Carpet tiles are the choice for many savvy home owners today who have soured on the cumbersome and finicky nature of traditional broadloom carpets. Sometimes referred to as carpet squares, long used in commercial settings are now becoming a popular choice for residential flooring.
Carpeting has had a long and storied history that dates all the way back to the 3rd millennium BC, nearly 4000 years ago. Found in Siberia, the oldest surviving carpet is thought to have been created in the 5th century BC. Traditionally, carpets were handmade, composed of thousands of knots intricately woven together to form beautiful works of art too valuable to put on the floor and walk on. Sadly, carpet technology remained virtually unchanged for thousands of years.
The 1930’s changed the carpet industry forever. A few entrepreneurs figured out a method of using a machine to make carpets, and almost overnight they were an item that the emerging middle-class could splurge on. It wasn’t until the late 1950’s with the introduction of synthetic fibers that wall-to-wall carpeting in homes become common-place.
More recently, carpet tiles, a concept nearly as old as carpets themselves, have been modernized. Introduced to the US in the late 1980’s, have been a popular choice for offices and other commercial spaces. Today, carpet tiles are available in assorted sizes and virtually as many colors and styles as regular carpeting.
The benefits that carpet tiles have over the more traditional roll of broadloom carpeting is compelling. Savvy homeowners and trendsetting designers have begun to embrace carpet tiles for their numerous advantages.
Logistics – A roll of carpet on average is 12 feet wide and may be up to 150 feet long. At an average weight of 1/2 pound per square foot, a 100 foot long roll of carpet can weigh as much as 600 pounds. So, aside from being an awkward size, they also tend to be heavy often requiring at least two people to carry and a truck to transport. On the other hand, Carpet tiles vary in size but are typically 12″ to 18″ squares with anywhere from 6-12 pieces bundled together. A bundle of carpet tiles is lightweight and compact meaning that just about anyone can carry a bundle or two and can be transported in even the smallest of cars.
Storage – Beyond the basic logistics, there is also storage to consider. A bundle or two of leftover carpet tiles can be discretely stacked in a storage room or closet. Storing a roll of leftover carpet is more of a challenge, regardless of the length a roll of carpet will always be 12 feet wide, too large for most closets and certainly not discreet, not to mention that two people may be needed to move it.
Small Spaces – The standard 12 foot wide roll of carpet is a good choice for wide open spaces, but not ideal for the much smaller spaces common in so many homes and offices. Closets and hallways become a challenge when dealing with an unwieldy roll of carpet. The small size of carpet tiles have the clear advantage here.
Waste – Being small is also an advantage that ensures carpet tiles minimize waste, which ultimately saves money. A roll of carpet doesn’t offer much flexibility in terms of size, with a set width, only the length varies. Of course, 12 foot wide carpet rolls work best in a space that is also 12 feet wide, if the area happens to be only 10 feet wide or is perhaps 14 feet wide, there will be significant waste. Carpet tiles purchased in bundles of 6-12 squares ensures that there will be just enough carpet to finish the job, while the leftover carpet can be significantly reduced. An average flooring project that utilizes carpet tiles may end up with as little as 5% waste.
Design Aesthetics – There is little flexibility in design when using traditional carpeting. The only opportunity for creativity is in choosing the color and length. Carpet tiles, however, provide ample opportunities for creativity. Beyond the obvious color and length, carpet tiles also have the advantage of coming in a variety of sizes. The discreet nature of carpet tiles allows for the use of multiple colors and sizes as well as having the ability to alter the orientation. Creative designers can create unique patterns in the carpet that add highlight to a room as well as creating visual separation between spaces.
Installation – Traditional carpet requires padding, adhesive, and tack strips that require extensive labor in cutting, trimming, gluing, binding and stretching for proper installation, all too often it is a job best left to expensive professionals. Installing carpet tiles is far easier. Tiles are simply laid in place on the floor and trimmed to fit. No special glues or adhesives are required and they won’t damage the underlying floor. Nearly anyone can install carpet tiles which explains their popularity with the DIY crowd.
Repair – If traditional carpet becomes worn or stained there are few solutions. In the past, throw rugs or furniture would be used to cover up the problem areas, eventually requiring the entire carpet to be replaced. When carpet tiles are used, if they become damaged or soiled they are simple to pull up and replace. Soiled tiles can be removed and washed separately without the need for specialized carpet cleaning equipment, and if they are too dirty or damaged, they can be discarded and replaced with new tiles.
Carpet tiles may be as old as the invention of carpets, but were largely forgotten when low cost carpets created through mechanization became standard. The development of modern carpet tiles have been a hit with consumers. The reasons are obvious from logistics, ease of storage, reduced waste, DIY installation, simple repairs, and flexibility in design just to name a few. Today, carpet tiles are fast becoming the preferred choice for a variety of commercial and residential flooring projects.