Updated June 19, 2019
When selling your home, you'll have to wade through a huge number of important decisions that will significantly impact the final sale price.
In particular, determining which pre-sale repairs and improvements to invest in can be a tricky thing to do. You need to be sure that the value a given project adds to your home comfortably outweighs the costs.
As such, it's always a good idea to consult an expert when evaluating prospective repairs. Getting in touch with an experienced real estate agent is a smart first step.
One of the most-common, pre-sale projects homeowners wonder about is whether or not to clean or replace the carpet — here's everything you need to consider before you pull the trigger.
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Reasons to Replace Carpet
There are several benefits to replacing the carpet. The first is home buyer appeal. Home buyers want to know that once they sign those papers, they won't have to do anything to their house except move in.
Consider replacing your carpet if it's in any of the following conditions:
- Visibly worn down in high-traffic areas.
- Overly stained.
- Frayed or ripping up at the baseboards.
- Outdated or out of style.
- Is covered in or smells like mildew.
Few buyers can walk into a house and overlook worn-down, stained carpet. It drives images of relaxing in the home in their bare feet out of their head. But when there's new, plush carpet in your home, buyers want to bury their toes in it.
The quality of your carpet should also reflect your listing price. If a buyer sees a high-priced house with carpet that needs replacing, many buyers will walk away.
Even though the cost of carpet replacement is a few thousand dollars (at most), the perceived value of the home drops much more than that.
Buyers could make offers tens of thousands of dollars under asking price after seeing your old carpet.
Even if you renovate the bathroom, update the kitchen, and add all new paint and windows, if you do nothing with the floors, buyers see the house as needing work.
How Much Does It Cost to Replace Carpet by Square Footage
Of course, the cost of new carpet is going to depend on the material type, whether you hire a professional carpet installer, and how many rooms you're updating. But, in general, the first step is getting an estimate is determining how many square feet each room is.
To give you a refresher on calculating square footage, you multiply the length of the room by its width. Most experts advise you to purchase 5% more carpet than you need to account for waste. If you're taking the DIY installation route, buy 10% more.
Once you know how much carpet you'll need, multiply the square footage price of your new carpet by the amount of carpet you need. Here are some examples using a mid-range $5 cost per square foot:
- 1,000 sq.ft. X 1.05 = 1,050 sq.ft. X $5 = $5,250
- 1,200 sq.ft. X 1.05 = 1,260 sq.ft. X $5 = $6,300
- 1,500 sq.ft. X 1.05 = 1,575 sq.ft. X $5 = $7,875
Additional Cost Considerations
On average, labor costs add $0.50 to $1.00 per square foot. That can add up quickly, but it ensures a high-quality job that will appeal to buyers.
Other carpet replacement costs include the type of padding, repairing or replacing the subfloor, and upgrading to a stain-resistant carpet material.
All in all, the average cost of a carpet replacement and installation is about $750 and $2,525. That may seem like a lot of money to drop on a house you aren't going to live in, but remember the resale benefits.
The Best Kinds of Carpet
As you gaze at your threadbare carpet and contemplate replacing it, know that you have options. But don't just choose any type of carpet. Learn about the different carpet styles and materials to pick the right kind for your situation.
There are five basic types of carpet fibers:
- Nylon: This is the most durable and has the highest stain resistance when properly treated.
- Polyester: Offering a softer feel, polyester comes in a wider range of colors.
- Triexta: Triexta is a newer carpet fiber that is partially made of corn sugar. Its durability is comparable to Nylon, but it's slightly less resilient.
- Olefin: In most cases, olefin is lower quality and therefore better in low-traffic areas.
- Wool: Made of a natural material, wool carpet has a pleasing look that lasts a long time.
The texture of carpets depends on how the fibers are attached to the backing. Before you ask, which texture is the best, understand quality will depend on multiple factors like manufacturer and material.
- Cut pile: With this common texture, the fibers are cut at the ends. This creates a soft feeling but can lead to lower durability if the strands are twisted tightly.
- Loop: With loop carpet, the yarn remains uncut. The loops can be long and luxurious or short and durable.
- Cut-loop: This is a hybrid carpet, is a mix of short loops and longer cut strands. While this texture wears out quickly, it can be impressively decorative.
Whether you're planning to put in the new carpet yourself or pay the carpet installation costs, it's worthwhile knowing what the process entails.
