Should Carpet Tiles Be Glued Down?

Using traditional bulky rolls of carpet, covering the floors in your room or home can be a job much too big for the average do-it-yourselfer, but that doesn't necessarily mean that carpeting a room or a home has to be a job for a professional. Carpet tiles are a lightweight alternative to carpet, made for easy installation and cut into easy to carry square sections. Choosing the right floor adhesive for your project can seem like a formidable task. Not to worry, we have researched to help you navigate the ins and outs of carpet tile adhesives, making your project as seamless as possible.

Most carpet tiles should be secured with adhesive to prevent movement when being walked on. Different types of carpet tiles require different adhesives; some may already come with an adhesive backing. Whether manually spreading glue or using peel-and-stick tile, the right adhesive can be the key to a successful, long-lasting floor covering. Types of adhesives to use with carpet tiles include:

  • flooring adhesive plaster
  • peel-and-stick adhesive
  • double-sided carpet tape

In addition to what adhesive can be used with each type of carpet tile, you may find several other related questions that may pop up throughout the course of your project. What glue should be used for my carpet tiles? Can my carpet tiles be glued to a concrete subfloor? Can carpet tile be glued over old glue? How long will it take to install carpet tiles? Please keep reading for all the answers you'll need!

Male worker in overalls rolling carpet on floor at home, Should Carpet Tiles Be Glued Down?

What glue is used for carpet tiles?

Flooring adhesive plaster

Using a strong adhesive ensures that your carpet tile will remain in place, preventing accidental slips and trips from lifting corners or moving tiles. Arguably the strongest bond for your carpet tiles, flooring adhesive plaster, consists of a pressure-sensitive adhesive glue to seal the carpet tile to the subflooring. Flooring adhesive plaster is durable enough for residential or commercial use. Flooring adhesive plaster will bond with concrete, APA rated plywood, or terrazzo.

For details on this flooring adhesive, see this product on Amazon.

Some experts recommend manually spreading the adhesive on the back of the tile using a paint roller; others favor spreading the adhesive on the subfloor using a notched trowel. Most sources suggest waiting about 20-minutes or until adhesive is tacky before placing the carpet tile onto the floor. While there may be conflicting opinions on where to apply the adhesive and how, it is agreed that this adhesive, once dried, is waterproof and durable.

One disadvantage of flooring adhesive plaster is the mess and cleanup associated. There may be some excess adhesive plaster around your carpet tiles that requires a quick cleanup. Excess adhesive should be minimal, and if the tile moves when placed on the subfloor, the adhesive layer may be too thick. Flooring adhesive plaster may be difficult to remove when prepping to replace carpet tile. A scraper using a razor may be required to scrape the old adhesive from the subflooring.

For more details on this razor blade scraper, see this product on Amazon.

Several types of flooring adhesive removers are available, similar to the one pictured below, that can make the cleanup of flooring adhesive a breeze. However, these products should not be used on concrete to remove old adhesive if a new adhesive is to be used, as it can remain in the concrete and cause the new adhesive to fail. 

For more details on this adhesive remover, see this product on Amazon.

Peel-and-stick adhesive

Want to avoid the mess of plaster adhesive altogether? As the name suggests, Peel-and-stick tiles have an adhesive backing ready to stick directly to your clean subfloor. After peeling the paper backing from the carpet tiles, just place each in place with the exposed adhesive on the back. You may want to avoid the use of peel-and-stick adhesive in high moisture areas, however, as the adhesive may fail and carpet tiles may pull up. In dry conditions, the adhesion strips or dots used on peel-and-stick carpet tiles are quite durable.

For details on these self-adhesive carpet tiles, see this product on Amazon.

Double-sided carpet tape

For another alternative to messy manually spread glue, consider using double-sided carpet tape on your glue-down carpet tiles. This double-sided carpet tape offers a strong, long-lasting bond between your carpet tiles and subflooring. While this double-sided carpet tape can be a convenient alternative to flooring adhesive plaster, covering large areas with carpet tiles and double-sided carpet tape could be time-consuming and tedious. 

For details on this double-sided carpet tape, see this product on Amazon.

Can Carpet Be Glued To Concrete?

Concrete, once cleaned and dried thoroughly, makes a great subfloor for carpet tiles. Some sources suggest looking for a carpet tile with a permeable backing to allow for the evaporation of moisture from the concrete subflooring. The flooring adhesive plaster that we discussed earlier specifically states that it is compatible with concrete surfaces. 

Can You Glue Carpet Over Old Glue?

Old glue should be scraped down as level as possible by hand, using a scraper tool like the one discussed and pictured above. There will probably be some adhesive residue that will remain after scraping. Using boiling water, pour over the old adhesive, and let sit for about 10-seconds to soften before you re-scrape. If this method doesn't work, consider a steam cleaner directly over the adhesive. If this still doesn't take off the old adhesive, a reciprocating saw with a scraper attachment should do the job. 

Carpet tiles may also be placed over an area with old glue after a few steps to prepare the residue to accept new adhesive. Adhesive residue should be treated with a skim coat before applying new adhesive over the old to prevent the new adhesive from failing. There are different types of skim coats based on whether your old adhesive is water-soluble or non-water-soluble. Some old adhesives (usually prior to 1983) also contain asbestos, so ensure and thoroughly research your old adhesive before sweeping, sanding or skim coating. If your old flooring was placed before 1980, make sure and call an asbestos professional to remove the old flooring. 

How Long Does It Take To Install Carpet Tiles?

An average-sized room takes less than a day to install carpet tiles if subflooring is already cleaned and prepared properly. Some professionals can do it in a few hours if your room is normal square-shaped. For rooms with distinctive architecture or uniquely shaped rooms, more time may be required. Make sure to check out "The Best Type of Carpet for the Bedroom" to find other tips for carpeting a room.

Final words

Male Worker In Overalls Rolling Carpet On Floor At Home, Should Carpet Tiles Be Glued Down?

Recarpeting your space is a good way to give a room an updated look. Carpet tiles offer an easier alternative to traditional bulky rolls of carpet and can make the job much more efficient. Whether you leave the project to the professionals or decide to tackle it yourself, as with any project, planning is key. By making decisions based on the information we have discussed, we hope to make your carpet tile project go as seamlessly as possible.

Before you go, here are some other articles that may be of interest to you:

Can Bedrooms Have Different Flooring?

How Long Does Carpet Last?

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