Whether you’re buying a new home or renovating your current one, if resale value is a concern, there’s absolutely one design mistake that turns off a large segment of potential buyers—wall-to-wall carpeting, especially throughout a home. According to Allison Chiaramonte, who is a real estate agent with Warburg in New York, “To most buyers, wall-to-wall carpeting is something to be removed.”
While many designs come back in style (hello mid-century modern), carpeting an entire home isn’t likely to make a resurrection any time soon. “Even when it looks in good shape and the home is furnished, it almost never looks good and clean once that furniture is removed,” Chiaramonte explains.
While the hardwood flooring of previous generations didn’t come cheap, today’s hardwood alternatives are available in a range of prices and many are practically indistinguishable from solid wood. So, carpet has almost completely lost its cache. “I think flooring has become a big design feature and so the idea of covering up the floors is less popular as it’s such a selling feature,” the agent says. “There is a lack of flexibility in a wall-to-wall carpet which doesn’t appeal to the modern buyer.”
Carpet In The City
However, there is one major exception to the no carpeting rule. Chiaramonte says that some buyers still prefer soft flooring for bedrooms. However, they usually avoid carpeting the entire room. “It’s far easier to redo or change the feeling in a room by purchasing a new rug! There’s a freedom to wood flooring,” she explains. “The vast majority of buyers plan to use a rug that stops a few inches shy of the wall.”
For decades, wall-to-wall carpeting was the standard for most New York City apartments. This is because many co-ops required a certain percentage of flooring in every unit to be carpeted. While these rules haven’t exactly been lifted, most of the time, unless there are noise complaints, they aren’t strictly enforced today.
While it’s best to remove all carpeting before putting a home on the market, it’s not always quite that simple. “This is tricky because if you are removing wall-to-wall carpeting in a room, the exposed subfloor needs to be contented with or new wood flooring must be installed,” Chiaramonte says.
If there isn’t usable wood flooring underneath, Chiaramonte tells her clients it’s best to have the carpets professionally cleaned. “So at least it reads as fresh and not soiled.”
But unless it can be avoided, the agent says any permanent carpeting is a hard no. “I am advising clients doing a renovation to do wood flooring in all the rooms (except maybe the kitchen) and if they want to, faux wall-to-wall with custom carpets that should start an inch or two from the wall for that feeling. It’s a better bet for maintaining resale value!”
Flooring In Philadelphia
Philadelphia area interior designer and stager Alexis Rodgers of Home With Alexis, has mixed feelings about carpeting. On one hand, she says, “Wall-to-wall carpet is never something to brag about on real estate listing.”
But, she believes there is a time and place for it. “Some luxury homes and mansions do feel better with wall-to-wall on the second floors because the bedrooms are cozier that way.”
It’s also a way to cut costs. “There was a house that had scary old dated tile everywhere, and we were staging and renovating it for an upcoming sale. So, we installed carpet over the tiles because it was the lesser of two evils,” she says.
However, this rule generally applies to people renovating their own homes and not trying to sell a home that’s been previously lived in. “Unless you ordered the carpet yourself, it can be creepy to move into a home with carpets someone else and their pets have lived on. They never feel quite as clean as hardwood floors do for a buyer,” says Rodgers.
The Allergy Factor
But aesthetics aren’t the only reason why people are avoiding carpeting. “As more people are aware of allergies and more people have pets, carpets seem to be less hygienic,” says Chiaramonte.
She is correct. Carpeting simply isn’t the ideal flooring for people with allergies. A report from the National Center for Biotechnology Information states that carpeted flooring harbors more dust and allergens than hard flooring does. Carpeting can also emit VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which are essentially chemicals that trigger irritation in some people.
A Happy (Enough) Medium
When media personality and influencer, Ali Levine, moved into a new KB Homes development in spring 2018, the builder offered her a variety of flooring choices for her home. She selected wood tile for the downstairs and carpeted the upstairs entirely with wall-to-wall carpeting except for the laundry room and bathrooms. “I chose carpet upstairs because I wanted it to feel cozier. It’s nice when you first wake up and have a soft and cozy feeling under your feet in your bedroom. I also knew we had a baby girl coming soon and wanted her to have some soft areas to crawl on, stand on, etc,” she says.
However, Levine isn’t exactly happy with the carpet she currently has. “There are many things I don’t like about the carpet I picked. It stains too easily. I mean I know that’s all carpet really, but I think between the light grey color and the texture the stains are unreal.”
With two cats, a dog, and a baby, stains are inevitable, but Levine is unimpressed with the quality of her flooring, especially because it’s less than two years old. “I honestly didn’t feel that I had many options. Not that I’m a carpet expert, but I felt like there could have been more to choose from. I would have preferred something more stain-resistant.”
However, she doesn’t plan on replacing it any time in the very near future. “My daughter is exploring everything and she is learning how to sink her feet into the floor. She likes the feeling, so it’s good for her. We’ve discussed possibly replacing with a better type of carpet in the future or ripping out completely, but haven’t decided yet.”
When Only Water Proof Will Do
Sometimes something so catastrophic happens, you simply can’t go back. This is what happened to Diane Rutkofsky, who lives in a flood zone in Texas. While her home was nearly destroyed by a flood, it wasn’t due to a natural disaster. Rather, the person maintaining her pool inadvertently pumped thousands of gallons of sewage into the first floor of her home.
Insurance covered the majority of the cost of damages. But, when things like this happen, it’s virtually impossible to avoid some out of pocket expenses. Rutkofsky had to renovate the rest of the home to match and install new flooring throughout.
Rutkofsky selected Nucore Waterproof Flooring in a grey distressed color in every room except for the kitchen and bathrooms. Nucore falls into the luxury vinyl category because it’s a composite wood covered with a layer of vinyl. It’s practical and budget-friendly. Also, the appeal of waterproof flooring increases exponentially after a flood.
Area Rugs Are The New Carpet
The evolution of alternatives to hardwood from vinyl to laminate and composite has made wall-to-wall carpeting throughout the home essentially obsolete. But area rugs are trendier than ever.
Rutkofsky purchased inexpensive indoor/outdoor area rugs for each room because they’re waterproof. She felt hard floors were a better investment in the long run, should she choose to sell her current home. Area rugs are an instant way to change up the look of a room on a budget, whereas carpeting select spaces like bedrooms, basements, etc, is a major commitment.