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Installing Cork Flooring Do–It–Yourself (DIY) Guide

Cork Buying Guide Sections

Cork flooring is a popular choice for homeowners looking for a uniquely beautiful, durable and ecologically–friendly alternative to traditional hardwood floors. Below are the essential things you'll need to know during your cork flooring installation. For more detailed information on what to do before, during and after your installation, see the full Installing Cork Flooring guide on®.

Download FREE Do–It–Yourself Guides Below

Cork Flooring Installation Instructions | PDF's
PDF icon for
file download of cork quick guideQuick Guide on How–to–Install a Cork Floor
280kb pdf | Our short installation guide for those with DIY experience.
PDF icon for file download of full installation guideFull Guide – Complete Installation Instructions on Installing your Cork Floor
880kb pdf | Our full set of DIY installation instructions.

Our Cork installation quick guide has been posted below for your convenience. Should you choose not to download the free pdf of our install guides, feel free to browse below using the green navigation at the top of the page to go to each cork installation section.

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Getting Started or Ready to Install your Floor?

The Basics – Preparing to Work

Cork flooring can be installed one of two ways:

  • Floated Cork Planks – Cork planks are clicked and locked together above the subfloor.
  • Glue Down Cork Tiles – Solid or veneered cork tiles are glued to the subfloor.

Tools and Materials

You will need most of the general tools and materials on the first list plus anything specific for your installation method.

Tools Needed For All Cork Flooring Installation

  • 4' or 6' level
  • Broom
  • Carpenter's square
  • Chalk line
  • Cork flooring
  • Electric and/or hand saw, jig saw, table saw or circular saw with a carbide tipped blade
  • Foam roller
  • Hammer
  • Pencil
  • Safety goggles and mask
  • Soft rubber mallet
  • Tapping block or clean piece of scrap wood
  • Tape measure
  • Top coat finish (if required)
  • Utility knife

Tools Needed For Floating Cork Flooring Installation

  • Crow, pull or power bar
  • Plastic sheeting (moisture barrier)
  • Spacers/wedges
  • Underlayment

Tools Needed For Glue Down Cork Flooring Installation

  • 75–100 lb roller
  • Adhesive
  • Gloves
  • Paint brush and roller or trowel (for adhesive)
  • Sponges

Prepare The Floor

  • Cork flooring can be installed in most On Grade and Above Grade installation areas. Cork may be installed in wet areas (such as bathrooms) if approved by your manufacturer.
  • Glued down cork tiles and floated cork planks can be installed above wood (APA plywood) subfloors and concrete subfloors. Floated cork planks can also be installed above solid–surface existing flooring (vinyl, tile, hardwood, etc.).
  • Concrete subfloors must be at least 30 days old to ensure all moisture in the slab has evaporated.
  • If approved by the manufacturer, cork flooring can be installed over radiant heating systems.
  • All subfloors and existing flooring must be level and structurally sound. Remove all existing carpet, padding or damaged flooring. Do not remove the existing flooring if asbestos are present. Follow all local, state and federal guidelines when handling and/or disposing of asbestos.
  • Perform all moisture tests according to the manufacturer's recommendations. Acceptable ranges are:
    • Calcium Chloride – Not to exceed 3 lbs per 24 hrs per 1000 sq ft.
    • pH Alkalinity – Less than 10 on the pH scale.
  • Always use a moisture barrier. For floated cork, install a 6mm polyethylene/plastic sheeting above your subfloor. For glue down installations, seal your concrete subfloor as directed by your manufacturer. Always choose a sealer that is compatible and recommended by your manufacturer so as to not void your warranty.
  • Ensure your subfloor is level and free from all dips, valleys or imperfections (such as drywall mud, paint overspray, concrete chips, etc.). Scrape your subfloor clean. Sand down all high areas. Use self–leveling compound to level all low areas.
  • Allow your cork flooring to acclimatize to the installation environment per your manufacturer's recommendations (usually between 24–72 hrs). This usually means keeping the room between 60° and 85°F with a relative humidity of between 45%–70%.
  • Undercut door casings in the installation area. Install your cork flooring under all casings for a more professional looking installation.
  • Remove all molding and doors.
  • Sweep and vacuum your subfloor before installing your cork.
  • Always install safely using the proper safety equipment. Follow all manufacturer safety recommendations.

Tips and Tricks

  • Install floated cork planks parallel to the main incoming light source. In narrow rooms, install parallel to the longest wall.
  • Always store your cork away from windows, doors, vents, outside walls and direct sunlight. Never store cork flooring in the garage.
  • Always follow your manufacturer's recommendations when determining your expansion/contraction perimeter. Generally a 1/4" or 3/8" expansion perimeter is sufficient. More expansion/contraction room may be necessary in humid climates. Expansion joints may be required for large installation areas.
  • Inspect all planks and tiles before you install them. Do not install discolored or damaged flooring. Cut away damaged areas or use slightly discolored flooring in pantries or closets where the color variations may not be as noticeable.
  • Use planks or tiles from 3–5 different packages at a time to ensure natural color variations are evenly distributed throughout your floor.
  • Always use carbide–tipped saw blades and cut into the prefinished side of the cork first to avoid chipping the finish.
  • Do all your cutting outside or in another area to keep the installation area free from sawdust and wood chips.
  • Put tools on a piece of cardboard on top of your cork flooring so that you do not scratch the surface.
  • Always work from your subfloor NOT your newly installed cork floor.