DIY Skills & Techniques

This Is the Best (and Cheapest) Way to Flatten a New Area Rug

Try these tips to keep a rug from curling up and creating a trip hazard.
A woman rolling out a large high-pile area rug out on the floor of her home.

Photo: istockphoto.com

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From vacuuming to carpet cleaning, keeping the rugs in your home looking their best can be a challenge. New rugs have the potential to introduce an additional challenge to the mix: they don’t always lie flat. Sometimes the rug corners curl up or down; other times the center of the rug looks wavier than the ocean. Either way, it can be frustrating, detract from the overall aesthetics of your space, and create a trip hazard in the room. Read through the suggestions below if you’re ready to learn how to flatten a rug.

Project Overview

Working Time: 5 to 20 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes to 3 days
Skill Level: Beginner
Estimated Cost: $0 to $15

Before You Begin

If you’re trying to place your area rug over carpeting, you may have more luck flattening it over a hard surface, such as tile or hardwood. Once the rug relaxes enough to flatten out, you can move it to another location as desired. It is also a good idea to consult the care directions from the manufacturer before diving into any of the approaches outlined below. Some manufacturers may offer suggestions or advise against the use of certain materials or products with their rugs.

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STEP 1: Give the rug time to rest.

When you’re worried about how to get waves out of a rug, sometimes you just have to exercise some patience and let the rug rest. After they are manufactured, rugs are often rolled up tightly for storage and shipping.

Once you unroll your rug, don’t get overly worried if it doesn’t lie perfectly flat right away. Flatten it out as much as you can, and let it rest for 2 to 3 days. If you still don’t see any improvement after a few days, try one of the methods shared below.

STEP 2: Roll the rug in the opposite direction.

Hands rolling carpet rug.
Photo: istockphoto.com

Back-rolling a rug—or rolling it back up in the opposite direction it was originally rolled in—may help with curling carpet corners or a wavy center. By rolling it backwards, you’re essentially canceling out the curls and creases that were left from when it was initially rolled to be packaged and shipped. In order for this trick to be the most effective, you might want to leave the carpet rolled up for 24 to 48 hours before opening it back up and placing it over your flooring.

STEP 3: Try flipping a rug over if its edges are curling under.

If the edges of the rug are curling down, preventing it from lying flat, try flipping the rug upside down for a few days. As gravity pushes down on the corners, they’ll start to flatten out. When you flip the rug back over, the corners shouldn’t curl under as much or at all.

STEP 4: Try some heat.

Persian rug laid on green grass.
Photo: istockphoto.com

Heat can be a good solution for those searching for how to get creases out of rugs. Exposing the carpet fibers to heat can help to release wrinkles so that the rug will lie flat. Hold a hair dryer about 8 inches away from the rug. Choose a low heat setting and move it back and forth over the affected sections of the rug. Continue working for several minutes until the rug is noticeably smoother.

Alternatively, if the weather is nice and you have a clean work area, you can also try letting nature help you to get the dents out of the rug. Lay the rug out in the sun on a warm day for a few hours and let the sunlight and hot ground smooth it out for you.

STEP 5: Weigh down the edges using heavy items.

Small plant on corner of rug near dark couch.
Photo: istockphoto.com

If you’re looking for the fastest way to flatten a new rug, try using something heavy to weigh it down. Heavy boxes or even pieces of furniture can help keep rug corners down or smooth out bumps in the center of the carpet.

The key is to cover all the raised or curled portions, as the weights won’t help with areas they aren’t covering. For large bumpy or curled sections, consider pulling in a larger piece of furniture, such as a bookshelf or a non-elevated couch.

RELATED: How To Get the Funk Out of Old Curtains and Rugs

6 Alternative Methods for Flattening Rugs

Rug pad used under black and white rug.
Photo: amazon.com

If the steps shared above don’t offer the results you’re after, here are a few additional ideas that may help prevent rug corners curling and get your rug to lie flat on the floor.

  1. Use carpet tape: Try using some carpet tape to keep a rug from curling or creasing. If you have hard flooring, just stick the double-sided tape to the back of the rug and stretch it out to flatten it as much as possible before pressing it against the surface underneath.
  2. Spray wrinkle release on the rug: Interior designer and home stager Dawn Frattarelli of Interiors by Dawn, explains, “We spray the rug with wrinkle release, let it sit for about 5 minutes, then we roll it in the opposite direction.” She adds, “If the rug still has some stubborn curls or wrinkles, we place heavy objects (like books or an end table) to weigh the edges down. This will usually resolve itself within a day or two.”
  3. Try a rug pad: If your new washable rug won’t flatten out, consider placing a rug pad beneath it. Rug pads are designed to grip the rug, helping to prevent it from sliding or curling.
  4. Apply corner grippers: Corner grippers do exactly what you’d guess based on their name and are a good solution for those searching for how to get a rug to lay flat. They help the corners of the rug grip onto the flooring, preventing them from curling up. The grippers will also help ensure that the rug remains in place and doesn’t slide around.
  5. Steam the rug: Just as the heat from a blow-dryer or the warm sun can help release wrinkles, so too can the hot steam from a steamer. However, before attempting to steam a rug, you will need to check the manufacturer’s care instructions. Hot steam can damage some materials or may cause dyes to bleed, so save this option for last, and don’t attempt it if you’re not confident that it has been approved by the rug maker.
  6. Hire a professional: If your rug is antique or expensive or nothing seems to be making a difference, consider contacting a professional to help solve the problem. If allowed by the manufacturer, you could consider hiring someone to steam the rug for you or take it to a qualified professional to stretch the rug enough to release the wrinkles.

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Final Thoughts

A rug that won’t lie flat can certainly be frustrating. However, as you’ve just read, there are many effective methods to help you flatten a rug and stop the corners from curling. Keep in mind that the simplest approach may be to do nothing; sometimes the fibers in the rug just need a little time to relax before lying flat. Always remember to check the use and care instructions from the manufacturer to avoid using anything that could potentially damage the rug.