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Can you install Laminate Flooring Over Carpet?

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When it comes to your home, the material on your floors matters. Whether carpet, wood, tile or something else, it can mean a lot for the room’s overall aesthetic. If you have carpet currently and are beginning to think about changing it up to laminate, you may find yourself wondering if it’s possible and how to go about it.

Laminate flooring can be installed over the top of your carpet. However, it is generally not recommended for most types of situations. If you have very thin low-pile carpet or if you are prepared to lay a subfloor on top of plush carpet, you may be able to make it work.

As you continue in this article, we’ll cover the details you need to know to determine if your space is a good candidate for installing laminate flooring over carpet. Read on for more information about laminate flooring material, how your current flooring can affect your new flooring, and installation tips to consider.

Can you install Laminate Flooring Over Carpet?

Before Installing Laminate flooring over carpet, Consider Your Current Floor Situation

As you evaluate whether you can lay laminate flooring over the carpet in your space or not, it’s important to understand your current flooring situation. Consider your current floor covering, what your flooring goals are, and what you can or cannot do to get there. 

Can You Remove Your Existing Carpet?

For some people, the idea to lay laminate flooring over carpet stems from the fact that the carpet cannot be removed. This is often true if you are renting a home or apartment, and you’re not permitted to change the flooring permanently. 

For others, they’re not physically able, unwilling to pay for the extra labor, or unwilling to perform the extra task of removing the carpet before laying laminate flooring.

Do You Want a Temporary Floor That Preserves the Carpet Underneath?

Whether one of the above criteria applies or finding yourself in a different situation needing a temporarily different floor, you may be considering adding laminate flooring over your carpet. 

Since laminate flooring installs as a floating floor, it doesn’t require nails, staples, or glue. It simply clicks into its neighboring board, locking it down and securing it to the rest of the floor for a sturdy, consistent surface.

Since it simply “floats” over your existing floor, it’s not permanently adhered to your floor or home. When the time would come that you need to remove it and revert back to your previous floor, it’s possible to fairly disconnect the boards from one another and remove the floor. 

Remove the Carpet if Possible

Generally speaking, if it’s possible for you to remove your carpet before installing laminate floors, that is the suggested route to take. This way, you have a chance to start with a fresh, clean slate under your new laminate flooring.

The following will be accomplished if your carpet is removed before laminate installation:

  • Less allergens – It’s normal for everyday allergens like dust and mites to become embedded in the carpet. Typically, they are removed when you do your weekly vacuuming. If your carpet is trapped under laminate flooring, however, those allergens stay trapped in your home, unable to be sucked away.
  • Less risk of trapped moisture – Moisture can occur in your home for a variety of reasons. Any bit of moisture that settles in carpet and is trapped in by laminate floor covering can make a great environment for mold or mildew – not friends you want to welcome in your home.
  • Less unevenness – Any areas of your home with higher traffic than others experience a bit more wear and tear on the flooring. If carpet is involved, whether covered with laminate or not, the pile can shrink over time, causing unevenness in the flooring surface. If the laminate is floating on top of the carpet that starts to shrink in thickness, it can strain the laminate and eventually cause warping or snapping at the joints. 

Laminate Installation Tips if the Carpet Must Stay

If your carpet must stay and you’re ready to proceed with installing laminate on top, carefully evaluate your carpet to ensure your laminate flooring installation is successful. 

Installing laminate over Low Pile Carpet

If your carpet is nearly flat with almost no fluff, also known as low-pile or commercial grade, you are already decently set up for installing laminate over the top of it. (Think of the type of carpet you’d see in a hotel room, rec room, or elevator).

Thin carpets without padding or underlayment are good candidates for laminate floors. Carpets that are less than 1/4″ thick generally lend themselves well to accepting laminate flooring.

In this type of installation, ensure you select a laminate over 8mm (0.31in) thick and get to work. 

Installing laminate over Plush Carpet

If you have plush, high-pile carpet that you see in most homes and residential areas, you do not want to install laminate flooring directly over it. Ideally, you should remove this type of carpet and any imperfections on the subfloor beneath before installing laminate

Some experts would recommend never installing laminate flooring over plush carpet. However, others would argue it’s possible. If you cannot remove your plush carpet, you have some options.

A plush carpet has a fair amount of “give” to it, meaning it’s just not sturdy enough to provide the base that laminate flooring needs. It could bend when walked across, allowing floor joints to unlock, or worse, split or crack. 

TIP: If you must leave your plush carpet in place, it’s strongly suggested you lay an OSB (oriented strand board) or ¼” (6.35mm) sheet of plywood subfloor over the top of it before installing the laminate. Lay it in the direction opposite of the way the laminate will lay to provide a firm base. 

What If Your Laminate Flooring Over Carpet Does Not Hold Up?

In the end, if you do decide to install your laminate over carpeting and things don’t work out, there’s hope. With a floating floor, at least you have the option to uninstall it, remove the carpet or rework your plan, and reinstall the same boards later. While not ideal, it’s good to know you can pull out this backup plan in case the need arises.

Wrapping Things Up

Carefully consider all the factors mentioned in this article before you decide on how you will install the laminate floor in your space. Whether you choose to lay it over carpet or not, we hope that you are able to make a sound decision based on the tips we shared.