How to Install Carpet Tiles

We have covered the uses of carpet tiles in a previous article (read it here) so now we thought it might be useful to provide some tips on how to lay carpet tiles successfully.

Laying carpet tiles isn’t easy, or is it hard; I’d give it a moderate difficulty rating. However once you know what you are doing (and if you are prepared with the right tools etc) then it will go a lot smoother. You also have the benefit of the fact if you do make a mistake, you will typically have a few (if not more) tiles spare to correct any mistakes, a luxury that you do not have with a carpet.

Before you begin

First of all you are going to need a few things to help in laying the tiles including;

  • A carpet knife or Stanley knife and several new blades; ideal for cutting the tiles – a pair of heavy duty sharp scissors can be useful as well, but not a necessity.
  • A carpenter’s square; if you aren’t sure it’s an L shaped tool used for plotting and measuring right angles. A good size is about 24 inches, though you can get by with a smaller one.
  • A tape measure; for measuring, fairly obvious really.
  • A chalk line for marking out straight lines; other options could include pencils etc.
  • Carpet tile adhesive or carpet tape (though adhesive is much more ideal).
  • Carpet Tiles; don’t forget these or you won’t get far. Make sure you have the right amount of tiles for the room you are going to carpet. Many carpet tile retailers have online carpet tile calculators to help you figure out how many you will need, though a few extras won’t be a bad idea in case of any accidents, issues or mistakes.


It is very advisable to allow any carpet tiles to acclimate to the room. The easiest way is to just leave them in the room overnight, before you are going to lay them.

Please note that these instructions are for a basic wall-to-wall installation without any patterns. If you plan to work a pattern into your flooring, you will need to map it out.

Prepare the floor! This means clean it and remove and bits of dirt or debris. A clean flat surface is very important, nothing worse than finding a lump under one of your tiles such as a carpet tack or nil that hasn’t been cleared away. Try to ensure the floor is as level as possible as well; it will make your life a lot easier. Most carpet tiles can be installed on top of subfloors or hard flooring, but not on top of other carpet; ensure you check the instructions or packaging to make see if there are any incompatibility issues with the tiles you have purchased and your flooring type.

Locate the center of the floor. The best way to do this is to use a chalk line. Pull the chalk line from one corner of the room to the corner diagonal from it and snap the line; then do the same for the other two corners. This should leave you with an x pattern of sorts across the floor, depending on the shape of the room. After this find the centre of two of the opposing wall (measure each out with a tape measure) and then draw a chalk line between them, and then finally repeat this for the last two opposite walls. You should end up with 4 lines running across the room with a definitive centre point.

If you are using carpet tape you will need to apply the carpet tape around the perimeter of the room and over the chalk lines you created earlier. You might want to set the tape slightly askew from the lines to make sure you can still see your center point. Do not remove the paper backing until you place the tiles on the floor and are sure you like where they wind up, see the next steps below first.

If you are using carpet tile adhesive then you will want to lay the tiles out first to see how they will fit, then apply the adhesive and affix the tiles into position, see the next steps below first.

Some carpet tiles come with their own adhesive “dots”. If you have these, you won’t need carpet tape or tile adhesive. To use these dots, check the instructions that come with the tiles. Ensure you do not use the adhesive until following the steps below first.

Laying the carpet tiles

Place carpet tiles along the chalk lines running from centre wall to centre wall. You will actually lay the tiles next to the lines, not on top of them. Make sure the tiles fit snugly together.

You need to ensure the pattern (or nap) of the tiles is all going in the same direction. Many brands of carpet tiles have arrows on the back to help with this you; if this is the case ensure the arrows all point in the same direction. If you don’t have arrows on them, it may be advisable to add some of your own to the back, to help mark the right direction to lay them facing.

To cut the tiles to fit at the edges, first place a tile face down under the last whole tile in the row and lay it tight against the wall, then mark the back of the tile where the previous tile ends on it. Cut the new tile with a carpet knife using the carpenter’s square to ensure a straight edge. It is usually best to cut the tile with several swipes of the knife, rather than trying to cut through it all at once. Place the cut tile on the floor and then repeat with the other three points of the lines.

Make sure you like where the tiles are. If you like the tile placement, remove the paper backing from the carpet tape under the tiles and stick them in place. If you are using adhesive, now is the time to apply the adhesive and affix them in place.

You should now have a cross of tiles from edge to edge of the floor. From this point begin filling in the four sections created by the carpet tiles you have already laid. Work from the center of the room to the corners. Use the same process as before to cut tiles for the edges. When you are happy with each row, use the tape or adhesive as necessary.

Before long you will have your new and perfectly tiled flooring in place. Step back and admire your work. It is best to leave the tiles for at least a day to allow them to settle and the adhesive to dry. Give it 24 hours to be sure and then the flooring should be fine to move in any furniture etc.