Cork has numerous advantages, so it is not surprising if it is increasingly being selected as a floor covering in living rooms. A cork floor offers improved noise insulation, especially for bedrooms and children’s rooms, while remaining flexible and elastic. There are different types of cork floors. Here are the instructions for the different types of installation and the costs involved with a professional.
Despite the elastic and insulating effect, a cork floor covering is not quite as robust as many other floors. Therefore, the cork floor is also more suitable for living spaces. There are significant differences in cork flooring, also in terms of the type of installation. Here we show you the instructions for laying a floating cork floor and a working instruction for a fully glued cork tile floor. If you prefer to have a professional do the work, below is an overview of the costs you can expect. However, the prices of the craftsmen vary from region to region.
What you need:
- table saw
- Japanese saw fine
- Rubber hammer
- pull bar
- installation wedges
- Carpet knife / cutter
- notched spatula
- balancing mass
- deep ground
- cork tiles
- Sealing for cork
- Cork panels
- impact sound insulation
Beneficial natural flooring
There are many reasons for a floor covering with cork. Cork simply offers a warmer and at the same time softer foot feeling. Cork flooring is the best choice in bedrooms and especially in children’s rooms. The pleasantly warm surface invites children to play for hours directly on the floor. No mother has to be afraid that the children could catch a cold. Even if the little ones struggle and fall, the consequences are significantly less than with a stone or wooden floor. Cleaning is very easy despite the warm surface. Here’s how it’s done: Clean the cork floor
Facts – cork floor
However, the exact nature of the surface depends on the type of cork floor. Cork flooring, which is now the best-selling type of flooring, is very similar to laminate. The surface is similarly sealed and sometimes even has a wooden decor. After installation, the floor does not look any different than a laminate floor. But the inside consists of the warm, flexible cork. This supports impact sound insulation very effectively, because this floor is laid as a floating floor. In the first guide, we will show you how to lay the floor yourself.
Cork tiles, on the other hand, usually have a natural cork look that is sealed with certain substances. These often square panels are glued to the floor over their entire surface and, depending on the material, have to be sealed again afterwards. This floor covering is particularly suitable for laying on underfloor heating.
Cork is obtained from certain oak trees called cork oaks. This tree has a particularly thick bark that is peeled off every nine years. For the production of both types of cork floors mentioned above, the pieces of bark are chopped into small granules. Then blocks of cork are pressed from the granules, from which thin slices are later cut off. Very noble cork floors consist of these discs, which are additionally coated with a thin layer of natural cork. Completely natural cork sheets are very rare and extremely expensive, but these are used more for noble wall coverings.
Before starting work, you need to consider which type of cork covering you should choose for your floor. Both the cork panels and the cork parquet have their own advantages. While with the panels you can choose whether you prefer a floating installation or whether the floor should be glued, with cork parquet there is only the option of gluing the individual cork tiles firmly to the subsurface. The costs you have to reckon with for a sample room of 30 square meters can be found in our cost overview below.
- Floating floors can be taken with you when you move
- Glued floor usually more suitable for underfloor heating
- Cork panels offer a variety of decors
- The subsurface often has to be additionally prepared with leveling compound for glued floors
- Depending on the sealing, cork parquet is also suitable for damp rooms
Instructions: Lay the cork floor floating
The cork panels must acclimatize in the laying room for at least 24 hours. For this purpose, however, the packages should not be opened, but only kept there at normal room temperature.
1. Lay out impact sound
Even if cork is very flexible and has a good insulating effect, impact sound insulation should always be laid under a floating floor. The cork in the panels is highly compacted and usually sealed with a decorative layer, which would make the floating floor rattle with every step. Incidentally, your heating costs will benefit from footfall sound insulation.
The impact sound panels are laid end to end and glued together. This does not have to be completely continuous, but only serves to prevent slipping. It will then be much easier for you to lay the click panels. Under no circumstances should the impact sound plates overlap.
