Unbiased Guide to Carpet Tiles

Cheap carpet tiles are fun, easy, and can be a long-lasting flooring depending on the room and the tiles you choose.

I’ve covered how to buy carpet in-depth, but carpet tiles are a unique floor. I’d still recommend browsing the carpet guide to learn what makes a carpet durable and it gives some shopping tips, but this guide will focus on only the tiles.

There are many things you might want to know:

Let’s get started…

Captain’s notice! Some places in this article I link to carpet tiles, and I can earn a small commission through these links. This doesn’t impact what I recommend or what you pay, but I do appreciate the support!

Pros and cons of carpet tiles

Carpet tiles give many of the same advantages of standard wall-to-wall carpet. However, being sold in individual tiles gives carpet tiles unique pros and cons. Let cover both the advantages and disadvantages of tiles:

Advantages of carpet tiles

  • easy to DIY or lower installation costs: square tiles that stick to the ground are easier to install than any floor (except maybe rubber flooring)
  • messes and damage don’t matter much because you can pluck out and replace individual tiles
  • insulation of sound and warmth, especially with padding attached
  • softer underfoot than most flooring options
  • individual squares let you be more creative than any flooring (I’ve seen people draw pictures in their floor with tiles!)

More on these advantages will be covered throughout this article, but basically, I carpet tiles are a stress-free floor that’s easy to install and inexpensive to replace. Maybe, my favorite thing about carpet tiles is how creative you can get with them. People do some much cooler things with carpet tiles than I could do myself. You can check out Pinterest for some examples.

Sounds great, so what about the drawbacks?

Disadvantages of carpet tiles

  • can have a sterile or corporate look: carpet tiles used to only be found in commercial buildings. now, new designs and creativity have led to some of the most fun floor being designed with carpet tile
  • tiles go together well but can’t mimic the plush “one-piece” look of regular carpet
  • usually durable, but some tiles will fray at the edges and/or buckle
  • can have padding but not as cushioned as carpet

All floors have their disadvantages, and I think the worst with carpet tiles is their unique look (although this can also be an advantage). They are kind of like a carpet and hard floor hybrid. This brings me to my next points, let’s compare carpet tiles vs a few other similar floors.

Carpet tiles vs wall-to-wall carpet

Carpet tiles and wall to wall carpet are made with the same materials but have more differences than you’d expect. Carpet tiles tend to be better for creative DIY’ers, while wall to wall carpet gives a more traditional and uniform look. Let’s dive into the differences a little more:

Wall to wall is clearly more popular. At least for homes.

Much of the advantages and disadvantages of tiles vs wall to wall are covered in the pros and cons, but let’s recap a few things:

You might want carpet tiles if you want to DIY. Wall to wall carpet isn’t an option for DIY; it’s actually one of the most difficult, if not the most difficult, floors to install. Carpet tiles, on the other hand, are much easier.

Carpet tiles also are better if you feel you might spill red wine, have a kid or animal vomit, indoor-outdoor rooms, or other places where you feel carpet may be damaged. It’s much easier to replace a tile of carpet than it is a room of carpet.

Finally, if you’re creative, carpet tiles are the way to go. You can essentially draw carpet designs with your tiles, and the options are endless.

You might want wall to wall carpet if you don’t like the “disconnected” look of carpet tiles. Also, most carpet tiles have a short pile, which can look a little more commercial.

Another advantage of wall to wall is it’s softer. You can have thicker, better pad under carpet than you can carpet tiles.

Cost varies so much on both floors you can’t really say which is more expensive, but I’d say in general you might spend a little more for tiles. This is usually made up for with installation and no need for pad.

Carpet tiles vs laminate or luxury vinyl

Outside of carpet, laminate and luxury vinyl are the closest competitors to carpet tiles. The reason is both are fairly easy DIY floors, come in tiles (or planks), and are around the same price range.

Laminate and luxury vinyl have the advantage of being a little more sterile. Both floors can be clean or dirty depending on how you take care of them, but purely hard surface floors like laminate are easy to mop up daily, whereas liquid and debris can be more difficult to remove from carpet tiles.

Carpet tiles still have the creativity advantage with their unique styles. They’re also softer, reduce room noise, and insulate better than laminate or luxury.

What about in rooms with high moisture? Luxury vinyl > carpet tiles > laminate in most cases. Vinyl is the best. Carpet can mold or mildew. Laminate has become better, but historically it buckles easily with high moisture.

How to install carpet tiles (how they work)

So how do carpet tiles work?

