Concrete flooring isn’t generally considered to be an attractive type of flooring. Usually, concrete serves as a sub-floor for the subsequent installation of flooring. Carpeting can provide a concrete floor with an elegant look, as well as plenty of comfort, as it insulates against cold and dampness. But is it enough to simply purchase carpeting, and then lay it right over your concrete floor?
Moisture presents one of the most significant challenges when it comes to laying carpet directly onto concrete. Concrete holds moisture, absorbing it from underneath. But if the air in the room is also moisture-laden, dampness can quickly go to work on carpet, rotting it over time.
Where dampness is a concern, a synthetic carpet may be the best choice because it is less likely to absorb dampness than, for example, a natural seagrass carpet. In addition, a carpet having synthetic fibres is better able to take the chemicals in heavy-duty cleaners, making the clean-up of stain-causing spills far easier.
If choosing to lay carpeting directly onto concrete floors, the backing of the carpet will be critical. Synthetic backings are best, as they will automatically resist moisture. This is very important when laying carpeting onto concrete, as the backing will be in direct contact with it. Carpet made from natural fibres do tend to hold more moisture, which makes them incredibly vulnerable to degradation via mould and mildew.
Do You Need Underlay?
Underlay is a very important choice when purchasing carpeting for any floor. This is especially true for carpet laid over concrete. Foam is often chosen for an underlay due to its general low cost, versatility and availability. But the porosity of foam makes it a poor underlay for carpeting laid over concrete, as moisture will transfer from the concrete floor to the underlay, quickly wetting and then rotting it. This wetness, once absorbed into the underlay can then transfer to carpeting, causing significant moisture damage.
When choosing an underlay for a concrete floor, the best choice is a rubber underlay that is anti-bacterial. But even here, not all rubber underlays are created equally. Some may not stand up to constant friction with concrete, and so some consultation with a professional can be a good idea.
Securing Carpet Over Concrete
When installed over other floors, carpeting is secured with adhesive strips. But concrete requires something more to keep it in place. Many times, the best solution for installing carpeting over wood flooring is to apply an adhesive over the entire floor before laying the carpeting down.
Insulation and Sealing
When not insulated, concrete floors can exude a lot of dampness and cold. That being said, it can be a good idea to consider the installation of underfloor heating system topped with a layer of insulation before laying the underlay and carpeting.
The moisture, dampness and cold emitted by concrete flooring may be lessened or prevented by sealing the concrete floor before laying underlay and carpeting. This may also help to make carpeting adhesives work more effectively, as sealing the floor will make it shiny and smooth.
In addition to choosing an anti-bacterial rubber underlay, it may also help to control the humidity in a room where carpeting will be installed on a concrete floor. Although this will not solve the root cause of the dampness, it can work to lengthen the life of carpeting where no other options are available. Increased heat can also help with humidity levels, as can ventilation.
Where dampness is a real problem, the issue may be more significant than a good underlay and synthetic carpet can solve. In some cases, a concrete floor may need to be replaced by a floating timber floor before any type of flooring can be placed on top.