Can You Run Model Trains On Carpet

Model trains are one of the finer pleasures of life. From the time you were a child, you loved watching the trains go around the track with authentic sounds pouring from the locomotive. The problem that you would always seem to run into is track unevenness, animals running your set off the track, and the little wheels getting stuck due to dirt and debris. You are probably wondering why all these problems happen, which leads to the question of can you run model trains on carpet?

No! Experience shows you never want to run your trains on any carpeted surface. The fibers get into the wheels, and dust from the fibers piles up on the track causing bad connections. The train will not run smoothly across the tracks that sink into the carpet as the box cars travel over it.

The excitement that grabs ahold of you when opening the box to your train set is hard to resist. It would be so simple to set the train up in the middle of the carpeted floor so you could run it right now. But it is not the best available option, and it should actually never be an option. If you want to learn how to solve this problem, keep reading.

Setting Your Train Set Up On The Floor

Setting your model train on the floor is not the best place, but there are situations when it is the only way for you to have it. Even then, you never want to place it on the carpet or in the center of a walkway, where it can quickly get damaged. There are a couple of options to ensure that your train is not damaged by the fibers or the dust.

  • Wood – The easiest way to solve this problem is to place a piece of wood on the floor underneath the train tracks. You will want a full sheet of plywood or particle board to give yourself a solid base. If it is not big enough, you can build a frame underneath a couple of sheets.
  • Tile – If you have a room floored with tiles, you should consider putting your train tracks there instead of in a carpeted room. You can even remove the carpet in the room where you set the tracks up and install some tiles if you have the drive to do so.
  • Linoleum – Like tile, you can place your train in a room that has linoleum installed, or you can remove the existing carpet and lay this down in its place. Either way will give you a solid base to run the train on the floor.
  • Concrete – If you have a garage or enclosed patio, you may find that it would be the best option for you. Leaving your tracks set up may not be possible, but it will give you some time to run your model train around the track.

These four options may not be permanent solutions to the problem, but they will allow you to set up your tracks and run the train around them. If you do not have pets or foot traffic, you may be able to get away with using the floor on a more permanent basis. If not, it gives you a temporary solution to a common problem.

David B.

Building A Train Track Table

Building an actual table to set up your train is the best way, and it keeps it off the ground where it can be easily stepped on, reducing the dust and debris that gets onto the set. This may seem like a complicated task, but if you follow the simple directions below, you will see how easy this option can be.

  • Wood and Tools – The first step is to go to your nearest home improvement store and pick up any tools you do not have and the wood you need. Using the measurements of the train track after it is set up, decide how much wood you need for the base. Then get some framing materials and a box of wood screws.
  • Tabletop – The first thing that you will want to do is get the tabletop ready to go. Cut the board to size, if needed, and attach some outer edge pieces along the bottom of the board, forming a drop-down edge around one side of the wood.
  • Table Legs – Next, you will want to cut the table legs out of plywood or framing wood, whichever you have decided to use. You may want to have a jig so you can make some angled holes to install the screws.
  • Table Leg Braces – Before installing the legs, you will need to place braces on the bottom side of the tabletop, They can butt up next to the outer trim that you attached in step 2.

This is a quick breakdown of how to build your own tabletop. If you are not a woodworking expert, you may want to order some plans online. Or watch more YouTube videos until you are comfortable with the task at hand. If that is still not working out, you can hire a contractor to build it for you or recruit some friends or family that can help you get the job done.

wire a model railroad
David B. Photo

Final Thoughts

Running your train on a carpet is never the way you want to go. You have put a decent investment into your set, so you do not want to place it in harm’s way. If you have any way to get it up off the ground, you need to take advantage of it. If not, you need to figure out a way to get it done without having to remodel your entire house. Not to say that this is not an option, but it may be a bigger task than you want to tackle.

What is essential to understand is that carpets can cause harm to your train set in numerous ways. They are preventable if you simply take the time to put your trains up correctly. And remember, if you have a huge set that needs more room, you can use the directions for building a simple table above and multiply it by two or three, depending on how big you need it. In this way, the train will never be damaged by carpet, and you will be able to enjoy it for many years.


Lifelong Rail Enthusiast and Owner of Worldwide Rails

Recent Posts