How To Install A Floating Cork Floor

This is supposed to be the post where I declare “The floors are DONE… enthusiastic exclamation point!” But instead I’m here to say “The floors are almost done… sheepish period.” Since we last updated you, they’ve gone from this:

To this:

Note: Some of these photos have the cork looking more red/orange than it is in real life. But if you watch the video where we’re installing it (or the one with Clara in it), it’s probably the most true to life (a rich mocha color). We’ll try to take better pics next time!

We thought we could knock out the rest of it in the last few days, but between making all of the cuts to snake around our peninsula/cabinets/doorways and moving appliances out to make way for a few planks of flooring under them (to keep them level without pinning down too much cork), it just took longer than we thought. And since this whole blog is in real-time, as much as we wish we could fast forward to the end and share all the glossy after pics (no one wants to call this turkey done more than we do, haha) we just have to keep plugging away and share the pics whenever we get ‘er done. We did stop to take some how-to pics and a video along the way this time though – so we’ve got that to share with you. Shall we begin?

Here’s how the snapping system works on these cork boards. Tongue goes into groove. Boards lay flat together. Everybody’s happy.

When it came to actually putting a board in place, it went something like we show in the video below. If you can’t watch the video (we don’t want to blow your cover at work) we’ve also included the same information via photos below. Watching the video on mute is probably more explanatory though, just to see things in action.

Okay, so now for the photographic, Burger-cameo-free version of that same info. We first slid the tongue into the groove at a slight angle.

That held it very loosely together so that we could then lay it flat and slide it into the groove on the short end of the board.

Obviously that isn’t enough to hold the board in place, so out came the hammer and the tapping block (we got the tapping block in a flooring kit from Home Depot mentioned here). The block allows us to give the board a pretty solid wallop (technical term) without hurting the cork (since it takes the brunt of the hit instead of slamming the cork directly).

Once we had the short end tapped in enough to make the seam disappear, we did the same on the long side of the board. See that slight seam? After a few taps it was history (you can watch it disappear in the video above).

In our experience, when the long side popped into place the board sometimes, well, popped up a little bit on the outside edge. No bueno if your goal is a nice flat floor. So we found that if we put our weight on the board to keep it flat, then hammered it a couple more times it would get the board to lay flat and behave.

See, it’s behaving.

Of course it was a bit different when we got to boards close to the edges because (bummer alert) you don’t have room for your block or hammer.

That’s where the pull bar comes in handy (it was also included in the kit from Home Depot along with the tapping block and spacers mentioned here).

The wide side hooks over the board so that you can tap the other end with your hammer to get that seam to disappear. Oh and see that gap near the baseboard? There’s a recommendation of a 5/16th gap around the perimeter of the room (floating floors need to be able to expand/contract a bit to keep from warping, and the shoe molding will completely cover these slivers of space so they’re undetectable) – so we did have to cut a sliver and stick it in there. But nothing too snug to the wall since we don’t want warping. We used spacers to help us keep our place. More on that here.

Both techniques weren’t that time consuming, actually. It was the cuts that were a big time suck. Well, that and sliding the appliances out so we could run a few planks of flooring under them to keep them level. And since we got a big groove in our hardwood floors at the old house from sliding the refrigerator out, we were SUPER careful about it. Like two-layers-of-cardboard-over-a-scrap-piece-of-cork careful.

So I’m sorry we don’t have “after” pics for you yet (not that they’d be totally done anyways since we still have to reinstall transitions and shoe molding along with seal all the cork for added durability), but I did try to fake it by taking some pictures from angles where you don’t see the unfinished section in the laundry room. Yep, I’m clever like that.

Who knows, maybe we’ll never finish it and just shoot around it for the rest of our time here.

Just kidding. Of course we’ll finish it. Especially since I couldn’t even shoot one cute video of Clara without blowing our cover. Darn you Clara, always being adorable in the most inconvenient places! Note: for some reason every time Clara throws the football on this video the floor appears to makes a crazy loud sound, but in person the floor is really soft and absorptive of sound, so it doesn’t make loud hollow noises when you walk on it or drop things – must just be the sound quality of the Flip camera (it seems to amplify voices to hear them better, so it must have amplified the football sounds too).

Luckily the laundry room should be pretty speedy. Knock on wood…er, cork.

