Is it a good idea to install laminate flooring on top of carpet? The answer is no, except maybe in a few special cases.
It can be really tempting to just place a new floor on top of the old flooring material. Think of the time and mess you could save by not tearing out the old flooring.
Some types of flooring lend themselves to this method, like ceramic tile. Unfortunately, leaving old carpet down when you install a laminate floor on top is just not a good idea.
This article will explain why you should avoid this, and also point out the few situations in which it might be okay.
Why Shouldn’t You Install Laminate Over Carpet?
The main reason is stability. Laminate is meant to be used with a thin underlayment that provides very little cushion. Most types of carpets are too thick and soft. This can cause the laminate to separate at its delicate tongue-and-groove joints, especially if you put heavy furniture on top. Laminate flooring is a big expense, and it’s not worth damaging the floor (or voiding your warranty) just to avoid removing the carpet first.
When is it Okay to Install Laminate Flooring Over Carpet?
There is really only one type of carpet that might not cause problems underneath your laminate flooring. That is a low-pile, glue-down carpet.
This type of carpet is what you see in hotels, theaters, and other commercial buildings. It’s quite flat and not very soft. The fibers must be shorter than a ¼ inch. Any longer than that would be too unstable for laminate flooring.
If you are trying to put new flooring in a commercial building without tearing out the carpet, and it is of this short, very firm variety, it’s possible that it will be an okay underlayment for laminate.
This is never really recommended, and will always be a second-best option to removing the carpeting first.
Interestingly, this type of carpet can be one of the most difficult to tear out due to the glue which usually needs to be scraped off by hand using a wide razor blade. So you might be making a valuable trade, especially if you are short on time to get the floor replaced.
Can You Put Laminate On Top of Carpet Tiles?
Carpet tiles are usually a rolled-pile carpet with fibers that are about ¼ inch long. This type of flooring is glued to the subfloor and used in many offices and shops. It’s similar to wall-to-wall berber carpets (if they are glued down) because it is moderately firm and has a relatively short pile.
Carpet tiles and berber carpets are still too soft to leave under laminate flooring. They will just create too much flexing and bending of the floor.
The worst that can happen here is that when you move furniture into the room after the new flooring is installed, the weight of the furniture can damage the tongue-and-groove locking system on the laminate. This could create chipped edges on the finish or cause boards to pull apart from one another. It could even separate rows completely.
If you still decide to install laminate flooring over a carpet like this because you really think it’s firm enough, you need to do a perfect job of staggering the laminate flooring. A good staggering technique will create a lot of strength for your floor and hopefully protect you from damage.
These types of carpet are moderately difficult to remove and will require some scraping of glue with a razor scraper. It will be a trade-off but the peace of mind is worth it, knowing that your new floor will last longer.
Can You Install Laminate Over Plush Carpet?
We seriously recommend that you never, ever try to install laminate flooring over top of high-pile plush carpet.
This is the most common type of carpeting in homes because it’s soft and comfortable. That’s exactly what makes it so bad if it’s under laminate flooring.
You will almost certainly experience failure of the laminate floor if it is installed over plush carpet. There will be way too much room for the boards to flex and break. You might not even be able to install the whole floor properly in the first place.
The right thing to do is tear out the carpet and any padding (underlayment) that you find underneath it. This is one of the easier flooring materials to tear out. It will require some muscles and usually a few minutes of light scraping to get rid of staples or old padding.
A laminate floor installed on top of a clean wood or concrete subfloor should last for many years.
Can You Install Laminate Over Carpet Padding?
For the same reasons listed above, you should not install laminate on top of the padded underlayment that you find beneath plush carpet.
Not only is this stuff too soft, it’s usually made of recycled foam and fabric and contains some very firm pieces of material. These will make the laminate floor uneven as well as unstable.
Just go all the way down to the concrete or wood subfloor and start fresh with a firm, level surface for your laminate flooring.
How to Remove Carpet to Install Laminate Flooring
- If the carpet is wall-to-wall, use a pair of pliers to pull up and untuck the edges (near the walls). It is usually attached to tackstrip and tucked under the trim on the wall.
- Use a sharp razor knife to cut through large sections of carpet into manageable pieces that you can roll and carry.
- Remove carpet by rolling it neatly with the fiber side in (to contain dirt) and securing the rolls with tape.
- To remove carpet that is glued directly to the subfloor, pull at a low angle to peel the carpet up, and use a long-handled scraper if it’s really hard to remove.
- Repeat steps 2-4 as needed for any padding under the carpet.
- Remove any tack strip by using a large pry bar and hammer (wear gloves to protect your hands from the tacks).
- Take old carpet out to throw away.
- Scrape up any remaining staples or scraps.
- Sweep and vacuum the subfloor to prepare for laminate underlayment and flooring.