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How to Install Carpet Tiles


Preparing your surface

As with most DIY jobs, the first job is preparing your surface. Whatever prep you do, the aim is to end up with a smooth, clean surface you can place the tiles on.

If you’re lucky, you’ll just have a plain cement floor in a brand-new house and all you’ll need to do is vacuum. If you’re unlucky (as I was with our example corridor), you’ll need to remove an old and worn carpet first. In this case, lifting up the carpet, removing the underlay and the staples that held it in place, and then getting rid of the tacked frame used to hold the carpet in place was considerably more work than any other part of the process. I didn’t need to remove the paint stains on the underlying wooden floor, but I did have to ensure no staples or nails were in place.

Laying out your tiles

Like any floor tiling project, you should lay out the tiles and ensure they’re cut to fit before attaching them. This is especially important if you’re mixing different tiles to create a pattern.

Best practice is generally deemed to start laying from the centre of the room (which you can identify by measuring both walls and calculating the location, or by running a string or chalk line diagonally between each corner). That means that any cut or uneven tiles will appear at the edge of the room and create a symmetrical effect.

That won’t always be the best approach, however. The example corridor pictured here was just under a metre wide, so it was less work (and more likely to look neat) by starting in one corner and working out. Either way, however, you should lay tiles one at a time until you’ve filled the area. Fit them together as tightly as possible; you don’t want any gaps.

Unless your room has precise dimensions, you’ll end up having to cut some tiles to fit. You can do this using a sharp Stanley-style knife and a metal ruler. For simple square edges, work out where to cut by overlapping the tile until it fits, mark the area and then cut. For more complex corners, you may want to trace a paper template using a pencil beforehand.

Fixing your tiles

Basic tiles generally don’t have any built-in method of attachment; you can fix them using either glue or double-sided carpet tape. The picture at the top shows a fairly sloppy application of the latter. (You need approximately two metres for each 50cm by 50cm tile.)

Lift each tile individually, apply the adhesive, then fit tightly back in place. More expensive tiles may be self-adhesive; in that case, remove the paper and stick in place.

If you’ve placed the tiles carefully, they will actually hold in place pretty well without being fixed in place. However, it’s still a good idea to use some form of fixing to prevent someone unexpectedly tripping on them.

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