Carpets are not always an ideal flooring option, especially if you have children or animals or enjoy playing host to large groups of people. Carpets are hard to clean and can become a costly maintenance problem for landlords to attend to when accommodating new renters. Fortunately, there are alternatives available to those in need of a protective or decorative cover for their carpets.
You can install Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP) or laminate wood flooring directly over carpet with low pile height. Flooring professionals do not recommend the long-term installation of laminate or LVP over high pile carpet. You can secure plywood on top of plush carpeting to achieve stability in a pinch.
In the article below, we will discuss whether you can and should install hardwoods on your carpets. We will wrap up by going over the step-by-step process of installing your flooring solution. Let’s hop in!
Can You Put Hardwood on Top of Carpet?
Whether you have old, dingy carpets that you want to cover, or you are looking to protect your pristine new carpet from heavy foot traffic or pets, installing flooring over existing carpet is an attractive idea.
With moisture-resistant and waterproof options available, you can rest easy knowing you can change your floors without having to worry about what spilled milk looks like in a couple years when you go to remove your floor – yikes! You will, however, want to take the condition of your carpet and the floor below it into consideration before going ahead with your install.
If you have a low carpet pile, you should be able to install your flooring directly on top of it, barring any structural issues. This is the kind of stiff carpet you can find at airports or in department stores, and for good reason. Low pile carpet is rigid and stain-resistant, making it an ideal flooring solution for high traffic and/or commercial areas.
Conversely, if you have a high carpet pile, you will have to take extra steps to convert to LVP or laminate. High pile provides insulation for your home and delivers a luxurious feeling underfoot, but lacks the stability and support needed over large surface areas. Flooring installed over thick carpet could sag, causing the click-lock system to fall apart, and potentially damaging the carpet and the LVP or laminate itself. Tearing down to the subfloor or installing ¼” (6.35mm) thick plywood will eliminate stability mishaps.
The flooring beneath your carpet will also play a role in the performance and stability of your new hardwoods. Most residential subfloors are concrete slabs or plywood bases nailed to the home’s floor joists. If there are any structural abnormalities in the subfloor, stiff carpeting will not prevent your Luxury Vinyl Plank or laminate wood from becoming warped or damaged.
- Check your carpet for any noticeable divots or ridges that might indicate cracks or warps.
- Use a level to determine if your floors are level or sloped.
- Inspect molding, trim, and carpet for potential water leaks or mildew issues.
- Walk across the floor and take notice of any squeaking or inconsistencies.
It would be wise to contact a flooring professional if any of these problems occur. You may need to remove your carpet and fix your subfloor before moving forward with any home improvement ventures as structural concerns will prevail until properly resolved.
Should You Put Hardwood on Top of Carpet?
Do you live in a rental unit with carpets? Does the safe return of your security deposit rest on the threads of your carpets? If you want a protective flooring that you can take with you when you leave, you should install LVP or laminate over your carpet – without the use of industrial adhesives or hardware, of course!
In the video below you will see the detailed process of someone on this very mission, including the tools and materials he used to achieve his stunning new install.
Do you have thick, squishy carpets or a cracked, uneven subfloor beneath it? Have you noticed a musty smell in the basement room you are considering remodeling? Don’t risk a faulty install with poor structural conditions or potential mildew concerns. Any water damage can become a serious problem if left untreated, so try to avoid any “quick fixes” as this will only compromise your floor’s future.
How To Put Hardwood Floor Over Carpet
Now that you have decided – I can only assume – to go ahead with your new project, it’s time to get down to the knitty gritty! Keep you and your work area safe by wearing the proper safety equipment and prepping your workstation beforehand. After you
- Remove any loose cords or objects from the area to avoid tangling and falls.
- Use safety glasses when cutting to prevent particulate from gathering on the surface of or becoming lodged in your eye.
- Use a dust mask if you are sensitive to inhaling dust.
- Support your material with vice grips while cutting to maintain stability, protecting the integrity of the blade, and preventing it from jogging and cutting your person.
- Wait until the blade is entirely still before moving the saw to prevent kickback.
- Personal Protective Equipment
- Circular saw, or hand saw
- Miter saw for angled cuts
- Vice grips
- Quarter round
- Duct tape
- Rubber mallet
- An all-purpose adhesive safe for use on plywood and laminate or LVP
- Metal brackets
- Short screws
- Reducer or transition strip
Choosing the Right Plywood
Flat pieces of plywood produce the best results. Flatten warped plywood by directing its curve toward the ceiling and placing something heavy on top of it. Warps can lead to structural concerns, so it’s best to replace any warped pieces or use them in isolated, less frequented areas.
The Transition Strip
Whether you split a room into two spaces or work with one space alone, this Simple Solutions 4 in 1 Transition Molding will cover your transitional needs. It has a selection of different snap-in trim pieces for you to experiment with and will provide a sturdy threshold. In the video I mentioned above, you can find tips for creating a threshold without hardware in the 9:15 to 11:16 section.
Measure & Lay
Measure the dimensions of your room(s) and cut your materials. You will need to factor in a ¼”(6.35 mm) gap from each wall to account for any movement or swelling of the material.
Secure your plywood with these Sumnacon 8 Pcs Stainless Steel Flat Plates at the adjoining corners. A beveled hole provides flush contact for the screw, and the multiple-hole design allows for different attachment angles. Lay duct tape over corners and cracks to increase stability and create a vapor barrier.
Lining Up the Planks
Starting on a long wall, use your rubber mallet to gently hammer planks into a locking position until there is an overlap with the opposite wall. Measure the blank space, then cut and fit your piece. Place the remaining plank in the subsequent layer, adding to the natural pattern. Failure to properly stagger your planks may result in the floor splitting, causing damage, and creating a dangerous trip hazard.
For tricky angles, you can create paper templates to aid in measuring the space. Transfer the measurement to the material via pencil or chalk for the perfect cut on the first try.
Glue Down High Traffic or Tricky Areas
Use an appropriate industrial glue to secure thresholds or high traffic areas. If you have several small pieces in an area, glue them down to ensure stability. Do NOT place adhesive directly on carpets as this will damage the carpet and potentially the LVP or laminate flooring upon removal.
Cut & Install Molding
Use your miter saw to cut your quarter round. The exact measurements and easy-to-use features will be worth the cost associated with the saw. Keep in mind that hardware stores like Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Menard’s have tool rental options, making your project that much easier.
If your door doesn’t open with the extra height on your floor, you can remove the door, measure a ¼”-⅜”(6.35mm-9.53mm) gap at the bottom of the door, and remove the section with a saw. Be sure to lay your board flat and use clamps to secure it, then lay painter’s tape as a guide for your saw, ensuring a clean cut.
How To Install Hardwood on Carpeted Stairs
If you want to complete your hardwood look with a matching stairway, start by removing the carpet and any protruding nails, tack strips, or adhesive beneath. Check to see if your subfloor needs to be repaired. Install your LVP or laminate with the appropriate adhesive and some trim nails.
- Cut any overhang on the horizontal tread to create a flush profile with the vertical riser piece for easy plank installation.
- Measure and cut your pieces.
- Replace the subfloor tread directly with a plank.
- Use an all-inclusive set like the Complete Universal Tread Kit available at Amazon.com and install your riser material, tread cap, and exterior molding.
- Complete your look with an accent stain to lock-in that hardwood feel.