How to Waterproof a Rug (It's Easier than You Think)

Waterproof rug pad for indoor outdoor use

Area rugs are a great way to give your floors a quick and stylish makeover. Outdoor rugs add comfort beneath your outdoor furniture. Indoor carpets enhance your home décor and soften your step on hard flooring.

While outdoor and indoor rugs may seem very different, they have one thing in common: they occasionally come in contact with moisture.

Area rugs made for outdoor use experience all types of weather, including precipitation like rain and snow. Indoor rugs in your living room and dining room can experience spills, pet accidents, and absorb humidity.

If your rug experiences excessive moisture, it could spell a recipe for disaster. The best way to avoid permanent stains and increase the durability of your area rug is to make it stain-resistant and water resistant.

The good news is you don’t have to run out and buy a new rug. You can waterproof your current area rug, making it more resistant to water, training, and heavy foot traffic. Take a look at why you should waterproof your rug.

Why you may need to waterproof a rug

You may not realize it, but many rugs in your home come in contact with moisture multiple times a day.

  • An Outdoor Area Rug Absorbs Rain, Making Them Susceptible To Mold And Mildew.
  • Bathroom Rugs Sit In Humid Conditions And Are A Resting Place For Wet Feet.
  • The Entryway Door Mat Is In A High-Traffic Area Full Of Wet Shoes And Soggy Umbrellas.
  • Dining Room Area Rugs Experience Dinner Time Spills

To properly dry out a wet area rug, you’ll need to hang it over a railing in direct sunlight and allow both sides to dry thoroughly. If your home doesn’t have a railing big enough to accommodate your area rug, you can lay it flat outside and flip it to dry it evenly.

You can avoid this tedious, time-consuming process by choosing to waterproof your rug so that it repels liquid and remains dry no matter what.

Waterproofing a rug isn’t as hard as you may think. It’s actually one of the more affordable DIY projects, especially if you already own the carpet you’d like to waterproof.

Making your rug water repellent ensures that any moisture or spills don’t make their way down to your expensive flooring. Hardwood floors, laminate, carpeting, and vinyl flooring will stain and warp if not kept dry.

Wet, humid conditions also welcome smelly mildew and dangerous mold to make their home in your rugs. Not only will this create unpleasant odors, but it will damage the area rug you worked so hard to select.

To properly waterproof your area rug, you will need to take these steps.

  1. Waterproof The Upper Fibers: Because liquid will likely fall directly on top of your rug, you’ll need to spray the pile with a fabric seal spray like Scotchgard or Thompson. Always follow manufacturer directions and spray in a well-ventilated area.
  2. Waterproof The Underside: Choose a waterproof rug pad to prevent water from being absorbed by the underside of your carpet.
  3. Attach The Waterproofing Layer: Attach the waterproof rug pad to the underside of your rug using a heavy-duty silicone adhesive.
  4. Test It: After 24 hours have passed, use a bit of liquid to test the water-resistance of your rug.
    1. If It Worked: Liquid should bead up and run off rather than be absorbed by the pile.
    2. If The Water Is Absorbed: Allow it to dry and add another coat of spray.

Any area rug shouldn’t need more than four coats of waterproofing fabric spray to work. Since waterproofed surfaces tend to be more slippery, choosing the right non-slip rug pad for the job is crucial.

What to know before you buy

Because liquid sinks into the rug, the underside needs just as much care as the top pile does.

Using a waterproof rug pad underneath your area rug will help protect the bottom of your rug from whatever spills or liquid comes its way.

Before you select the best waterproof rug pad for your area rug, you’ll need to ensure that the top of your carpet is waterproofed as well.

A waterproof rug pad will not only prevent liquids from dampening your rug but will also increase the effectiveness of your vacuuming. These dense carpet pads prevent debris, dirt, and pet hair from building between your rug and flooring.

When choosing the right rug pad for your area rug, pay close attention to the measurements. Your rug size should not be identical to the size of your rug pad.

Make sure your rug pad is one inch smaller in diameter than your carpet to prevent it from showing and allow your area rug to drape correctly.

These are the best rug pads to waterproof your rug

Not all waterproof rug pads are created equal. The best carpet pad for the job will be determined by where you will place your area rug.

We wrote a complete explanation of why you need a waterproof rug pad already, so give it a read if you want the full breakdown.

But we'll go over it a bit here, as well.

Indoor rugs in the kitchen or bathroom will need to be mold and mildew-resistant. The best rug pad for the hallway, entryway, or other high traffic areas needs a heavy-duty grip that can withstand lots of wear and tear.

