, there are dozens of ways for you to make costly mistakes and end up unhappy with your carpet purchase. Making wise choices requires that you do your carpet homework before you begin shopping for carpet. 

Carpet Professor

Is Berber Carpet a Good Choice?

Is Berber Carpet a Good Choice?

By Alan Fletcher-Carpet Expert & Consumer Advocate

Is a Looped Berber a good choice for children and/or Pets?

How to select the right carpet style and grade for your home and avoid common consumer carpet buying mistakes.

Berber Carpet

Q. How well does Berber withstand high traffic areas? Is it easy to keep clean and what kind of padding is best? I am going crazy trying to decide if I want a plush or Berber. I have a newborn and know I will soon have lots of messes to clean up!


Alan’s Response:

Don’t spend a lot on new carpet if you have small children! Children are very hard on carpets, they spill everything imaginable and parents are often too busy or too tired to clean up messes quickly enough to keep up with the demand.

Looped Berbers made from the Olefin Fiber are hard to keep clean, they snag easily and are not recommended for folks with active children or pets. 

Berber snag

For folks without active children or pets: Berber may be a good choice.   Fact: Inexpensive looped Berber carpets tend to snag easily and mat down more quickly.

Most Berber styles are made with loops. Some Berbers are called “cut and loop” having both loops and cut loops, Some Berbers have patterns and some do not, and still other Berber styles have no loops at all.

Carpet Fibers…

Berber style carpets are often made from Nylon or Olefin, and of the two, Nylon would be the better a more durable choice. Nylon Berbers costs more but lasts much longer, and cleans much easier than Berbers made from Olefin.

Berber Carpet Complaints

Why do Olefin Berber carpets attract dirt and are so hard to keep clean? 

While Berber styles are elegant and beautiful when new, there is a common complaint from homeowners with Berber carpets made with the Olefin fiber. Consumers often report that within a week or two after a professional cleaning, previous spots and stains tend to reappear as if they were never cleaned at all. This is because the Olefin fiber is inherently oily and often makes Olefin hard to clean and prone to attracting dirt like a magnet. Old stains tend to reappear again and again regardless of how many times you have the spots cleaned. 

Why do Olefin fibers attract dirt?

Here’s why… During the manufacturing process the Olefin fiber is naturally oily. Fiber makers use a special process to clean the Olefin fibers to try to remove these oils, but often cut corners in order to reduce costs. Some manufacturers put their Olefin fibers through a “three-phase” cleaning process to try to remove most of the oils. 

Berber Stain

To make a better product, the fiber maker will use a “five-phase” cleaning process which removes much more of these oils from the fiber. This makes a significantly less-oily fiber that cleans much easier and doesn’t attract dirt nearly as much. 

Using the five-phase process to removing excess oils from Olefin is a more time consuming and costly procedure, manufacturers must charge more for these premium fibers and therefore you will pay more for a carpet made from these premium olefin fibers. Unfortunately consumers have no way of knowing which Olefin fibers have been cleaned with the “five-phase” process and those that have only had the three-phase cleaning. 

Rule of thumb: I think it would be reasonable to assume that most Berbers priced under $13.50 per yard ($1.50 sf) would be made using the “three-phase” process. You might have to spend $18 per yard or more to get the better grade of olefin fiber. 

Most carpet salespeople have no knowledge about this manufacturing process and asking them questions about it might be futile. However, perhaps you could ask them to call the carpet manufacturer and see if they can tell you which cleaning process was used in the Berber carpet you are considering. Good luck with that. 

Fact: It’s the fiber type and the size of the loops that matters most.

Inexpensive Berbers snag easily. Often priced at less than $10 per yard, don’t fall for those cheap Berber prices and assume that this low-quality carpet will last more than a few years for you. If you have active kids or pets you need to buy something more durable. 

Large Loops vs Small Loops

Berber styles that have Large loops tend to collapse and fall over more quickly. That makes the carpet appear worn out and ugly, often within a year or two in main traffic areas. 

Smaller looped Berbers tend to resist matting and crushing better and retain its like-new appearance longer. Berbers made of Nylon are more durable and resist matting and crushing of the pile longer than any other synthetic fiber. 

If a Berber carpet is priced under $15 per yard, then it is likely made of Olefin and designed to last a few years at best. You’ll be plagued with lots of snags, pulls, runs and stains that are hard to remove. This is why Berber is a bad choice for folks with active kids or pets. 

A good quality Nylon Berber would clean easier, wear better, and retain its new appearance much longer than would an Olefin Berber. If made with smaller loops, that would make it even more durable.

If you decide buy a Berber carpet and want it to last, be sure to select one with smaller loops, as the bigger loops tend fall over quickly and look worn out sooner. As far as pad goes, an 8-pound minimum density, and a 1/4″ to 3/8″ thickness is required for virtually all Berber styles.

Another option you might want to consider would be selecting a Berber without loops, this is called a “cut-Berber” or a “California Berber” style.

Cut Berber 2


Some Berbers are made from wool, which is an excellent natural fiber, but are very costly..


What Grade of Carpet

Should You Select?

Take my free Carpet Foot Traffic Test to find out!


