How to color cork tiles

Updated February 21, 2017

Cork floor tiles create a natural, soft, sound-absorbing covering. Cork flooring tiles are inexpensive, lightweight, easy to install and are typically sold unfinished with a plain, natural tone. Take advantage of the potential of this raw material by colouring the tiles. Cork tiles can be coloured any colour using water-based wood stains. Use all one colour, or use more than one colour to create patterns or borders. Stain the tiles prior to or after installing and before the final urethane coat is applied to the floor. Cork tile flooring already coated with urethane cannot be stained.

Sweep or brush the tiles to remove any dust.

Use a stir stick to mix the stain thoroughly. Stain can separate after sitting for a while. Scrape the bottom of the can while stirring to get the stuff at the bottom.

Test a bit of the stain on a scrap tile or in an inconspicuous area to ensure the colour is to your liking.

Apply an initial coat of stain with a stain pad. Dip one edge of the pad into the stain and apply in long, pulling strokes. Cork absorbs stain well, but quickly sponge up any drips or pooling.

Leave the first coat to dry for at least two hours, or until dry to the touch.

Apply two to three additional coats as needed to darken and even out the colouration.

Allow the final coat to dry overnight before installing or walking on the tiles.


Wear old clothes as getting wood-stain on clothing will cause permanent stains.


Wood stain has noxious properties. Wear latex gloves to prevent skin absorption and work outdoors or in a well-ventilated area.

Things You'll Need

  • Water-based wood stain
  • Staining pads
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About the Author

Mason Howard is an artist and writer in Minneapolis. Howard's work has been published in the "Creative Quarterly Journal of Art & Design" and "New American Paintings." He has also written for art exhibition catalogs and publications. Howard's recent writing includes covering popular culture, home improvement, cooking, health and fitness. He received his Master of Fine Arts from the University of Minnesota.