The Carpet Buyers Handbook — Carpet Tile

The Carpet Buyers Handbook - Carpet Tile

Carpet Tile

By Michael Hilton

Carpet Tile, also called modular tile or carpet squares, has traditionally been a commercial floor tile installation, but a number of residential carpet tile manufacturers have begun to market products aimed at the consumer. The market share of carpet tile has grown significantly (some estimate 20-30%) over the past few years.

Carpet tile is a popular carpet installation for airports, schools, and other heavy traffic areas, but because of the ease of installation, carpet tile is becoming a popular choice for consumers. The principal idea behind the installation of carpet tile is high traffic areas can be replaced with tiles from lower traffic areas and the appearance level of the facility is easier to maintain at a higher level of acceptability. Stained or damaged tiles can be replaced with fresh tiles. The continuous movement of carpet tiles helps maintain a higher appearance level over a longer time period and the installation «wears» more evenly. This does eliminate the need for a regular carpet care and carpet cleaning program, however.

Historically, Carpet tile has been priced somewhat higher than broadloom carpet, so consumers have steered clear of these higher priced goods. Also, while seams are rarely invisible, even in broadloom installations, carpet tile seams are highly visible, since each 18-inch tile is an individual section. While some carpet tile styles do hide seams (though not technically «seams») very well, the buyer should anticipate being able to identify the distinctiveness of each tile. Larger tiles 36-inch by 36-inch (Milliken, Interface, C & A Floorcovering, and Shaw Industries, Mohawk Carpet) limit the number of visible seams, but you should never expect the tiles to appear homogeneous, or as one piece as broadloom carpet would appear.

The visibility of seams can actually be a benefit, if the building owner utilizes a carpet tile installation pattern, this accentuates each tile, rather than attempting to «hide» the tile edges. In quarter turning each tile and quarter turning the manufactured pile direction, each tile will appear to be a slightly different color. This creates a checker board effect that can’t be reproduced with a broadloom installation.

Types of Carpet Tile

As a consumer buying carpet tile, you may encounter a variety of tile sizes (18-inch, 36-inch and even 6-ft), fiber types, pile style types (cut-pile, loop pile), manufacturing types (tufted, needle punch) and adhesive types, but the primary difference in carpet tiles is the backing type.

You may encounter fiberglass, vinyl-back, urethane back, recycled vinyl back, vinyl with fiberglass, woven polypropylene, and others. Regardless of the backing type it is important to obtain a warranty from the manufacturer to ensure the tiles do not shrink, curl or buckle. A beautiful carpet tile installation in which the edges begin to lift, becoming a trip hazard or eyesore, is a waste of your financial resources. At $20-$30 per yard for some high end commercial tiles, this can dig into your savings account rather quickly, if the installation fails.

The Carpet Buyers Handbook - Carpet Tile

Edge curl, or tile lifting, off-sets one of the primary benefits of carpet tile — low life-cycle costs by extending the life of the installation. Dimensional stability of the tiles is among the most critical choices in selecting carpet tile.

It is difficult to rank carpet tile in order of backing type (most preferred to least preferred), because individual manufacturers may have a better grasp on engineering a particular backing type than others. Both fiberglass and vinyl (and combination of the two) appear to be the better choices for heavy traffic commercial environments.

About the Author

Michael Hilton was the original creator of Carpet Buyers Handbook. Having owned and operated a carpet wholesale company, Hilton has a vast knowledge about all-things carpet related as well as other types of flooring.


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