Carpet Wrinkles and Re-stretching Problems

Hi Alan!

I just found your Carpet Professor website and have a carpet question for you which you may or may not be able to answer.

We had our home built a couple of years ago and we selected Shaw’s “Simple Touch” carpet along with an upgraded padding (listed as 8-lb Envirostep). Since then, we have had several issues with carpet wrinkles where it is bunching up badly in every room and down the hallway. This is not just a small wrinkle we are talking about, this is 1” and 2” inch folds in the carpet. The builder sent the installers back and they re-stretched the carpets twice within the first year; but they did so without moving out the furniture.

Now that the one-year installation warranty has expired, the carpets are once again badly bunching up in the exact same spots as before! The builder now says it needs to be re-stretched again because “The carpet was installed when it was cold”… but now I am thinking this has to be something more than just a problem with the carpet. Is it possible there might be a problem with the padding and carpet compatibility? Any thoughts or suggestions?

Alan’s Reply:

I wish I had good news for you. You have a selected a low-quality P.E.T. Polyester builder-grade carpet designed for use in low foot-traffic applications. If you have medium to heavy foot traffic, this could cause your carpet to stretch out in a hurry. It’s also possible that the padding height, if over 3/8” may have contributed to the wrinkles, but I suspect that high humidity, a moisture problem or excessive wetness from a poor quality carpet cleaning may have contributed to the problem.

You have little recourse unless you can convince the builder to re-stretch it again at no charge to you. You should also make arrangements to move out all the furniture yourself if they won’t do it as it will help them re-stretch the carpet more effectively.

Meanwhile, save your money and put in a better grade of carpet when you can. I always recommend buying a Nylon Carpet if you want a long-lasting carpet. In the meantime, make sure you don’t have an un-checked moisture problem. Check to make sure your gutters and downspouts are deflecting rain water away from your home properly. This is a very common source of moisture problems for homeowners. If you have a basement or your home is built on a slab, it would be smart to do a moisture test to make sure the concrete is not a source of moisture. Have the concrete sealed if there is a problem. It’s not too costly to have the concrete professionally sealed. You can even do it yourself for less using Thompson’s Water Seal available at Home Depot.


Follow up:

Thanks so much for the response Alan,

Ironically we had a major moisture problem in the crawl space under the house the first year. (Standing water) and the house was covered with mold. They removed the mold and sealed the crawl space and now it’s all climate-controlled. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is what caused the carpet problems.

The good news is the builder will be coming out to re-stretch the carpet again despite it being 2.5 yrs after build, the bad news is we have to live with a low quality carpet (which I already figured…even with no bunching. I hate how the pile mats down with the first foot print) so I guess we will suck it up until we have enough money to get all new carpeting in a couple years…. Thanks again!

Carpet Installation | What Homeowners Need To Know

Carpet Installation | What Homeowners Need To Know

Carpet Installation Costs, Fees & Charges | CarpetProfessor.com

By Alan Fletcher – Carpet Expert & Consumer Advocate

Carpet installation costs, fees & charges can vary greatly depending on your location; how difficult your job is; and the style and grade of Carpet you select. 

Here’s what homeowners need to know…

Website Snippets:

In different parts of the United States, the current prices for Carpet Installation vary higher or lower depending on the current supply and demand in your area. Right now is a good time to buy new carpet because installation costs are still lower due to the reduced amount of consumer spending on basic home improvements.. Home sales are up in 2014 and homeowners have been buying new cars in record numbers…  and I think carpet installation prices will be …


Read my complete report here: http://www.carpetprofessor.com/carpet_installation_cost.htm


Making sure your carpet installer is qualified is your responsibility. Don’t assume that every carpet installer is qualified to install your carpet. In fact, I firmly believe that less than 35% of all carpet installers are properly trained. Asking for references and making sure they are licensed, bonded (if required by your state) and insured (business liability) is your responsibility. Here is a helpful link:


The states with the lowest carpet installation costs have typically been Florida, Texas, New Mexico, and Southern California. Other southern states like Louisiana, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Arkansas and Southern Arizona have fairly inexpensive carpet labor and installation costs too. Prices will range from $2.25 per yard to $4.50 per yard depending on the difficulty of the job and the carpet selected.


The highest carpet installation prices are in the Northeastern states like New York, Virginia, Massachusetts and Ohio and also in the Pacific Northwest like Oregon and Washington and Northern California. Prices may range from $3.50 per yard for a medium grade plush style carpet to $6.50 per yard for a heavy duty looped Berber style carpet.

In our current economy, there are a lot more hungry carpet installers out there looking for work. This is good news for those consumers who have money to spend on home renovations and are willing to do a little legwork to find a qualified carpet installer and negotiate …


Most Retailers Bundle the Cost for Carpet, Padding and Installation.


To get your best TOTAL carpet deal, you will have to negotiate with the carpet dealers of your choice and not be afraid to ask the retailer for a discount or other incentives for you to buy from them. The smart homeowner always gets at least three bids/estimates and then takes plenty of time to negotiate a better deal. Patience is key here, and those who wait for the price to come down are the winners. Be sure you are comparing apples to apples!


