How to Lay Cork Tile

Written by kittie mccoy
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How to Lay Cork Tile
Cork flooring comes in either tiles or planks. (floor image by Einar Bog from

Cork tile is considered a green building material because the cork is harvested from the outer layers of bark of the cork oak tree without harming the tree. Cork tile is glued down to concrete or plywood subfloors using a heavy-duty adhesive to hold it in place. If your subfloor is particle board, you may want to consider installing a plywood subfloor on top of the particle board to ensure proper adhesion. The rough surface of the particle board may cause the tiles to come loose over time and pop up off the floor.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Broom
  • Floor leveller
  • Putty knife
  • Chalk line
  • Construction adhesive
  • Notched trowel

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  1. 1

    Sweep the subfloor and apply a floor leveller to any cracks or seams in the floor. Smooth the leveller with a large putty knife to create a flat surface and let it dry completely before you begin installation.

  2. 2

    Measure the floor to determine the centre point. Snap a chalk line to form a cross that intersects at the centre point of the floor. This will divide the floor into four quarters.

  3. 3

    Spread construction adhesive onto an approximately 4-foot-wide section of one quarter of the floor with a notched trowel. Start at the point where the chalk lines intersect.

  4. 4

    Press the cork tiles firmly onto the adhesive. Spread another 4-foot-wide section with adhesive and lay more tiles. Continue until the entire quadrant is covered with cork tile.

  5. 5

    Repeat the process of spreading the adhesive and applying the tile on the other three quarters of the room.

  6. 6

    Avoid walking on the tiles for at least 12 hours or overnight to give the adhesive time to dry. If you would like to seal the cork tile, wait at least five days to ensure that the adhesive is completely dry.

Tips and warnings

  • Sand any rough spots on the surface of the finished cork tile floor with 150-grit sandpaper.
  • The colour of your cork tile floor can be changed by applying a water-based stain to the floor before it is sealed.
  • Seal your cork tiles with a water-based clear-coat polyurethane applied with a paint roller. Make sure that the floor is clean before application and use two coats for maximum stain protection.

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