Tip: Impact sound insulation is available both on the roll and as panels. The roles are usually a little cheaper. However, they are also significantly thinner and more brittle. Especially if there is also a smooth floor underneath, the thin styrofoam rolls like to move around. The mostly green footfall soundboards are more effective and easier to work with.
2. Lay cork panels
With a floating installation, there must always be a gap of around 1.5 centimeters between the edge of the floor and the wall. All natural materials such as wood or cork expand slightly when the temperature changes. The cork panel flooring would squeak if laid up to the wall. The edges are secured to the wall with wedges during the laying of the cork panels. This keeps the joint intact while you lay the floor.
In the first row of cork panels, you often have to make adjustments to the wall. If there are small projections or major bumps of more than five millimeters, you must transfer them to the first row and cut them out there. The easiest way to do this is to click the first row together completely and place it against the wall. You can then use a small spacer to transfer the course of the wall to the row of panels.
Tip: Your children’s painting stencils are very good for transferring the unevenness of a wall. There are usually holes punched out into which you can put the pencil. Otherwise you can easily make such a template from a small board by drilling a hole for the pencil at the right distance.
3. click function
The click panels are first carefully pushed into each other. This is always done in rows. When the panel with the tongue has been pushed into the groove of the previous row, the batter is pushed over the groove on the other side and struck briefly with a rubber mallet. Then the panels firmly click into the previous row. The click function is also used on the side. The side edge pieces on the wall are clicked in place with the pull bar instead of the bat. You can also hit the iron with a rubber mallet until you hear the click.
Tip: You can use the leftover piece of the side sawn panel as a starting panel in the next row. However, it should be at least 20 centimeters long, otherwise the panel can break out of the guide.
You usually have to adapt the last row to the wall again. Proceed in a similar way to the first row. You should also join the last row together and then measure the distance to the wall. Use the jigsaw to adjust the entire row. This row is also inserted with the pull bar.
Tip: Use a skirting board that matches the decor of the cork panels. Many manufacturers also offer skirting boards and matching panels for pipe passages for every decor. If you have little experience with miter cuts, you should also buy the corresponding inside and outside corners for the baseboards.
Glue and seal cork parquet
The click panels mentioned above can also be glued over the entire surface, in which case, of course, no impact sound insulation needs to be placed underneath. With cork parquet, which always has to be glued, there are two variants that differ slightly in terms of processing. One variant is already prepared for gluing on the underside, here only the subsurface has to be coated with glue. For the other panels, the cork tile and the substrate must be coated with adhesive. A special cork contact adhesive is used for this.
Tip: The cork tiles also need to acclimate. You should put the cork tiles in the room between 24 and 48 hours before gluing. Then turn up the heating there. If it is the living room, the room temperature should be 22 degrees during this phase. In a bedroom, about 18 degrees should be created for acclimatization.
1. Level the ground
Depending on the substrate, this must be prepared. Highly absorbent substrates must either be provided with a primer or a primer. You should level an old tiled floor with a leveling compound, otherwise the tile pattern will be transferred to the surface. In any case, other floors must be thoroughly cleaned, dust-free and dry before cork tiles can be glued down.
Tip: With a concrete floor, you may have to apply a leveling layer of at least two millimeters to the subsurface so that the adhesive can set securely later. So you have to find out exactly which pre-treatment is recommended for your substrate in connection with the appropriate adhesive. If this cannot be found out in advance, you should initially only glue one cork board and check after drying whether the adhesion was sufficient.
2. Glue the cork boards together
Pre-glued cork sheets are simply placed on a bed of cork glue and pressed down with a rubber mallet or a small pressure roller. Depending on the manufacturer, either a short-pile velor roller or a toothed spatula is used to apply the cork adhesive.
Tip: Pay close attention to the adhesive manufacturer’s instructions. Some adhesives need to flash off for a few minutes after application, while others need to be bonded to the cork sheets immediately.
