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. Amy says

    The room looks great, but why I really had to comment was to thank you for another video with Clara in it. My son (he’s 2) was kind of cranky last night, so I showed him a video of her and it calmed him right down. At least until it finished and he said, “More Clara!”

  2. says

    Oh. Em. Gee. I adore your kitchen! It looks incredible, you guys certainly have an eye for design…I would hire you in a heart beat to design mine for sure! ;)

  3. Jenn W-M says

    The floors are looking so great!!! Thanks for the real life timing. We have a 16 month old and I always felt frusterated because I could not get things done in a timely manner. Thanks for showing us you can spread a project out over naps or days. Though, our little one refuses to nap through anything DIY related – esp painting.

    • says

      Aw man, I don’t know what we’d do if we couldn’t DIY over naptime! Although the best chunk of time is when Clara’s in bed for the night (after 7:30). So many night projects going on in our world. Haha.


  4. says

    A project that has taken longer than expected? Our kitchen floor! (haha) We made great timing getting through our kitchen renovation (Thanksgiving to New Years) but then I got pregnant, which is wonderful and very exciting, but was suddenly too sick to do anything. So, our floor sits missing most transitions and all baseboards and base shoe. We have yet to buy the tile to do our backsplash too but at least all of our appliances are functional!

    • says

      Congrats on the baby! I’m sure after the morning sickness passes you’ll be raring to go! I was such a nester before Clara came I wanted everything done done done!


  5. says

    They look awesome! Your kitchen looks so warm with the rich floors! I think once it was done, I would want to lie down and hug the floors. it possible to hug floors??

  6. says

    I love the floors!! I swear, you guys can do it all!

    We are moving to a new house in the next three weeks and I find myself wanting to rush and get it done and make everything perfect, even though we don’t have the time or the budget to do that. How do you deal with having things imperfect for a certain amount of time? I need to learn to take my time and things design ideas through. Does it ever bother you do have things disorganized/unfinished in your home?


    • says

      I think in our first house we expected to have everything done right away and were frustrated when things took a while and the house was messy and in-progress. But then we learned over 4.5 years of living there that a house is never done and you can’t do it all in one week or one month or even one year (and if you’re a DIYer you actually love having projects going on) so we embrace the in-progress lifestyle of being DIYers and completely know that it takes years to get where you want to be! But that’s what makes for the best rooms- the ones that come together thoughtfully over time (instead of being thrown together quickly on a crazy deadline). Hope it helps!


  7. olivia says

    Wow, it looks fantastic! I absolutely love your kitchen makeover-it’s been so fun to follow. (I know it’s not all the way done yet, but it looks pretty done from those last few pics!)

  8. says

    Don’t get me started in flooring taking longer than expected! We are currently in the middle of installing laminate in our new upstairs. We started on a long weekend and the original plan was to finish the whole floor that weekend (or at least in the evening that week). Now, here we are several weeks later and only one room is done! Another to go, plus a hallway and closet!

  9. Bridget says

    lookin good!!! sidenote: I had a seriously weird dream about seeing you guys… I was at an open house and you guys were there too, but I was too shy to say hi. But then you asked me to take a photo of you guys and Clara, so then I was like “No problem! I”m a hug fan!” and then Sherry got super creeped out that I knew you and I ran out the door. The end. Like I said weird dream… Happy Thursday!

    • says

      Haha, so weird! I’d probably just awkwardly chat you up while Clara pulls my shirt down or talks about pooping (or something equally embarrassing). Haha.


  10. Meghan says

    The cork floor looks fantastic with the white cabinets! Are you going to continue it through the whole house?

    • says

      We’re planning to stain the hardwood floors that we have everywhere else in the same mocha color so it all feels more seamless and has a nice easy flow. We love hardwood too, so mixing it with cork when it’s all the same tone should be nice.


  11. Michelle says

    LOVE it! The cork is beautiful.

    My hubby and I installed a laminate floating floor in our living room and hallway. Such a marvelous improvement over carpet!

  12. says

    Looks awesome! I love the dark mocha contrast with the white cabinets.

    We’re working on building a dining room table from reclaimed wood and doing a collage on top of all the sports tickets I’ve saved for the last 10 years (sports nuts over here!) Needless to say, it’s a project that’s taking A LOT longer than anticipated (we started in early January and we’re still. Not. Done.)

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