Choosing And Caring For Wall-To-Wall Carpet

by Robert L. Cain†† September 1, 2009

ďWall to wall carpet Ö two rooms Ö just $99.Ē

Doesnít that sound great? Two rooms of beautiful carpet in the rental just vacated. You could get another $50 a month with new rugs.

Yes, you probably could get more rent. And it would probably get you more applicants. But there is car≠pet and there is carpet.  There are three things to consider when you select carpet: price, useful life and ease of care.

I will discuss all three in this article. I donít claim to be an expert in carpet, so I called someone who is. Jay Bullotti of R.M.Dietz Co in Portland knows carpet. I learned all kinds of interesting things from him about what to look for when you go to buy carpets.

Jay said he gets all kinds of calls from landlords wanting the cheapest rugs they can get. They usually donít buy from him. One reason is that most of the really cheap carpets donít meet minimum building codes and FHA standards. Those are standards for fire resistance, thread count and general durability.

Put one of these rugs in a Section 8 rental and it might not pass, depending on the inspector.

Jay says you can generally get one of these carpets for about $10 per yard in≠stalled. They last three years maximum before they are trashed, especially in a rental where you donít know the care they are getting.

What he recommends for rentals is continuous heat filament nylon, wear-dated, gold label with stain blocker. The wear-dated comes with different guarantees. The least expensive is a five year wear-dated. And Jay says expect at least eight years out of it, even with a careless renter.

Stain blocker is also important. Thatís the next advancement over Scotchgard. The problem with Scotchgard was that it washed out. So the first time you steam-cleaned a carpet, the protection was gone and you had to put it back on. Stain blocker is sealed all the way through the fiber.  You canít wash it out.

For this carpet you will pay around $16 per yard installed over a quality pad.  (A high quality fiber pad is also extremely important for extra wear).

Jay said the average three bedroom house will take 110 yards of carpet.  Using his figures, that makes the price of the more expensive carpet $1760. The price of the cheaper carpet would be $1100.00.

However, †Jay explained that it isnít price thatís important, but cost.  You have to divide the price by the useful life to get the cost. So the $10 a yard carpet, expected to last about three years, costs $367 per year. The $16 a yard carpet, expected to last eight years, costs $220 per year.

Carpet Care

Spots:  The best way to avoid spills and reduce tracked-in grime is to place mats at all outside entrances. If a spill does occur on any carpet, it is important to clean it up as soon as possible.  On carpet with stain blocker, it should clean up regardless of how long it sits. Itís very nearly tenant-proof.

The best method of carpet cleaning is steam cleaning with a carpet cleaner. You can rent a steam cleaner and do it yourself, or have it done by a company which specializes in cleaning carpet.

If you use any household chemical on your carpeting, read the label carefully. Even stain blocker may not protect against the damage that some cleaners can do.

Dents: When heavy furniture is placed on carpet for a prolonged period, it crushes the pile and the pad under≠neath. Pile can be revived by brushing up the compressed tufts. If that doesnít do it, hold a steam iron several inches from the area and brush again.

If that still doesnít do it, you can have the carpet re-stretched. You can do it yourself with a knee kicker, or hire it done for about $2 per yard. Thatís about $25 for the average room.

Jay pointed out that a high quality pad will come back on its own after the furni≠ture is removed.
Piling and fuzzing: Shedding is a natural process in carpeting, and a fairly common problem with cut pile carpets of all qualities. It may last for several months in new carpet, but can be eliminated more quickly by regular vacuuming.

Reprinted by Permission. Copyright 2009 Cain Publications, Inc. Robert Cain is a nationally-recognized speaker and writer on property management and real estate issues. For a free of the Rental Property Reporter call 800-654-5456 or visit