Cork boards that are not pre-glued must also have a layer of contact adhesive on the underside in addition to the cork adhesive on the subsurface. These plates must also be pressed or struck firmly. Make sure that there are no gaps and that the panels are at right angles.
You still need to seal some types of adhesive cork after installation. The special cork varnish is in most cases low in solvents, but must be applied in three layers. An extensive drying time must always be observed between the sealings. In contrast to the sealing of a wooden floor, however, the cork parquet floor must not be sanded between the individual sealings. In addition, the seal should be applied quite generously with a velor roller. Pay attention to the drying times and the curing times before the floor is fully load bearing.
Tip: If you want to use the floor as quickly as possible, you should definitely buy end-sealed cork parquet. Then all you have to do is observe the drying time of about one day. However, you should wait three days before setting up the furniture until the glue has dried completely. There is also a pre-sealed type of sticky cork that only needs a layer of sealing.
The craftsmen usually charge hourly wages. Depending on the region in which you want to have a floor laid, this is between 15 and 40 euros for a carpenter. In large cities and in southern Germany you will probably not find a trained carpenter for less than 30 euros an hour for the floor covering. However, you can also entrust a carpet layer with the task of laying the floor covering that is glued over the entire surface. This is particularly useful as a complete package with the floor covering. In general, you should always obtain three offers from different craftsmen for a larger number of square meters.
- Select craftsmen depending on the type of installation
- Check hourly wages, but agree on a flat rate if possible
- Obtain three offers for the costs of larger construction projects
- always have the work done on account, otherwise there is no guarantee of the work
Tip: Many craftsmen want to know in advance exactly what to expect and either check the material or buy it themselves. You should take this into account, especially if you have to calculate hourly wages. What you have then saved on the material, you otherwise spend several times on the craftsman’s wages. Our tip is therefore to always involve the craftsman in the purchase, because he knows the subject matter and deals with it every day. This is how you find the best cork flooring for your purposes, which will last a long time.
Here is a small example of the costs you have to reckon with in each case. In our example, we took a large room of 30 square meters as a basis. With both variants there are of course very significant differences in the prices that are demanded in the trade, so all prices listed are approximate guide values.
Cost cork with click system
- Inexpensive – 14 euros square meter – 30 square meters – 420 euros – with skirting board – 480 euros
- Medium – 25 euros square meter – 30 square meters – 750 euros – with skirting board – 900 euros
- High – 50 euros square meter – 30 square meters – 1500 euros – with skirting board – 2,000 euros
- Skirting between 1.50 and 15 euros per meter depending on the quality of the floor
- Impact sound insulation about 2 euros per square meter – 30 square meters – 60 euros
- Small material complete for 30 square meters – about 10 euros
Cost of fully glued cork
The prices refer to already sealed cork. Unsealed cork was hardly to be found in the offers.
- Inexpensive – 16 euros square meter – 30 square meters – 480 euros – with skirting board – 540 euros
- Medium – 28 euros square meter – 30 square meters – 840 euros – with skirting board – 1,000 euros
- High – 65 euros square meter – 30 square meters – 1,950 euros – with skirting board – 2,500 euros
- Glue – about 300 grams per square meter are required – 30 square meters = 9 kilos – containers with 5.5 kilos about 60 euros – floor complete 120 euros
- Small items – about 20 euros
Tips for speed readers
- Select floor type and adapt to the purpose
- Floating cork panels with click system
- Lay out impact sound
- Match panel row one to wall
- Always secure the click system laterally with wedges
- Lay out panels in combination
- Fit the last row of panels with cork
- If necessary, prepare the floor with leveling compound
- Mix the glue if necessary
- Apply the adhesive to the substrate with a notched trowel
- Work off small areas – glue dries quickly
- Lay out the cork parquet – press down with a roller
- finally roll again
- possibly seal the cork surface
- Obtain several cost estimates for relocation