Common Causes of Carpet Wrinkles and How to Prevent Them

Candace Nelson
Written by Candace Nelson
Updated September 30, 2021
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Sometimes all worn carpet needs is a good stretch

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When carpet is professionally installed, it’s smooth and cozy. It’s the perfect canvas to lay out and make carpet angels (you know, snow angels but inside). But wrinkles are a sign your carpet is aging or has been through some serious water damage. 

Another carpet problem is buckling, when the edges start to curl or air pockets appear in the middle.

Don’t worry; a carpet that isn’t lying flat anymore doesn’t mean you have to rip it out and start new. A local carpet stretcher can get rid of those wrinkles pronto. 

Of course, the easiest (and cheapest!) option is to prevent wrinkling and buckling carpet entirely. Here’s how.

Humidity Affects Carpet

Just like humidity does a number on your hair, it can do a number on your carpet. Humidity—particularly in regions with four distinct seasons—is a common reason for carpet wrinkles and buckling.

Controlling the humidity and temperature in your house can help prevent carpet wrinkling. Here are some ways to minimize humidity in your home:

  • Generally, you want your home’s humidity level to sit between 30 and 50 percent. If you see moisture on the windows, the humidity level in your house is probably too high. Run a dehumidifier and make sure your windows are properly sealed.

  • Try not to let your house get above 85 degrees Fahrenheit for an extended period.

  • Steam cleaning also raises the temperature and can cause carpets to shrink, so consider another method if that’s a concern.

Make Sure Carpet Is Properly Installed

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Make sure your carpet installer uses proper tools when installing the carpet

Professionals should use a pole or power stretcher. This will stretch your carpet from wall to wall. If your installer is only using a knee kicker to install your carpet, it won’t be stretched to manufacturers’ specifications.

If a carpet is not stretched correctly during installation, it can loosen and develop ripples and wrinkles. The manufacturing of the carpet itself has changed, and carpets are stiffer now than the ones used in your childhood home. Stiffer carpet requires more powerful installation tools.

Purchase High-Quality Carpet

A luxurious and spacious bedroom with a grey carpet
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Low-quality carpet and padding may save you some money upfront, but in the long run, it can cost you. When choosing carpet for your home, make sure the padding you buy is compatible with the carpet itself. Mixing and matching can cause buckling and wrinkling. 

If you are purchasing cut-pile carpet (the most common kind because it’s softer under your foot compared to looped carpets), select padding that is no greater than seven-sixteenths of an inch thick and no less than a six-pound density. Check with the manufacturer for the specs for your specific carpet. Selecting improper padding can void the manufacturer’s warranty and lead to your carpet becoming wrinkled and rippled.

Keep Carpet Dry

Not only is wet carpeting subject to wrinkling and buckling, but it can also be a reason why carpet smells bad. Wet carpet, commonly caused when it gets too wet during cleaning, gives mold an environment to thrive. To avoid this, use a local carpet cleaning service

In case of a flood or water leak, the best way to salvage your flooring is with quick action. Here are some guidelines:

  • Assume the carpet pad needs to be replaced.

  • If the water is dirty, like from a sewer backup, call in a professional to assess.

  • Turn off the electricity before wading through a flooded basement.

  • Rent a water extractor ($100 per day), a carpet blower ($25 per day), and a heavy-duty dehumidifier ($50 per day).

  • Don’t forget to check the walls for water damage.

Moisture also causes delamination, which is when the carpet separates from the backing. Improper cleaning and flooding are common causes, but delamination also occurs due to moisture from below. 

To avoid delamination, make sure your carpet is laid with a moisture barrier. If the barrier rips or tears during installation, use a new piece. Moisture can get in through little holes.

Carpet Restretching Could Give Carpet More Life

If your carpet has ripples, bubbles, ripples, or buckling, a carpet restretching service may be able to get it looking fresh again. Carpet restretching costs about $60 per hour on average or around $0.30 per square foot. 

Carpet restretching can’t fix creases in the carpet, but they might be able to smooth them out a bit. 

The longer you live with ripples and wrinkles in the carpet, the harder it will be to get them out with a restretch, so don’t delay if you wish to go this route.

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