Carpet Remnants: Buying and Installation Tips


Looking for an inexpensive way to change the whole look of a room in your home?  All you need is a bit of paint and a carpet remnant.  Almost nothing is more economically effective at changing up the look of a room than a new coat of paint on the walls (in a new color!) and a fresh, new floor below.  If you like the look of carpeting, but cringe at the price of installing new carpet in the room, then carpet remnants may be the answer to your prayers.

What are carpet remnants?  There’s nothing special about a remnant carpet, except usually the price.  Carpet remnants are the small pieces of carpeting left on a roll of carpet at the end.  They are typically sold at a discounted price, since there is not much left of the carpet to sell, so remnant carpets can’t be used for a whole house or even a large room.  But if you have a relatively small area that you are looking to remodel, you can find carpet remnants for sale that you can use to cover your floors, usually at a fraction of what it would cost to buy new carpet right off the roll.

Cheap carpet remnants are one of the best ways of freshening up a room on a budget.  When you have a new carpet underfoot, it feels like you just invested a lot into updating your room.  And the best part is that despite the discounted price, there is usually nothing wrong with the carpet.  It is still a first quality carpet (if that is what you are buying), but is just available in a small size only.  It may be a discontinued color or style, but that won’t affect you once the carpet is down as long as you buy enough in the first place.  The only thing is that you will not have as much of a selection to choose from as you would otherwise, because not every carpet will be available as a remnant.

Here are a few carpet remnant buying tips to keep in mind before heading to the store:

  1. Measure your room carefully.  You want to have a small amount of extra carpet all the way around the room.  About 6 inches extra in both length and width is best.  Most carpet remnants are sold and priced by the piece, so you want to find a piece that is close to the size of your room without there being too much waste.  Obviously, a remnant that is too small will not work, but if the remnant carpet is too large, you will not be saving as much as you could because you’re buying a lot more carpet than you need.  You can determine the square feet or square yards of your room to figure out what the price of the carpet remnant is per square yard for your room to see if you’re really getting such a bargain.
  2. If you have a room that is rather long just one way, inquire about the different widths of carpet remnants available.  If you can find a remnant with a longer width so that there does not have to be a seam, your installed carpet will not only look better but be easier to install (and this is especially important if you want to do it yourself).
  3. Don’t skimp on padding.  The softness or plushness of your new carpet will depend in large part on the quality of the carpet padding underneath, so even if you’re looking to save some money by buying a carpet remnant, spend the money needed to get a good piece of padding underneath.  You may even find carpet padding remnants to fit your room as well at discounted prices.
  4. Shop around.  Carpet remnants aren’t something you can see in a catalog and then order whenever you want.  You have to find the right remnant for your room at the right time based on what is available.  It is usually best to look for discount carpet remnants at a store that sells a lot of carpet (because chances are more likely that they will have a lot more remnants).  There are even carpet remnant stores and carpet remnant warehouses that purchase remnants from a variety of carpet stores and offer a much wider selection than you could find in any particular carpet store.  You can also find carpet remnants online and have them delivered to you, but you have to make sure that you can get a good idea of the exact color and texture before purchasing so you can make sure you won’t be disappointed when the carpet arrives.

Some carpet stores will install carpet remnants (for a fee, of course), but some won’t.  If the place you buy your carpet remnant will not install it, or you are looking to save even more money by doing it yourself, then the carpet remnant installation is something you can tackle yourself.  There is no difference between installing a remnant and installing carpets ordered off the roll.  But here are a few tips to get the job done right:

  1. Measure twice, cut once.  As with many other home improvement projects, nothing is more important than measuring properly.  If the remnant is much larger than your room, you can rough cut it before you bring it in the room, leaving about 3 inches extra on each side.  You should cut it from the back.
  2. Make sure the floor is free from any debris before laying your carpet remnant, or you will be feeling little annoying bumps underfoot for a long time to come.  Get rid of any globs of spackle or paint, nails, staples from the old carpet, dust bunnies, etc.
  3. If there are any doors in the room, remove them first to make it easier to finish the carpet installation.  You may need to cut down the length of the doors when you are done, depending on the thickness of your new carpet remnant.
  4. Install tackless strips all the way around the room, about a half inch from the wall.  Don’t install them in any walkways, though, such as doorways or entryways.  These can be cut using a pair of heavy snips.  The strips can be nailed into the subfloor, if wood, or glued if the floor is concrete.  Be careful when working with tackless strips because the tacks are very sharp!
  5. Roll out the carpet padding and securely staple it to the floor at all edges and seams, right up against the tackless strips.  The padding should run perpendicular to the direction you will be laying the carpet remnant and should run over the tackless strips.  You can use a stapling hammer to make this job easier.  Once it is stapled, it can be cut against the strips with a utility knife to fit.  Make sure it is not buckling in any location.
  6. Roll out your carpet remnant over the padding and tackless strips and make sure it is lined up properly, especially if there is any type of pattern.  Leave about 3 inches extra against each wall.
  7. Using a knee kicker, stretch and secure the carpet to the tackless strips all the way around the room.  It is extremely important to make sure your carpet is well stretched, or it will begin to gap after awhile.  Also make sure it remains straight during the installation.
  8. Use a wall trimmer to cut the excess carpet that is up against the walls.  This will give you a straight edge.  Then use a stair tool to push the edges of the cut carpet in against the baseboard molding.
  9. If the carpet is butting up against another carpet at the door opening, secure the seams and use a binding bar.  If the carpet is butting up against a wood or tile floor and the heights of the floor are uneven, you may need a reducing strip.
  10. Install finishing moldings if necessary and replace doors (trim if necessary).

If you buy carpet remnants and install them yourself it can make a big impact on the look of a room and can save you lots of money over having a brand new carpet installed by a professional.  This is not the easiest project in the world, but it can be a very rewarding one to accomplish!

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