HOWTO lay a wood floor on top of the carpet in your rental apartment

Sumitsumit sez, "Tired of carpet, want wood floors, but living in a rental apartment? If you have the low-pile variety, here's an economical way to make yourself a great new floor without damaging the underlying carpet. From the guy who brought you 'rope bondage for laptops.'"

How to Install a Wood Floor on top of Carpet


      1. OK, not being pedantic at all, but isn’t that supposed to be ‘lede’? I always get confused because contextually ‘lead’ makes some kind of sense, but I have a feeling it’s a domain specific word.

  1. I’m not sure how long the fake-pergo will last on a compliant sub-floor like carpet. The wood is pretty thin, and all that bending as it’s being walked on (and has heavy furniture resting on it) can’t be good for it. Per TrafficMaster’s instructions, the only approved sub-floors are 5/8″ plywood or 3/4″ OSB on 16″ joists, a concrete slab, existing hardwood floors, or linoleum/vinyl installed on one of the above sub-floors.

      1. If your problem is having too high a ceiling, you can just alternate the techniques to the desired height.

  2. Why would you cover up a carpet with cheap crappy laminate flooring?  Is it really the case that some people like cold, noisy, ugly flooring?

    1. Depends how cheap and crappy your carpet is.
      *Looks at own flat’s threadbare orangey-brown carpet with various holes worn in it.*

      Also if you have cats it’s a godsend.

    2. Can’t really disagree about the ‘ugly’ part of your comment, but I know from experience (I hate carpet) that laminate laid over carpet is neither cold or noisy. The carpet fortuitously both insulates and deadens sound. Carpet, on the other hand, harbours dust mites, fleas (if your pets go outside), bacteria and a host of other nastiness. Also, it’s a hell of a lot easier to clean up a glass of spilled red wine from laminate than it is from carpet!

    3. Carpets that come with apartments are usually cheap, ugly and old. I wouldn’t put carpeting in a place I owned and would avoid like hell renting a place with carpeting. I’m not convinced covering up an old carpet is a great idea (in my mind I know it’s still there) but it’s better than walking barefoot on carpets that have seen god knows what over the years (decades?).

    4. He does explain one reason was to refract light, and that’s important to him. And, wood is more often than not described as “warm” in character and color. However, I find it a huge waste. what’s he going to do with it afterwards, trash it? 

  3. I wouldn’t be so brave as to try to cut a straight line freehand. At least clamp a ruler on there to make a fence.

  4. Well, it’ll be less noisy with that carpet underneath, but it’s definitely not an ideal workaround.
    He was careful and methodical in doing this, but most tenants aren’t when they decide to “improve” their rented space like this. And I’m sure that no matter how clean this guy is, his landlord is doing a facepalm.

    I’ve got nothing against tenants, having been both a tenant and a landlord. But I’ve realized that lack of ownership leads to creative rule-breaking completely inconsiderate of the long-term effects.

    Without being properly attached to the substrate, these laminate boards will begin to buckle and warp in the areas of high foot traffic. While not being 100% wood, laminate floorboards still have moisture-absorbing properties that wood does. A change in humidity in his apartment will cause tightly-placed boards to raise up, as will a spill.

    One spill that seeps through the flooring’s corner moulding or warps to the carpet below is guaranteed to create ideal conditions for mould to grow. While it may be true that the carpet is protected from foot traffic, it’s not at all protected from this. Carpets exposed to air can dry before they get mouldy. Now his can’t. And if his carpet was anything less than immaculate to begin with– which I doubt, since it’s a rented apartment– any mould spores in it that were dormant due to exposure to dry air will now be able to propagate.

    I have a feeling that when he moves out and his landlord makes him take up the flooring, the carpet will stink to high heaven and need to be replaced.

    1. “Without being properly attached to the substrate”  How exactly does one do that? Most laminate floors are floating floors and are designed to have 1/4″ gap at the edge (hidden by molding/baseboard) for expansion. 

    2. Laminate floors like that are “floating”. when you install them over a solid surface you actually put down a layer of cushy foam not unlike a carpet pad. The carpet + pad in this situation is probably too thick and the tongues of the flooring are liable to break off over time from the flexing.

      also, anything you spill on carpet that soaks in at all will not dry. It will mold. you need to pull the carpet up to let it dry.

      Why the hell do people put carpet in rentals? its always disgusting unless you have a strict vacuum daily, no shoes, no food or drink, no pets, no children policy. If you don’t like carpet, don’t move into a place with carpet. I never would.

  5. Wow, he needs some help with videos. I was getting seasick at the beginning. I am not sure why people are obsessed with cordless power tools either. You can buy a corded one for much less and never have to wait for a battery to recharge. 

      1. Or you could buy a handsaw for a fraction of the price and not be tethered to any source of electricity, ever.

  6. His claim that he will have to do “a lot of vacuuming” does not really address the considerable amount of very fine dust that cutting the flooring will create — in a carpeted room.  It’s hard enough getting it out of an uncarpeted space.  The underlying carpet will be full of the stuff…  Ugh.

  7. This guy is obviously a genius. haven’t you seen him in that microsoft songsmith video? why isn’t he singing?

  8. I replaced most of the carpet in my house with a laminate flooring material and it’s quite gorgeous. It’s not as nice as actual wood flooring, but it’s very low maintenance and extremely durable.

    I would never install it over carpet, however; nor would I install it in an apartment I was leasing. As was mentioned above, it won’t survive the flexing of being on carpet, and the initial cost of the materials is not justified by the fact that once the lease is up, you’ve got to tear it all up (I mean, unless you’ve got a 15 year lease or something…)

    To each his own though — I agree that wall to wall carpeting is some of the ugliest, most unhygienic forms of home decoration imaginable.

  9. Years ago, I moved into a basement apartment, and nearly all of it was carpeted like this, even the portion I was going to be using as my electronics ‘lab’. Before moving in, I bought a couple of sheets of tempered Masonite (aka ‘hardboard’), and laid it in place. I joined the sheets with duct tape to keep bits of debris from falling through the small gap between them.

    When I moved out a year later, I lifted up the Masonite and voila, the carpet was unharmed.

    (There, I’ve told you everything you need to know, and without taking 13:41 of your time to do so. On the other hand, you have no idea how ironic my t-shirt collection is.)

  10. None of the edges are secured under the baseboards or a transition on the patio door or meeting the carpet area. All that will do is warp and curve up along with the tongue and groove system probably snapping from all the flexing from the carpet. Neat idea, but from someone who has installed, no way this works irl.

  11. There’s nothing more annoying than having someone in an adjacent apartment with wood floors. Yay, I get to hear every one of your footsteps now. YAY! I hope this lad is prepared to be instantly hated by everyone around him.

  12. What? Glue? This kind of flooring dosen’t need to be glued..! I got this all over my apartment, and around here, it’s called “floating floor”.. It’s ment to be installed like this! In fact, if you don’t already have carpet underneath, you have to lay a kind of foam carpet before the flooring.
    This guy could have made a video of him reading the original instructions…!

  13. Agh. NEVER clamp both sides of a piece you’re cutting through like that. If the blade binds, you want at least one side to give. Otherwise the tension can spring the tool back and cause injury.

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