Although cork tiles, like many other tiled flooring, are relatively easy to lay, there are a few steps to take that are unique to cork flooring. Cork tiles are a natural product, taken from the inner bark of special oak trees which have layers carefully stripped away on a seven year cycle.
Suitable Rooms for Cork Tiles
They are suitable for many rooms in the house, but it is best not to lay them in bright rooms such as conservatories. Being natural, the intense sunlight and high temperatures could cause the tiles to fade and shrink.
In other rooms you can minimise the expansion and contraction of the tiles by using the recommended adhesive, acclimatising the tiles before posing and allowing enough room for expansion.
Preparation is Important
It is important to have a clean, flat surface before you start. Any cracks or imperfections will show up through the cork tiles. If the existing flooring is vinyl, linoleum or any wooden sheet covering it should be removed and any damage to the uncovered surface should be repaired to make it as smooth as possible.
An alternative is to cover your floor with quarter-inch thick hardboard. You can seal any porous surface with a primer, but it must be dry before the cork tiles go down.
Test Lay for Best Results
As with any flooring, measure your room carefully first and make sure you have enough tiles to allow for any mistakes. Leave the tiles in the room, out of their packaging, for at least 24 hours to acclimatise.
Cork is a natural product and varies in shade so it’s a good idea to lay out your tiles before sticking them down and arrange the colours in a pattern that suits you. Look out for any manufacturing defects.
Laying Out Tiles
For the first few rows, and to guarantee straight rows from then on, draw two lines intersecting at a 90° angle near the centre of the room. Start with full tiles and stagger the joints to get the best results. Make sure you allow a quarter inch gap between each tile, the walls and any other surface to cater for expansion.
Use a special cork floor adhesive and apply a thin coat on a section of floor at a time. Lay your tiles and clean off any excess adhesive immediately with a damp cloth. Press each tile down firmly and evenly and check that each tile adheres properly to the surface. If you find the tiles are not sticking, apply a second layer of glue. Cut part tiles one end of a row at a time and test lay them before fixing them to the floor.
Once all your tiles have been laid remove any traces of adhesive, dust, then use a flooring roller to ensure your floor is even. If you have bought unfinished tiles they will need sealing at this stage to protect them from dirt and moisture. You can buy tiles that are already sealed so all you need to do is wait 24 hours for the adhesive to dry.
It is a good idea to clean your brand new floor using a hardwood cleaner, taking care not to use too much water.
If cared for properly your cork flooring will last you forever and will look better with time.