How to Flatten a Rug

Here's how to flatten a new area rug

Couple unrolling a rug

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You finally found the perfect area rug for your living room, den, or kids' play area, and can't wait to unroll it when it arrives. So then imagine your dismay when you discover that the rug is completely bent, curled, wrinkled, or otherwise misshapen. Wrinkles and creases can also occur if you're pulling a rug that has been rolled or folded out of storage.

For most rugs, being rolled up for an extended period of time means that it will require a little bit of "training" in order to lie flat again. But never fear -- we've rounded up the best ways to reshape your new area rug so it completes your home.

Let it Settle

Okay, so the first suggestion is kind of a lazy one. But, depending on the condition of the rug, it might just work. If you've just unrolled a brand new area rug and it simply has some ripples from packing or shipping, usually if you smooth it down as flat as you possibly can and leave it alone for a day or two, the fibers will relax and the rug will start to flatten out on its own.

In some cases, gravity and patience are all you'll need to get your rug in perfect shape. But for best results, try placing the rug on a hard floor while it relaxes, even if you eventually plan to use it on a carpet.

Steam it

Depending on the construction of your rug, it may be able to be steamed in order to remove the creases. This is something that can be done professionally. However, it's crucial that you test the rug for colorfastness before attempting this method. The steaming process can potentially ruin your rug and make the colors bleed.

Stretch it

Another option is asking a local carpet dealer to stretch the carpet out. If it's pulled taut and slowly stretches, often the wrinkles will be released. This is also a job that's best left to professionals, however, as the stretching process can damage the rug if not done correctly.

Flip it Over

Most new rugs will have at least some curl on the edges when you first unroll it. And then, even when the rest of the rug relaxes, the corners still won't lie flat. In that case, your next step depends on which way the corners are curling. If they're curling upward, fold them slightly under and leave it alone for a day or two. But if they're curling under, you'll want to either flip the rug over and curl the corners under, or simply weigh down each corner with a heavy object (books, a piece of furniture, etc.) to help force the carpet fibers to relax.

Tape it Down

If you're looking for a fast way to flatten your rug, head to your local furniture or home improvement store and grab some double-sided carpet tape. When applied to the back of your rug, the tape will adhere to the floor and hold your rug in place. It effectively flattens existing creases and prevents any new ones. Carpet tape generally works on both hard floors and existing wall-to-wall carpet. Just be sure to press firmly and smooth the rug down before adhering.

Back-Roll it

In some cases, you won't need to wait more than a couple of minutes to get your rug ready for placement in your home. Sometimes if you unroll the carpet and then roll it again in the opposite direction, that's all you'll need for it to lie flat. If this trick doesn't work right away, you can also let the rolled carpet sit for a day or two before unrolling it again the other way.

Turn on the Iron

If you've tried leaving it alone, flipping it over, or weighing it down and your rug still isn't laying flat after a few days have passed, you can always turn to your trusty iron to do the trick.

The curled area of a rug can be ironed on a low setting, but just be sure to use a barrier between the heat of the iron and the rug. Craft paper works well for this purpose. When opting for the iron, you'll want to keep it minimal to prevent scorching, melting, or any other heat damage.

Use the Sun

If the heat from an iron didn't work, or you just want to avoid the potential damage to your rug, you can try spreading the rug out over clean concrete or asphalt outdoors. This should preferably be done on a dry and sunny afternoon.

If the temperature happens to be at least 75 of 80 degrees, that's even better, because now the ground has had time to absorb the sun's heat. If you leave the rug out under direct sunlight for a little while, that's often all it takes to release any creases or wrinkles.

Grab the Hair Dryer

If the iron or sun wasn't successful, you can also opt for a hairdryer used on the backside of the rug. You'll want to gently heat the creased area and then release it. In order to prevent the possibility of melting your rug's fibers, be sure to hold the hairdryer at least six to nine inches away and use a sweeping motion on a low to medium setting. Never hold the dryer steady in one position--you'll always want to keep it moving.