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covering carpet with vinyl

Whether you purchased a new home or are renting, covering an existing carpet with vinyl flooring might be appealing. Vinyl is durable, low-maintenance, and allergy-friendly. Plus, vinyl floors often closely mimic the look of real wood, making them incredibly attractive. However, you may wonder, “Can you put vinyl flooring over carpet?”

You can potentially install vinyl flooring over carpet. However, the type of carpet and the vinyl flooring you want to use are factors. Installing vinyl floors over low-pile carpets may be an option, but it isn’t if you have high-pile carpets. Additionally, only certain kinds of vinyl will work.

Other factors may come into play as well. If you’re considering putting vinyl flooring over carpet, here’s what you need to know.

Can You Put Vinyl Flooring Over Carpet?

As mentioned above, you can potentially put vinyl flooring over carpet in specific situations. The type of carpet you have matters, as well as the kind of vinyl flooring you’d like to use.

Generally, a thin, low-pile carpet is best if you want to place vinyl planks directly onto the carpet. The carpet itself needs to be sturdy and reasonably level. Otherwise, the vinyl flooring won’t sit evenly on top, leading to issues like separation and shifting.

In most cases, you want the carpet fibers to be a quarter-inch long or less. Additionally, the fibers need to be reasonably compact, as thinning fibers may not provide the right amount of support.

If your carpet is plusher or high-pile, it won’t work as a solid base for vinyl flooring. Essentially, it’s too soft to provide support, so any tongue-and-groove locking systems might not work correctly. Also, higher pile carpet might not be level enough, which can lead to problems.

The only way to install vinyl flooring over high pile carpet is to install quarter-inch plywood on top of your carpeting first. That will essentially act as a traditional subfloor. However, in that scenario, removing the carpet is a better choice if you’re a homeowner. If you’re a renter, then installing the plywood might damage the carpet, so it’s better to just stick with your carpet.

When it comes to the type of vinyl flooring, going with a plank is usually essential. Sheet vinyl won’t have enough structure to sit well over the carpet, even if it’s a lower pile.

Additionally, choosing floating vinyl flooring might be essential. Peel-and-stick options may not adhere correctly since the entire adhesive surface isn’t in contact with the floor.

Similarly, versions that require glue might not fully stick. The glue could also cause unevenness and ultimately ruin the carpet, which isn’t ideal if you’re in a rental.

Choosing the Right Vinyl Flooring to Go Over Carpet

If you’re going to install vinyl flooring over carpet, you need to select the right type of vinyl flooring. Usually, click-and-lock vinyl planks are best. These may not require any glue. Instead, the tongue-and-groove design keeps the flooring in place.

Vinyl tiles that use a click-and-lock system may work, as well. Again, this option is interlocking, relying on the tongues and grooves to keep the floor together.

Along with choosing vinyl plank or tile, you may want to go with thicker vinyl flooring. Along with more durability, it will have a more robust structure, reducing the odds of issues relating to the carpet being underneath.

In some cases, you might need to choose vinyl flooring that doesn’t have an attached underlayment, too. Functionally, the carpet will provide any required cushioning, so using vinyl with an attached underlayment may make your floor feel oddly soft.

Generally, sheet vinyl isn’t an option if you want to install it on the carpet. The lack of structure means it may not remain flat over time. The need for glue can also cause the carpet to clump, leading to unevenness and a strange feel underfoot.

Similarly, peel-and-stick vinyl often has less structure. Additionally, the adhesive may not bind to the carpet correctly. As a result, the vinyl flooring may start to pop or peel up with surprising speed, especially in high-traffic areas.

How to Put Vinyl Flooring Over Carpet

Remove All Furniture and Baseboards

Usually, the first step you’ll need to take when putting vinyl flooring over carpet is to completely clear out the room. Furniture and appliances can get in the way, so you want to shift them into another part of your home.

Additionally, go around the room and remove the baseboards. That allows you to install the vinyl flooring against the wall. Then, when you’re finished with the installation, you can reinstall the baseboards to hide that edge.

Vacuum Thoroughly

When you put vinyl flooring over carpet, you’re trapping any current dust or debris in the carpeting. While this might seem positive, depending on what’s on your carpet, it can lead to issues.

Larger debris may prevent the flooring from sitting level. Materials that could cause mold and mildew could damage your flooring, including your new vinyl flooring or the subfloor.

