Average Cost to Install Carpet Per Square Foot

Knowing the average cost of installing carpet can help you dial in your remodeling budget.

Updated on February 16, 2024
By: John Riha and Carrie Hamblin

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If you’re getting ready to install new carpet, you’ll first want to figure the total cost per square foot. Carpet types and prices can range from inexpensive to Wow!, but the average cost per square foot is relatively modest.

Close-up Of A Craftsman Fitting Carpet On Floor


Close-up Of A Craftsman Fitting Carpet On Floor

Photo by: Andrey_Popov


Homeowners will pay between $0.50 to $9 per square foot for synthetic carpet made with nylon, polyester, olefin or Triexta fibers. These popular carpets come in a huge array of colors, styles and textures. Good quality versions are $1.50 per square foot and up. Professional installation adds $0.50 to $1.50 per square foot. The average cost of new carpet installed $2 to $9 per square foot, according to HomeGuide data.

To carpet a 16x20-foot room (320 square feet), figure on paying $640 to $2,880. If it’s not included in the price of the carpet, an underlayment pad for a 320-square-foot room adds another $80 to $960, depending on the type and quality of the pad. Pads have the added benefit of insulating against noise and making rooms quieter.

You can find bargain carpeting that costs less than $1 per square foot from online discount suppliers but be sure to ask for a sample so you can judge the quality before you buy. The least expensive carpets are made of synthetic materials such as polypropylene (also called “olefin”) and acrylic. Look for warranties against defects and wear. Reputable manufacturers offer warranties of 10 to 25 years for stain resistance and abrasive wear.

Some people are sensitive to the smell of brand-new synthetic carpet. If possible, have the carpet delivered a few days before the installation date. Remove any wrapper, and let the carpet air out in a ventilated garage or other location for at least 48 hours to help dissipate any strong odor.

On the other end of the price spectrum, you’ll pay $3 to $21 per square foot for natural fiber carpet like sisal and wool, with luxury wools at the top end. Wool fibers accept dyes readily, and wool carpets are prized for the depth and richness of their colors. Wool is an environmentally friendly material that’s renewable and recyclable, and new wool carpets don't give off strong odors. Wool’s fibers are durable, long-lasting and naturally stain-resistant.

When budgeting for new carpet, note that additional professional services may be available from your installer for additional costs. Moving furniture out of the way, for example, adds $25 to $75 per room, and tack on up to $1.60 per square foot for removing old carpeting. Once the prep is complete, a professional installer should be able to complete the average room in 4 to 8 hours. A pro installer should provide references and proof of liability insurance. Ask for a one-year warranty on their work.

King-size bed with gray square headboard, large rustic wooden mirror and textured wall in trendy minimalist apartment


King-size bed with gray square headboard, large rustic wooden mirror and textured wall in trendy minimalist apartment

Photo by: Ground Picture

Ground Picture

The Different Types of Carpet Piles

A carpet is made up of thousands of pieces of yarn. The way those yarns are attached to a backing is called the carpet “pile.” Knowing about piles can help you choose the right carpet for your needs.

Cut pile is one of the most popular types because of its durability. The yarns are made of twisted fibers that stand straight up and are cut off evenly. This type of construction allows the fibers to be densely packed, resulting in carpeting that’s especially tough and holds up well in high-traffic areas.

Loop pile yarns are arranged in loops of the same height. The loop construction gives the carpet a slight springiness and softness underfoot without sacrificing durability.

Multi-level loop pile: As the name suggests, this type of carpet is made up of looped yarns of various heights, good for creating textured patterns on the carpet surface.

Cut-loop pile has both cut and looped yarns. It’s another way to create highly textured carpet surfaces and patterns. Because of the texturing, cut-loop pile is good at camouflaging dirt and stains.

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