When is it time to replace carpet?

With proper care and maintenance, you can expect your carpet to last up to 10 years or longer. (Photo: Dreamstime)

Carpeting offers a number of benefits. Not only is it cozy, quiet and easy to install, but it’s also more affordable than many other flooring options. And high-quality carpeting can last a decade or more with proper care and maintenance. Of course, even the best carpets will eventually need to be replaced. Here are four signs that it’s time to retire the existing carpet in your home:

Wear and tear: Irreparable matting, tearing and ripping are telltale signs it’s time to replace your carpet. Polyester carpet fibers are known to matte and lose their form – and once this happens not even professional cleaning can revive them. Nylon carpeting is more resilient than polyester. When there is life left in nylon carpet, it will typically respond well to cleaning. It’s also possible to repair some small rips and tears. Significant damage is difficult to address, however _ particularly on stairs and major walkways.

Stains: Most carpeting comes with a stain-resistant finish. But over time, this treatment fades and leaves the carpet and pad unprotected. At this point, your carpet becomes more susceptible to deep and stubborn stains – particularly those caused by bleach, wine, mustard and biological substances such as pet urine. Professional carpet cleaners offer heavy-duty extraction services to address these stains, though biological substances can absorb into carpet padding and cause mold and mildew buildup. When this happens – or when professional carpet cleaning fails to remove stubborn stains from your carpet – it’s probably time to consider replacing it.

Lingering odors: Odors resulting from pets and other causes such as tobacco smoke should be eliminated or noticeably diminished after a professional cleaning. If odors remain, this could indicate that they have penetrated deep into the carpet fibers, the carpet pad or the subfloor. And, in the case of pet urine and other biological sources, it may even indicate mold and mildew growth. In these cases, it is typically most cost-effective to replace the carpet entirely.

Age: After several years, even the highest-quality carpeting will start to show signs of wear. Carpet fibers will start to lose their texture and tuft. Professional cleaning will yield sub-par results. And color loss, fading and rippling will likely begin to occur. You may also notice increased allergy symptoms as older carpets collect and disperse more allergens and particulate matter. Most manufacturers say carpet will last about 10 years with proper care. If your carpet is nearing 10 years or older, you may want to start considering a replacement.

How much will new carpet cost?
The cost to replace your carpet will depend on the square footage of the carpeted area and the kind of carpet you choose. Carpet prices start at roughly $2 per square foot and increase with quality. Mid-grade carpet typically runs from $3 to $4 per square foot, and higher grades cost $5 or more. Experts say you can expect to pay an additional $2.50 to $6 per square foot for new carpet padding and an additional $2 to $6 per square foot for installation.

By Megan Linhoff, Angie’s List. Megan Linhoff is a reporter for Angie’s List, a trusted provider of local consumer reviews and an online marketplace of services from top-rated providers. Visit AngiesList.com.