How Long Does Carpet Last? Surprising As It Might Sound But It Really Depends On You!

Like other house interiors, carpets do not have an expiration date but there are some key determinants for knowing their longevity such as: quality of the material, how well it was made, how much it is given, and sometimes, how long it takes for you to get bored of seeing the same carpet every day. I’m pretty sure that there are many carpets being thrown or tucked away in the closet because they no longer please the eyes of the home owners and they start to degrade thereupon.

How long do carpets last?

Normally, a carpet can last about 3-5 years in normal apartments. Medium-grade carpet can have a life expectancy between 5 and 15 years. The best carpet available on the market can last more than two decades. However, these are not cut and dry numbers so take them with a grain of salt. The following factors can have great impact on how often you should replace your carpets:

Number of residents:

If you’re living alone in a single apartment or in a college dorm room, the carpet can last more than 4 years. However, if you have guests coming over frequently, watch out for stains. As long as the carpet gets vacuumed at least once a week, you guys can still be buddies after graduating.

Already married and raising two children? Then 2-4 years is the maximum. Kids can be cute, loveable, and they mean everything to you but most of the time, they are not very carpet-friendly.

Pets

Know what else is also cute, loveable and equally unfriendly to carpets? Pets. They are notorious for causing stains and hideous wear and tear so if you want the carpet and your pets to co-exist harmoniously under the same roof, proper care is vital for increasing the average life of the carpet. My best advice is to potty train your pets before letting them enter the house because carpets tend to keep bad odor lingering despite how hard you try to get rid of it. 

Speaking from personal experience, I and my roommate were co-parenting Charlie - a full-grown bulldog during our first year of college. Everything was fine until Charlie started urinating on the carpet when there was no one home (we were having a difficult time coordinating class schedules since we had the same major).

We tried every room deodorant and smell repellent spray but could not get rid of the lingering urine odor. Although they do a complete carpet cleaning at the end of each school year, the smell somehow managed to stay so we had no choice than giving up Charlie. As sad and heartbroken as we were, we both agreed on not adopting pets while there was not enough time for a cleaning routine. If you have a low tolerance threshold for urine odor, adopting pets is also not a very wise idea. 

Cost

It is a no-brainer that a higher price means better quality. Wall-to-wall carpet usually costs around $3-$7 per square foot with the mean of $4.50 per square foot. With the average price, your carpet can last 3-5 years, omitting other factors. Adding $1 per square foot can increase its average life from 1 to 2 years and vice versa. 

Materials (Fiber)

In essence, pricey fibers make better quality, softer, and more durable carpets. Normally used carpet fibers with the price ranging from low to high include: olefin (Polypropylene), nylon, or wool. However, based on the material alone it is not enough to make the best judgment on the longevity of carpet as it also depends on intended use. Low-quality fiber carpets, if placed in low foot traffic area, could stay in use a bit longer than its life expectancy despite its lower grade material.

I have a Berber carpet glued to the sub flooring in my current apartment, which has been in my home for more than 3 years. Usually, I vacuum the house once a day (or once every 3 days if I’m lazy) and have friends over once in a while. I guess my carpet was new when I first moved in because the carpet is still in good condition with only a few coffee stains (yes, I’m pretty much a coffee person). With the cleaning routine I currently have, my Berber carpet could last more than 7 years. 

Padding (for wall-to-wall carpet)

By and large, carpet padding lasts somewhere between 10 and 20 years. Similar to carpet, the longevity of padding is determined by the type, thickness, and density. Rebond is the most common and least expensive type of padding, which is made of recycled foam pieces bonded together and covered by mesh. My parents used this padding for their carpet and I have not heard anything from them about changing the carpet padding again so you can expect them to last around 10 years or so. 

Rubber is a less common type of padding but it is more durable, and of course, more expensive. Rubber can better withstand wear and tear and they can last up to 20 years. If you don’t want to ever have to replace carpet padding then urethane is what you should go for. Under normal conditions and proper care, urethane padding can last between 15 and 25 years. 

