Cork Tile Flooring, II

Cork tile flooring is one of the most sustainable flooring materials you can use. Strive for a tile product that hasn’t been sealed at the factory because you’ll get better results, based on my experience, if you seal the tile in place once it’s been installed. Choose low VOC glues and sealants for the best air quality you can get.

Cork may seem like a fragile flooring material, but modern cork tile flooring is tough and lasts many years. It’s a natural, renewable resource. Cork tile flooring is warm and gentle on the feet. It’s also quiet, unlike many other flooring materials. With the right surface preparation, a cork tile flooring can be installed in just a weekend.

Natural cork tile flooring (as opposed to floating floor tiles) must be glued to a perfectly flat, smooth surface. That means you can’t install natural cork tile flooring on any uneven surface such as plank flooring, vinyl, or linoleum — anything that has a pattern or obvious joints in it. You will need to screw down a plywood underlayer at least one-quarter inch thick. If you have a concrete floor that is flat and moisture-free, you can install natural cork tile flooring directly onto it, though of course a vapor barrier is recommended. Your flooring supplier may have tips on concrete installations.
If you already have a few layers of old flooring, tear out the old layers and install new underlayment on the subfloor. Cut your underlayment plywood and screw it to the old subfloor or existing floor. Do not substitute particleboard or fiberboard for plywood; they absorb moisture and crumble too easily. They plywood you use should be graded as underlayment plywood.
Make sure your screws are set flush or countersunk into the underlayment plywood. Stagger the joints of plywood at least thirty-two inches, and leave a gap of 1/16-1/8 inch between panels. Place screws every four inches on seams and every six inches elsewhere.
Plan your design on graph paper. Measure the floor and draw it to scale. As you draw your design, avoid having thin cuts of tile near walls. Simply shift the pattern one way or the other by cutting some other tiles thinner. Draw a border pattern as well. Then add up all the cork tiles you will need. Darker cork tile flooring can be ordered to provide a dramatic pattern around the edges of the floor.
Figure out how many tiles you have time to lay in a day and spread contact adhesive across their backs the night before. This will make the work go much faster in the morning, and allow the adhesive time to cure properly before it makes contact with the floor. Experienced hands can easily tile a ten by ten foot room in a day. Novices should plan on an extra day.
Cork tile flooring comes in pre-glued tiles, too. Duro-Design is one company that makes pre-glued cork tile flooring. The company offers cork tile flooring in fifty-four color shades. According to Duro-Design, its cork tile flooring is selected from the densest cork available, so it is amazingly resilient and more dent-resistant than hardwood flooring. Duro-Design cork tile flooring is available in twelve by twelve inch tiles or 12×36 inch planks. It can be installed as a glued-down floor or as a floating, edge-locked floor system.
Cork tile flooring is beautiful, environmentally sensitive, comfortable, and durable. As an alternative to hardwood flooring, which may help despoil rainforests, cork tile flooring ranks with bamboo and other renewable resources as one of the best flooring choices.

5 thoughts on “Cork Tile Flooring, II

  1. Hello,
    I was wondering if you have any advice regarding installing cork tile on stairs. Presently there is carpet, with most likely plain wood stairs underneath. Would the spindles have to be removed to install tile, or could the tiles be cut to fit around the base of the spindles? Also, since tiles tend to be thinner than most stock stair nosing, how is the best way to deal with the edge of each step if you want cork on the treads? Thanks!

  2. Hi Caireen,
    That’s a good question and one I haven’t had the pleasure (note sarcasm) of running into before. Cutting around should be possible, but would look better if the spindles were removed as you go along. It’s going to be tough whichever way you go as hard & brittle as bamboo is – it tends to splinter & crack when nailed or cut, so make sure you use a blade that is appropriate for bamboo.
    The flooring company that made the tiles should have coordinating products for items such as bullnoses on stairs so that it matches the tiles perfectly. Check with the store where you bought the tile and if they don’t have any and can’t order it you can check with the manufacturer. Manufacturer’s have websites too, so you can check there as well or even find a phone number to call them.

  3. Thanks for your advice! I’ll keep investigating options. I was hoping for an easy solution, but it doesn’t sound like there is one yet.

  4. Hi –
    I am thinking about installing a cork floor on top of concrete for use as a yoga studio. The floor is clean and smooth, but not sure if it is exactly level (due to settling). I would like to be able to take the floor with me if I ever move -is this possible. Additionally, I am trying to keep the cost down. Wondering what you would recommend. Am I better off with glue down tiles…

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