Living Smart: Take steps to ensure best carpet installation

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Is new carpet in your future? Donít forget to walk through installation details before you buy.

Itís important to assess carpet quality and match type to intended use, but youíll avoid hassles if you also know what to expect with installation and related fees.

Hire an experienced, reputable carpet installer

Start with choosing carpet from a retailer with good reviews from friends, family or a trusted online site. If the dealer doesnít offer installation, ask for a recommendation or follow the same steps youíd take to source carpet.

Work with a provider whoíll visit your home to ensure proper measurements and to plan transitions between rooms, as well as seam placement.

Because carpet rolls are limited in width, a room will often require a seam. The World Floor Covering Association recommends working with your provider to create a diagram that plots out seams and transitions before carpet is cut. Seams can be minimized if placed under furniture or if they run in the direction of the light.

Ask about carpet installation details

Be sure you know about warranties on the carpet and the installation.

A reputable installer should follow instructions from the carpet manufacturer and adhere to standards set by such organizations as The Carpet and Rug Institute. The CRI recommends that carpets be power-stretched to minimize wrinkling. One top-rated service provider told us some installers use a smaller stretcher ó often called a "knee kicker" ó that is more appropriate for small repair jobs.

Ask about all carpet installation fees

Donít let carpet companies hide fees under the rug. Some advertise free or low-cost installation or padding, but tack on other charges. Before you hire, be clear about what services and fees will be part of your job. For example, you may have to pay for the installer to move and replace furniture and to remove and discard old carpeting and padding.

Baseboards and moldings will have to be removed. Will you want to keep or replace them? Reinstallation may cost extra, and could require patching and paint touchup.

If you believe interior doors may not clear the carpet, ask about your companyís door policy. You may need to hire a carpenter.

Top installers say excess carpet should total no more than 10 percent of a roomís width and length. For a small fee, you could have larger leftover pieces bound as small rugs.

Plan before the carpet installers arrive

Ideally, install carpet after wallpapering, painting or other remodeling work.

To reduce dust and dirt, vacuum existing carpet before removal. Ask if the installers will vacuum the exposed sub-floor or if youíll need to do that.

During installation, provide adequate ventilation by opening windows and doors, running an exhaust fan or operating your HVAC system fan.

After carpet installation

Before the installer leaves, walk through the carpeted area and confirm that everything meets your expectations.

It may take 72 hours for odors and volatile organic compounds from the carpet or adhesives to dissipate.

Also, itís normal for new carpet to shed; vacuum loose fibers. Use scissors to trim any "sprouting" loops or tufts. If you see wrinkles or ripples, contact your retailer or installer immediately; they may need to re-stretch your carpet.