Carpet Tile 101

July 1, 2007
Why use carpet tile?

Modular carpet tiles are simply another version of carpet broadloom. The 12-foot broadloom is cut and backed with a vinyl product that is about 0.25-inches thick. This has several advantages for the carpet:

  • It seals the yarns (the fuzzy side you see) into the vinyl. This binds the yarn to the back, making it nearly impossible to unravel and perfect for heavy traffic and commercial uses.
  • It creates a backing system that is much more durable than jute/Action Bac®, which is on most 12-foot goods.

Once the backing system is attached using heated vinyl backing, it is then cooled. Once cooled, it's processed through precise machines that cut it into exact 18- by 18-inch squares (the standard size). Sizes may vary with the manufacturer. Tiles are then inspected and packed into boxes, and then shipped for installation. There are two big differences between installing 12-foot broadloom carpet and modular carpet tiles: the adhesive and the grid system. Carpet tile's adhesive is releasable; once applied, it dries to the touch and will turn tacky only when weight is applied, making it easy to remove and replace. The grid system is a method of installing the tiles using mathematical layouts to keep them squared and perfectly straight. The tiles are laid out with chalk lines on the floor and then glued into place.

How does carpet tile perform?
Carpet tiles serve several functions in the flooring industry. They are user-friendly - most people can handle them with little difficulty. Modular carpet tiles also perform a unique function for commercial use: The backing system is created to take more abuse than normal. Due to the convenient size of the tile, it can be used efficiently in areas that need renovation. They are useful in covering "in-floor" trenches used to house cables and wiring, and in temporary settings, where they need to go down easily for a time and then be removed and used again. Water resistance in carpet tile is very high. Because of the solid vinyl back, water can (and will) channel around the tile, never penetrating into the backing; rather, water remains on just the surface where it can be easily extracted. Carpet tiles can be totally flooded with water, taken up, rinsed off, dried, and reinstalled with a good degree of satisfaction.

Who can use carpet tile?
Small, medium, and large businesses all can use this product. Carpet tiles offer beautiful borders and insets with no hassle. You can be very creative with color and patterns, borders, and even logos. In any place prone to soiling and staining, you can just remove a tile and replace it when necessary.

Size availability makes the quantity of modular carpet tile needed for an installation easy to calculate. Today's choices allow end-users myriad design opportunities, from a more standard aesthetic to one that is uniquely customized (using non-directional tiles or a variety of different tiles in the same flooring installation).

Atlanta Flooring Design Centers, Duluth, GA, offers expertise and insight on various flooring materials, including the adapted and excerpted information in this column. For more information, visit (

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