How to Lay an Area Rug Over Carpet

Brightly-lit dining room with tan area rug over carpet

The Spruce / Alyssa Vela

There are several reasons why someone may want to lay an area rug over broadloom, ranging from wanting to hide a worn or soiled spot in the carpet that otherwise isn’t ready to be replaced, to adding some personal style to a rented space, to simply loving the luxurious look of layering carpet over the carpet.

But can you really put an area rug over broadloom? The answer is yes, area rugs can be laid over the wall-to-wall carpet! Here are some tips to help you do it properly.

Prevent Ripples

Perhaps the biggest concern with laying an area rug over broadloom is that the area rug will have a tendency to move around on the carpet. The extent to which it will move will depend on the style of carpet that is underneath the rug, and the type of backing of the area rug. However, regardless of these factors, any area rug will shift unless it is properly anchored in place.

When laying an area rug over a hard surface such as hardwood flooring, the biggest concern about the rug’s movement is that it will slide around. When laying the rug over carpet, however, the concern is more about the rug wrinkling or rippling, which presents a big tripping hazard. Wrinkling will occur because as one area of the rug is stepped on, it will shift (assuming it is not properly anchored). However, unlike on a smooth surface, on which the entire rug would slide, the other end of the rug meets resistance against the carpet underneath, which effectively prevents it from sliding. So, you cause one end to shift without the other end moving, which results in a ripple or “wave” in the area rug.

To prevent ripples in the area rug, it is imperative to take the following precautions.

Anchor With Furniture

If possible, help hold the area rug in place by setting heavy furniture on top of it. If your area rug is for a sitting area, make sure the edges of the rug go under the sofa or chairs, to help keep it from moving. Ideally, there should be furniture holding the rug on all four sides, but if the furniture is heavy enough, simply anchoring it on two opposite sides may be enough.

Brightly-lit living room with area rug anchored by furniture

The Spruce / Alyssa Vela

Use a Non-Slip Pad

There is a non-slip rug pad designed for pretty much every use of an area rug, including holding an area rug over broadloom. These are generally referred to as “carpet-to-carpet” pads. These types of pads are specially designed to help keep an area rug from shifting and rippling over the carpet. Additionally, these pads can help prevent damage to the carpet under the rug, as repeated friction from the rug moving over the carpet could cause premature wear or blooming of the carpet fibers underneath.

The effectiveness of these carpet-to-carpet pads can vary greatly because there are so many factors (carpet style, rug backing, fiber type, etc.) that the pad can’t necessarily account for, as well as a wide range of pad qualities available. My strong preference is to anchor a rug with furniture, as outlined above. You may still use a non-slip pad underneath, especially if one side of the rug is unable to be anchored. However, for rugs that are nowhere near furniture (in the center of a hallway or foyer, for example) the carpet-to-carpet non-slip pad is your best option for preventing ripples in your area rug.

So the bottom line is that yes, you can put an area rug over wall-to-wall carpet.