How To Decide On Replacing Carpets Before Selling Your House
What You Will Read In This Article
Your mind is made up and your bags are backed or at least you want them to be. It’s time to sell your house. But before you do you’ll no doubt have a laundry list of “to do” items to check off in preparation of the big day.
At this stage, you’ll no doubt be contemplating potential improvements and pre-sales repairs and investments in order to make your property more marketable, and ultimately, earn you a higher sales price at closing.
One such consideration sellers face when listing their home on the market is whether or not to replace the carpet prior to the sale.
In this guide, we’ll break down the good, the bad, and when it might be an outright necessity in order to attract the right buyers and maximize value.
PRO TIP: Consider taking the advice of your real estate agent who is familiar with how a cleaned vs. new carpet may impact your listing.
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Reasons to Replace Your Carpets
Replacing your carpet may offer a myriad of benefits, including but not limited to aesthetics, value and appeal.
But what are some good reasons to replace vs. simply having your carpets professionally cleaned?
Excessively Dirty (ground in / stains)
Although this may be a bit subjective, we like to use what we call the “toddler test”. Meaning, would you let a toddler play on the carpet and put things in their mouth off of it. If the answer is “no”, replacing the carpet might be worth the investment.
Other conditions that may warrant replacement include ground in dirt, grime or stains that have “set” in the fabric and underlayment.
However, if the carpet is in good shape with no snags, set-in stains, rips or tears, a cleaning might suffice.
Outdated Style or Color
Nothing can bring down the ambiance, décor and style of a room like a worn, ragged, outdated or mismatched carpet (we’re looking at you “shag”). The flooring is what brings the whole room together, acting as the foundation of the home’s style. If your carpet is outdated, faded or simply isn’t up to today’s modern look, considering an upgrade may be worth it.
High Traffic Areas are Worn Down
Perhaps your carpet doesn’t look that bad. After all, you’ve only had it a few short years and the main areas seem ok. This is a trap that many home sellers run into. The fallacy of carpets is that while large areas that see little “action” might look great, other areas such as walkways, under furniture, and other high traffic spaces might be all the worse for wear.
Frayed, Ripped, or Loose Fabric
This one is a no-brainer. Not only is damaged carpeting an outright eyesore, turning off even the most laid back of buyers, its also a potential hazard for trips and falls.
Pets and Odors
We all love our fur babies, but nothing takes its toll on carpet more than pets. From sharp claws to dirty paws, pets have a knack for tracking dirt, grime, allergens, bacteria, mold spores and more onto and ground into your carpet. Add to this the occasional “accident” and you’re carpet will start to get a funk. No matter how diligent you are about cleanups, pet odor is notorious for sticking around in fabric and even working its way into the underlayment and subflooring. In many cases, starting fresh with new carpeting is the only way to go.
How Much Does It Cost to Replace Carpets
The cost of replacing the carpet in your home is dependent on a number of factors including but not limited to:
- Where you live (regional differences in price)
- Type of material
- Type of underlayment
- Number of rooms you’re replacing the carpet in
- Square footage of each room
Cost of Carpet Installation
While carpet installation costs will vary based on the aforementioned criteria, the price you can expect generally ranges between $760-$2550 with an average of around $1630.
Cost of Carpet Per Square Foot
Carpeting prices per square foot can run as low as $1 on the lowest end of the spectrum, up to $20 for high-end wool fabric. Both material and style play the biggest role in the total cost per square foot, making it important to find a balance between aesthetics, desired look and feel, and budget.
Average Cost of Carpet By Type (per square foot)
- Plush / Saxony: $2-$8
- Frieze: $1-$8
- Textured Saxony: $2-$12
- Cut and Loop: $1-$10
- Loop: $1-$5
- Cable: $4-8
Average Cost of Carpet By Material (per square foot)
- Nylon: $2-$5
- Cotton: $6-$7
- Polypropylene / Olefin: $1-$3
- Polyester: $1-$3
- Sisal: $5-$15
- Wool: $4-$20
When pricing out carpeting, don’t forget about the additional or ancillary costs you may encounter. As it relates to square footage, the cost of carpeting generally comes out to a pretty broad estimate of between $1-$20 per sq. ft. with labor adding in an extra $0.50 cents to $1/sq ft.
Other Costs Include:
- Underlayment / padding
- Repair of subflooring (if necessary)
- Upgrades (such as padding, texture, thickness, and stain resistance)
Best Types of Carpet
One of the great things about carpeting as a flooring type is the myriad of options at your fingertips. Materials and textures make up the two biggest decisions when buying carpeting.
Let’s take a closer look at what you have to work with below…
Carpet is available in several common types of fibers.
Cotton – Notable for its plush soft feel underfoot, cotton is also touted for its low VOC (volatile organic compounds) content. Ideal for homes without pets or young children as this material tends to both fade and stain fairly easily.
Nylon – Durable, easy to clean and maintain and highly suitable for: home with pets and children, high traffic areas and indoor-outdoor applications.
Polyester – This synthetic fiber is touted for its broad range of vibrant color options, good resistance to stains and fading, and resistance to mold and mildew, as well as being hypoallergenic.
Wool – Eco-friendly and luxurious in feel, wool is durable and stain-resistant. However, due to its natural fibers, it is more susceptible to static and fading, as well as holding moisture which can lead to mildew, mold and odors.
Olefin / Polypropylene – Often made from recycled materials, this synthetic plastic fiber is highly durable and resistant to fading, bleaching, moisture and stains.
