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How Much Carpet Will You Need?

Bankrate’s carpet calculator will help you figure out how much carpet you need for your space. Simply enter the length and width of the area that will be covered with carpet, then hit “calculate”. You will get two figures — one as square yards and the other as square feet — of how much carpet you will need.

How carpet is priced

Figuring out how much carpet you need can be complicated for the following reasons:

  • The width of the carpet: Carpet is usually manufactured in 12-foot widths. If all rooms were 12 feet wide, there would be little problem. If the room is not, you may have to do some math to figure out how much carpet you need and how to avoid seems where possible. Let's say your room is 10 feet by 10 feet. That's 100 square feet. If you bought 100 square feet, you would have to do a lot of cutting and seam work to cover this room. Here's why: If the carpet is 12 feet wide, 100 square feet would mean the length would be 8 feet, 4 inches (100 divided by 12 = 8.4. So purchasing 100 square feet of carpet would require cutting off the extra 2 feet and then seaming it onto the 8-foot, 4-inch side as six pieces, each 2-feet wide by 1-foot, 8 inches to fit the 10 X10 room. To avoid all those seams, the better method is to buy a section of carpet that is 12 feet wide and 10 feet long -- 120 square feet -- and discard the 2-foot excess.
  • The direction of the carpet: Carpet is manufactured linearly, and the carpet pile leans in the direction it's manufactured. To maintain texture, pattern and color consistency, the carpet must all be installed in the same direction. If it doesn't, it will look like it is a slightly different color because of the way the light hits it.

Most retailers sell carpet by the square foot, but some sell it by the square yard. Carpet is often sold in pre-cut rolls of either 12, 13.5 or 15 feet width. However, buying a roll of carpet is likely to produce more waste than carpet tiles, which tend to be more precise. Carpet tiles typically come in either 12” by 12” or 24” by 24” squares, making it easier to reduce waste and replace a section if needed. 

Unless you are experienced with carpet, you should contact a professional carpet installer to get accurate pricing and recommendation on what would be best for your space. If hiring a professional is cost prohibitive, you may want to consider a home improvement loan or another alternative financing option for your home improvement project. 


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Types of carpet

Carpet can vary significantly, but there are five major carpet fiber types and three major carpet styles.

 The five types of carpet fiber are:

  1. Nylon. This fabric is similar to wool, but it is typically cheaper. It tends to be a resilient fabric, with good soil resistance and resistance to color fading. 
  2. Polypropylene. This fabric is water and stain resistant, making it one of the more durable fabrics. It is a good choice for indoor/outdoor areas or any area that gets a lot of foot traffic. 
  3. Polyester. This fabric has a soft texture and comes in a variety of styles, similar to nylon and wool. However, it is not very durable and is best used in bedrooms and other areas that see less wear and tear. 
  4. Triexta. This fabric is fairly new and is meant to combine the characteristics of polyester and nylon. It is both soft and durable, in addition to being soil resistant and easy to clean. 
  5. Wool. This fabric typically comes with more design variety than other types of carpet. Wool is stain resistant and flame retardant.

The three types of carpet styles are:

  1. Cut pile. This style of carpet is cut at the top so that the fabric comes out as tufts. It is a soft and resilient style that is good for high traffic areas. Examples of cut pile carpet include shag, cable and plush carpets. 
  2. Loop pile. This style of carpet is woven and uncut, forming a loop pattern that is flat and less textured than cut pile carpets. Loop pile carpets tend to be extremely durable. There are two types of loop pile carpet: level loop pile and multi-level loop pile. Level loop pile has all the loops at the same height, creating a uniformed look that is good for high traffic areas. Multi-level loop pile usually has two or three loop heights to create a pattern. 
  3. Cut-loop pile. This style combines cut and loop pile to create a sculpted pattern effect. This style often comes in a variety of patterns and colors, making it good for masking stains and dirt.  


How to measure stairs for carpet

If you’re installing carpet on your stairs and you plan to do it yourself, you need to start by measuring the stairs. To figure out how much carpet you need for your stairs, follow these steps:

  1. Measure the rise and run of one of the stairs. The rise is the height of the stair and the run is its length. 
  2. Add these two measurements together and include an extra inch to be safe.
  3. Multiply that measurement by the number of stairs.
  4. Divide by 12 and round up to the nearest even number to get the length in feet
  5. Measure the width of the stairs and round up to the nearest foot
  6. Multiply the width and length of the stairs
  7. Add in any landings on the stairs by multiplying the length and width of the landing and adding that number to the total.