Experienced Rug and Carpet Cleaner Explains RIPPLING and BUCKLING in CARPETS and AREA RUGS to Consumers in Syracuse, NY



Rippling and buckling in carpets and area rugs usually occurs because most textiles are made under tension. Tension is necessary so the loom will function properly, producing a textile that is uniform from one portion to the next.  If two adjacent areas of a textile are not manufactured or woven under the same amount of tension, unevenness or rippling can develop.

Each case of rippling is different. The ripples may extend across the entire width of the carpet or rug, from the edge to the middle, in the middle only, along the edges, or in one small section.


Carpeting differs from most textiles in that the backing may be composed of several layers, which are not generally preshrunk. When backing yarns absorb moisture, the fibers swell, resulting in the relaxation of the yarns previously held under tension.

The moisture, which produces the swelling, may result from humidity, spills or cleaning. This will also occur if the tension of the second carpet backing is not uniform with the primary backing. 

In the case of wall to wall carpets after a professional cleaning (when moisture is the cause), the rippling will usually disappear as soon as the carpets are completely dry. 

Ripples can also be caused by dragging heavy furniture across the carpet or by the sliding and pulling of the carpet in traffic areas caused by walking.

Improper carpet installation may also cause ripples. If installation over padding is not done by power stretching, the carpet will still have some capacity to stretch. It will likely stretch in heavy traffic areas, and this may result in buckling, which is a form of rippling.  If the ripples do not disappear after a professional cleaning, the carpet must be re-stretched and reinstalled.


This condition can occur in area rugs, especially hand-woven ones, when the rug is not woven with the same tension throughout.  Ends may curl up and the rug may get 'out of square' easily. 

For these rugs, if moisture is the problem, the situation can sometimes be corrected by wetting the backing and tacking the rug out in a stretched position.  However, the ripples may recur when moisture is again present.

Rugs with a glued-on backing, such as 'tufted rugs,' may have rippling because moisture may affect the backing differently than the face of the rug. Also, the latex or glue will begin to deteriorate in time, causing lumps or irregularities in the rug.

It is possible to remove the backings from certain tufted rugs, clean out the deteriorating latex, and replace the backing.  In this case, it is usually more cost-effective to just replace the rug. 

If rippling is present in an area rug, walking on the rug may actually break down the foundation leading to the formation of rips and tears.  These can be repaired but it is an expense that can be avoided if the customer is aware that this can happen.  In some cases, it may be more prudent to have the rug prepared for proper hanging, especially if the rug is a favorite or valuable one.


When rippling or buckling occurs on new or recently installed wall-to-wall carpet, contact the carpet retailer or installer as soon as possible. Some installers warranty their work against stretching or buckling for a specified period of time following installation and can re-stretch the carpet to fit properly.

Proper stretching during installation of wall to wall carpeting is the best prevention of rippling and buckling.  Always insist on having your carpet 'power stretched' for proper installation.  Areas of high humidity may also require a dehumidifier. 

Before purchasing area or oriental rugs, look carefully at the sides and ends. Although it may be possible to correct or alleviate ripples and curling of edges, this situation can recur.  Make sure that you will be happy with the rug as it is. 


If you already have an area rug with this condition, please bring it into our plant or call our office at 272-1566 so that we may assess the situation and help you in any way we can. 

We also offer a pick up and delivery service.  The service is free but if you are able to bring your rug into our plant and pick it up yourself, we do offer up to a 25% discount.  No discounts are given for pick up and delivery.

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