With 80% of buyers preferring a home that’s move-in ready, the last thing you want is for a ripped, stained, or smelly carpet to give them cold feet.
While a good cleaning can work some magic, it can only do so much to welcome potential buyers. Instead, carpet in poor condition can cause them to view your house as a fixer-upper, slash what they’re willing to offer, or want to negotiate an allowance to fix the floor themselves.
“You only get that one chance to make that first impression. … You don’t want them to walk in and think, ‘OK, this carpet looks like it will hold up for a week,’” says Tammie Bell, a real estate agent who works with 78% more single-family homes than the average agent serving Lake Jackson, Texas, and the surrounding area. “A carpet is fairly inexpensive to change, considering the total investment of the property.”
Thankfully, carpeting can be less expensive to install than hardwood — about $2,100 to $3,600 for 300 square feet versus about $2,200 to $8,500, depending on materials — as well as cozier and quieter in certain rooms and climates. To save you time and money on this important update, we’ve gathered expert tips and research insights on the best carpet to install when selling a home. These tips, along with our five store carpet recommendations, can help you net the best price.
Carpet-buying tips: Fibers, color, and durability
It’s easy to feel lost among the enormous variety of carpet colors, fibers, and costs. Buyers want to see carpeting that’s comfortable, durable, and attractive, so focus on these factors when choosing the best carpet to install when selling a home:
Pick a neutral tone (but not pure white)
Light, neutral tones make rooms look larger, according to the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) of Dalton, Georgia, a professional association of flooring manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors. Lighter carpeting also makes a home look bright and clean, Bell says. However, a stark white carpet is too vulnerable to dirt and stains, which could raise concerns among any buyers who drink red wine or own a pet with the occasional muddy paws. When in doubt, select lighter neutrals, such as:
Prioritize a soft fiber with a short pile
When choosing carpet, you’re considering the style of the carpet as well as its fibers. Textured or plush carpeting, or twisted styles such as frieze, are flexible and stylish (and cost less) than more tailored loop carpeting, such as Berber, or the upscale look of a pattern (cut and loop carpeting).
As for fibers, synthetic fibers such as polyester, triexta, nylon, or polypropylene (olefin) comprise more than 90% of carpeting on the market, the WFCA says. Bell recommends a soft fiber with a short pile for easier maintenance, unlike Berber, which adds texture but can snag. “When people walk barefoot, they want something that feels soft on their feet,” she says.
Emphasize durability in high-traffic areas
Hallways, family rooms, and other high-traffic areas need carpeting that’s more durable. Dining rooms, bedrooms, and similar areas do not, the Home Depot says. Triexta and nylon are the highest performing and easiest to clean, in part because of their short pile — or the height of the fibers in the finished carpet. Deep or high-pile carpet has longer fibers and feels more plush, but these can be tougher to maintain, says Empire Today, a nationwide shop-at-home, direct-to-consumer flooring company.
A high-pile carpet doesn’t always mean it’s better quality than a low-pile carpet, these experts say. Wool, polyester, and olefin also are durable.
Buyers will notice differences in color and texture within the same field of vision, though, so beware of replacing carpets in a piecemeal fashion. “If it doesn’t match or it’s not appealing, it’s dated,” Bell says.
Consider your home’s style and price point
If you’re selling a beach home, such as in Bell’s Gulf Coast area, buyers might not want any carpeting. “If they do, they typically prefer it only in their bedrooms,” she says. Carpeting that complies with FHA standards based on weight and density should be sufficient to sell your home.
However, buyers in a higher price point will expect a higher grade of quality overall, as well as throughout the home. “You want it to be of similar quality, if there’s any other flooring in the house … so it doesn’t stand out,” Bell says.
Look for warranties or protective features
Your total budget for carpet should include installation, the carpeting, and the carpet cushion, or backing, which improves comfort, provides insulation, blocks moisture, and stops stains from reappearing, according to Lowe’s. (Try this Carpet Measurement Calculator to help estimate the costs of materials and labor.)
On average, replacing 1,200 square feet of carpet — which includes removing and disposing of old carpeting — costs about $8,532 to $14,664. If your home’s subflooring is unstable, you may need to hire a carpenter to replace it, which costs an average of $70 an hour.
Those costs aside, different carpeting styles include different warranties. For instance, STAINMASTER Signature and STAINMASTER Essentials carry warranties of 25 years and 10 years, respectively, against abrasive wear, which your agent could use as a selling point.
5 home store carpet recommendations for people selling a home
Below are our picks of affordable yet durable carpet to install when selling a home based on durability, color variety, stain resistance, and warranty. Cost estimates in your area may vary.
