Cork floors can be installed using two different methods, a floating method and a glue down method. The most popular being the floating method where the tiles or planks are attached to each other through a click locking system and require no glue to install. This method is preferred, because it is much easier to accomplish than the glue down installation and minimal preparation of the sub-floor is required. The sub-floor must be prepared first and an underlayment placed down, before the tiles or planks are installed. There are some cork planks available that come with a pre-attached underlayment, making the installation process easier. However, some may still prefer to install an additional underlayment to provide more insulation, sound proofing and more cushioning, so that the floor is more comfortable to walk on.
Cork planks are constructed with an edge joining system, wherein the planks snap together and are floated over the sub-floor and not directly attached to it. In this method, the cork flooring can even be installed over any existing floor, other than carpet. Please read all of the manufacturer’s installation instructions before you begin.
Acclimate the Flooring:
To acclimate the cork flooring, it must be placed in the area in which it is to be installed, for up to 3 days with the boxes open, so that it can adjust to the temperature and humidity in the room.
Preparation for installing Cork Flooring
If you are installing over a wood sub-floor:
- The sub-floor must be clean, free of debris, and level, with no loose boards.
- You must install an underlayment of either cork or foam for a moisture barrier, which will also reduce sound transmissions, hold in heat and add comfort.
- It may also be beneficial to trim the bottom of any door frames to provide room for the flooring to go underneath it.
If you are installing over a concrete sub-floor:
- Start with a clean, dry surface that is free of debris.
- For best results, you many want to conduct a moisture test to make sure there are no existing moisture problems.
- It is recommended that you install a 6 ml sheet of polyurethane as an underlayment to act as a moisture barrier to prevent moisture from seeping up from the concrete and into the flooring.
- Trim the bottom of the door frames, so that the flooring will fit underneath it.
Installing the planks:
- You must leave an expansion gap of up to ½ inch around any permanent fixtures, such as columns or islands and also around the perimeter of the room.
- Mix the patterns and shades of planks from several boxes so that you have a variety of patterns and shades when installing your flooring.
- Start by installing in the initial plank in the corner of the room with the groove toward the wall. Then, snap the end of the first plank to the end of the next one and continue on.
- It is advisable to trim the last row of planks to fit before connecting them together, leaving the expansion gap that is recommended by the manufacturer.
Installing a floating cork floor is easy to do yourself, if you follow these simple rules and recommendations and abide by the manufacturer’s installation instructions.
Some of the 12 inch cork flooring tiles are designed to be installed, using flooring adhesive to attach the flooring directly to the sub-floor and may be used for concrete or wood sub-floors. Hardboard may be required when installing cork flooring with this method, so please refer to your flooring manufacturer’s installation instructions to be sure.
The recommendations for preparing the sub-floor before installation of your cork flooring are no different, whether the sub-floor is made of concrete or wood. In either instance, the sub-floor must be level, dry, clean, free of debris, smooth and secured. We have provided the following guidelines to assist you in the preparation process for wood sub-floors and concrete slabs.
Preparing a wood sub-floor or hardboard for the installation process:
- Nail down any loose wood and repair any areas where the wood is not level.
- Test the sub-floor for any moisture as recommended by the manufacturer.
- Trim any door frames at the bottom so the tiles will slide underneath.
- If your house has a crawlspace, it is a good idea to put down a layer of 6 ml polyethylene, overlapping the sheets and taping them together, over the ground in the crawlspace that is underneath the sub-floor of the room where you are installing the cork flooring.
- Check the sub-floor to ensure that is smooth, level and clean because any unevenness or debris will show through the surface of the cork flooring after it is installed, since it will be bonded to the sub-floor.
- It is recommended to roll on a sub-floor primer and give it time to dry before proceeding with the application of the flooring adhesive.
Preparing a concrete slab for the installation process:
- Fill in or repair any holes or cracks in your foundation, prior to installing your flooring.
- Conduct a moisture test according to the flooring manufacturer’s guidelines to reveal any existing moisture problems.
- Trim off the bottom of any door frames so that the tiles can slide underneath them.
- Confirm that the foundation is level, smooth, dry and clean. When using the glue-own method over concrete, it is imperative that the surface is smooth and clean, so that any roughness or unevenness will not be transferred to the surface of the flooring.
- Use a roller in the application of a sub-floor primer over the foundation and allow drying time before you apply the flooring adhesive.
Acclimating the Flooring:
It is recommended that you acclimate the tiles to the normal humidity level and temperature of the room where it is be laid, by placing the opened boxes of cork tile in the room where it is to be installed for 2 to 3 days.
Installing cork tiles:
- Sort out some of the boxes of cork tiles and mix the natural color variations and patterns when installing to achieve your desired look.
- Make sure to leave a ¼ to ½ inch space for an expansion gap around the outer edge of the room and around any permanent stationary objects by using spacers, so that the cork flooring has room to expand and contract. See your manufacturer’s installation instructions for further details.
- Use a roller to apply flooring adhesive to the sub-floor in little sections at a time and then place the tiles over that area, pressing each tile into place using equal pressure over the entire tile as it is installed. Then, wait for that area to dry.
- Upon completion of installation of the tiles, refer to the manufacturer’s installation instructions for information on how to roll the floor to ensure that all of the tiles are properly adhered to the sub-floor before you seal it.
- Do not walk on the flooring for at least 24 hours, until the adhesive is totally dry. Times could vary according to weather conditions.
- Afterwards, use a polyurethane cleaner to thoroughly clean the completed flooring.
- Finally, use a factory recommended urethane sealer to seal the entire floor.
For best results and to prolong the life of your floor, refer to the manufacturer’s installation instructions for your flooring and follow their guidelines and recommendations. With proper care, your new cork flooring can last up to 40 years. If you require any additional information about cork flooring, please contact us at 1-877-966-3983 to speak to one of our trained flooring specialists.
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