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Would you like to lay your own vinyl or carpet floor tiles with ease? Follow this tutorial step-by-step, and you could have a new floor in the space of a few hours.
Vinyl and carpet floor tiles can be quite easy to lay. Which one you choose depends on the floor space you want to cover, and the use of the area. You can get a wide selection of both types of tiles, and the costs between the two are negligible, as how much you pay will depend on the style and quality you need.
When it comes to laying the tiles, this job is much easier than taking on a roll of carpet or linoleum. From personal experience, I can assure you that if you’re a DIY beginner, tiles are much easier to handle than large rolls.
Tools & Materials
- Double-sided tape (for carpet tiles)
- Steel ruler
- Knee pads or kneeling pads
- Tape measure
- Rolling pin (for vinyl floor tiles)
- Trimming knife
- Cutting board
- Protective goggles
- Profile gauge (or if you’re experienced – cardboard)
- Small hacksaw
- Screwdriver -- for screwing in threshold strip
- Cartridge gun for adhesive – if you can’t screw in threshold strip
- Carpet tiles or vinyl tiles
- Adhesive spray
- Double-sided tape (for carpet tiles)
- Threshold strip
- Adhesive cartridges or screws, depending on fixing method for strip)
- Optional – pipe roses and floor edgings (or) fillers
Tips To Know Before You Buy
- According to Wickes, carpet tiles don’t generally need adhesive. Using double-sided tape every three rows or so is sufficient.
- Remove all previous floor coverings before laying vinyl or carpet tiles.
- Acclimatise tiles in the room they’re going to be laid for 24 hours before laying them.
- Warehouses are cold and expanding tiles only work in your favour before they’ve been secured.
- Don’t be in a hurry to lay tiles. Dry-laying is a great way to see potential problems in sizing, patterns and so on before they occur.
- Concrete floors can accommodate tiles directly, providing they’re clean and dust-free. The YouTube video below has a lot of good advice when it comes to preparing your tiles and space.
- Tiles are not suitable for hot rooms like conservatories, as they can fade and/or shrink.
- Before you pay for your tiles, check that they’re all the same batch number!
Pro Tip: Tiles are easier to replace if they’re stained, which is one of the reasons office blocks and HMOs (house in multiple occupation) use them instead of rolls of vinyl or carpet. Remember to buy a few extra ones to keep for this purpose.
Measure Your Room
You clearly already have a ‘look’ in mind, and I’m sure you know exactly what colour tiles you want and what the quality should be like. You’ve also made sure that the tiles you picked are suitable for the area you’ll lay them in. However, before you start work, you’ll want to know how many tiles to purchase. This will never be a precise science. Nevertheless, you can use the following directions to estimate:
- Measure the width and length of your room, then multiply these figures. Now you have your room area.
- Tiles can vary in measurement, so for the next step, you have to know the size of the tile you’re purchasing.
- Now divide the area of the room by the area of one tile and round up to the nearest whole number. Add about 10 tiles to this number (for spoilage) and this is what you should buy.
- Remember to add tiles if you have a bay window, and subtract tiles, if you have a large chimney breast area.
Start Laying Tiles
You can start from anywhere in the room, but for the purpose of this tutorial, we will start in the middle. Make sure all surfaces are clean and dust-free.
Pro Tip: if you’re working with a wooden floor, first secure a thin sheet of plywood to the floor so tiles can be laid soundly and evenly.
1. Mark Up
Using your steel ruler, draw a straight line in the middle of the floor. (For carpet tiles, you will paste the double-sided tape on this line to lay your first row of squares).
Measure the squares (tiles) to determine how many you’ll need to go from one end of the wall to the next.
Example: if you’ll need 5 and a half tiles to go from one end to the other, and each tile is 8 cm long, start laying your first tile 2 cm (half of half a tile) from the wall.
Once you’ve laid your 5 whole tiles, you can fill the extra space on both ends -- later. Ideally, tiles around the edges of your room should be equal in width.
Pro Tip: Do not start laying tiles from the corner of the room (against the wall). If you do this, when you get to the other end of the room you may find that you only have space for a thin strip of tile.
This won’t be aesthetically pleasing. I find that dry-laying the tiles is a great way to make sure your finished job will look perfect.
3. Lay The First Tile
Slowly and carefully remove the backing from the first tile and place in position against the line you drew.
4. Lay The Second Tile
Place the second tile flush against the first, and roll them firmly with a rolling pin. (For vinyl tiles only). This takes out air pockets and ensures you’ve laid the tiles flush against the floor. You won’t need to do this if you’re laying carpet tiles. However, you will have to use double-sided tape for every three rows or so.
Pro Tip: Watch out for that arrow behind carpet tiles. They tell you which direction the tiles should be positioned!
5. Finish the Room
Continue laying rows until you finish the room.
Complete The Edges
1. Measure Edge Space
Carefully measure the space at the edges. If you’re a bit more experienced, you may want to remove the skirting board for a better, neater look. If not, proceed with caution. Make sure you measure a separate tile for each corner of the room – they may be slightly different widths.
Check out this very detailed post. You’ll find lots of help in finishing off your corner tiles.
2. Cut Tiles
Use your metal ruler and trimming knife to cut the tiles on a wooden cutting board. Do not remove the backing until you’ve tried the tile in place to make sure it fits. Use this measurement to cut other tiles until you’ve finished the first side of the room. Dry lay all of them.
Look for a perfect fit and re-lay if necessary. Remove the tile’s adhesive backing only when you’re satisfied.
3. Mark Up Difficult Areas
Use your profile gauge for marking out difficult areas, like around radiator pipes or door architraves. I’ve used cardboard to draw out difficult areas before, but only follow this if you’re experienced. Cardboard is easy to fold and move around, and once you get the shape, the cardboard cut-out is easy to transfer onto your tile.
4. Deal With Pipes
For around pipes, measure out your tile. Measure the distance between the edge of the room and the start of the pipe. Cut a straight line (the same length) on your tile, in the exact position it’ll go. You can then use a coin to cut a circle to allow for the pipe. Dry-lay your tile. This article will help you to properly cut around radiator pipes.
Remember to: keep checking that each tile you lay is flush against the other and that it’s adhered to the floor completely.
5. Fit Doorway Threshold Strip
At the doorway, measure out your chosen threshold strip and cut with a small hacksaw. A hacksaw will cut into metal strip or wooden ones. You’ll most likely have screws provided with your threshold strip, but if not, we can show you how to pick the right screw for the job.
If you can’t use screws, a strong adhesive is fine as well. Please buy threshold strips that suit your chosen flooring.
Now that you’ve laid all your vinyl or carpet floor tiles and attached your threshold strip, you can do two things to finish up your project. Firstly, you can use pipe roses to cover the cut area around the radiator pipes. Follow manufacturers’ directions for these.
Secondly, you can add floor edgings for a neater finish. Personally, I would use floor edgings, as they hide a multitude of DIY imperfections. But not only this, they provide a more professional and neater finish. If you don’t want to use floor edgings, you may want to finish off your work by using filler.
Pro Tip: Microfiber dusting cloths are great for removing fine dust particles from the floor. The hardship is that you’ll have to do this on your hands and knees – but then you have a pair of knee pads to work with, right?
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