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Carpet Q & A - Costco, Lowe's or Home Depot Carpet?

By Alan Fletcher - 30-year Carpet Expert & Trusted Consumer Advocate


Should I Buy Carpet from Lowe's, Home Depot or Costco?

I shop at home improvement warehouses when I need lumber, lighting, nails, potting soil or small hand tools, and overall I think they have reasonable prices, good service and have a nice selection. But I think that buying new Carpet from Lowe's, Home Depot, Costco or any other big box warehouse retailer may not be the wisest way to go for most homeowners. Learn more about Home Depot & Lowe's $39 Carpet Installation  


I say that partly because they all typically farm-out their installations to another company that may not have very high standards as to whom they hire. If the installer they send out to do your install is not well trained, you may end up with a lousy installation job. If that happens what is your recourse? Who do you call to get a quick and satisfactory remedy?

Home Depot and Lowe's charge a hefty fee for a simple in-home measuring. They will give you a credit if you agree to buy from them. They also use private labels on all their samples to make comparison shopping almost impossible. This means they have changed the style name and color number to prevent you from getting a comparison price by calling the local dealer down the street.  There are many other important reasons why I don't recommend buying new Carpet from big box retailers. These are just a few reasons that I think you should know about and consider. 



From what I've experienced myself, I find that many salespeople that are hired to work at the flooring department at Lowe's or Home Depot are relatively new to the flooring business and therefore lack sufficient product knowledge and "hands-on" experience to accurately answer even the most basic of homeowner carpet questions. If they don't know the correct answer, then they should say so, but in most cases, they tend to make up answers that are either not true or are inaccurate. Why? If they reveal that they are not knowledgeable enough to answer your basic questions, they fear you will not trust them and not be willing to buy from them. You know what I am saying is true. 


The number one carpet specification you need to be concerned about is the FIBER!


When I visit Lowe's or Home Depot and ask their salespeople some simple carpet questions, I am always amazed that so many of their salespeople can't accurately answer basic questions like:

  • What is the difference between Nylon and Polyester carpets? 

  • What is the most durable carpet fiber? 

  • What is the most stain resistant carpet fiber? 

  • What is the best carpet fiber for accident-prone pets? 


These are all critical questions about carpet fibers that cannot be quickly answered without knowing more about your specific situation. The salesperson will need to ask you a few questions about your home and lifestyle before they can determine the appropriate response. A fast or simple answer to any of these questions will usually be wrong! Only someone who is very knowledgeable, well trained and has years of hands-on experience in the carpet business will be able to answer all your carpet fiber questions that will be to your needs, goals and lifestyle. Your budget is another matter we will discuss later. 


Working nights and weekends by the hour at a home improvement warehouse is surely a difficult and demanding job and many new retail workers have been hired after having lost their once lucrative careers from the 2008 downturn in the economy. These nice and hard-working folks have had to seek out other employment opportunities just to make ends meet, but now find they are overworked and underpaid working in the flooring department at a big box warehouse. 


You understand this scenario, right? This simply means that the salespeople you encounter at a home improvement warehouse might not have as much passion for their new and hopefully "temporary" job as they had for their previous high-paying career that they lost due to the 2008 recession. 


Another thing you need to know is that Home Depot, Lowe's, Costco and Empire Today have spent massive amounts of money on national advertising. This has caused many locally owned and reputable carpet retailers to close their doors. Hundreds, if not thousands of locally owned and long-standing mom and pop flooring retailers have been forced to close their doors and are gone forever due to the onslaught of these nationally advertised conglomerates or corporately owned big box retailers. Sure, in the business world it's survival of the fittest and some of these old and outdated flooring retailers were weak and needed to be shut down to make way for new and improved businesses. I understand all that too.  


And what about those $37 carpet installation specials? It sure sounds good at first, but is it really a good deal in the long run? Do you know what they mean by a "basic" installation? It means that anything you might need above and beyond their very limited definition of a "basic install" will add a significant additional charge to your final bill. You might not discover how much more this will cost you until the day of installation when the installers arrive with your carpet and then ask you to pay hundreds of dollars more for additional services before they will begin. How to Avoid Carpet Scams!


However, buying new Carpet or Flooring is such a big and important investment, I think all your carpet questions need to be answered by someone who really knows what they are talking about, right? Learn more about What Grade of Carpet Should I Select?



Big Box Retailers saw a golden opportunity to make a fortune in the flooring business!


I think it's obvious that several years ago Home Depot and Lowe's got into the Carpet business because they saw a big opportunity to make some serious money by selling carpet and flooring to their large base of loyal customers. They flexed their corporate muscles to negotiate discounts on materials and used private labeling to prevent homeowners from comparison shopping. Their ability to spend millions on national advertising to lure in homeowners has paid off handsomely over the past decade. However, along the way they have caused many long-standing, honest and reputable, locally-owned flooring stores to go out of business. 


