Cork floor tiles have been a suitable flooring option for decades. The material is a renewable product that is also warm, quiet, and naturally beautiful. The best part is that you can enjoy the benefits of cork floors with a little preparation and a weekend’s worth of time and patience. Jump below to find out what you will need to install cork floor tiles.
Cork adhesive (check with tile manufacturer for recommendation)
Skinny, low nap rollers
Roller extension rod (for applying the adhesive)
100 lb roller
Small hand roller
I. Plan The Design On Paper
Before you can begin to install cork floor tiles, you will need take measurements of your room and draw a model of the area on paper. Make sure to include any borders or obstacles in the space and don’t forget to account for your flooring pattern. From here, you should be able to estimate the amount of tiles to purchase; Make sure to purchase extra cork floor tiles as this can save you time in the long-run. Remember mistakes do happen, so it won’t hurt to have a few extra tiles just in case. Moreover, you can also use the extra tiles in various arts & crafts projects if you desire.
II. Prepping The Surface
Any flooring material is only as good as the surface on which it is installed, so try not to take shortcuts here. You need to install cork floor tiles on a smooth, flat surface in order for the adhesive to work properly. You should not install them directly onto linoleum, vinyl or plank flooring. Instead get yourself some plywood underlayment and screw it on to your existing floor prior to installing the tiles. In the event that your existing floor is made of concrete, then the cork tiles can be glued directly to it without the need for any underlayment.
For installing underlayment, trim the plywood to your desired size and then screw it to your existing floor. Make sure the product you use it at least a quarter of an inch thick and specifically marked as underlayment.
III. Applying The Adhesive
With your cork floor tiles purchased and the surface area ready for installation, determine the number of tiles you will be using, and apply the adhesive to their backsides a night or two before installation. This will make your life easier as the tile installation will go much smoother. While preglued tiles can be cut once the adhesive dries, if you have a great deal of cutting to do, it is advised that you cut the tiles first and then apply the adhesive to the backside of the pieces.
When applying the adhesive to the floor, aim to separate your area into quadrants using the chalk lines to mark the first tile. Set the lines and then apply the contact cement for your first tile. You should overlap the adhesive by at least an inch beyond the quadrant to simplify the installation process.
When the glue is transparent but still tacky, it’s ready to go. Once you press a tile down, you won’t be able to move it. So be careful and do your best to follow your layout lines precisely. After laying a tile, use a rubber mallet to tap it firmly into place.
Install the next tile by setting it in at a slight angle next to the first tile to ensure a tight fit. Once there are a few tiles firmly in place, the rest will become progressively easier to install because of the existing tiles. At the edges of the room, use a utility knife and straight edge to cut tiles to fit.
If you happen to install a cork floor tile in the wrong place, no worries, just use a firm blade to pry it up. After the tile has come off, reapply the adhesive, let it dry and then try installing again.
Once installed, every hour or so, use the 100 LB. roller to press the cork tiles firmly into place. At the edges of the room, use a utility knife and straight edge to cut tiles to fit. For edges and hard to reach areas, use a hand roller instead of the heavy roller to ensure full adhesion.
Cork floor tiles can be purchased pre-finished but application is simple as well. Finishing your floor tiles is highly recommended as modern urethanes provide great protection against moisture and dirt. Whether waterborne or oil-based polyurethanes, both can add depth and beauty when you install cork floor tiles.
For additional guidance on installing cork floor tiles, check out our videos below.