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Laying Carpet Tiles

Skill Level: Beginner

Introduction

 

Carpet tiles are a very easy and effective means of covering a floor. They can be laid quickly, with very little waste; and recognising their popularity, manufacturers now offer a wide range of patterns and colours, as well as a choice of hardwearing materials from which to choose. Carpet tiles are simply laid on the floor without the use of adhesive ( well, maybe a little bit on one tile only), carpet tacks or gripper rods, and can be lifted up conveniently at any time should you wish access under the floor, or want to rearrange the tiles at intervals in order to allow for equal fading and wear. The method of laying carpet tiles may vary slightly from one manufacturer to another, so always read instructions before starting. Laying carpet tiles is a job that needs a bit of planning, and a bit of care and attention. If you do mess up -hopefully - you’ll only affect one tile; and then you’ll probably use it up somewhere else anyway. But you’ll be using a sharp craft knife quite a bit, so do be careful.

 

Planning – Where to start.

It’s not a good idea to start laying tiles against one wall; chances are that when you do it this way you’ll end up with a thin strip of tile up against the opposite wall. Small strips of tile offer no rigidity or stability, and very soon the whole area will start sliding around, becoming loose under-foot. A hazard!

Marking out.

The first thing to do, after the floor area to be carpeted is cleared, is to establish the position of the first tile you are going to lay. This is done quite easily by marking a line down the centre of the room using a chalked string-line. This is where we shall fix the first tile. The only tile we shall affix with adhesive, to act as our anchor if you like.

Laying whole tiles.

From this “fixed” tile, you will lay all subsequent tiles. You may lay the tiles with the pile running at right angles to each other; this provides an attractive chequer-board effect. If you prefer a more uniform effect, like that of a fitted carpet, keep the pile running in the same direction. The direction of pile is usually indicated by an arrow on the reverse of the tile, as it is not always easy to tell with some shades or in diffused lighting. Use a knee-kicker to push the tiles firmly into each other as lay.

Knee-kickers – Specialist or Homemade

If you have access to a carpet fitter’s knee kicker – great; if you don’t, then no problem; make one yourself. To make an improvised kicker simply follow the steps below;
 
·         Cut a length of 150mmx25mm timber, to approximately 300mm long.
·         Drill a hole through the centre to mid – thickness to accommodate a short length of old broom handle.
·         Nail through the back of the timber into the fitted broom handle piece.
·         Finally, hammer 4 or 5 nails through the board so they project through 2-3mm. These will grip the tile, allowing you to use the handle and push firmly into the tiles-pushing them hard up against each other.

Laying cut tiles

When you’ve laid out all the whole tiles it’s just a question of filling in the  borders. Use a tape measure and accurately mark your cut lines on the back of the tile. Alternatively, mark your cut line on the face of the tile by cutting small nicks on the edges of the tile, then, in both cases, turn the tile over and place a steel straight edge from nick to nick, and carefully score along the marked lines a couple of times using a sharp craft knife. An easy way of measuring the tiles for the edge of the room is to use two whole tiles. One that will be cut to size and another one as a “helper”. Put both tiles on top of the end tile; the “helper” above the one that will be cut. Ensure that the middle tile is exactly on top of the edge tile and in the same position. Carefully slide the “helper” forward until it meets the wall. With the felt tip pen, make a mark on the middle tile (the one you will cut), using the edge of the “helper” as a straight edge.

Door thresholds – Protecting the tile edges

Just to finish the job off properly, and to protect the edges of the tiles from foot traffic (this is also a safety risk) fit a metal threshold protector, the type you’d use if it was fitted carpet.

Tools you will need:
Marksman Retractable Safety Utility Knife - Red
Marksman Retractable Safety Utility Knife - Red
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