If your carpet is particularly dirty, you may want to steam clean it before you put down the vinyl. Just make sure it dries completely before you install the planks or tiles.

Install the Vinyl Flooring

Once the carpet is clean, you can start installing your vinyl flooring. You’ll want to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, as those will ensure the vinyl is secured properly as you work.

Typically, the process for click-and-lock vinyl flooring is simple. You’ll start along a wall, usually in a corner. Then, as you add pieces, you’ll use a small rubber mallet to make sure the tongue is fully in the groove.

For pieces along the wall, you may need to use spacers. This ensures there’s the right gap between the planks and your wall, giving the flooring room for some expansion.

Continue adding planks or tiles until the floor is fully covered. With planks, you want to make sure the short seams don’t line up with those in the rows next to them, as that provides more structural integrity.

Sometimes, you’ll need to trim the planks or tiles to fit around objects or shorten them when you get to the end of a row. Refer to the manufacturer’s directions to find out the preferred cutting method.

Reinstall the Baseboards

After getting all of the new flooring into place, it’s time to reinstall your baseboards. Typically, they’ll sit slightly higher than they did previously since the total thickness of the floor is thicker.

Usually, you’ll need 2- to 2.5-inch-long nails for baseboards, opting for a gauge between 15 and 18. Depending on whether the nails are obvious, you might want to touch them up with some paint.

Sweep the Vinyl Flooring

When you’re finished with the baseboards, sweep your vinyl flooring. That allows you to remove any dust or debris that got on your floors during the installation process.

Bring Furniture and Appliances Back In

After cleaning your vinyl floor, you can bring the furniture and appliances back into the space. Make sure you don’t drag them across your flooring, as that can damage the surface. Instead, pick them up and set them down in place, or use furniture moving pads to ensure they slide smoothly.

Can You Put Peel-and-Stick Vinyl Over Carpet?

Generally, you shouldn’t install peel-and-stick vinyl over carpet. This type of flooring relies on adhesive to secure itself to the underlying surface. Since carpet has texture, it won’t bond across the whole piece of vinyl flooring, increasing the odds that it will come off on its own quickly.

Additionally, the peel-and-stick adhesive may damage the carpet. Whether you’re a homeowner or a renter, that can mean dealing with a major expense down the line.

Finally, peel-and-stick vinyl isn’t typically as thick as many other types of vinyl flooring. That can make your flooring squishy, even if you have lower pile carpet.

If you’re determined to use a peel-and-stick vinyl, then you have two choices. First, you can remove the carpet, eliminating that core issue. Second, you can install plywood over the carpeting, giving you the sturdy underlying structure you need.

Can You Install Sheet Vinyl Over Carpet?

Installing sheet vinyl over carpet is usually a bad idea. Sheet vinyl comes in large, flexible pieces, so it doesn’t have much inherent structure. As a result, it usually won’t lay flat if you install it over the carpet.

Additionally, sheet vinyl flooring usually requires glue. Using glue to stick it to the carpet isn’t ideal, as the glue may soak into the fibers, reducing the amount that will stick to the vinyl. As a result, it might not stay in place.

Large amounts of glue in the carpet can also cause stiffness and clumping. Again, this leads to an uneven surface, making it bumpy underfoot and causing your vinyl to look bulged in spots.

Finally, sheet vinyl over carpet will have an odd feel underfoot. It’s going to be softer than you might expect. Plus, the lack of structure may cause certain high-traffic areas to compress down. Essentially, the carpet fibers will collapse, and since you can’t vacuum them to pull them back up, that can lead to dents along the paths you walk most.

Can You Use Carpet Underlayment Under Vinyl Flooring?

In most cases, carpet underlayment is far thicker than you’d traditionally put under vinyl flooring. As a result, it lacks firmness, which may prevent your vinyl planks from staying in place.

Whenever the underlayment shifts, you have a higher chance that the vinyl flooring will pop along the seams. This can cause planks to come loose or may cause your floor to look uneven, depending on the severity of the issue.

Instead, you need something stiffer under your new vinyl flooring. Underlayment designed for vinyl or laminate is usually best, as it offers enough support. Some vinyl flooring comes with the attached underlayment, allowing you to apply it directly to a subfloor.

If you can’t remove the carpet underlayment, then you may want to install plywood over the carpet. The plywood essentially acts like a subfloor, giving you the necessary structure and firmness.