Anyone else in the midst of a project that’s taking longer that expected? Ever laid a cork floor? We have been so happy with it so far (the rich deep color adds so much for the formerly white-on-white room, there are no scratches/dings where Burger runs around from his nails, no dents where we drop things, it’s very soft and easy on the back/knees, and it should be even more durable once we seal it after it’s all in). We’ll definitely keep you posted! Oh and we did learn that if you’re redoing a kitchen from scratch you should install your cabinets first and then add the floating cork floors around them (like we did in this case as well) since a floating floor shouldn’t have big heavy cabinetry resting on it (remember, it needs to be able to expand and contract a bit to keep from warping – more on that here). So we just thought we’d toss that tip out if it was helpful to anyone.


  1. says

    Have a project taking longer than expected? I sure do! We expected to finish painting our nursery last weekend but because we ended up hating the color, we had to stop for a few days to scratch our heads which has totally screwed up our timeline. It’s like one of those dreams where you can’t get to your destination (or am I the only person who has those dreams?)

  2. Morgan says

    Love how the floors balance everything out! You all were right the whole time :-) 2 questions…are you going to put some type of window treatment on the window over the sink? and does Clara always walk on her tip-toes or was it the new floors? I had never noticed it until this video. I know 2 very random questions.

    • says

      Haha, she doesn’t usually walk on her tiptoes, just randomly from time to time she becomes our little ballerina. Haha. As for the window, I definitely like the idea of a colorful fabric roman shade or even a bamboo one so I’m not sure where we’ll end up, but we’ll keep you posted!


  3. says

    WOW!!! Great job guys! It’s amazing the difference… The darker cork really grounds the space beautifully! Cheering you on from Upstate New York. : )

  4. Anna Lisa says

    Such an improvement! White-on-white-plus-stainless-steel-and-silvery-grey is lovely of course but this really adds the warmth I think a kitchen should have.

  5. Bryanna S says

    aaah it’s looking great!! I’m so excited… the room looks SO much better with the dark floors to ground all the light colors.

    About the video though… does Clara often walk on her tip toes? Or was it just for the video? if she does it a LOT (most to all of the time) I strongly recommend working with her to get her off her toes. I have a few friends who did the same and their parents thought it was super cute (well, it is) and didn’t correct it… now they have all sorts of issues. One has needed surgery, most can’t walk regular. muscles are super tight so they can’t put their feet flat. A year of it probably won’t do much, but if she does it most to all of the time, I recommend working with her to walk more flat and in the mean time stretch her feet a bit so make sure those muscles don’t get stiff and used to being in the tip toe position.

    • says

      Oh no, she usually walks on flat feet- so it’s just occasionally that she does the tip toe thing and then goes back to “normal” – haha. Her doc said the same thing (if she does it a lot it can be an issue, but it’s maybe five percent of the time (and never in shoes).


    • alex says

      I think its just something little kids do…as long as your not encouraging it or pointing it out to her…she will stop…I walked on my top toes til I was like five. It’s just something new and fun they figure out…then skipping…and hopping….and somersaults.

  6. says

    Looks great! I’ve heard cork isn’t great with water. Were you concerned at all putting it in the kitchen? Or is the sealer the magic touch to help this? I really want to put cork in my kitchen – working on convincing the hubster.

    • says

      The manufacturer and a few contractors we know recommended it for kitchens and living areas and even half-bathrooms if it’s sealed, so the only space that’s off limits for cork is a full bathroom (the wetness from a shower or bath can warp it since it’s a lot more excessive than water in a half-bath or kitchen). From what we understand, even big wet spills are ok as long as they’re sopped up right away, but if someone was stepping out of the tub every day onto cork it could hurt it over time since the wetness is such a regular occurrence.


  7. says

    We put in bamboo floors a few years ago and if I never see another nail gun I’ll be happy :)

    Love the floors and that they don’t dent or scratch is huge. Bamboo both scratches and dents, thankfully they can be refinished.

  8. Meredith says

    Yay! Beautiful. Typo alerts:

    I think you mean, “Well, that AND sliding the appliances out…” [the and is missing]

    And also you have a “We though” instead of “We thoughT”

    Just a heads-up. :) John’s facial expression at the end of the first video cracked me up; he looks so pleased with the process!

  9. Belinda says

    Looking great! And I love Clara’s long speech…she’s not related to you guys or anything, right? :)

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