Cork flooring consists of cork chippings or granules bonded together with resin to make a warm, resilient natural floor covering. Available in a range of wood tones, cork wears well and has good insulant properties.
A popular form of cork flooring is the cork tile, which is available in several thicknesses. Cork tiles may be unsealed, wax-coated or sealed with a clear polyurethane. The tiles are either 250mm2 or 300mm2 in size.
Estimating the number of tiles needed is done in the same way as for vinyl tiles, allowing five per cent for cutting and wastage. A patterned floor can be planned on paper first to enable the correct number of tiles of each type to be bought.
Before starting to lay unsealed cork tiles, these should be conditioned.
Spread the tiles out in the room where they are to be laid for 24 hours before use. Sealed or waxed tiles do not need this conditioning. Cork tiles should not be laid directly on a concrete sub-floor that has no damp-proof membrane.
Setting out the room is done in the same way as for laying vinyl tiles. Start tiling at the centre right-angle where the guidelines cross.
Neoprene-basedis used to fix unsealed tiles; sealed tiles are fixed with an recommended by the manufacturers.
Start at the centre guideline and spread about lm2 of, using a notched spreader to make a ridged keying surface. Work up to, but not over, the chalked line. Place the first tile at one of the four angles made by the guidelines and press into place. Continue tiling the area, butting the tiles up carefully. Avoid allowing adhesive to get on to the face of the tiles.
Unsealed tiles are particularly difficult to clean. On sealed or waxed tiles, immediately wipe off any spillage with a damp cloth.
At edges, scribe and cut a tile to fit, using a tile-width piece ofor card to mark the line to be cut, and cut with a sharp knife. Cork tiles should always be cut on the smooth side with a very sharp blade.
Continue to tile the entire room area, laying an area of lm2 at a time. As each section of tiling is completed, use a rubber roller to smooth them down.
Cutting in round awkward shapes or projections is best achieved by cutting out a template, or by using a template former to transfer the outline to the tile to be cut.
Cork, in common with other forms of floor tiling, should finish under the door when in a closed position. Once laid, a cork floor should be left to settle for 24 to 48 hours.
Care and maintenance
Cork tiles are easy to maintain. Sealed tiles merely require wiping over with a damp cloth or mop. Waxed tiles require mopping and re-waxing occasionally.