Entrance Mats, Flooring

Can I put entrance mats on top of carpet?

It’s one of the most common questions we face, especially from condo and apartment building managers.  They need entrance matting to trap the dirt and water coming into their building, but they have wall-to-wall carpet right up to the front door.  Can they put an entrance mat on top of the carpet?

You can put your mat anywhere you like…but if it’s on top of carpet, it won’t stay there for long!  The reason why your mat won’t stay put is due to the physical shape of the carpet underneath.  To see why that mat just won’t stay put, let’s take a closer look at the shape of your carpet.

Why does the mat move?

If you get right up close and personal with your wall-to-wall carpet, you’ll see that it’s probably made in one of these two popular styles: loop pile, or cut pile.  The “pile” is the surface layer of a carpet that you see and feel on a daily basis.  The manufacturing process for weaving carpet involves looping the face fibers back and forth through the backing underneath; the pile is determined by whether these face fibers have been cut off at the top of the loop, or left intact in their looped form.

In loop pile carpets, they’re left exactly how their name sounds: as intact loops of face fibres that haven’t been sheared off at the tip.  Cutting off the top of the loops results in an upright pile and the ends of the carpet fibers are exposed, hence the name!  Cut pile carpet fibres are also twisted to help them stand up straight and resist crushing down when you walk on them.

The twists in cut pile carpets, and the loops in loop pile carpet, make your carpet more resistant to wear and tear.  But the features that make your carpet wear-resistant are also the things that makes your entrance mats move around when placed on top!  When you lay a mat on top of carpet, you’re laying it on top of the pile – not a stable, hard surface.  When people walk across the mat, the carpet pile underneath compresses underfoot…and then springs back up!  This repeated compressing down/springing up motion is what makes your entrance mat “walk” across the wall-to-wall carpet over time, just like wind across a wheat field:

How can I stop my mat from moving?

The best way is to move the mat onto a hard flooring surface!  But when that’s not possible, you’re left with two basic options:  adhesive fastening, or mechanical fastening.  Let’s consider the pros and cons of both options.

Option 1: Adhesive Fastening

Adhesive fastening is essentially just taping your mat down to the carpet.  A special type of double-sided adhesive film designed to stick to carpet is applied to the back side of your entrance mat.  Then the mat is laid face-up in the correct position on top of your carpet floor.  The adhesive tape film creates a bond between the back of the mat and the tip-tops of your carpet pile.


  • No tools required to install; most carpet tape is peel-and-stick.


  • Because the bond is only with the tip-tops of your carpet pile, it’s typically not a strong bond and usually can only reduce (not eliminate) mat movement.
  • Adhesive tape isn’t a permanent, long-term solution; adhesives dry out and stop being sticky over extended periods of time.
  • After removal, adhesives can often leave behind sticky residue on your carpet that can attract dirt and stains.

Option 2: Mechanical Fastening

Mechanical fastening is a fancy way of saying “nail it down”!  Mechanical fastening uses a long screw, nail, or other physical fastener to pierce through the mat, through your carpet, and into the subfloor beneath to physically hold your mat in place.  Some specialty mechanical fasteners (like “rug pins” or “rug settlers”) don’t penetrate the subfloor, but use friction between the subfloor and the carpet underpad to hold the mat in place.  No matter what specific type of fastener is used, it’s the hard mechanical connection between your mat and the floor below doing the work of keeping things in place.


  • Highly effective; mechanical fastening is significantly more resistant to mat moving and shifting than adhesive fastening.
  • Can help reduce the risk of mat theft because the mat much more difficult to pick up and take.


  • Is destructive; mechanical fasteners work by piercing holes in your mat, your carpet, your subfloor, or all three.
  • Requires hand tools to install (or power tools, if installing into a concrete subfloor).

Entrance matting is a hugely important part of your building’s flooring, especially if you’re trying to make your wall-to-wall carpeting look good and last for as long as possible.  The best time to deal with your entrance matting needs is before you install wall-to-wall carpets so you can avoid this problem before it even begins!  When you make entrance matting an integrated part of your entire flooring solution, it blends in beautifully rather than sticking out like a sore thumb!

Source Floor is the only full-service commercial flooring company in Greater Vancouver that specializes in both installed floors and custom entrance matting solutions for commercial buildings.  Give us a call today – we’d love to help you with your next project!