First, you'll have to take out the old flooring. It's best to start the carpet removal in a corner. Use a utility knife to cut through the carpet, then grab on and pull.
Beware of tack strips under the carpet and along the walls. These hold the carpet in place with upward facing tacks, and you can easily cut yourself if you're not careful.
Below, there should be carpet padding. If it's worn out, damaged, or malodorous, go ahead and replace that, too.
Next, pull up the old tack strips. You might need a hammer or crowbar to pry them off the subfloor. Lay the new tack strips along the walls, but don't place them in doorways. If a home buyer steps there you don't want a tack going into their shoe.
After remeasuring the exact size of your room, cut the carpet to fit the floor. Position the carpet and starting in a corner, use a carpet tucker and knee kicker to secure the carpet and push the edges under the baseboard.
Once the carpet is anchored along a wall, use a carpet stretcher to ensure it's flat and uncreased.
If you don't have any of the tools, you can rent them from a Lowe's or Home Depot.
Other Carpeting Options
With relatively new carpet, in areas with low foot traffic, consider staging the room instead. Staging the house with furnishings draws the eyes away from the floor imperfections and features the rest of the house.
This trick is best for carpet in rooms that don't get many visitors. You wouldn't be able to get away with this if the carpet is in bad shape.
If your carpet is in top-notch condition, giving it a good cleaning might do the trick. There are many companies who specialize in cleaning carpets. Make sure you get one that spot-treats the carpet first to prevent stains from sticking around.
For those carpets with years of pet odor and stains — it's time to tear it up. You don't have to go with new carpet, though. There are plenty of nice laminates that look amazing and rival the price of new carpet that may be worth looking into.
Top FAQs About Carpet vs. Laminate
Many home sellers wonder if they should switch from carpet to laminate floors when they're removing old carpet. To help you decide, here are the answers to frequently asked questions about carpet vs. laminate.
1. Is Carpet or Laminate Cheaper?
The cheapest carpet costs more than the cheapest laminate. Lower end carpet can be as inexpensive as $2 per square foot, while cheap laminate is less than $1 per square foot. But laminate and carpet prices can vary greatly.
When it comes to labor costs, carpet is significantly cheaper. Professionals will charge between $2 and $8 per square foot to install laminate, which can lead to a higher total cost.
In the long run, it could be better to invest in a more expensive type of flooring if it appeals to local buyers. Ask your real estate agent which flooring option will lead to the best offers.
2. Is Carpet or Laminate Better for Resale?
Because laminate flooring is more durable, easier to clean, and stain resistant, most buyers prefer it and will pay more for houses with it.
Laminate flooring also comes in a variety of options and designs so they can give rooms style and appealin a way carpet can't.
3. Should You Put Carpet or Laminate in the Bedrooms?
The one place carpet will win out against laminate is in bedrooms. Carpet adds warmth and a layer of sound absorption that many buyers want in their bedroom.
However, laminate in the bedroom is becoming more popular so ask your realtor what local buyers prefer.
Choosing the Flooring Product to Get Your House Sold
It might be surprising to see the number of opinions people have about carpet. From Berber to builder grade, there are so many options. So how do you choose the best one for your house?
Have any new developments in your area? Tour the model homes and see what sort of carpet the builder put in there. Pay particular attention to the color (usually a beige) and ask them for the type.
Builders know what it takes to get a house sold with the smallest amount of costs, so they'll know which direction to point you in.
Many of the home improvement stores have high-priced, low-quality carpet. Your best bet for finding the best carpet for the best price is to ask those that buy new carpet often: landlords.
Call a few apartment complexes up and ask them where they get their carpet from. Chances are, it's a local contractor who does a great job for a great price. The landlord should even be able to point you to a specific color.
Should you replace carpet before selling the house? The answer is usually yes, but remember, you have options! Assess the wear of your carpet, consider getting a deep clean, and do your homework if you decide to purchase new carpet.
Clever partners with top-performing, full-service agents from major brands and regional brokerages and can advise on anything from repainting to landscaping to roofing repairs.
In addition to providing expert advice and support throughout the selling process, Clever Partner Agents have also agreed to list and sell your home for a flat fee of $3,000 — or just 1% if your home sells for more than $350,000.
That means that in addition to helping you avoid costly, low-impact repairs, they'll ensure you end up with the maximum margin of profit on the sale by not charging you an arm and a leg for their services.
When in doubt, ask a Clever Partner Agent.