How to Install Cork Flooring — Yahoo Homes

How to Install Cork Flooring - Yahoo Homes

How to Install Cork Flooring

Cork flooring is a lovely, resilient and environmentally sound flooring option. It is often cheaper than equally sustainable bamboo, comparable in price to traditional hardwood and can be as easy to install. It is highly scratch resistant — more so than other natural flooring options, and tends to be better at absorbing impact and sound. Cork is also extremely resistant to mold, mildew and naturally flame retardant.

Cork comes in a wide variety of colors, styles and methods of installation. Because it is made from grinding the bark of the Cork Oak, cork lacks any grain to match up in the installation process. It comes in planks or as tiles, similar in size and shape to ceramic tiles. You can find glue-down flooring, interlocking (glue-less) or floating.

In general, cork flooring that comes in the interlocking design is as easy to install as traditional hardwood flooring. Sub-floors should be dry, fairly level and debris-free. Poor preparation of the sub-floor is one of the reasons for later problems with a cork floor. If you must use a leveling compound, be sure to let it dry completely before installing your floor. It is best to avoid placing cork floor in basements or other areas prone to a lot of dampness as this can cause some swelling of seams. The sub-floor can be of any normal sub-flooring material and cork usually doesn’t require an underlayment beyond a simple vapor barrier. This can be in the form of a plastic sheet.

Most cork comes finished or unfinished and either option is acceptable. If you choose to finish your cork floor at home, you will be pleased with the results. Cork is highly porous, so be prepared to put several coats of urethane down.

Just as with hardwood, wet mopping is not recommended as it may cause the seams to swell. Sometimes cork will react to changes in humidity and heat and does tend to yellow somewhat with age. Heavy furniture may dent your floor, so be sure to use a good quality furniture pad and limit objects that may fall and dent your floor.

How to Install It

To begin installation, the sub-floor must be properly prepared, leveled, moisture-free and cured in order for good adhesion. Thoroughly clean the surface to ensure all paint, wax and grit has been removed. If you are not using a sub-floor, but putting your floor over a pre-existing wood floor, use a paint or varnish remover and scrub with tri-sodium phosphate. In most cases a sanding machine will not be necessary. Allow the floor to thoroughly dry before continuing. It would be wise to allow the cork product to remain open in the room where they are to be installed for at least 48 hours, although some manufacturers recommend up to four days. Keep the humidity levels fairly low and maintain a moderate (60 — 70 degrees F) temperature.

Level your floor and fill all cracks, then sand to a uniform roughness (this encourages proper bonding). A concrete floor will need to be leveled with latex fill which will require priming with a standard concrete primer. If you are installing on a smooth surface, such a vinyl, you must create a rough surface for good bonding. Check that you sub-floors are in good condition. If you want to lay a plywood covering down, securely anchor the plywood to prevent poor floor performance. Any kind of bumps or seams will show through your tiles once they set.

Once this is done and allowed to cure, usually requiring a day, you are ready to begin laying the cork. Follow the manufacturer’s laying instructions for application of adhesives and be certain you are using the proper adhesives and trowel sizes. This step ensures you are applying the proper amount.

If you are laying tile or panels that require adhesive, lay out your pattern and chalk your lines, then apply adhesive using a paintbrush. Click together tiles will not generally require the pattern to be placed and chalked. Allow the adhesive to dry to a clear, tacky finish before continuing. Carefully roll tiles using a standard 100 or 150 pound tile roller. It is also possible to ensure positive contact using a mallet, although too much force will dent your flooring. If you make a mistake, you can peel the tile back up, carefully, but it will instantly grab to the adhesive. Roll at least four times in each direction, cleaning excess adhesive with a damp cloth as you go. Once the adhesive has dried, you will need to use mineral spirits to clean the adhesive from your tiles. Use a sharp utility knife to cut your tiles.

Restrict traffic in this area for at least 24 hours (or more depending upon the adhesive you have used). You may use a urethane or flooring wax immediately following installation on tiles that are not pre-finished.

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