If you’ve ever stepped on a water-logged rug in your outdoor space, you’ll understand why waterproofing a rug is so important. Even though some are designed to be water-resistant, outdoor rugs need a rug pad since they are exposed to all sorts of precipitation and weather.

When your DIY projects involve waterproofing a rug, here are the best rug pads to provide that pivotal protection for the underside of your carpet.

Anchor Grip

best waterproof nonslip carpet pad for indoor outdoor rugs

Anchor Grip offers solid construction that prevents liquids from piercing its surface and provides more contact with your hard floor. This means your rug won’t budge and will stay dry.

Made with an EVA backing it offers superior grip and exceptional traction. Safe for all floor types, Anchor Grip offers a comfortable amount of cushioning with maximum grip.

It’s perfect for waterproofing high-end rugs, stubborn hallway runners and can be used in hot, humid climates. Because it has a low profile, consider using Anchor Grip as you waterproof rugs in high-traffic areas of your home and where door clearance is a concern.

Cloud Comfort 7/16

Best waterproof rug pad thick cushion padding

If cushioning is a high priority, Cloud Comfort 7/16 can offer luxurious comfort and durability to your waterproofing project. It’s made from 100% viscoelastic memory foam to add a supportive, waterproof layer to more oversized rugs that don’t require maximum grip.

Cloud Comfort offers a built-in waterproof moisture barrier to prevent liquids from reaching your floor. It’s mildew and mold resistant, as well as engineers to absorb weight and sound.

Adding a Cloud Comfort 7/16 rug pad to the backing of your rug is like bringing the comfort of a memory foam mattress to the soles of your feet. This carpet pad is also odor-free and comes with a ten-year warranty.

Other things you want to know

Waterproofing a rug not only protects it from moisture and humidity but ensures that any spills or pet accidents do not absorb into your area rug.

When treating carpets in high-traffic areas, remember that these treatments can make the rug more slippery, so always use a rug pad with high-traction to prevent slips and bunching.

Here are some more things you should know about rug pads and waterproofing.

Where should I put a waterproof rug?

There are many places in your home where a waterproof rug will be beneficial.

  • Bathroom
  • Dining Room
  • Outdoor Space
  • Kitchen
  • Underneath Pet Beds
  • Children’s Playroom
  • Workshop

Waterproofing an area rug will protect your flooring and help the rug look fresh for years.

Can I leave an outdoor rug in the rain?

Yes. Outdoor carpets are designed to withstand sun, rain, snow, sleet, and other common weather conditions. They can be left outside year-round.

However, if your area experiences heavy rain and humid conditions, there is a chance mold, and mildew could build up beneath your rug, ruining the carpet and hard surface beneath it.

How do I keep a rug in place on wood floors?

Keep a rug in place on wood floors with the right rug pad. When choosing a rug pad for your hardwood floors, you’ll need one with specific characteristics.

  • Safe For All Finishes
  • Won’t Break Down
  • No Synthetic Adhesives Or Sticky Residue
  • All-Natural Materials

The best rug pads for wood floors are made from materials like natural rubber, jute, and felt. Because these are eco-friendly materials, they will not strip hardwoods or react with polyurethane finishes.

How do you clean an acrylic rug?

More durable than Oriental or Moroccan rugs, acrylic rugs are commonly found in big box stores and on Amazon. Made from synthetic fibers that are water-resistant, they can last for many years with proper cleaning and care.

Acrylic rugs are not machine washable and can be damaged by common cleaning detergents, like chlorine bleach. Here is the best way to clean an acrylic rug without causing damage.

  1. Remove Surface Debris By Vacuuming Both Sides.
  2. Add ¼ Cup Gentle Detergent To One Gallon Of Warm Water. Whisk Until Foaming.
  3. Use A Soft-Bristled Scrub Brush To Scrub The Mixture Into The Rug.
  4. Rinse The Foamy Mixture With Cool, Running Water From A Hose Or Bathtub
  5. Roll The Rug To Squeeze Out Moisture.
  6. Hang The Rug To Drip Dry.

Always allow your acrylic rug to dry completely before placing it back on the floor. Pair it with the right rug pad to keep it from sliding.

Should I use carpet tape to keep my area rug in place?

No. Carpet tape is made with synthetic adhesives that leave a sticky residue on your flooring and area rug. It also isn’t waterproof, meaning if something is spilled or room humidity is high, the carpet tape will become ineffective. This will lead to bunching and tripping hazards.

Always use a high-quality rug pad made from natural rubber to ensure your area rugs stay in place without damaging your expensive flooring.

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