You could also try using a peel-and-stick vinyl if you can’t remove the carpet underlayment. However, you should only go that route if the surface of the underlayment is even and fully bondable. That increases the odds that the vinyl will adhere correctly.

Just keep in mind that using peel-and-stick vinyl over carpet underlayment will result in a pretty soft floor. Additionally, while it may work better than click-and-lock vinyl, it can still shift since the carpet underlayment is soft. In time, that could cause some of the peel-and-stick vinyl to detach.

The Benefits of Having Vinyl Floors Instead of Carpet

There are many reasons why people prefer vinyl floors over carpet. First, it’s far easier to clean, maintain, and disinfect. Dirt, dust, and grime on the carpet can work into the fibers, making them hard to remove. Since the surface of vinyl flooring is solid, that isn’t an issue.

Additionally, replacing vinyl flooring is often easier. With many floating click-and-lock options, home improvement novices can usually tackle the job independently. That isn’t true with carpets.

Vinyl flooring is also incredibly durable. With carpet, much traffic will wear down the fibers, leading to dents, discoloration, and similar problems. On the other hand, vinyl is ideal in high-traffic areas, as it stands up well to wear and tear.

For people with allergies, vinyl flooring is also the better choice. Carpet fibers can trap allergens, and vacuuming alone may not be enough to remove them. With vinyl, sweeping, vacuuming, and mopping can remove most allergens, improving the air quality in your home.

Finally, vinyl flooring is water-resistant or waterproof, depending on the type. A spill won’t penetrate the material right away, if at all. While you still want to clean up spills quickly, this option has some margin for error.

With carpet, spills begin soaking into the fibers immediately and may reach the underlayment or subfloor far faster than you’d expect. Additionally, depending on the liquid, spills may stain the fibers with surprising speed, leading to discoloration.

Is It Better to Remove the Carpeting Before Installing Vinyl Flooring?

If you have the option available, it’s always better to remove carpeting before installing vinyl flooring. Vinyl isn’t technically designed to go over materials like carpet. Instead, it’s meant to be installed on the subfloor, either with a built-in underlayment or a separately installed one.

Using the recommended approach reduces the odds of popping at the seams and warping. Additionally, your floors will feel right underfoot instead of overly soft, which is a potential issue if you place it over the carpet.

Finally, removing the carpet and its underlayment lets you choose any type of vinyl flooring. Along with vinyl planks or tiles, you could use peel-and-stick vinyl or sheet vinyl, allowing you to select the one that best meets your broader needs.

Does Installing Vinyl Flooring Over Carpet Void the Warranty?

Whether installing vinyl flooring over existing carpeting voids, your warranty depends on the clauses in the agreement. Typically, the warranty is only valid if the vinyl floors are installed correctly.

How the manufacturer defines “correctly” can vary. However, it usually means using whatever process the manufacturer outlines in the instructions. Since most companies don’t create their flooring products to go over carpeting, that may be viewed as an incorrect installation, even if the work is high-quality.

As a result, it’s usually best to assume that installing vinyl flooring over carpet can void the warranty. To find out, you’ll need to read the entire warranty agreement. Look at the terms and conditions to see what’s required to keep the warranty intact. If you aren’t confident that installing it over carpeting isn’t considered a correct approach, then you’ll need to decide whether not having a warranty is a dealbreaker for you.

What Kind of Flooring Can You Put Over Carpet?

Generally speaking, there are two types of flooring that can potentially go over carpet if your goal is to not have any carpeting. First, vinyl flooring is usually in click-and-lock plank or tile form. Second, there’s click-and-lock laminate.

Using click-and-lock laminate over carpet comes with the same requirements and risks as you get with vinyl. As a result, it works best on low-pile, study carpets that are reasonably even.

If you’re open to carpeting in your home, you can also look at carpet tiles. You’ll also need to choose the click-and-lock or interlocking options, as they don’t require adhesive. Peel-and-stick won’t adhere correctly, so it isn’t an ideal choice.

Conclusion

Ultimately, you can install vinyl flooring over carpet if you have low-pile, sturdy carpet and choose the right vinyl planks or tiles. For any other situation, you’ll either need to install plywood first or take the carpet out before installing new flooring. That ensures your flooring remains even and adequately supported, allowing you to avoid issues like popping seams.

Did you learn everything you wanted to learn about installing vinyl flooring over carpet? If so, let us know in the comments area below. Also, if you know someone considering installing vinyl over their carpet, please share the article.