It’s pretty simple (so simple you can even buy them on Amazon!):

  1. Start at the center of the room.
  2. Peel the backing off each tile (one at a time) and it will expose adhesive.
  3. Stick tiles to the floor until it is covered

Okay, there’s a little more detail than that. But that’s really all there is to it. If you’re looking for step-by-step instructions on how to install carpet tiles, check out our carpet tile installation guide.

Where to buy carpet tiles

Carpet tiles are one of the easiest floors to buy.

Why? The biggest challenge buying flooring is knowing how much to buy, and then installing it.

Carpet tiles usually come in box sets, so you just need to know how many boxes to buy. It’s not difficult, and I explain how in the next section.

So where should you buy?

Anywhere you want.

Want to go to your local store? They’ll likely have carpet tiles. Want to go to Home Depot, Lowe’s, or Menards? They’ll have them.

What about online? I often don’t recommend online for flooring, but for carpet tiles, you can simply enter your square footage and the online stores know exactly how many tiles to send you. It’s as easy as buying shoes. Even Amazon has a good selection of carpet tiles (click here to check it out!)

How many carpet tiles do I need to buy?

Good news:

This is one of the few types of flooring where you can simply measure the square footage of your room, and when you purchase, there will be an area to enter your room square footage. The website will automatically calculate the perfect number of boxes for your job.

If you buy in store, there obviously won’t be an automatic calculator, but the store help will likely calculate the amount for you.

If you want to do it yourself, it’s pretty simple:

  1. Measure the length of the room and the width of the room.
  2. Multiply these two numbers (length x width) in a calculator.
  3. Take the number you just calculated and multiply it by 1.1.
  4. Now, you have the amount of square feet you need.
  5. Next, figure out how many square feet come in a box (usually carpet tiles are sold by the box not the individual tile. If it is sold by the tile, calculate the square footage of the tile–length x width)
  6. Finally, take the ‘square footage you need’ and divide it by the ‘square footage per box’. This is how many boxes you need. Round up.

Other frequently asked questions on carpet tiles

This list of questions will be a work in progress as I see what questions you have (feel free to leave comments below).

For now, here are some common questions for carpet tiles:

Do carpet tiles need underlayment? what are underlyament options?

Carpet tiles don’t need underlayment. They can, and usually are, directly applied to the floor surface.

But if you want extra softness, insulation, and warmth, there are carpet tiles that come with underlayment attached. These are less common but aren’t difficult to find.

Captain’s warning! You can’t add your own pad under carpet tiles even if you love extra cushion. Since carpet tiles are individual pieces, they need more support.

Are carpet tiles good for basements?

The short answer is yes. Carpet tiles are a great option for a basement. In fact, I think it’s one of the best areas to use carpet tiles. Basements are informal enough to allow you to have fun with your flooring, and carpet tiles allow for unique designs that you don’t get a formal floor like hardwood. Carpet tiles also have the ability to easily be replaced, making it great for a basement where you may have spills or water damage.

The disadvantage of carpet tiles in basements is they are still carpet, so moisture can be an issue. There are a few solutions to this:

  1. Some have backings to block moisture
  2. If you choose a synthetic carpet fiber (nylon, olefin, or polyester), they resist mildew, and carpet tiles don’t have padding to worry about.
  3. If there is damage, they can be replaced individually

Time to design your basement? Check out Amazon’s huge selection of carpet tiles and see the cool designs you can come up with! I’ve seen people get really creative… even using different colored tiles to draw pictures (like their favorite team logo) in their basement floor!

Are Berber carpet tiles preferred?

The short answer is no. Berber is a type of weave (known for it’s loops) that gives the carpet its style. If you like the style, go for it. But just know that buying Berber tiles doesn’t make the carpet more durable. If you want to read more, you can on our page on Berber carpet pros and cons.

Captain’s parting words!

Hopefully this gave you what you needed to know about carpet tiles.

I think it’s one of the most fun DIY flooring projects. And it’s one of the easier flooring projects to undertake.

Any questions on carpet tiles? Let me know in the comments below.

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Chris
11 months ago

Hi Captain, do you have any suggestions for tiles that will go in a home theater room? NRC seems like it’s important, but I also get the impression that most denser carpet tiles with good backing should do the trick even if not listing an NRC rating. This will be in a basement, so no concerns about sound isolation on the floor, just absorption to improve sound quality and reduce echos. Are there any brands with good backing/built in padding that you recommend?

Taylor Anderson
1 year ago

It’s cool that carpet tiles can be more easily replaced if damaged. My room has some really old flooring, so I’ve been thinking of replacing it. Thanks for pointing out the pros and cons of carpet tiles.
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