Texture is largely determined by how the fibers are arranged and attached to the carpet’s backing.
Common Types of Textures Include:
- Loop – Can be comprised of long or short fibers. Yarn is uncut and luxurious.
- Cut Pile – Very common. Fibers are cut at the ends and slightly twisted, resulting in a soft feel underfoot, but lower durability.
- Cut Loop – A hybrid texture comprised of both longer cut strands and short loops. Known for its decorative aesthetics and design, but also tends to be less durable.
From DIY to professional installation, knowing what to expect can give you a leg up on the process and how to plan accordingly.
First up, remove the old flooring. Ideally, you’ll want to start from a corner. If needed a utility knife is the best tool to make an incision so you can get a good grip and adequate leverage to pull up the carpeting.
PRO TIP: Use caution. Tack strips under the carpeting and along the walls use upward-facing “tacks” that can easily cause cuts and scrapes if you’re not careful.
Up next, dealing with carpet padding. Under your previous carpet, there will likely be padding. If this is worn, damaged, or smelly, you’ll want to replace this as well.
Back to those pesky tack strips. Grab your hammer and crowbar, its time to pry these bad boys off the subfloor. Do yourself a favor and pile them in one place then immediately toss them in the trash so no-one accidentally steps on them.
Once the old carpet and tacking has been removed, its time to give the area one more “re-measure” before making any final cuts to your new carpeting.
Lay out the new carpeting starting in a corner and using a carpet tucking tool and “knee kicker” to fasten and secure the fabric in place, while pushing edges out of sight under the baseboard.
Once anchored, a carpet stretcher can be used to create a tight, fit, flat and increased surface area.
Learn how to sell a house and save thousands with ISoldMyHouse.com.
PRO TIP: These professional carpeting tools can be found at any big box hardware store such as Lowes or Home Depot.
Alternative Carpet Options
In some cases, replacing the carpet might not be the most ideal option. For carpeting that is new, well kept and maintained, or in rooms and areas with little foot traffic, it may be in “good enough” shape to be shown “as is”.
That said, we suggest you utilize staging techniques, furniture and accessories to draw eyes away from any carpeting that doesn’t look brand new. We also suggest a professional deep clean, or at a minimum, spot treatments.
Carpet vs. Laminate
The age-old conundrum faced by home sellers everywhere: carpet vs. laminate. Which is better? Although the answer is admittedly a bit subjective and situational, we can still take you through the basics to help you make the right decision.
1. Is Carpet or Laminate Cheaper?
If budget is a primary concern, the cheapest carpet will generally always cost a bit more than the lowest priced laminate. However, you get what you pay for.
As a rough estimate, budget carpet can run as low as around $2 per square foot while budget laminate can be as low as under $1 per square foot.
But that’s only half of the story. When you factor in labor costs, labor for carpet installation is less than labor costs for laminate installation, thus potentially leading to a higher “overall cost” for laminate even in cases where carpeting is more expensive per square foot.
2. Is Carpet or Laminate Better for Resale?
Although both options are a cost-effective and reliable way to upgrade your flooring, each has its good and bad.
- More durable
- Easier to clean and maintain
- Often preferred by buyers
- Available in a wide range of options including high-end hardwood lookalikes
- Preferred by less buyers
- Quick and easy way to spruce up the rooms
- Less durable
3. Should You Put Carpet or Laminate in the Bedrooms?
Bedrooms are a place of comfort, warmth, tranquility and relaxation. This is the one room where carpet always wins out against laminate. Carpeting feels comforting underfoot and can also aid with sound absorption.Learn how to sell a house and save thousands with ISoldMyHouse.com.
Choosing a Flooring Product to Get Your House Sold
Choosing the right flooring product can mean the difference between attracting the right buyers and closing the deal, to losing the sale to another listing.
What can you do to make the right decision?
Tour Houses In Your Neighborhood
Put yourself in the shoes of your prospective buyer. View the homes and options that they too may be comparing your home with. Local real estate listings as well as model homes in new developments provide ample opportunity.
Ask Real Estate Agents or Home Stagers
Don’t be afraid to ask a professional. Real estate agents, home stagers and interior designers have their finger on the pulse of the market, providing you with unique, insightful, data-driven information on what is in demand and selling in your area.
Ask Local Landlords
Landlords often have the hookup when it comes to cheap materials and labor. Consider reaching out for a helping hand to point you in the right direction. Simply give the apartment complex a call and ask where they get their carpet from.
What’s the Final Verdict – Should You Replace Carpets Before Selling a House?
The answer is almost always “yes”. Carpeting is a cost-effective, quick and easy way to upgrade your rooms. Left unchanged, buyers will quickly be “turned off” by worn, dingy or stained carpeting. Old carpet can quickly take away from the potential of a house in the buyer’s eyes, making a bad first impression that is hard to get past.
That said, if you can afford it, consider making the investment in laminate or other options that might yield a higher ROI at closing.
About the Author: Kris Lippi is the owner of ISoldMyHouse.com, the broker of Get LISTED Realty and an official member of the Forbes Real Estate Council. He actively writes about real estate related topics such as buying and selling homes, how-to guides for around the house and home product recommendations. He has been featured in Inman, Readers Digest, Fox News, American Express, Fit Small Business, Policy Genius, Lending Tree, GoDaddy, Manta as well as other major websites. Read more about us here.