How much does carpet installation cost? The 6 basic cost factors

Image source: NBC15

Jack Wisniewski

By Jack Wisniewski

December 16, 2021

Share:

Carpet installation costs range between $1.56 and $9.17 per square foot. At the median price, you can expect to pay $3.92 per square foot of carpet installed, including measuring, padding, clean up, and all other aspects a professional job entails.

That comes out to around $784 for a typical 200-square-foot carpet installation.

To precisely calculate the costs for any home improvement project, you need to consider the price factors.

Don't know where to start when it comes to carpet?

Fortunately, this article explains how the type of carpet, padding material, and other essentials influence carpet installation costs.

Let's floor it!

On this page

Carpet material costs

Carpet material Qualities Typical cost to install per square foot
Olefin Affordable, stain-resistant $2.70
Polyester Stain and fade-resistant, soft $3.64
Nylon Durable, soft $4.40
Wool Luxurious, soft $7.82

The material of your ideal carpet plays a key role in carpeting costs, aesthetics, durability, and texture.

In residential settings, the most common carpeting materials include olefin, polyester, nylon, and wool.

Bear in mind that many carpet stores sell by the square yard. To translate square yards to square feet, divide by nine.

$9 per square yard of carpet = $1 per square foot.

Olefin

Olefin carpet in a residential home

Image source: The Family Handyman

At just $2.70 to install per square foot, olefin best suits homeowners on a budget.

You won't get the cushiest feel with this synthetic material. However, olefin resists water, stains, and mold.

This bodes well for outdoor installations, accident-prone families with pets, or notoriously clumsy children.

On the downside, olefin will mat and crush faster than its more durable counterparts.

We, therefore, recommend reserving olefin for low foot traffic areas. To make the most of this low-priced but frail fiber, choose a resilient, low-pile loop style.

Polyester

Polyester carpet in a residential home

Image source: MSS Cleaning

Polyester carpeting costs $3.64 per square foot installed.

For a bit more coin than olefin, polyester delivers exceptional fade resistance. This trait makes polyester ideal for rooms that receive consistent sunlight, which tends to wash out colors over time.

It's also noticeably softer than olefin, and who doesn't love a cozy carpet?

As for the negatives, polyester scores less favorably in the durability and oil-resistance departments.

That very well could pose minimal issues for those seeking a more premium feel than olefin on a budget.

Nylon

Nylon carpet in a residential home

Image source: MSS Cleaning

Nylon carpets price around $4.40 per square foot installed.

The toughest of the synthetics, nylon holds up exceptionally well to wear in high-traffic areas.

Don't confuse strength for stiffness. Perhaps counterintuitively, nylon also ranks as the softest synthetic carpeting material.

These perks, along with their inherent resistance to mildew and color-fade, explain why nylon is among the most popular carpet materials globally.

Of course, nylon doesn’t come as cheap as olefin and polyester.

We argue the heftier price is warranted for the worthwhile combination of durability and comfort.

Wool

Wool carpet in a residential home

Image source: Fantastic Cleaners

Wool averages around $7.82 per square foot installed.

By a significant margin, you'll probably spend more on wool than any other material.

Many manufacturers combine wool fibers with synthetics to achieve a combination of their benefits and offset the costs of the latter material alone.

Regardless, the extra investment nets you an eco-friendly, long-lasting, sumptuous touch beneath your feet for unparalleled comfort.

Wool absorbs moisture far more easily than synthetic carpeting materials. Some suggest that's a good thing because it can help regulate indoor humidity.

On the other hand, we also know that moisture leads to harmful and unsightly mold. We, therefore, do not recommend wool carpeting in particularly humid climates or parts of the home, such as basements.

In just about every other situation, wool is the material of choice for those prioritizing luxury.

Carpet face weight and density

Many retailers use face weight, density, and backing material to distinguish piles of the same fiber.

You should not rely on any one of these attributes alone to gauge carpet quality.

However, they can help when comparing carpets identical in every other respect.

Face weight

Measured in ounces, face weight refers to the weight of the carpet fibers per square yard. The heavier a pile, the better durability and higher price you can expect.

Density

Density, measured in ounces per cubic yard, refers to how much fiber you get per unit of carpet. Essentially, it's a measurement of how tightly packed the carpet fibers are.

A higher density carpet will resist matting and track footprints to a lesser degree – ideal qualities for carpeting in high-traffic areas like entryways.

As for costs, expect to pay more for the added toughness of a denser carpet.

Twist

When shopping for cut piles, some manufacturers highlight turns-per-inch, or twist. This refers to how many times each fiber turns around itself within an inch – an indicator of strength.

For a more durable carpet, seek out a higher twist rating.

Carpet style

Carpet style Average cost
Cut $6.50
Loop $2.50
Cut and loop $5.50

By style, we mean how the fibers weave into the carpet backing.

The style affects carpet costs, look, feel, and strength.

