Save my (Apartment's) Carpet!
July 3, 2007 6:27 AM   Subscribe

My new apartment has carpet in a few places I wish it didn't. Help me keep my (potential) mess away from this carpet and save my security deposit.

The only place in the apartment where I can store my bike is a walk-in storage closet that's about 15' away from the front door. It's a straight shot from the door through the edge of the living room and part of a hallway to the closet door, but it's all carpeted. Also, the 'breakfast nook' area next to the kitchen is carpeted. In both of these places, I worry that dirt and liquid will stain the carpet, resulting in my owing the landlord a hefty bill for carpet replacement.

The two solutions I've come up with thusfar are area rugs/carpet runners or plastic runners. Area rugs and carpet runners don't seem ideal because while they prevent damage to the original carpet, they're just as hard to clean. Plastic runners may not work because I can't find a good source for low volumes of the stuff -- I can buy a 36"x150' roll for $200 online but I only need about 15'. Also, I worry that my roommate might find it aesthetically objectionable. What I'd really like is some kind of vinyl/linoleum with a hard backing that won't slide around on top of the carpet. I've thought about bonding linoleum scraps to thin masonite (to keep the edges of the linoleum from curling), but I don't have any way to acquire sufficiently long sections of masonite, cut it to width or prevent it from sliding around.

Any ideas what else would protect my floor without destroying my wallet? Brick-and-mortar sources for plastic runner in would also help. I'm willing to be crafty in the interest of aesthetic appeal but my access to tools is severely limited right now.
posted by Alterscape to Home & Garden (13 answers total)
I guess you're in the USA? I liek in the UK, and my local DIY (hardware) store sells a product called "Rug Protector", which looks like a big roll of cling film (I think you call it saran wrap?), but it's much stronger. It's sorta self adhesive, with what feels like static cling, but it won't affect the carpet. Apparently, it's strong enough to use on staircases.

I can't advise on US DIY stores though. Sorry. :(
posted by Solomon at 6:45 AM on July 3, 2007

You know those chair mat things that every secretary in every office building in the world has under his/her chair? This kind of thing. They come in a variety of sizes and different bottom styles depending on how thick your carpet is - there are these little spiky plastic pegs all over the bottom to grip into the carpet so it won't slide around. Drawbacks include: wierd shapes (nothing nice and plain and rectangular) and also, they are extremely hard to cut to different size because the plastic is super thick.
posted by contessa at 6:49 AM on July 3, 2007

I am fairly certain that they sell that plastic runner stuff (and various other kinds of runners) at Home Depot or Lowes by the foot. There are big rolls of it and they'll cut it to size for you.
posted by misskaz at 6:52 AM on July 3, 2007

You could get some cheap generic astroturf at home depot and cut it into a carpet runner, it has a rubber backing and you can clean it with a hose. Add some plastic flowers for some sort of (kitsch, humorous, dubious, hipster) appeal, maybe some lawn furniture in the breakfast nook.

If that's too cheesy (although I can't imagine that would be the case if you are considering plastic runner), you can get "rugs" that have a carpet-like appearance but don't actually have any pile, just a sort of textured surface. Very easy to clean.
posted by yohko at 6:53 AM on July 3, 2007

It looks like you are about 1hr from the nearest ikea. They often have area rugs and runners for cheap. (The ones I have in my house cost $10 each, and they cover our high traffic areas without looking ugly.) I have no problems keeping them clean, and if the 100th time the cat hacks up a hair ball on the thing and it won't come out - I'm just throwing them out without guilt.
posted by eggerspretty at 6:53 AM on July 3, 2007

I have used Flor tiles for this exact same purpose. They are very sturdy and look a lot better than runners and can be lifted up whenever you need a clear path or want to impress people with your wall to wall carpet. Flor Carpet Tiles
posted by banannafish at 6:54 AM on July 3, 2007

Hmm, also I forgot to mention - that carpet runner stuff is sold in lots of hardware stores, and you can buy it by the foot. You would not have to buy an entire roll of it. You are probably more likely to find it in a smaller hardware store than a big Home Depot.
posted by contessa at 6:54 AM on July 3, 2007

I can definitely vouch that most big home centers sell runners (plastic and low-pile carpeting) by the foot. Most also have the same really inexpensive rugs.

If you have a large carpet store nearby (most cities of any size have one) you can usually go to the showroom and check out their remnants and end-rolls, a lot of time you can find something really cheap, and they sometimes even offer binding to run an edge around the raw carpet. Check the yellow pages for carpet, look for anything that says discount or wholesale or that sort of language. I've carpeted my own or freind's dorm rooms many times with this stuff.
posted by pupdog at 7:14 AM on July 3, 2007

You could buy inexpensive click together laminate flooring and place it right over top of the carpet.

This flooring can usually be found for $1-$2/square foot at big box building stores.
posted by davey_darling at 7:48 AM on July 3, 2007

I tried a rug made from a remnant, with the edges finished, and put it on top of existing carpet. It really doesn't stay in place very well, it tends to creep and bunch up.
posted by jjj606 at 10:08 AM on July 3, 2007

I just bought 6' of toothed carpet-protector plastic runner at the dollar store for $6. For your breakfast area, get a cheap area rug, the kind with the stiff canvas backing (not a bathroom-type rug).

Be careful about rugs with rubber backs; I have some very very cheap flimsy 3' runners from one of the big box hardware stores and the black rubber on the bottom is all over everything underneath it.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:25 AM on July 3, 2007

Call the landlord and ask him/her to provide a solution. They will love you and come up with a solution, most likely!
posted by Ironmouth at 10:49 AM on July 3, 2007

Thanks for all the advice, everybody. :) I was assuming Home Depot didn't have runners by the foot because they weren't in evidence on their website search, but I drove by the local storefront today and they have all manner of astroturf, plastic runners, etc. Now to figure out a not-aesthetically-awful way to make it work -- but now I have some confidence that I can find at the very least a functional solution. I like the look of Flor, but it may be a "later, after I establish that I can afford to splurge on that stuff" kind of option -- grad school and all. Wish I could mark you all Best Answer, because you've done a good job of soothing my stressed-and-neurotic nerves! Cheers!
posted by Alterscape at 10:59 AM on July 3, 2007

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