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How much does it cost to install commercial carpet?

Posted August 21, 2020 in Uncategorized, Flooring, Carpets, Carpet Tiles
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When it’s time to replace the carpeting in your office or commercial space, many people looking to stretch their budget focus on the cost of the carpet material itself.  While it’s true that the cost of the carpet itself does greatly contribute to the overall cost of the project, the installation and assorted other labour components can add up to be just as much as the carpet itself!  Here’s the six main components that make up the overall cost of a commercial carpet replacement project.

1) Cost of Material

The cost of the carpet or carpet tile you choose is the easiest part to understand – it’s the price per square yard of the carpet you choose.  Larger quantities can sometimes net you a price discount, but typically that’s only for exceptionally large jobs, like recarpeting an entire hotel or an office tower.  The price range spread of commercial carpet can be immense, with entry-level budget options in the $10 – $18 per square yard area, ranging up to $45 – $50 per square yard for higher-end premium products.  The pricing can also vary on the same product based on the format it’s sold in: oftentimes the same product will have a different price for broadloom goods versus carpet tile.  Comparing the base material cost is one way to compare one product against another, but focusing on only the material cost is not a good way to estimate the overall cost of a project.

2) Floor Preparation – Materials

Floor prep is one of the biggest variables in a flooring job, and it’s also one of the most difficult ones to accurately estimate – especially when dealing with a retrofit job that has existing flooring currently installed.  Typically new construction or newly-poured concrete slabs need less preparation than retrofit projects, but all slabs need at least some degree of preparation before a new floor can be installed.  This prep work usually involves the removal and disposal of the old flooring and old adhesives, and this aspect can also be complicated by the age of the old flooring that’s being removed.  Flooring in buildings over a certain age typically need to be tested for asbestos content, as asbestos-containing flooring needs to be removed and disposed of using special techniques and equipment.  Even without asbestos, subfloors usually need a patching compound applied to repair any damaged areas, and then a skim coating to create a level, smooth surface and to encapsulate any old remaining adhesive residues from the previous floor.  It’s not unusual for basic floor prep to cost $5 – $7 per square yard, and that can vary greatly with the conditions of the subfloor actually on site.

3) Floor Preparation – Labour

The labour component of floor prep captures everything that isn’t the prep materials themselves that is required to make your space ready to accept your new carpet.  This means tasks like:

  • disassembling and moving furniture, if not done so by the owner or by specialized movers
  • tear up, removal, and disposal of existing flooring
  • removing old adhesive from the subfloor via scraping, grinding, sanding, shotblasting, or other forms of mechanical abrasion
  • sweeping and cleaning the floor to provide a clean work surface
  • applying a skim coating to patch and level the subfloor
  • applying a sealant to encapsulate the subfloor, to prevent any adverse chemical reactions between the previous and the new products or adhesives

Different types of carpet materials require different degrees of preparation.  For example, some carpet tiles that contain PVC in their backing are prone to a reaction called “plasticizer migration” – this means that these carpet tiles absolutely require every scrap of old adhesive to be removed from the subfloor to avoid this chemical reaction, adding to the amount of prep time needed.  Alternatively, some carpet tiles are built with a thick cushion backing that is PVC-free and won’t react chemically, and also is thick enough to hide slight irregularities in your subfloor.  Depending on all of these variables, the labour costs for floor prep can range anywhere from $3 to $9 per square yard and up.

4) Installation – Materials

The main material cost of installation is the adhesives required to keep your new carpet stuck down and in place!  But just any carpet glue isn’t necessarily the right carpet glue for your job – it’s much more complicated than that.  Most carpet manufacturers will only warranty their products so long as they were installed with the manufacturer-recommended adhesives, and that adhesive cost should be factored-in when choosing a carpet material.  Other adhesive types might be needed for a specific job due to their chemical non-reactivity; others due to a job site’s ambient humidity levels or temperature variabilities.  For installation materials, it’s not unreasonable to expect a cost of about $5 – $7 per square yard.

5) Installation – Labour

This is the cost for the actual manhours of labour required to install your new carpet, and is usually linked to the overall amount of time expected to perform the installation.  Of course, the overall size of the job will be part of this cost – but also the type of area, the difficulty of the area, and even the pattern of the carpet itself are all components that factor into this equation.  Rooms that have many irregular walls or projections will cost more than an unfurnished wide open space with squared-off straight walls.  Stairways, closets, alcoves, and other non-flat and non-square areas will also increase the cost of labour.  If installers need to cut your carpet in specific ways or at specific points in the run for pattern matching will also increase your cost, as will unique installations using multiple colours of carpet tile or intricate layouts (like herringbone patterns) can also impact your labour cost.  In a nutshell: the more complex and time-consuming the job, the more it will cost to install.  At a bare minimum, expecting $5 per square yard for installation labour for a basic empty square room is reasonable.

6) Moisture Mitigation

Moisture is a billion-dollar problem for the flooring industry.  As moisture-related flooring failures have become more and more common, many commercial flooring estimators are now building a minimal moisture mitigation solution into their quotes as standard – at least on ground-level projects.  The most common and effective process is to seal the floor with a two-part epoxy, with basic systems starting at about $55 per square yard.  However, some commercial carpets and flooring products are engineered to withstand ground moisture and don’t need this kind of subfloor prep – which is all the more reason to let your estimator be involved in the choice of carpet product from the very start of the project.  Some commercial carpets are designed to be vapour-wicking; this allows the moisture vapour in the subfloor to travel through the carpet and evaporate away, without causing any damage.

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.  It’s important to establish a budget for your project ahead of time; budgets can be stretched, but only so far!  It’s useful to know your budget figure and helpful to share it with your flooring estimator so they can help find you the best overall solution to your flooring needs.  Sometimes a project can be made more economical overall through finding savings in areas other than the carpet material itself; while one carpet material may cost more per square yard than another, it may save you the difference and then some in the preparation or installation areas.  Being transparent with your estimator is the best way to get to a win-win scenario as quickly, easily, and economically as possible.

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