When selecting new commercial carpet, it's easy to fixate on saving money on the material cost, especially if your flooring budget is over-stretched. However, the material cost is just one element of the total cost of installing new carpet.
Today we're breaking down a typical installation quote into its separate parts, to help you identify the biggest costs that are eating into your budget, and understand where the biggest savings lie.
1) Material Cost
This is the aspect of this pricing breakdown that's easiest to understand - it's the price you pay for your chosen carpet. You pay more for larger quantities if you're carpeting a larger space, although you may be eligible for discounts for bulk purchases.
The price of new commercial carpet can vary greatly, with budget options starting at $1-$2 per square foot ($9-$18 per square yard), and increasing to $4-$5 per square foot ($36-$45 per square yard) for premium products.
2) Floor Preparation: Materials
Floor prep is one of the largest variables on a flooring install. Typically new construction or newly poured slabs have less floor prep requirements than existing slabs but all slabs require floor prep to prepare the slab to accept flooring.
Often, this includes a patching compound, to repair any damaged areas of the subfloor, and a skim coating that's applied to create a level, smooth surface, or to encapsulate old adhesive.
It's not unusual for floor preparation materials to cost around $0.45 per square foot ($4 per square yard).
3) Floor Preparation: Labor
This encompasses everything required to prepare your space so that it's ready for your new flooring to be installed. It includes removing the old flooring (and possibly disposing of it, if the manufacturer doesn't run a take-back or recycling program), as well as carrying out all the floor preparation work such as:
- Removing old adhesive from the subfloor.
- Applying a skim coating to level the floor.
- Sweeping or cleaning the subfloor of dust and debris.
- Applying a sealant to encapsulate the subfloor, to prevent adverse chemical reactions between old and new products.
Some types of flooring require more preparation than others: carpet tiles that contain PVC in their backing are prone to a reaction called plasticizer migration, meaning it's necessary to remove every scrap of old adhesive from the subfloor - a difficult and time-consuming process. In contrast, you can select PVC-free, non-reactive flooring with cushion backing, which requires less rigorous adhesive removal as they won't react with trace chemicals, and are thick enough to absorb any slight lumps and bumps on the subfloor.
Depending on the amount of work required, labor costs for floor prep can be between $0.25-$0.75 per square foot ($2.25-$6.75 per square yard).
4) Installation: Materials
The main installation material cost is adhesive. The price of adhesives vary depending on their key features: some may be chemically non-reactive, others may be able to withstand high relative humidity levels, while others may be 'just' the standard adhesive.
For installation materials, you can expect to pay $0.45 per square foot ($4 per square yard).
5) Installation: Labor
This is the cost for the labor required to install your new carpet, and is usually linked to the time taken to install the carpet - so the labor cost will increase as the size of the space increases. Additionally, labor costs will be higher for more complex installation projects - for example, rooms that aren't a standard square or rectangle, or unique installations using multiple colors of tiles, or intricate tile layouts such as herringbone, as these will require more time spent cutting carpet to size or arranging tiles in the required pattern.
You can expect to pay $0.50 per square foot ($4.50 per square yard) for labor, on top of the installation materials. In cities where labor costs are higher, you can expect to pay a premium.
6) Moisture Mitigation
Moisture is a billion-dollar problem for the flooring industry. As moisture-related flooring failures have become more common, many installers now incorporate moisture mitigation into their quotes as standard - regardless of your installation site or flooring type.
The most common - and effective - process is to seal the floor with a two-part epoxy, at the cost of around $6 per square foot ($54 per square yard).
However, you may find that your choice of flooring is more effective at mitigating the risk of moisture problems than many other moisture mitigation solutions.
The most popular moisture mitigation processes work by blocking the moisture and trapping it in the subfloor - but you can actually deal with the root cause of the moisture by selecting a moisture vapor-wicking carpet. This will allow the moisture vapor in the subfloor to travel through the carpet and evaporate away, without causing any damage to your flooring or building.
How to Save on Commercial Carpet Installation
Once you understand the different processes and parts that make-up your flooring installation quote, it becomes easier to identify areas where you can reduce costs - without compromising on quality or putting your project at risk.
One of the biggest areas for savings is moisture mitigation: if you've selected a product that's warranted against moisture problems, then you may not require the complicated, expensive moisture mitigation processes that are built-in to your installation quote.
Alternatively, there may be significant cost savings available just through your choice of carpet - as much as $0.65 per square foot ($6 per square yard). Even if your material costs are higher, you could still save money on installation if it requires less rigorous floor preparation. This will allow you to use your budget on the part of the installation that will make the biggest visual impact - the flooring - rather than installation and preparation labor that will never be seen.