If you’re searching for flooring that’s cost-effective and easy to install, the answer is at the top of the bottle: cork. While some might think it’s just for wine or champagne, cork has been used in flooring for over 100 years. In fact, famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright included cork in several of his designs.
Many homeowners favor cork for its soundproofing qualities and soft cushiony feel. Cork is a green building material that’s naturally hypoallergenic and mold resistant. It’s one of the best flooring options for allergy sufferers.
Designers and builders use cork floors in homes all over the world. Cork grains are like snowflakes, every piece is unique. If you’re missing that artistic flair in your space, cork floors might be the solution.
The price of cork flooring often depends on the level of quality and length of the warranty. Cork tiles cost between $2 -$5 a square foot. You can find them online, at specialty retailers or your local big box store.
Tiles are available in either stained or natural shades. You can buy unfinished cork for under $2 but will have to seal it after installation. Stained tiles will come with a coat of wax or polyurethane.
Typical thickness ranges between 3mm and 4mm. Thick tiles are pricey, but they are more comfortable to stand on. They’re also better at retaining heat.
You can glue cork tiles with an adhesive or install it as a floating floor. If you choose to adhere the tiles, manufacturers recommend using water-based contact cement. A gallon will cover an area of 120 square feet and costs approximately $45.
To apply adhesive to the tiles, use a trowel or foam roller. Don’t forget to purchase a tapping block or rubber mallet to flatten the seams. You’ll also need a utility knife for cutting around obstacles.
If you make a mistake, use a hand scraper to reposition the tiles. For the best results, lay the tiles out in your preferred pattern before applying glue.
Most installations take 1-2 days depending on the size of your room. It’s a simple project that can be done over a weekend. If you do hire a professional, expect to pay $1 per square foot.
Another option is click lock cork planks. As with tile, planks come in sealed and natural varieties. Cork planks cost between $3 – $5 a square foot.
Widths vary by manufacturer, but planks generally come in 3 to 4-foot lengths. For the best insulation, look for products that are 4mm thick. Since cork can be sanded and refinished, always choose thicker materials for high traffic areas.
Floating floors are an easy DIY project. Most cork planks come with a preassembled tongue and groove system that locks the boards together. Always lay out your flooring and plan for any cuts before starting your install.
Follow your manufacturer’s guide for installation tips and tricks. Cork flooring should not be placed under cabinets or other permanent fixtures. If you’re setting heavy furniture on cork floors, use padding or coasters underneath to prevent dents.
After installation, you must seal your new cork planks. Look for a low VOC water-based sealer or wax made for cork floors. You can purchase a gallon for under $75 at your local home improvement store.
Apply sealer yearly to keep your floors looking new.
Are Cork Floors Cost Effective?
Because cork floors are a natural insulator, they hold heat well. You can even install them over radiant heating systems. They will regulate your home’s temperature and help you save on energy costs.
Cleaning your cork floors is a straightforward process. They require little more than light vacuuming and a damp mop. You can use mild wood floor soap for deeper cleaning but avoid harsh chemical cleansers.
Be sure to wipe up spills quickly as cork floors will stain. Never flood your planks with water, it will damage the cork. Keep your pet’s nails trimmed and avoid dropping sharp objects onto your tiles.
Cork floors will develop imperfections over time, but as long as you maintain them, they’ll look beautiful for years.
Cork flooring is easy to clean. Vacuum before wiping the floor with a damp mop. You could use a mild wood floor soap for a thorough clean, but avoid any cleaners with harsh chemicals or abrasive ingredients.
Clean up any spills as soon as possible to prevent the cork flooring from staining, and don’t let the planks become saturated with water as this will damage your cork flooring.
Do you need underlayment for cork flooring?
Underlayment is not required when laying cork flooring; however, a vapor or moisture barrier is recommended and normally comes in the form of plastic sheeting. This is laid flat on the concrete subfloor before the cork flooring is installed on top, but does not require any special installation.
If you want the extra comfort provided by softer flooring, you can install cork floor underlayment. This is also an option to provide more insulation in colder rooms.
Is cork flooring waterproof?
While cork flooring is not waterproof, it can be water resistant depending on its quality and manufacturing process. Floating floors are less resistant to water regardless of their quality or manufacturing and should not be installed in damp areas such as bathrooms.
To add extra protection against future spills when laying the floor, ensure the seams are sealed and paint unfinished cork flooring with 2 to 3 coats of water-based sealer. If your cork planks are pre-finished, this step is not necessary.
Can I install cork flooring myself?
Cork flooring, especially the floating floor type, is one of the easiest floor covers to install yourself. These planks come with a tongue and groove system, making it easy to lock the pieces together during installation.
Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when laying cork floors, and ensure you have all the right tools on hand before starting the DIY project.
How to install a cork underlayment floating floor
A cork underlayment floating floor is installed similarly to a cork top floor.
Step 1: Clean the subfloor by sweeping it to remove all dirt and debris. Ensure the floor is free of any sharp objects such as nails.
Step 2: Cover the subfloor with a moisture barrier such as polyethylene sheeting. Overlap the sheeting’s seams and tape them to seal them together.
Step 3: Lay the cork underlayment floating floor planks and cut them to fit the room before installing. Always start along the longest wall.
Step 4: Join the planks by clicking them together using the tongue and groove system.
Buying and installing cork floors is an affordable way to update your home. They offer all the benefits of hardwood flooring at a fraction of the cost. Cork is also naturally hypoallergenic and environmentally friendly.
These floors are strong enough to withstand everyday abuse but provide a soft, comfortable surface to stand on. They’re an excellent choice for homes with young children and toddlers. Cork floors won’t harbor dust or allergens, making them safe to play on.
If you’re looking for flooring that’s both practical and trendy, cork floors are a perfect choice.
If you’ve installed cork floors, tell us about it. Did you use the glue down or click lock method?Back to Top