What causes wall-to-wall carpeting to buckle?

Updated April 17, 2017

Having wall-to-wall carpeting offers distinct benefits, but sometimes walking on it can become hazardous and its appearance can deteriorate. Carpet specialists call the bunching up of excess carpet over time "rucking." Reasons for once-lovely wall-to-wall carpeting to ripple across the floor or appear to have tiny lumps can range from improper installation to excess humidity.

Improper Installation

Surveys by rug and carpeting manufacturers reveal that many carpet installers do not employ power stretchers when installing carpet. Improper installation methods almost guarantees carpet rippling. Homeowners should ask questions about the carpet installation method before buying it to avoid problems with rucking later.

Humidity, heat and steam-cleaning

Wall-to-wall carpeting can buckle when it is exposed to excessive humidity and heat. Temperature affects a carpet's condition. Carpeting often ripples in apartments above a home or another apartment that has little or no air conditioning. Moisture from humidity in the latex of the carpeting causes the fibres to bunch up. Steam-cleaning carpets can cause wrinkling, too, for this same reason.

Improper Padding

Improperly installed carpet padding, especially padding that is too thick, creates buckling. Asking questions about the installation of padding before buying carpeting can help avoid this issue.


Buckling occurs over time when carpeting stretches because of regular foot traffic and vacuuming. Every carpet reaches an age when it must be replaced. New carpeting becomes a better solution than restretching it after years of foot traffic and vacuuming. High-traffic areas will remain prone to buckling. In addition, dragging large furniture or other items over improperly installed carpeting will cause wrinkling.

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About the Author

Patricia Hunt first found her voice as a fiction and nonfiction writer in 1974. An English teacher for over 27 years, Hunt's works have appeared in "The Alaska Quarterly Review," "The New Southern Literary Messenger" and "San Jose Studies." She has a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from American University and a doctorate in studies of America from the University of Maryland.