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How to Install Natural Cork Flooring

Cover an existing floor with a floating floor made from natural cork planks.

More in Floors

installing natural cork flooring
  • Time

    Weekend

  • Price Range

    $1,000 - $2,500

  • Difficulty

    Moderate to Hard

Highlights:

Step 1: Install the First Row

Choose the longest wall that will be parallel to the plank floor. Tap a nail part way into the old floor 1/2" from the wall at each end of the room. String a line between the nails 3/4" above floor level. Use this string as a guideline for the first row of planks. The 1/2" space from the wall allows room for expansion. Shuffle the natural cork planks for the best visual mix.

Note: Start installing the floor in one corner, preferably parallel to the longest wall and following the direction the light falls. It is equally possible to work from left to right or right to left. Always insert the tongue into the groove, not the other way around.

start installing floor in one corner

Step 2: Attach the Planks

Facing the guide line, place the first plank at the lefthand end, tongue side facing the wall, starting 1/2" off the wall (Image 1). It is necessary to remove the tongue from all planks lining the starting wall. Use 1/2" spacers at the end and along the wall (two to a plank) while keeping the planks aligned with the string. Using a Natural Cork tapping block and a hammer, place the block flat on the floor, with the side up that is labeled: "This Side Up For Tapping On Groove". Tap on the block gently until the ends of the two planks are firmly joined, with the joint completely closed up (Image 2). Continue this process until you reach the end wall. Cut the last plank to fit allowing for a 1/2" perimeter expansion space on all sides.

Note: To do this, use a hammer and the special Natural Cork tapping block (Image 3). Using any other tapping block may result in damage to the cork wear layer. Don't attempt to knock the click joint into place with one hit. Once the two planks have "clicked" together, do not tap them again as this can cause the joint to be too tight and could result in peaking.

Step 3: Click the Planks Together

If the cut-off piece from the previous row is more than 10" long it can be used to start the next row so long as end-joints between adjacent rows are always staggered by at least 10".

Position the long side of the plank to be installed at an angle of 20-30 degrees to the plank already installed. Move the plank to be fitted slightly up and down at the same time as exerting forward pressure. The planks will then click into place. Using Natural Cork's tapping block, use a number of smaller taps on the short edge until the planks click together completely.

click planks into place

Step 4: Install the Planks Horizontally

Fit the planks horizontally under a doorframe or other obstructions. For the long edge, you should tap them together gradually by tapping lightly at the corner of a plank until the joint is made. Repeat the process every 12" until the entire long edge of the plank has clicked in with the other. In order to cut around pipes, take a drill bit with a diameter similar to the diameter of the pipe 1/4" for expansion.

fit planks horizontally around obstructions

Step 5: Install the Last Row

Usually the last row will require all planks be cut lengthwise. Measure each plank at several places along the length to ensure a proper fit. Remember to allow a 1/2" expansion space along the wall side. Use a floor pull bar and mallet to click the long side of planks. The short edge can be joined using the tapping block.

Step 6: Finish the Installation

Remove all the spacer blocks. Fix the skirting board over the extended polyethelene sheeting. Never attach the skirting board to the floor itself, but allow space for the floor to expand and contract beneath the skirting board. Use a flexible caulk in order to fill in the expansion gap around pipes and any other areas not covered by trim.

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