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How to Waterproof a Rug: The Perfect Result with 3 Steps

When used the right way, area rugs are the best accessories you can add to your floor. In indoor areas, they accentuate a particular part of the floor and add to the aesthetic effortlessly. They are excellent in the outdoors areas such as patios and porches. 

However, humidity and wet spills are a big concern for indoor rugs, especially hand woven natural fiber area rugs. Although outdoor rugs can better handle rain, snow and water, continuously being soaked can damage them. 

So, how can you protect your rugs from moisture and spills?

There are three basic steps to waterproof a rug. First, you need to waterproof the rug’s top part using a fabric seal spray. Next, attach a waterproof rug pad on the bottom side. Finally, test out your rug’s water resistance. 

But why do you need to waterproof a rug? How is it different from purchasing a waterproof rug? Let’s get into it.

Reasons You Need to Waterproof a Rug

Rugs and water aren’t the best combinations. Most natural and synthetic carpet fiber absorbs moisture and takes a long time to dry thoroughly. Although wool rugs have some water repellent properties where droplets bead up and can be wiped off, they cannot stand against a large quantity of water for a long period.

Your rug comes into contact with moisture and water more than you think. For example –

  • When you leave your outdoor rugs in the rain, it absorbs the water. If not dried properly, it can grow mold and mildew.
  • If you have pets, they might have mishaps on your rug.
  • Area rugs are an excellent choice for a baby’s room. However, since there are a lot of spills in kids’ rooms, the rug has a higher chance of coming into contact with water.
  • Dining room areas are frequent recipients of spills. 
  • Entryway rugs can often come in contact with wet shoes and damp umbrellas. 
  • Bathroom rugs deal with both constant humid conditions and wet feet.

Other than preventing moisture-caused damages to rugs, waterproofing a rug also makes it pet-proof. It also makes the rug stain-resistant and prevents health hazards such as the growth of mold and mildew. Another great benefit to waterproofing your rug is preventing moisture from seeping under the rug and damaging the floor underneath.  

How to Waterproof a Rug 

How to Waterproof a Rug
How to Waterproof a Rug

Waterproof the rug’s upper fibers

As the liquid will fall directly on the top of the rug, you’ll need to spray the top part of the rug with a fabric seal spray. Regular water shield sprays from Thompson’s and Scotchgard have proven to be effective at protecting the fibers from water. Gorilla Waterproof Patch & Seal Spray is another excellent option for sealing the top fibers. 

Simply spray a thin layer of fabric seal on the rug and let it dry completely. Remember to spray it in a well-ventilated area. After the first layer dries, spray another coat and leave it to dry. Even though most rug fibers don’t discolor from fabric seal spray, we still recommend testing it out on a corner beforehand. 

Waterproof the rug’s underside

The rug’s bottom is directly exposed to water on the floor and needs just as much water protection as the top. To waterproof the rug’s underside, you get two main options – using a waterproof fabric or a waterproof rug pad (which we will discuss in-depth later in this article).

Since the bottom part is not visible to the eyes, you can attach waterproof fabric of any color. Cut the fabric to the size of the rug and stick it to the rug’s underside using double-sided or carpet tape. Remember to attach the fabric’s waterproof side facing the rug. 

The waterproof fabric doesn’t provide good traction to the floor. So, you will need to add grip pads to avoid slips and accidents.   

Test the rug’s water-resistance 

Now that you have waterproofed your rugs, it’s time to test it. However, wait at least 24 hours after applying the fabric seal spray before testing your rug for water resistance.

Pour in a small amount of liquid on top of the rug. It should roll off the rug if the rug is waterproof. If the water gets absorbed, add another coat of fabric seal spray. To test the underside, pour water on the floor and place the rug on top. To pass the test, you should be able to wipe up the water quickly after removing the rug without it being absorbed into the fabric.  

What is a Waterproof Rug Pad?

Waterproof Rug Pad

A waterproof rug pad creates a water repellent barrier between the floor and your rug. It prevents any water on the floor from seeping through the rug. Besides, it keeps the floor under the carpet clean as debris, dirt and pet hair cannot get stuck between the floor and the carpet. 

When shopping for waterproof rug pads, you should pay attention to a few things. 

  • Firstly, the rug pad size — ideally, slightly smaller than your rug. 
  • Secondly, your floor type — different floor types, for example, hardwood floors, might require a particular type of rug pads. 
  • And lastly, the rug pad should offer traction and anti-slip qualities.

Here are our top picks for waterproof rug pads –

RugPadUSA Anchor Grip

Anchor Grip’s solid construction, as opposed to open weave, protects rugs from moisture and liquid on the floor and provides exceptional traction. Its superior gripping power makes it ideal for high-traffic areas such as doorways and hallways. 

You can use Anchor Grip in hot and humid weather. It also works well with high-end natural fiber rugs. In addition to its grip, it provides a comfortable amount of cushioning — another pro to this rug pad is it’s made from an eco-friendly soybean-based polymer blend.

RugPadUSA Cloud Comfort 7/16

If cushioning and comfort are your goal, Cloud Comfort 7/16 is an excellent choice as it offers luxurious comfort and durability. It’s made from memory foam for added cushioning while being completely waterproof. 

Cloud Comfort comes with a built-in waterproof moisture barrier to prevent liquids from reaching the floor underneath. However, it doesn’t provide maximum traction — therefore, it is ideal for larger rugs that don’t move around much. Another plus side of this rug pad is mold and mildew resistance.

Waterproofing a Rug vs Buying a Waterproof Rug

Waterproofing a Rug vs Buying a Waterproof Rug

Waterproof rugs are carpets and rugs that can withstand water and liquid — meaning they do not have a liquid-repellent barrier around them, but they can withstand water and moisture. So, they are more water-resistant than waterproof. But you might be wondering why not buy a ready-to-use waterproof rug rather than waterproofing a rug?

First, buying a waterproof rug is not an option if you already have a rug in your hand that needs water resistance. Second, waterproofing a rug is much cheaper than investing in a waterproof rug. And finally, this way, you have much more freedom and a wider selection of rugs than purchasing waterproof rugs that mostly have a rubber-like texture. Most oriental and handmade rugs are not waterproof — therefore, you need to waterproof them if they come into frequent contact with water.

Can I Use My Indoor Rugs Outdoor? 

Indoor rugs cannot withstand outdoor elements such as rain and sun. Sunlight can fade their colors, while rainwater leaves watermarks and disintegrates the fibers. Therefore, we do not recommend using an indoor rug outside.  

Do you have any questions about how to waterproof a rug? Comment below and let us know!

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