I think Home Depot and Lowe's customer service is poor at best. Some of the thing homeowners should be aware of... they charge a fee for measuring and some warn that they typically over-measure by 10 to 20% intentionally, they farm out their installations to other companies to reduce their liability, and they demand payment in-full at the time of ordering. It is important to note that many homeowners nationwide have had trouble getting resolutions to their carpet complaints or carpet installation problems with the big box home improvement stores and this is well documented on many watchdog websites. Don't take my word for it, do a Google search for yourself to see what you find regarding home depot or Lowe's carpet complaints, or home depot or Lowe's carpet installation complaints. It might be eye opening for you.


My List: The Best & Worst Places to Buy Carpet & Flooring



Why I prefer locally owned, family run businesses.


Lowe's and Home Depot have certainly met homeowners basic needs for DIY home improvement products and I shop there for those items like most folks do, but knowing what I know, I would never buy carpet or flooring from them. Why? Once you pay for the materials and labor costs (which they want paid in full upfront), the big box retailer is basically done serving you. They are only in business to sell you the materials, they subcontract out the in-home measuring and installation to other businesses or subcontractors. 


And what do big box dealers have to say when you call them with a carpet complaint? They will likely say that since THEY didn't install your carpet and since THEY didn't manufacture your carpet, YOU have to seek a remedy with either the carpet manufacturer or the carpet installation company. Basically, this means you are on your own with little or no help from them! 


This means if you believe you have an installation problem with your carpet, you will have to contact the installation company directly for a remedy. When they come out to inspect your carpet they may say your problem is a carpet defect - not an installation problem. Now you have to contact the carpet manufacturer directly to allow them to take a look. They in turn will inspect your carpet and likely say it is an installation problem or blame you for improper care or abuse. This is the vicious cycle that makes homeowners furious because no one is willing to accept responsibility for your carpet complaint. 



This is just one of many reasons why I only recommend buying carpet from a reputable, locally owned, family-run floor covering business. They have a vested interest in your community and will go the extra mile to make sure you are satisfied. I don't like hearing about huge corporate profits and mega salaries paid out to corporate CEO's while millions of Americans are out of work and struggling to pay their bills. The typical corporate mindset is mainly concerned with making as much money as possible and spending as little as possible on wages, benefits and customer service. Buying local is better for our economy!


Now you know several reasons why I only recommend buying from a locally owned, family run carpet business that has been in the carpet business for many years. Not only will they treat you like gold, but they will take good care of you before and after the sale. See who I recommend near you


Is a "Soft" Nylon a Good Choice?

We just bought a house and need to re-carpet.  We've got a quote from Lowe's for a Mohawk carpet,  53-oz face-weight, 6.5 tuft twist, BCF, 100% Lisse® nylon, "textured" carpet.  We like it but I have been rethinking it because I'm not sure it is dense enough.  This carpet is for our entire upstairs, two bedrooms, one office and the main stair well.  It's only the two of us, but I want to make sure we are making a good investment. Does this carpet sound like a wise choice?  Would you advise something more dense?   We checked out a more dense carpet made by Pacific Coast (I think) and it would be $500 more for the same amount.  I just don't know if the higher density justifies the added cost.  Let me know what you think! Thanks! D.W.

Your carpet selection basically seems fine to me based on what limited carpet info you have told me. 53 ounces is a good carpet face weight. But you didn't say how much the carpet cost per yard or what carpet pad you selected and how much that will cost, or the density ratings of the carpet or padding.

The carpet you are considering might be a good selection for your needs and lifestyle, but without knowing all the details I can't say for sure. Lisse' is one of the newer "soft" nylon styles and is more expensive than a standard nylon carpet because it feels more soft to the touch. Other branded "Soft" nylon styles are called Tactesse®, Lisse® and Caress® to name a few. Tigressa® is another soft nylon brand you might encounter.

My thoughts about "Soft" Nylons: They create this softness by making the nylon filament thinner. By doing so, it may reduce the resiliency of the fiber. Resiliency is the ability of the carpet fiber to spring back to it's original shape after being walked on. If the resiliency is reduced by making the strand thinner, the carpet may not retain it's like-new appearance as long and might mat down or "crush" more quickly than a standard denier nylon fiber. Matting and crushing of the pile is not typically covered under the manufacturer's warranty. Once carpet fiber begins to mat down, there is little that can be done to restore it to it's like new appearance.

I do like the look and feel of soft nylons but the added cost and potential reduction in resiliency could make me hesitate if I wanted more than 10 years of use or for heavy traffic applications. 

Have you ever read a manufacturer's carpet warranty completely? You'd be surprised to discover how many hoops you have to jump through just to keep from inadvertently voiding your carpet warranty. Learn more about Carpet Warranties


Special Report: The Best & Worst Places to Buy Carpet & Flooring


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