Carpet has been a mainstay in rental homes for as long as rental homes have existed. It’s soft on-foot, inexpensive, and can be cleaned multiple times before it has to be replaced, making it perfect for renters and landlords alike. At RMI, we install millions of yards of different carpets every year. Having dealt with renters, managers, and carpet for years, here are some things we’ve learned.
Best Practice #1 – Before Installing Carpet, Measure for Carpet
The first step of every project we work on is the measurement. Since carpet comes in 12ft-wide rolls, the measurement has to be done a specific way in order to limit the amount of waste left over at the end of the job. The waste factor can account for hundreds of extra dollars being saved or spent when the home is completed. We use flooring-specific measurement software that optimizes how much carpet is needed and where it should be seamed. That diagram is given to the installer to follow on the jobsite.
Best Practice #2 – Pad and Prep
The soft feel of carpet underfoot is as much a reflection of the pad as it is the carpet itself. The quality of pad is measured in pounds. 6lb pad is the industry standard for rentals, 8lb pad or even memory foam will be used in custom homes for a softer feel. Carpet hides
inconsistencies in the subfloor that would have to be fixed if you were to install plank or sheet vinyl. The floor needs to be flat and clean but most likely doesn’t need to be leveled and/or patched before installing carpet – another way carpet saves time and money.
Best Practice #3 – Seam and Stretch
The seams and the stretch are the two most important facets of the carpet installation itself. Bad seams or a bad stretch are the most common reasons for callbacks on carpet jobs. As an owner or manager, you shouldn’t ever see the seams so you shouldn’t know where they are. As an installer, we try to put them in closets or doorways and try to avoid putting them in the middle of rooms where they can be worn down and seen. Once the carpet is all seamed together, we’ll stretch it in. Carpet has to be stretched in multiple directions and attached to tackstrip around the perimeter of each room prevent bubbles and waves once the carpet is being lived on. If you or a tenant start seeing issues after putting furniture on your new carpet, it’s likely due to a bad stretch.
Best Practice #4 – Tuck and Transitions
At the end of an installation, carpet needs to be cut to fit around the perimeter and tucked under the baseboards. Good installers will not cut carpet too long or too short and will ensure it stays attached to the tackstrip so the carpet remains stretched. Transitions or concrete ramps can be used to help mitigate any difference in height between tile or vinyl, and carpet. Tenants and owners shouldn’t feel a noticeable ledge where two materials meet in a property.
Best Practice #5 – Stairs
Installing carpet on stairs is one of the industry’s hottest debates. Owners and managers often opt to use vinyl plank on stairs rather than using carpet due to the wear and tear that carpet and pad experience on the treads of the steps. The question is, does the difference in longevity justify the cost? Installing vinyl on stairs is 3-4 times more expensive than installing carpet, meaning you can demo and install brand new carpet 3-4 times for the same cost as doing the vinyl once. If you plan on changing the colors of your carpet or vinyl in the next 5 years, it may not be worth it to install vinyl. On the other hand, if you want to set it and forget it for the next 4-5 years and not worry about replacement, carpet may not be the option for you. Think long term when comparing costs and benefits of carpet vs vinyl on stairs.
RM Interiors a trusted national partner for professional carpet installations. We work with the largest property management companies in the country on thousands of carpet installations per year. Having measured and installed hundreds of thousands of homes, we know what it takes to install quickly, effectively, and inexpensively. Working with an expert on your property will allow you to maximize your time and money and get your jobs done right the first time. To see if RMI offers installation services in your area, click here.