Installation

Unless you are a carpet-enthusiast and have some experience in carpet installation, I don’t suggest DIY fitting (in case of wall-to-wall carpet). It takes a lot of work and patience and a lot of things can go wrong along the way. So, if you don’t want to let your well-chosen carpet to go to waste, hire a carpet fitter to do the job. The properly installed carpet can help a carpet reach its life expectancy thanks to greater stability and proper attachment to the padding and the floor. 

How long do carpets last in a rental?

If you are running a hotel, rental housing, or Airbnb, it’s important to first think about what kind of flooring you want to install. Five is the average number of years a carpet lasts in a rental, which is 20 years less than hardwood or tile flooring. Of course, these numbers will vary depending on what materials you use and how negligent your tenants can be (I mean, it’s not always bad to be pessimistic right?). However, if you are running the place and the replacement and maintenance becomes too much of a hassle, consider the latter two flooring options as they have longer average useful life. 

Signs that you need to replace carpets:
 
1.    Stains
I’m pretty sure that this picture triggers an unpleasant past experience in everyone that lays eyes on it. What can be more embarrassing than spilling coffee on the carpet when visiting your boyfriend’s house for the first time? NOTHING (as first it’s always hard to recover from a bad first impression). Not only are most carpets incompatible with coffee color (and most other stains) but also, they tend to hold on to the stains over a long period of time.

Yes, you can buy a new night stand to cover up the mess when all cleaning methods fail. However, when your carpet starts to resemble a minefield, it’s time that it be replaced (even though it can be a fun playground for the kids).

2. Odor
 
Going back to the pet story, urine odor (and other smells of course) usually can be eradicated or diminished noticeably by proper cleaning. However, if all cleaning efforts start to fail, it means the odor has penetrated deep into the padding or subfloor, which can give way for mold and mildew to develop. If your apartment starts to smell like it has been “marked and claimed” by your cats or dogs, replacing the entire carpet is a must (the padding as well in extreme cases).

3. Wear and tear
There are cleaning sprays to get rid of unpleasant odors but how about rips and tears? Surely there are a lot of people like me who would rearrange house furniture to cover up torn spots on the carpet (so I come across as a cheap host). But putting a night stand in the middle of the living room wouldn’t be so appealing right?

Carpets made from polyester fiber tend to wear down and lose their form pretty quickly and are difficult to recover even with professional care. Nylon carpets on the other hand, are often more resilient and respond well to carpet cleaning even with some defects. 

4. Old carpets
Saying goodbye isn’t always an easy thing to do. I’m that kind of person who thinks every non-living thing has a soul and emotions, which make me grow attached to them easily. However, there are useful life spans for everything, even for the human body. For carpets, most of them are manufactured to last 10 years. 

That is why if you’re still using the same carpet your grandmother had since the 1990s, high chances are you need to get a new one. Yes, the carpet means a lot to you and it carries the memories of your beloved grandma. But at the same time, it carries germs and molds developed over the years, to which your immune system is not so happy about.

5. Condition of carpet padding

Padding is used to support carpet, making it comfortable and easy to walk on. However, just like carpet, padding can also absorb spills but they normally do not respond well to cleaning. That’s why if your carpet padding starts to exhibit unevenness, wrinkles, and a crinkling sound when being stepped over, you ought to get it replaced. 

It is no overstatement when saying that carpets play an important role in making a place feel like home. Finishing a long day at work, you arrive home after 45 minutes of commuting, exhausted and stressed out because of the upcoming project. You close the door behind you, take off your shoes, and walk into the apartment. Your feet are welcomed by a pleasant feel when stepping on soft, smooth lavender carpet that matches your wallpaper and suddenly you know that you’re finally home. 

This is why it’s important to give your carpet enough attention and care and replace it once in awhile to keep the fresh air and cozy feeling for your home.