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.

Comments

  1. Bob says

    The cork floor is not working. At least in jpegs. Maybe it works in person, I don’t know. I can’t decide what you want me to look at… the crowded shelves, the massive pendant lights or the floor.

    I’m sure you’re thrilled with the results so far, but I think the room is a missed opportunity. It IS better than before, so I guess there’s that.

  2. Ali says

    They look great!

    Hahaha…it took my husband 2 years to install the base boards in our kitchen. He finally installed them when we moved out! Angry face!

  3. says

    Great progress! So once the floors are finished (sealed, transitions in place, etc), what’s next? Molding for the back of the peninsula?

    • says

      Yup! Then some accessorizing (maybe a window treatment over the sink, possibly some more art, a chair and rug in the corner by the fireplace, etc) and it’s done!

      xo,
      s

  4. says

    Looks beautiful! We were just at Lowe’s last weekend taking a look at floors. I have never seen cork in person and wondered what the flooring would look like in a large space. And now I see your post! Looks beautiful, good luck with finishing the last legs of the project (in my opinion, harder than starting a project). ;)

  5. Nicole says

    I love how everything’s coming together. those cabinets with that penny tile, to die for. are you guys still digging the green wall color now that everything else is almost done, or do you have plans for that too?

    • says

      Yes, we love the color on the walls since the floors and cabinets and counter are all such safe/neutral tones (chocolate + white + light gray + soft avocado = our jam).

      xo,
      s

  6. says

    We have had plenty of projects that run past their “due date!” I think it’s more normal to be behind on home projects than on time! :) The floor looks great! PS- thanks again for contributing on my blog today!

  7. Laura says

    Clara videos make my day. Girl is as cute as they come!

    Also, LOVE the floors. So very rich and luxurious looking. :)

  8. says

    My in-laws have a cork floor in their kitchen and love it! It’s soft to walk on and doesn’t show a lot of scratches when the dogs run around chasing each other like crazy!!

  9. Kristin in OR says

    The floors look amazing! The whole kitchen looks amazing! So different! And you’ve got a little dancer on your hands if Clara loves to walk on her tip toes. :)

  10. says

    I agree with Katrina.. I was a little skeptical at first, too. I’ve definitely come around though.

    How does the cork look next to your existing hardwood flooring? We’re getting ready to rip out the carpet in our office and are considering options for what to put down in it’s place. The rest of our house has gorgeous original oak hardwood, and we want it to flow into the office (which is also how you get in/out of the backyard, necessitating something durable).

    • says

      It looks the best next to the hardwoods in the hall that are close to the same tone but the lighter hardwoods in the dining room are a little weird next to it since they’re not the same tone. Our plan is to eventually refinish all the hardwoods in the house in the same rich mocha color for a seamless look (our first house had wood floors that were all the same color and we loved the easy flow it added).

      xo,
      s

  11. Dianne says

    I generally love coming on your site and seeing what you come up with. This is the first official time I’d have to disagree with a choice you made. As much as I love cork, I just think it doesn’t fit the aesthetic of the room. To each their own and what ultimately matters is that you like it and you do. But I’m just surprised at the choice.

    • says

      No worries Dianne! I think when it comes to decor it’s par for the course for everyone to have a different POV! It seems as though a lot of commenters have revealed that they were originally not into the choice of the cork but they love it now that they’ve seen it, but it’s certainly not for everyone!

      xo,
      s