Tips for Using Area Rugs Over Carpet

area rug used over a carpet

The Spruce / Jessica Lombardi

Ask the question, “Is it okay to put an area rug over wall-to-wall carpet?” to a group of people and you will likely get a very split response. Decor is typically a very personal thing, and what works for some won’t work for others.

Should You or Shouldn’t You?

Aside from the more obvious reasons—you’re renting or otherwise unable to change the carpet, your carpet is showing signs of wear in areas that you would like to cover up, etc.—do it if you want to! Area rugs are a wonderful way of bringing new life into a space. They can add a pop of color or texture in a way that doesn’t require a total room overhaul. The options for area rugs are pretty much limitless. You can even make your custom rug out of broadloom.

The “rules” for choosing an area rug to use over broadloom are not that different from those meant for using an area rug over hard surface flooring. There are a couple of other considerations. Here are some tips for selecting an area rug to be used over carpet.

Texture Is Key

The key to layering carpet over carpet is to vary the texture. Area rugs generally work best over short-pile or looped carpet. In those cases, laying a thick, luxurious shag rug adds a wonderful sense of softness and elegance to the space.

Similarly, if you have a more plush style of carpet installed, choosing a low-profile Berber or woven rug is your best bet. Don't put an area rug over a very long-pile carpet, such as a frieze carpet or a newer “soft carpet” (such as SmartStrand) because the area rug will not have firm support, and will shift, buckle and wrinkle.

Size Matters

A small rug that “floats” in the middle of a space without touching any furniture looks awkward and cheap. Your rug must be scaled to the size of the room, regardless of what is under the rug.

Color Considerations

Choosing the color of your area rug is a basic principle that applies to most circumstances. The only difference when the rug is going to be used over a carpet is to make sure that the color of the rug complements the color of the carpet. You may be laying down an area rug because you can’t stand the color of the existing wall-to-wall carpet, such as in a rental unit, but trust us, it will look much worse if you just throw down a rug that clashes with what’s underneath.

One Pattern at a Time

In general, when using an area rug over broadloom, patterns don’t mix well. If you have a plain broadloom, you can use a rug that has a pattern. If your broadloom has any kind of pattern, whether it’s printed or cut and loop, it’s best to go with an area rug that does not have a pattern.

Anchor It

When using an area rug over carpet, it’s important to make sure that the rug is properly anchored to avoid having it bunch up and become a tripping hazard.

Enjoy It

If any of the above guidelines don’t sit well with you, throw them out the window and go with your gut feeling. After all, you are the one who will be living with the rug. If you are happy with it, that’s all that matters.