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There are many benefits of choosing cork for your flooring needs. It’s loaded with useful qualities that you simply won’t find in other materials. Due to its unique softness, it’s a pleasure to walk on, and it’s just as attractive as bamboo, laminate, or vinyl flooring.
And while there are many great things to like about cork, it isn’t without its drawbacks. For one, it can be an absolute bear to install if you aren’t prepared. And you certainly wouldn’t want to put cork in every room of your home. On top of that, cork isn’t the cheapest of flooring options.
So, where are you supposed to start? Well, that’s why we’re here. We compiled this handy guide to walk you through the process of installing cork flooring, along with all the aspects involved in it.
If you’re going to be doing this by yourself, it is vital that you read the following information. It will help make installation a whole lot easier. Or, if you decide it is best suited for a professional, you will find essential information on that, as well.
One of the biggest advantages of choosing cork is that its price doesn’t fluctuate like that of hardwood flooring. You know what you’re getting and what the final cost is without any hidden fees.
That being said, cork is still relatively new. This makes it pricey compared to materials that have been widely used for a while now. And some cork can cost more than others based on specialty styles and the manufacturer. So if you’re looking for an inexpensive flooring option, cork isn’t it.
And while many brick and mortar stores might not carry free samples of cork, you can easily acquire some online from the many cork distributors selling it. It’s always best to get a feel for your potential flooring before you throw down your money and make the investment.
With that out of the way, let’s get into what makes cork so unique and why it may be a good fit for you. The following section will help you know what to watch out for as you shop for different cork flooring.
You will also learn of the many attributes that are common to cork. We will go over some of the different styles of cork flooring and how it’s produced, as well as its many great benefits.
Initially, cork flooring was produced in small tiles. As you can imagine, this made it a pain to work with, especially when covering large sections of floor. Thankfully, new methods of making cork flooring have been discovered, allowing for larger and easier pieces to work with.
There are now many formats available that you can choose from. This lets you pick out only the kind you need that will benefit you the most. If you’re only covering a small section, there are plenty of options so you’re not buying more than what you need.
One of these is cork tiles. This is the most natural and basic style of cork. Because of that, it’s also the easiest to acquire. Cork tile is generally installed by gluing it down to the floor. This makes it quite easy to work with, as there isn’t nearly as much involved as with other types of flooring.
This is a great option if you want the luxuriousness of cork but prefer a traditional look. By installing planks, your floors will more closely resemble that of hardwood flooring. We like this style a lot, as it looks classy yet retains all the benefits of cork.
These veneered boards are engineered to deliver straightforward installation. Some manufacturers even produce hybrids that use other materials, but we prefer straight cork.
Be warned, this is some of the most expensive cork you can buy. There are a couple of different names you’ll come across with waterproof cork, each with different manufacturing techniques. Amorim makes waterproof cork flooring in boards, while Corkoleum makes it in rolls.
It’s nice having this option, as you can choose the best one for your needs. Some find rolls to be easier to work with, while others prefer the look of boards.
If you prefer that your cork flooring has some character, this is your best bet. By going with printed cork, you can get the benefits of it while resembling something else entirely.
Want your cork floors to look like wood? How about tiles? With printed cork, the sky’s the limit. Just be ready to pay extra for this service.
Many different types of flooring cost more depending on the thickness of the material used. There are reasons some folks go with thicker flooring. But the number-one reason is that it will generally last a lot longer than thinner flooring.
The same holds true with cork flooring. You will pay more for cork flooring that is thicker, regardless of the format you choose. But if you want your floors to hold up longer, the difference in price could be well worth it in the long run.
As you just learned, a lot can go into affecting the price of cork flooring. Depending on the style of cork you want, there could be a spike in its overall cost. If you’re looking for cork flooring that is stained or has specific patterns in its design, expect to pay for features like these.
The Cost of Cork Flooring
Now, all that being said, the cost of cork flooring stays pretty much in place. There are typically not any surprises along the way. Regardless of which brand you choose, it is a pretty safe bet that their prices of cork are going to be close to one another’s.
To give you an idea of what you can expect from different cork flooring manufacturers, here’s a list of prices that each one offers:
Cancork (Tile) – 12” x 24” – Walnut Burlwood – $3.11 sq. ft.
Cancork (Tile) – 12” x 24” – Golden Beach – $3.18 sq. ft.
Heritage Mill (Plank) – 5.5” x 36” – Burnished Straw – $3.18 sq. ft.
Lisbon Cork (Plank) – 5.5” x 36” – Almada – $3.89 sq. ft.