This FHA-approved tufted polyester carpet in brown tones has a luxury look and cleans up easily, thanks to its stain resistance. Because of its soft feel and sound absorption, it’s ideal for bedrooms, living rooms, hallways, and basements.
Cost: $1.78 per square foot, which includes a limited lifetime warranty on food, beverage, soil, and pet urine stains. It also has a 15-year limited warranty against abrasive wear and tear.
Can’t decide between gray or beige? This stain-resistant and hypoallergenic polyester carpet falls in the “greige” color family, with flecks of both gray and beige. FHA-approved, it works in all indoor areas and includes PureColor and SoilShield protection to resist fading and stains. Buy it by the roll and cut to length, or talk with your local HomeDepot about professional installation.
Cost: $1.95 per square foot, which includes a limited warranty against stains, plus wear and tear.
This soft beige, high-pile texture indoor carpet includes solution-dyed fibers for long-lasting color and stain resistance, plus SoilShield technology to resist dirt and grime. FHA-approved, it has a polypropylene backing for durability. Home Depot recommends it for living rooms, hallways, bedrooms, and basements.
Cost: $2.49 per square foot, which includes a 15-year limited warranty against wear and stains.
This durable nylon tufted carpet provides a lush look with a medium pile for easy maintenance. Lowe’s says it works well in bedrooms, living rooms, hallways, basements, and on stairs.
Cost: $2.48 per square foot, which includes a limited lifetime warranty on food, beverage, soil, and pet urine stains. It also has a 25-year limited warranty against abrasive wear and tear.
This low-to-medium thick beige polyester carpeting includes SoilShield technology to resist dirt and grime. FHA-approved, it has solution-dyed manufactured filament fibers that also resist shredding and fading. Home Depot says it’s good for family rooms, bedrooms, hallways, dens, basements, and offices.
Cost: $3.24 per square foot, which includes a 15-year limited warranty against stains, soiling, and wear and tear.
Q&A: More expert carpet advice for home sellers
Still wondering about the best carpet to install when selling a home? We’ve tracked down answers to some frequent questions.
How important is flooring when selling a house?
Buyers don’t just look at walls. Flooring that’s in good shape implies that you’ve taken good care of your home, HomeLight agents say. While hardwood floors still top many buyers’ wish lists, carpet still ranks among flooring that can increase your home’s value. If you’re on a budget, focus on the floors that buyers will see right away: the entryway and main living spaces, our agents say.
Is carpet outdated in 2022?
Not at all, say the experts at Coles Fine Flooring, a family-owned business since 1947 with locations in San Diego and other California cities. Designers often use carpet to introduce color or pattern, but “warm, earthy tones that nurture a mindfulness and sense of peace” have been all the rage this year. Expect that trend to continue, along with a desire for sustainable flooring with natural fibers such as sisal or even deep-pile wool.
How can I choose the best carpet?
When you shop, be sure to ask for carpet samples so that you can see how different types will look in your space. (Lowe’s has an online Flooring Visualizer, which offers a general look at your carpet choice, but the company says it isn’t a true-to-life representation.) Just remember: Any color carpet looks lighter once installed than a sample from the store, the WFCA says. Also, discuss your plans with your retailer. You might like the feel or look of a particular carpet, but it might be all wrong for the traffic area. Bell had her eye on one type of carpeting for her home’s media room until her retailer pointed out that the dry-clean only fibers wouldn’t be feasible in a space serving drinks and snacks.
Should I replace or install carpet in my basement?
Some carpets don’t work well in basements because their fibers can’t resist higher moisture levels, making them more prone to mold and mildew, Empire Today says. Synthetic fibers such as polyester, nylon, and olefin allow for more airflow, keeping basement carpeting fresh and dry. Carpet tiles can work well in these spaces, too. These adhesive low-pile tiles install without a pad, so they withstand moisture. They generally cost $1 per square foot. The average cost range to install tiles is between $4,900 and $7,000, depending on the size of your basement.
How do I keep my new carpet clean for potential buyers?
Imagine you’re visiting a friend’s home and be on your best behavior. Place mats at the doors to and from your yard and the garage, and ask people to wipe their feet or take off their shoes before entering — and be quick with the vacuum, the WFCA says. Also, keep eating and drinking to a minimum in rooms with new carpeting.
Let your home put its best foot forward when buyers walk in
Replacing the carpet before you sell your home might seem like a hassle at first, but if you consider the improvement in appearance and maintenance, it can take a load off your mind — and leave more money in your pocket at the closing table. For specific details about what value new carpet can add to your home, talk with a top agent experienced in prepping homes for a successful sale who can help you crunch the numbers and make an informed decision.
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