Installing Carpet Tiles

2-4 hours

Ditch the stretch-in carpet method with peel-and-stick carpet tiles

Installing Carpet Tiles

There are two advantages to carpet tiles:. First, you don’t need to master the art of stretch-in installation, and second, it goes much faster than a stretch-in installation. The downside is because the tiles are glued down, there is no pad underneath. Like vinyl and ceramic tiles, you lay out carpet tiles by finding the center of the room. Once you have found the center, peel-and-stick installation starts by laying a square in it and then working out toward the walls.
Mastic installation also starts in the center, but is done one quadrant at a time because it makes glue application easier. Carpet tile is like other tiles as you can create countless patterns.

This guide details how to lay and trim the carpet tiles and ensure they are firmly secure to the floor.


Mark the center of the room
Mark center room - Installing Carpet Tiles

Like other tiles, carpet tiles are laid out and installed from the center of the room. Find the midpoints of the walls and snap chalk lines between the midpoints of opposite walls. The lines will cross in the center of the room.

Square the lines
Square the lines - Installing Carpet Tiles

• Check for square with a 3-4-5 triangle.
• Measure 3 feet from the center point along one line, and 4 feet from the center point along the other line. The lines are square if the points are 5 feet apart.
• Move the end of one line to make any necessary corrections.

Distribute tiles for equal edging
Distribute equal edging - Installing Carpet Tiles

• Make sure the tiles that meet the wall will be at least a half-tile wide.
• Lay tiles along the layout lines without applying adhesive. Stop laying tiles at the last full tile before the wall.
• If the space between the tile and the wall is less than a half-tile wide, reposition the line parallel to the wall. Move the line by the width of a half-tile in either direction, keeping it parallel to the original line. The resulting tiles will be wider at the wall, but will still be equally sized on opposite sides of the room.

Find the pile direction
Find pile direction - Installing Carpet Tiles

• The pile will lean in a particular direction on each tile and an arrow typically found on the back of the tile tells you which way. Any two tiles with pile facing in different directions will look to be slightly different colors.
• Depending on the carpet, you will lay the arrows in the same direction, turn every other one 90 degrees or lay the arrows randomly. Follow the manufacturer’s directions.
• In this case, every other tile is turned 90 degrees to create a checkerboard pattern.

Lay the center tiles
Lay center tiles - Installing Carpet Tiles

• One by one, peel off the backing and put the corner of a tile in one of the corners formed by the layout lines.
• Put a tile in the corner of each quadrant, so that the tiles form a square.
• The next group of tiles will be laid in a square surrounding the one you have just laid.

Lay the first large square
Lay first large square - Installing Carpet Tiles

• Lay a square surrounding the first. Work along the layout lines and lay a tile against each edge of the square already in place.
• Remove the backing one tile at a time. Pay attention to the direction of the arrows and lay the tile in the pattern recommended by the manufacturer.
• Always nestle a tile tightly against the corner created by neighboring tiles. Throw out the backing as you go because it’s slippery and may cause you to slip and fall.

Lay the starting corners of the second square
Lay starting corners - Installing Carpet Tiles

Lay the corners of the second square. The tiles you have laid so far have left a void in each corner of the square. Lay tiles to fill in the corners, nestling the tile tightly against its neighbors.

Lay the third square
Lay third square - Installing Carpet Tiles

• Lay a third square and work your way to the wall. Lay tiles around the square you just laid to create a stair-step pattern, as seen along the left edge of these tiles.
• Start at the layout lines and work along the edge of the tiles already laid. Once you have laid the stair-step pattern, fill in each of the steps with a single tile, which creates a second and larger stairway. Continue filling the steps with tiles, working your way to the wall.

Trim tiles at the walls
Trim tiles at walls - Installing Carpet Tiles

• The tiles next to the walls will probably need to be cut to fit. Measure the space between one of the tiles and the wall at the two corners of the tile nearest the wall.
• Draw a matching layout line on the back of a new tile. Cut along the line with a utility knife guided by a straightedge.
• Lay the tile and repeat the process until you have laid all the tiles.

Roll the floor
Roll the floor - Installing Carpet Tiles

Once all the tiles are down, roll the floor with a 75-pound floor roller to seat the tiles firmly in the adhesive.

What to do if tiles aren’t peel and stick
Installation carpet tiles - Installing Carpet Tiles

• Tiles for commercial installations don’t have peel-and-stick backing and require a coat of mastic on the floor instead.
• Trowel adhesive onto the floor using a trowel with the notch size specified by the manufacturer. Notch size controls the amount of adhesive you apply.
• Spread the adhesive in one of the quadrants created by the layout lines. Start applying mastic at the wall and work your way back to the center of the room.
• Let the adhesive dry as recommended by the manufacturer. Tiles set in the adhesive too soon will be impossible to remove if you ever decide to redo the floor.