I think that asking for a minimum of a 10% to 15% discount is very reasonable as long as you are ready to write a check at the end of the day. If you are daring, ask for a 20% discount and see what happens. They may say no, but you have nothing to lose by asking. Just be sure you have selected the right carpet and padding that will meet your needs and goals!

Take my free Carpet Foot Traffic Test to see what grade of carpet you need to buy.


Carpet Installation Scams


Some carpet retailers choose to make additional profit by adding an extra fee or surcharge on top of the standard going rate for carpet installation charges, often adding as much as 25% to the total installation cost. I feel this is an unfair charge to the consumer and a slap in the face to the installer. Carpet retailers already make a fair and reasonable profit from the markup on carpet and pad. If you find that a carpet dealer has exorbitant installation charges, I suggest you shop elsewhere!


Carpet Installation Cost – Beyond the scope of a “Basic” Carpet Installation;

While they continue to change the advertised prices for their “basic” carpet installation on a frequent basis, I have found that Home Depot and Lowe’s basic carpet installation service does not cover very much ground. The key wording here is “basic” What is a basic installation? What is their definition of a “basic carpet installation?

Apparently, if your carpet installation job is not considered “Basic” and is determined to be more difficult or more involved, then you may find that the final bill for your carpet install is much higher than you had expected. Don’t assume that their advertised low price for installation is valid for you in your situation.

After your new carpet has been installed, you may be faced with a sizable and unexpected final bill for extra fees and services that were beyond their limited definition of a “Basic Install”.


About Carpet Sales Gimmicks:

I’ve been in the carpet business for 3 decades and I’ve seen every trick in the book. Trust me on this: Don’t fall for any “wow factor” sales gimmicks. Don’t trust any television ad that says if you buy one room of flooring then they will give you two rooms of flooring for free. Don’t be so gullible. The fine print will beat you every time and you will not get the great deal you hoped for.

You need to be absolutely sure your new carpet has been installed properly. You cannot afford to take chances by having your expensive new carpet installed cheaply by a third party.


Carpet Installation Cost – Removing your old Carpet and Padding

Tearing out and disposing of the old carpet and padding can cost anywhere from $1.00 to $2.00 per yard or more. An experienced Carpet Installation crew of three can remove 100 yards of carpet and pad in less than an hour on a normal job. I personally think $1.50 per yard is a fair price to remove the old carpet and padding because most …


Read my complete report here: http://www.carpetprofessor.com/carpet_installation_cost.htm


Carpet Installation Costs for Mobile Homes

If you need new carpet for a mobile home, there is going to be some added costs to remove the old carpet and pad if it is the original carpet. When mobile homes are made, they put down the carpet and then install the walls right down on top of the carpet and padding. This makes it very hard to remove the old carpet because it has to be cut at the base of all the walls and then new tack-less strips must be installed. It takes more time to do the job right.


Most carpet installers do not like installing new carpet in mobile homes because the outer walls are not sturdy enough to leverage the foot of a power stretcher. This means using other more time consuming methods to get the carpet stretched in properly. Floor repairs are also more difficult to perform because mobile homes are built over a metal frame, not the standard 16″ on-center wooden floor joists that most homes utilize. Expect to pay more if you need any floor repairs done.


Installing New Tack-less Strips

All new construction jobs will require that new tack strips be installed. It’s easier to install tack-less strips on a wood floor than on a concrete slab. The fee for new tack strips on wood might be an additional .50 to 1.00 per yard. The fee for installing tack strips over concrete might be an additional $1.00 to $2.00 per yard or more. In existing homes with damaged tack strips that need to be replaced, the fee should be about $2.00 to $3.00 per each four-foot section that must be replaced. (tack-less strips come in 4′ foot lengths)


What is Carpet Tack-less Strips?

Tack-less strips (often called tack-strip) are wooden strips with sharp pins that are installed all around the perimeter of each room near to the walls. Tack-less strips are about 1″ wide and 4 feet long. Tack-less strips are what hold your carpet to the floor and allow it to be stretched-in tightly to prevent wrinkles. The sharp pins hold the carpet tight because they are angled towards the wall.  They are nailed down to the floor. The carpet padding is butted up against the inner side of the strips. The carpet goes over the pad and stretched over the top of the tack-less strips. Then the raw edge of the carpet is tucked into the wall and floor crevice or underneath the wall molding for a nice finished look.


Carpet Transitions and Thresholds

The raw edge of the carpet will eventually end or butt up to another carpet or other types of flooring at the entry doorways and at kitchens, baths and utility rooms and must have a transition installed of some type. Examples are: Carpet to carpet, Carpet to vinyl, carpet to hardwoods, carpet to vinyl tiles, and carpet to ceramic tile are some of the most common locations where a transition or threshold of some type will be necessary.

Transitions can be made of wood, metal, rubber or plastic. Each transition is available in different quality levels depending on the application. The correct transition must be used to ensure a long life without failing. The total cost of transitions varies widely and should be discussed with your carpet estimator/retailer/installer before the bid final is drawn up.

 Read my complete report here: http://www.carpetprofessor.com/carpet_installation_cost.htm

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