What are the advantages of carpet tiles? How do you install Carpet Tiles and what are the different styles and sizes available?
Intro to Carpet Tiles
Carpet tiles are fun, durable and versatile. They are great for playrooms, family rooms, basements and can even be used for stylish area rugs. They are a wonderful do-it-yourself project. While wall to wall carpet may be less popular than hardwood these days, the carpet tile segment is rapidly growing in popularity and is a favorite among hardwood lovers.
Please note that this article may contain affiliate links (see disclosure at the bottom of the page).
- What are carpet tiles?
- What are the top 8 advantages of Carpet tiles?
- What sizes do carpet tiles come in?
- What are carpet styles are available?
- Design Tips
- How do you install carpet tiles? Is it difficult or easy?
- Disadvantages of carpet tiles
- Where can carpet tile be installed?
- How much does carpet tile cost?
Note: You can click on most of these carpet tiles to see them larger and/or buy them online at FlooringInc.com (or get free samples). There are also some DIY tools below that you can purchase directly from Amazon.com.
What are carpet tiles?
Carpet tiles (as the name implies) are squares of carpet that fit together. Sometimes, they’re called modular carpet or carpet squares. Carpet tiles are usually around 24″ x 24″ or 18″ x 18″ (but some come as small as 12 x 12″.) They are contrasted with broadloom (or rolled carpet) that comes in wide rolls that are usually between 12 ft – 15 ft wide.
Generally, broadloom carpet needs to be installed by professional carpet installers (as it is difficult to install and seam and requires specialized tools and talent). In addition, most carpet manufacturers will not deliver rolls of carpet to residential areas (and it’s pretty challenging to maneuver the large heavy rolls on your own. Carpet tile, on the other hand, is easy to install and deliver.
Read on to learn about the top 8 benefits of carpet tiles, as well as directions on how to install and some design tips. I’m also including some info on where you can buy these products on line.
What are the top 8 advantages of Carpet tiles?
1. Carpet tiles are easy to install. They are a great DIY Project
2. Carpet tiles can be colorful and creative
Carpet tile is a wonderful way to express your creativity and add a touch of style. You can add a pop of color or mix and match bright colors. If you’re looking to make a fun playroom for your kids or add some flair to your family room, Carpet tiles are a perfect option.
3. Carpet tiles can be less expensive
Carpet tiles can be less expensive than other carpet options, if you are doing the installation yourself. You’ll save on labor, delivery and carpet cushion. They are also significantly less expensive than hard surfaces (while adding some warmth and color to your room.
4. Easy to maintain and easy to replace individual tiles
In addition, your carpet tiles will last much longer. One of beauties of carpet tile is that if you have a stain in an area, you can just pop out 1 or 2 tiles and replace them. So, in the long run, they will last much longer vs. regular wall to wall carpet.
Carpet tiles are easy to clean – just vacuum as you would with any carpet. Carpet tiles are generally lower pile, so they trap less dirt and debris. And, most carpet tiles have some color variation/flecking which camouflages dirt, too.
Tip: Be sure to order some extra tile both for waste/cuts and also to have some extra on hand for later.
5. Carpet tiles are very durable
Most carpet tiles are low pile, looped and very tight. They are designed this way to hold up well to heavy commercial traffic…and that’s probably less traffic than even a very busy household with kids and pets have. In addition, many are darker with flecks, striations or patterns to add design flair and help them look better longer.
Also, many carpet tiles have enhanced stain protection. And, they hold up super well with rolling office chairs (and allow them to roll smoothly).
6. Carpet tiles have less waste (vs. broadloom) and you can avoid awkward seams
Most wall to wall carpet comes in 12 ft widths (some come in 13’2″ and some in 15′). If you have a 12 foot roll and your room is 13 ft wide, then you need to order additional carpet to fill in the last foot (and no, you can’t twist or turn the carpet as it won’t match). So often with a wall to wall (or broadloom) carpet, you need to add seams. And, often those seams are visible if you have a looped carpet (and the carpet tends to wear down over time at the seams.
Because carpet tiles are smaller, they generally fit in the room better with less waste and you avoid potentially unattractive seams. Carpet tiles are especially versatile in rooms with many turns and complex layouts.
7. Most Carpet tiles are low pile and better for indoor air quality/allergies
Many customers who prefer hard surfaces are very open to carpet tile as less expensive and warmer alternative. Since carpet tiles are generally flatter and low pile, they trap less dirt and are better for indoor air quality.
8. Carpet tiles are more resilient to water and moisture (compared to wall to wall carpet).
This is both because of the backing and the tight weave. I don’t want to mislead anybody here as carpet tiles are not waterproof. If you have a flood, you would probably need to replace them (like most other flooring surfaces). But for areas that may be prone to minor moisture or the occasional spill (or pet accident), compared to wall to wall carpet, carpet tiles will hold up better and are more likely to protect your sub-floor from topical damage.
What sizes do carpet tiles come in?
Be sure to check the size you are choosing both in planning patterns and in ordering the right quantity (as you will want to round up to the nearest tile (e.g. if your room is 11 ft x 11 ft, you’ll want to at least order enough for a 12 ft x 12 ft room as you will need to the edges of the tile (Plus some extra for waste and future replacements).
There are a few interlocking carpet tiles, but to be honest, I’m not a fan of these as they look cheap and don’t come in many colors. When ordering these, be sure to order some extra for the edges of your room (as you don’t want the interlocking edges to have spaces with the walls.
