There are many reasons homeowners choose cork for flooring and in many ways, this natural material is unique. Rather than solid timber, cork is harvested from the natural bark of the tree, and it can be sustainably harvested, which does not harm the trees. When the cork is processed into tiles and planks, it retains all of its properties and prior to installation, you need to open the cork packages and leave the tiles/planks in the room where they are to be installed for about 72 hours.
Contraction & Expansion
Cork is a natural material that is affected by humidity and temperature. The last thing you want is for an installed cork floor to start moving. Unpack the cork tiles/planks and leave them in the room they are to be installed in for at least 72 hours, which guarantees that any contraction or expansion has already occurred.
How much movement entirely depends on the temperature and humidity level; once the floor is installed and sealed, there will be no movement. If you are looking for the best quality Sydney cork flooring or the highest quality of this material in your location, you are in luck; there’s likely a showroom near you where you can choose the perfect product for your new flooring.
Space Around The Perimeter
Because cork is soft, movement can occur and by leaving a 1/4-inch space between the wall and the first tile/plank, movement can occur thanks to that small gap. There are plastic spacers to ensure the tiles are level and in line, you should use the spacers on all 4 walls. Don’t worry about the gap, the skirting boards will conceal it. Skirting should be removed before you install the floor, then it is refixed after the floor is completed. In the event the floor needs a little room to settle, the spacers fold and allow the tiles/planks to spread slightly, and there will be no ripples on the floor.
The correct way to install cork flooring is to put 1/2-inch plywood directly onto the substrate. Never install cork on vinyl, laminate, or any other floor covering; this must be removed completely, leaving no traces, plus any hollows should be filled prior to installing the plywood, which should cover the entire floor area.
Start with removing the old flooring, whatever that might be. Scrape any residue away and fill any holes or dips, leaving a clean, smooth surface. Once this is done, you can start installing the plywood, cutting the last few pieces for a perfect fit.
Note: For added insulation, you can lay a thin sheet of foam on the plywood, but this is not essential. It makes for a softer walking experience.
Remove the skirting boards and butt the plywood up to the wall; fixing the plywood with nails is fine, or you could use adhesive. When the plywood floor is complete and has been cleaned, you can start installing the cork (which has been left in the room for 72 hours to acclimate), starting at the corner of the longest wall. Follow the instructions on how to spread adhesive and keep the workspace clean and tidy. The final edges can be trimmed with a ruler and a cutter for a perfect fit, then sweep the floor completely and replace the skirting boards.
Don’t walk on the floor for 24 hours and leave a window open.
Some cork floor products have been pre-sealed, while others require a couple of coats of polyurethane, which, when dry, protects the floor and keeps the water out. Once dry, you can start bringing in furniture.
Always acclimate cork flooring for at least 72 hours, which allows the material to adjust to the atmosphere.