DIY Network

How to Install Cork Flooring

Cork flooring is a renewable resource and comes in a variety of colors.

More in Floors

Step 1: Apply the Skim Mortar

To get rid of any imperfections in the underlayment, apply skim mortar over the cracks in the floor and any other bumps.

apply skim mortar over cracks in floor

Step 2: Sand the Floor

After the mortar dries, go over the flooring with a fine- to medium-grit sandpaper with an orbital sander.

Step 3: Add a Dab of Thinset

Put a dab of thinset in random spots that you can sand within 30 minutes. Clean up all the dust when you're done.

Step 4: Apply the Adhesive

Protect the finished surfaces with masking tape first. Put the water-based adhesive in a roller pan. Start in the corners with a paintbrush, and be sure to use a cheap, disposable brush. Lay on a nice even coat, not too thick and cover the entire floor with a thin coat of glue. Use a foamed roller for large areas. Wait from 30 minutes to an hour for the glue to dry.

Tip: Work toward an open doorway so you don't get stuck in a corner.

cover entire floor with thin coat of glue

Step 5: Set the Laser Beam

Get a starting point, and the object is to have as many full tiles in a visible area as possible. Once the first tile is down, all the other tiles will fall into place accordingly. Use a laser beam to make laying cork tiles a work of precision since it shoots perfect 45-degree angles from the floor. Set the laser beam at the starting point -- where the edge of the first full row of tiles should go. Check your work by measuring from the walls to the laser line. If the walls are off, make adjustments to the starting line.

get a starting point for first tile

Step 6: Lay the First Tile

Lay the first tile in the corner, gently pressing it into place.

Tip: Be careful since adhesive is on the back of the tiles. It will be stuck for good once it's down on the adhesive and the floor.

Step 7: Overlap the Seams

Overlap the second piece at the seam of the first tile to stagger seams for a more professional look. You can move in a new direction by marking a tile at the midway point and setting the tile so it overlaps the seam evenly in both directions.

overlap the seams

Step 8: Cut and Lay the Tiles

Take a measurement and transfer it to the cork. Make the cut using a utility knife and straightedge. Don't worry about fitting tiles perfectly under any cabinets. A toekick under the cabinets will cover the edges as will the baseboard along the wall. Continue until the cork flooring is down.

cut and lay the tiles

Step 9: Apply the Catalyst

Add a preset amount of catalyst to the urethane and stir for three minutes to activate the chemical. Pour a small amount on the floor. Use a synthetic fleece applicator, and go in one direction to avoid streaks.

Tip: Hold the applicator like a snowplow, so liquid will be pushed away from the area you just did. And use slow, smooth strokes to avoid bubbles.

apply the catalyst

Step 10: Hand Sand the Floor

Let it dry for at least two hours before you apply a second coat. After a third coat of sealer, hand sand the floor with a fine grit before a fourth and final coat is applied.

hand sand floor

Step 11: Install the Baseboard

Take a measurement first, and use a power miter saw to cut the baseboard so it fits into the corner. Nail the baseboard into the stud with a finish nailer. Putty the nail holes when you're done.

Step 12: Cut Angled Corners

To cut the angled corners, cut a piece at a reverse 45-degree angle. Use a coping saw to trim away the inside of the board, but leave the contour of the molding.

cut angled corners

Step 13: Install a Toekick

Measure the length of each cabinet and cut the toekick to size.

Step 14: Create a Finished Edge

For an unfinished edge, use strips of wood veneer and measure a piece that's a little longer. Cut it with a utility knife and line up the edge with the finished grain of wood. Set an iron on medium heat to activate the hot-melt adhesive (it will harden almost immediately), and set the piece upside down. Trim off the excess with a utility knife.

use strips of wood veneer for unfinished edges

Step 15: Apply the Shoe Molding

When nailing in the toekick, press it up against the cabinet since the shoe will hide any gaps against the floor. Apply the shoe.

Was this project helpful?

Don't forget: Read comments and leave your own

Advertisement

Projects

COMMENT ON THIS PROJECT

    

Sign in

All fields are required.

E-mail Address:

Password:

Remember me on this computer

Signing in

Please enter your email address and we will send your password

E-mail Address

Your password has been sent and should arrive in your mailbox very soon.

Not a member?

Sign up with DIY Network to share tips with other do-it-yourselfers and comment and ask questions on projects.

It's free and easy.