Wicanders (Plank) – 12” x 36” – Blocked Harmony – $3.99 sq. ft.
US Floors (Plank) – 11.5” x 35” – Elsa – $4.78 sq. ft.
Amorim (Waterproof Plank) – 7.5” x 48” – Traces Tea – $5.49 sq. ft.
Nova (Tile) – 12” x 36” – Crème Rombo – $7.25 sq. ft.
Installing Cork Flooring by Yourself
Before you consider installing cork flooring on your own, it’s important that you figure out the exact size of each room or floor. If you’re going to be corking your entire home, you’re going to have to give yourself ample time to prep each room.
Consider how much (and how often) you will need to move furniture around during the installation process. You may need a few extra hands to assist you, too. Especially if you’re corking a lot.
Something else that is tantamount to proper installation is breathing time. Certain corks can take up to a week before heavy traffic and furniture can put pressure on it. You will need to find out from the manufacturer what these times will require of you before installation and before purchase.
If necessary, you may need to opt for a brand that better accommodates your lifestyle. This is especially true if your household can’t make the proper adjustments to allow for breathing of the cork.
Tools You Will Need
As with all flooring installations, it is vital that you have the right tools for the job. If you don’t, you can expect a great deal of hardship. Not only that, but your floors will likely suffer in quality.
Before installing cork flooring, ensure that you have the following tools. This will make the installation process a much easier affair.
- Measuring tape
- Rubber mallet
- Speed square
- Tapping block
- Razor blade
- Miter saw
- Pry bar
Also important to proper installation is trim. We’ve found that most who install cork end up using a different baseboard than what was originally down. If you choose to go this route, you will first want to ensure you are getting trim that matches your new cork flooring.
Also before installation, you will have to put down the underlayment. This is crucial in preventing damaging moisture from ruining your flooring. But this will also serve you well beyond protecting your floors.
If you haven’t followed the cork manufacturer’s installation instructions, you risk voiding its warranty. You always want to check these kinds of things prior to making your final purchase.
If you’re going with cork tiles, you’re going to need something to keep them down. There are many adhesives available that you’ll need to look into. And while this isn’t true for all installation cases, most find they need a sealant to join the seams together.
As with most issues that stem from flooring, it often comes down to bad products or bad installation. Cork is fairly easy to work with. So if you follow directions to the letter and invest in quality cork, you should end up just fine.
You can use particle board, concrete, or OSB for underlayment, as long as there isn’t the potential for moisture buildup. And this is where most do-it-yourselfers run into trouble – subflooring.
Squeaking subfloors will get you every time if precautions aren’t taken into account. Always ensure your floors are properly nailed down. You can always install braces between joists to reduce the chance of squeaking. Also be sure to take the extra step to check the health of wood before laying down any new flooring.
Going With a Professional
If you’ve read this far, you’ve likely made up your mind as to whether cork floor installation is something you can handle on your own. If it looks to be too much, most definitely go with a professional. Sure, it’s going to inflate your overall costs. But if you can afford it, the headache saved will be worth it.
As with any professional floor installation, contractors are going to break their costs up by labor and materials purchased. You’re typically going to save a bundle if you can buy the materials yourself. Just know that not all contractors allow this, as many want to get it themselves.
On the average, you’re likely going to be paying anywhere from $5 to $10 for every square foot of cork flooring installed. You also need to take into account any unmoved furniture that’s going to be in the installer’s way. Most won’t move your stuff for free, so be prepared to tack that on to total costs.
Speaking of which, this is true for your old flooring, as well. If you’re having your entire home done, this fee could be quite substantial.
Where Can I Find Cork?
As we mentioned earlier, cork isn’t always the easiest to locate locally. You can find many distributors online, but it is important that you study up on them to ensure that you’re ordering quality cork flooring.
One of the more trusted providers is Green Building Supply. They carry quality cork from all of the brands we listed above. They have more than 50 different styles in stock, with pricing that varies by the square foot. As you read earlier, those prices range from $3.11 to $7.25.
Wayfair is another cork carrier that stocks a few different brands and few different thicknesses. If you’d rather try your hand locally, check with your nearest Lowe’s, Home Depot, or Lumber Liquidators. The brands vary across carriers, so be sure to check with them to see what they stock.
As you’ve now discovered, cork is an incredibly handy material to use in flooring. While it is a bit pricier, the benefits more than make up for extra costs. By choosing cork, you can look forward to years of comfortable flooring that is both unique and attractive.