The DIY Guide to Installing Cork Floors

Cork floors are one of the hottest flooring options available today. The popularity of this material stems from many factors, including the fact that it’s eco-friendly, a good insulator, and provides a beautiful unique look for any home.

Since the green building craze has begun, more and more people have turned to cork. Cork is made by stripping the bark from cork trees, which doesn’t kill the tree. The bark quickly regenerates, meaning that harvesting this material has little impact on the environment. Cork is also all-natural, and doesn’t emit chemicals and gases like many other flooring materials. In addition, cork provides great insulation against both temperature and noise, and is softer than many other flooring choices, making it comfortable and quite to walk on. Due to its texture, it is naturally resilient to dings and damage, and it is very low maintenance. Simply wipe it down with a wet mop to keep it looking clean and fresh.

Cork flooring can be purchased at your local home improvement store, or can be bought online directly from the manufacturers. Some popular cork flooring retailers are Globus (www.corkfloor.com) and Expanko (www.expanko.com.) Expect to pay about $5.60 a square foot for natural cork and $7.60 a square foot for colored cork. To estimate how much material you need, multiply the length times the width of the room you plan to use this flooring in. Add about 7% to this measurement if you plan to place the tiles in a straight line, and add 20% if you’re going to pattern the tiles diagonally. This extra material will allow for mistakes and will prevent you from using left over pieces of odd sizes when you reach the last few rows.

To install cork floors in your home, start with a dry, clean concrete or plywood base. Apply a flooring adhesive in a circular pattern, working in only a small area at a time, and starting along the longest wall in the room. Set the tiles tightly to the wall, and tight to one another. Flatten out seams using a hand roller, which can be purchased from any hardware store. To cut pieces of tile to fit each row, simply use a utility knife and a ruler or straight edge. Once you have set all of the tile, avoid walking on the cork for 72 hours so that the flooring has a chance to settle. If you’d like, you can follow up with a clear coating of water-based polyurethane sealer to protect your floor from dirt and moisture. The sealer can be applied with a simple paint roller, and should only be used in a well-ventilated area.

Because cork is so versatile and durable, you can count on your cork floors to last for years to come. Enjoy your new flooring, knowing you are doing your part in being eco-friendly.

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