As with other flooring types, you have a long list of carpet options to choose from, but most fall somewhere between the primary cut, loop, and cut and loop types.

Cut pile

Cut pile graphic Cut pile photo

Saxony, a popular form of cut pile carpet. Image source: Koeckritz Rugs, Inc.

Cut style carpet costs around $6.50 per square foot.

Manufacturers call this style "cut" because they shear each tuft, which exposes the individual fiber strands at the ends.

This carpet assembly produces a softer feel.

As for the disadvantages, cut carpets are tougher to clean because their extra-fine fibers effectively catch debris. Footprints and vacuum tracks also appear more prominent.

Among cut piles, popular varieties include the Saxony and Frieze.

Loop pile

Loop pile graphic Loop pile photo

Berber, perhaps the most common form of loop pile. Image source: Forbes

On average, loop pile carpets cost $2.50 per square foot.

Manufacturers create loop-style carpets by weaving both ends of each fiber into the backing.

The most touted benefits of loop carpets include being easy to clean, durable, and trackless.

However, they're usually not as plush as cut piles. Loop piles are also less suitable for pets because their claws can snag and tear out loops.

Of specific loop styles, Berber carpets are the most common.

Cut and loop pile

Cut and loop graphic Cut and loop photo

Cut and loop carpets typically feature a patterned texture. Image source: The Carpet Lady

Cut and loop pile carpets average around $5.50 per square foot.

As their name implies, these carpets combine cut and loop fibers.

The varying fiber weaves can produce intricate patterns and textures that neither cut nor loop can deliver alone.

Carpet padding

Carpet padding

Image source: Flooring Inc.

Carpet padding costs range between $.44 and $2.00 per square foot.

It might seem like a trivial add-on, but padding plays a crucial part in the cushiness and resilience of your carpet.

A significant reason carpets feel so comfortable comes from the hidden padding underlayment. As for carpet longevity, the give of the padding reduces the strain placed on the fibers under weight.

The give of the carpet padding also reduces the stress placed on the fibers, which prolongs the useful life.

Alongside costs, the Carpet Cushion Council highlights material, density, and thickness as essential characteristics to pay attention to when gauging padding quality.

On top of these factors, you may want to look for moisture resistance, R-value (insulation), and carpet manufacturer recommendations when choosing a pad.

Carpet removal

You can expect to pay around $0.14 for the labor to remove each square foot of old carpeting and padding.

Throw in moving furniture, and we estimate an extra $0.25 per square foot, although this price largely depends on the amount of furniture and labor involved.

Carpet removal is neither expensive nor difficult. Therefore, it could lower your total carpet replacement costs to some degree by doing it yourself.

Labor costs

Labor to install carpet costs around $0.60 per square foot.

Comparing that price figure to material costs, labor occupies little of the overall bill.

Many big-name installers take this to the utmost degree by offering free installation if you buy a preset dollar amount of carpet.

For instance, Home Depot offers free installation with a carpet purchase of greater than $599.

Don't let "free installation" deceive you. Some stores might simply tack on labor costs along with their carpet prices and offer free installation as a marketing tactic.

Additionally, such a seemingly perfect deal may not include necessary installation services like subfloor replacement, baseboard replacement, furniture removal, and carpet padding.

We recommend asking what free installation does and doesn't entail to avoid confusion and unexpected expenses.

Pro vs. DIY

Since carpet installation is relatively affordable – free, in some cases – paying for a professional installation crew is usually a no-brainer.

The difficulty of flooring installation, especially carpeting, only advances this viewpoint.

From taking measurements to applying tack strips to padding placement to stretching the material wall to wall, installing carpet likely demands more know-how, time, and equipment than a typical homeowner can spare.

Complexities such as stairs, closets, or immovable floor fixtures only complicate the process further.

You should also consider whether a DIY installation will compete with professional job standards.

Regardless of quality, many carpet installers include some form of warranty at the very least. Installing by yourself deprives you of that warranty-backed peace of mind that we argue is a must-have.

All things considered, opting for a professional install will spare you many headaches without escalating your costs an overwhelming deal.

Carpet installation costs: summing it all up

Figuring out carpet installation costs can seem daunting at first.

With a basic understanding of the elements in action, namely carpet type, padding material, and labor costs, you can shop for your new carpet project with confidence.

Diving deeper into each cost factor can only better equip you when the time comes to hit the carpet store. However, this article should provide a solid starting point.

Feel free to refer back when the time comes to recarpet!

Get in touch with a local contractor today.

Learn about roofing

All about auxiliary heat: what it is, how it works, and more

June 16, 2022

Worried about auxiliary heat? Don't be. We'll tell you what it is, how it works, and more.

How much does a barndominium cost?

June 15, 2022

Looking for a housing alternative? Barndominiums are the perfect solution. Find out how much a barndominium costs today.

How much do Central Boiler furnaces cost? A quick guide

June 10, 2022

Central Boiler prices can vary from model to model. Our comprehensive guide is here to help you determine which furnace is right for you.