Laying Carpet or Carpet Tiles on Concrete?

Updated on November 19, 2012
E.E. asks from Miami, FL
9 answers

Our house is old and I have noticed that our tiles and carpet are on concrete. And it is a one story. Would this be the slab? Anyway we are having to pull up the existing old carpet and put new carpet down. Question is can we just stick carpet tiles on concrete? I would like to have some insulation and cushioning under. Does there need to be some type of protective barrier? Has anyone done this themselves? Or does anyone have a family/friend that does this professionally and would be able to explain what is needed to do this. Same with regular carpet if we choose to do that....does there need to be a protective barrier between the concrete and the cushion under the actual carpet? Will I need to lay some type of plywood on the concrete? Eeek Maybe I am in over my head. We are trying to save money.

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answers from Los Angeles on

putting carpet directly onto sub floor, especially concrete slab is a commercial application. Its called direct glue down. You can do it in a residence, but its not done because its not comfortable. Residential broadloom carpets should be laid on carpet pad and its for comfort. Tile is laid on thin set directly on sub floor. Carpet tiles are another story. They are vinyl backed and designed to go directly on sub floor. They are for commercial use. Carpet tiles were designed so that office cubical systems would not have to be disassembled and you could replace high traffic areas without disrupting the whole business. Often electrical runs under a raised floor in a commercial building and carpet tiles allow electrical access for each cubical. One person recommended a concrete sealer and in addition, for residential, I'd use a carpet pad, which is for cushion not a moisture barrier. Carpet pads come in a variety of thicknesses. As an interior designer, I have never seen residential carpet tiles, and i hope I never do.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I'm a licensed GC. Yes, the concrete is the slab. No, you do not need to waterproof or otherwise do anything under the carpet/padding. All you need to do is make sure the floor is clean. Pull up the old carpet and padding, vacuum, mop, and then you're all set to install whatever kind of carpet you like on top of that. It can go directly down on top of the concrete slab.

If you are using carpet tile, do not put padding underneath. It is not meant to do that, and will not stick properly. The carpet tiles are very easy to install (get the peel and stick kind; the kind where you have to use a bucket of glue is not for a novice!). You do need to make sure you find the center of the room and make sure you are laying them in a straight line (the box comes with instructions on how to do this; follow them carefully).

What you may be getting confused, or have seen on home improvement shows on TV, is that when you install WOOD floors, then you do have to have some kind of underlayment/waterproofing underneath. Carpet just goes directly on top of the slab (if it's carpet tile) or the padding goes directly on top of the slab, and then the carpet over that (for wall-to-wall carpet).

Good luck with your project!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I think you are saving on the wrong end. Carpet tiles will almost always considerably lower your home's resale appeal/value. I would NOT do it. While it may save you a few bucks, it looks cheap as well. I have never seen a good looking floor with carpet tiles.
I agree with having a professional install your carpet. You can save by removing and disposing your old carpet yourself, as well as pulling and later replacing the baseboards. We just did this a few months ago and it was a few days of work + $40 at the dump.
The big home improvement stores usually offer a very decent rate for installation if you buy the carpet and pad there.
Get a few estimates and compare...

You tube has a bunch of DIY videos to learn how to do it too...

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Yes, that would be a concrete slab, sub-floor.

If the concrete is cleaned properly and it is dust free and free of any glue or whatnot, then you can put new carpet down. Carpet tiles. Just make sure the concrete surface is clean and prepped properly.
It is typically glued down.
If you want carpet pad under it, then you'd need to decide what type and what thickness and consider your baseboards? Because if you have baseboards and you are laying down carpet, the baseboards will probably need to be removed, in order to get the carpet up to the edge flush to it. Or, maybe the carpet just butted up against the baseboards. But then, depending on the pile height of the carpet, the baseboards and its height, would change too.
Many details to consider.

Have a professional do it.
Places like Home Depot etc., sells products and have subcontractors to install it too. For example.
And get estimates from a few installers.

If, there is any dampness or water under or on your concrete sub-floor, then you would not want to lay anything on that, until you solve that dampness first.

The advantage with carpet TILES is that, it is easily replaced, if one gets damaged, you can just put in another carpet tile. So, therefore, if you buy carpet tile, be SURE to buy extras too... for future replacement if need be.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

My office has carpet tiles directly glued to a concrete slab. The nice thing about the carpet tiles is if an area of the carpet becomes damaged, it's very easy to replace.

I recommend you go to a flooring professional in your area and ask questions about the type of flooring that would best suit your needs, life style, and budget and what would work best in your climate.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

My parents own a retail flooring company. I literally grew up in this world and am VERY particular about my flooring...

Carpet tiles come with an adhesive on the back (like a Post-It note). We have them in our basement. They are amazingly easy to install and have a built-in pad. You just stick them directly to the concrete floor. Having said that, they are pricey. The convenience of them is clear... if part of the carpeting gets ruined, you pull it up and replace it. You don't have to hire someone to come do it, no steam cleaning and no "repairs". YOU DO NOT ADD GLUE. My husband installed them in the playroom.

If you are going to install carpeting, you would need to put down padding and I would suggest having it installed. It's not hard, but it's also not as easy as it looks. If you need any seam work done and you do it incorrectly, your floor will look like a poorly assembled puzzle. Your concrets IS your subfloor, so no need to put plywood down.

If you are trying to save money, go with a small retail flooring company. In the long-run it will save you $$ because they can and will work with you on the price. A box store will not make minor repairs, but a retailer will. Don't like the seam? Lowe's isn't going to come back and make it perfect... my parents will. Want to look at a few remnants because it's a small space and that would work? Lowe's binds theirs and sells them as area rugs... my dad has a warehouse of remnants at a fractional cost.

You aren't far from my parents (Oakland Park), so PM me if you would like their business info.

For those of you who haven't seen a good looking room with carpet tiles... well, you haven't seen a home with RESIDENTIAL tiles. They are completely different than commercial tiles. If installed correctly, they are beautiful and soft!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

My husband is an architect and we installed carpet tiles in one bedroom. It looks great!! Now he special ordered the tiles, so I am sure they are a high quality possibly even commercial grade.

They stuck to the floor with circular dots on the corners...straight on the concrete (which we cleaned very well prior to installation).

Listen to Krista P. She really knows her stuff!!



answers from St. Louis on

We have wall to wall carpet in our basement and it's just fine. There was nothing laid under it except for the padding. We did have a problem one year when a pipe leaked and we had to have the carpet pulled to dry out the floor. The carpet was mildewy at that point so we had to replace it, which we did, and we haven't had problems since (knock on wood!) Good luck!



answers from Portland on

You cannot put a pad or barrier under carpet tiles. They have to be glued directly onto the concrete. You could seal the concrete by painting a sealer over it. I've not done that. I've applied vinyl tiles to painted concrete successfully.

I've also had carpet professionally installed. They did not remove the baseboards. They have a device that slams the carpet into the baseboard so that it fits tightly.

I have also bought a carpet remnant that was nearly the same size as the concrete floor and layed it on top of a pad. I didn't paint or seal the floor. This worked OK tho it did move some. I didn't have the edges bound and so it didn't look the best but it was very serviceable.

I, too, suggest that you talk with the people at a home improvement store. You may find that having the carpet you buy there professionally installed to be very reasonable in price. The home improvement people will be glad to answer your questions about how to install it yourself if you decide to go that way.

Next question: Is There a Subfloor That Can Be Added Under Tile to Make It More Comfortable?