Also, if you are buying online, be careful that you are comparing prices on a per square foot basis (rather than per tile). But, at the same time, be sure that you’ve ordered enough to carpet your room (s). Sometimes, people get confused when they convert the number of tiles into square feet (or vice versa), so just check your math.
What carpet tile styles are available?
Check out this video from Flooring Inc which shows the breadth of carpet tile options and patterns. There are many color and pattern choices. You can mix and match colors. You can have fun with patterns and do stripes or boxes, or even just randomize color pops. You can alter the direction of the carpet tiles or even stagger them for more visual intrigue. Hopefully the below video will help you visualize what you can create.
Design Tips for Carpet Tiles
One of the things I love about carpet tiles is that they are fun and allow you to express your personal style and creativity. You can do this by choosing fun designs, multiple colors and creative layouts (or all of the above). Here are some design ideas to help inspire you.
- Monolithic vs. Quarter Turn: The basic way to lay carpet tile is in a monolithic pattern…or what some may call a straight lay. It basically is a non-pattern. But, an easy way to add some intrigue is use a quarter turn. As the name implies, the carpet tiles are turned on a 90 degree angle.
Look at the picture below to see the difference. The left side is monolith; the right is quarter turn. It really makes a difference, especially with patterns.
- Brick lay vs Ashlar: Another way to lay carpet tile is to do a brick lay (as seen on the left) or an ashlay pattern (as seen on the right). Often the choice on this depends on the layout of the room. And, yes, you can do a combo of a quarter turn and brick lay (or ashlar). That’s called a quarter drop pattern.
- Stripes – This is another way to add color and dimension to a room. Sometime it works well with bold colors (e.g. in a playroom); other times, it works well with a neutral color (e.g. gray) and a pop color (e.g. light blue).
- Color patterns: Here you can get fun. You can do as many or as few colors as you like. You can even create boxes and random pop colors. The world is your oyster.
Here you can see the visual impact of using a 2 color pattern (in a checkerboard) vs 3 colors.
- Mix and Match: You can mix colors, patterns, sizes, shapes and even textures. Here’s one with a chevron pattern (note: these are 12 x 12 square tiles arranged in a chevron pattern – it looks they are rectangular pieces but they are actually square and cleverly arranged). Let your creativity run and see what fun you can have.
Are carpet tiles easy or difficult to install? How do you install carpet tiles?
Carpet tiles are pretty easy to install. In fact, it’s a great DIY project. Check out this video from FlooringInc which shows you how to install carpet tiles. They also show you how you can create an area rug out of carpet tiles. Below, I have links where you can buy the tools from Amazon, in case you need them.
Carpet Tile Installation Video from FlooringInc
Tools needed for do-it-yourself carpet tile installation
You can buy these directly on Amazon and have them shipped. Just select “add to cart,” even if you buy later.
- Heavy Duty T-square (this is 30″ long so it’s long enough for the carpet tiles)
- Utility Knife
- Double sided Carpet tape
Disadvantages of Carpet tiles and Watch outs
1. Carpet tiles are not appropriate for steps. They generally will not adhere well on steps and/or would require unattractive rubber or metal stair noses. However, some carpet tiles have matching broadloom carpet that can go on the steps.
2. Over time, some carpet tiles, especially cheaper ones, may pull away at the seams.
3. Often, carpet tiles can initially be more expensive than wall to wall carpets. Their savings comes over time (as you can replace a few tiles rather than the whole carpet) and if you are a do-it-yourselfer, you will save money in installation.
Where should you avoid installing carpet tiles?
- Avoid steps as they generally will not adhere well.
- Carpet tiles will not work over some vinyls. Be especially careful if you have Vinyl Asbestos Tile (VAT) as the pressure sensitive adhesive (or stickiness from peel and stick tiles) can create a major health hazard later (as the asbestos may become air borne when tiles are removed. If you have 9″ x 9″ vinyl tiles that look similar to this, you may want to investigate a bit further. Note: they come in many colors and were most often installed in the 50’s and 60’s. You can read more about Asbestos tile in this article: Buying a house with hardwood floors – Go to Point G (it’s a long article).
Also, be forewarned that some carpet tiles do not adhere well to some vinyls, especially shiny/smooth vinyl. If you have this type of vinyl you may need to scarify (or rough up) the surface before installing the carpet tiles.
How do you clean carpet tiles?
If you need to clean an individual tile, you can remove it and wash it in the sink. But, be sure to make sure it is fully dry before you put it back (as you don’t want any moisture under the tile as that could cause problems with mold. Let it air dry naturally; do not put on a radiator or heat source.
If you need a good vacuum, we recommend the Oreck Magnesium LW100 as this is an excellent carpet cleaner and carries the Carpet Rug Institute Seal of Approval. It is also approved for super soft carpets including Shaw’s Caress line. You can get the Oreck vacuum here:
Carpet Stain Remover – Shaw R2X Stain and Soil Remover
While I’m hesitant to recommend off-the-counter stain and soil removers (as many of them can cause staining or bleaching and/or invalidate the manufacturer warranty), I feel comfortable recommending one made by the manufacturer. Try Shaw R2X Carpet Stain and Soil Remover.
Where can you buy carpet tiles?
- FlooringInc.com – FlooringInc has a wonderful selection of carpet tiles and they are very reasonably priced. This is one of their specialties. They also have free samples and free shipping.
- Amazon.com – You can buy some carpet tiles on Amazon, but they have a very limited selection. Amazon is wonderful for the tools you need (see above)
Other helpful resources:
- Recommended cleaning products and accessories to maintain hardwood floors and reduce scratches.
- If you’re looking for a local flooring installer, click here.