5 Apr 2024

Over the past few years, we’ve seen architects, designers, and decorators embracing cork as a sustainable alternative to traditional flooring options. Warm, stylish, quiet, comfortable, and low maintenance are just a few of the characteristics and benefits of cork that people are drawn to. 

After choosing the award-winning Original Shell for a reimagined living area or perhaps Concrete Nordic for a stone-look kitchen, the next exciting phase is installation.  

When it comes to cork flooring installation, there are two options: a glue-down cork floor or a floating cork floor. While glue-down tiles provide superior moisture resistance and durability, floating floor planks offer easier installation and versatility. Read on to discover the pros and cons of each type of installation method.


A cosy bookshop with Cork Wise flooring, inviting readers into a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

Glue-down cork tiles or planks

Did you know cork is the only wood product that is naturally water resistant? Just look at the way wine bottles are sealed, preventing any liquid from seeping in or out. For your flooring to protect against water, mildew or mould, the cork tiles require an additional sealing process. 


How glue-down cork flooring is installed

Installing cork tiles involves adhering them directly to the subfloor using a manufacturer-recommended adhesive. 

This process typically involves:

  1. Preparing the subfloor: Ensure the subfloor is level, dry, clean, and free of imperfections.
  2. Applying adhesive: Use a non-toxic contact adhesive to adhere the cork tiles to the subfloor.
  3. Rolling and finishing: Use a drum roller to level out the tiles and apply the required number of finish coats recommended by the manufacturer.


Advantages of glue-down cork flooring 

  • High moisture resistance: Naturally water-resistant and with the added protection of a sealant, glue-down tiles are non-negotiable for areas exposed to constant moisture, such as bathrooms or gyms. 
  • Stability: A glue-down floor is a more permanent solution than a floating floor. The tiles are firmly anchored to the subfloor to deliver a solid feeling underfoot and no shifting between the floor and the subfloor. 
  • Customisation: Glue-down tiles allow for more flexibility in design and pattern choices; they can be easily cut and arranged to achieve unique layouts and motifs. 


Disadvantages of glue-down cork flooring

  • Complex installation: Compared to floating cork floors, glue-down cork floors require a more labour-intensive and complicated installation process. 
  • Subfloor requirements: Proper installation of glue-down cork tiles necessitates a level and clean subfloor of plywood, cement, or concrete. 
  • Higher installation cost: Due to the specialised installation process, equipment needed, and labour involved, professional installation of glue-down cork tiles may come with a higher price tag. 

The takeaway: While glued-down cork tiles offer excellent moisture resistance and durability, they may take longer to install due to the complexity of the process and the need to prepare the subfloor for a level surface.


An open kitchen with Cork Wise flooring, radiating a modern and environmentally-friendly ambience.

Floating cork floor

Floating cork floor planks, on the other hand, are easier to install and suitable for most areas of the house – excluding high-moisture environments. These planks interlock with each other, eliminating the need for adhesives or nails, and can be installed over your existing floors. 

How floating cork flooring is installed

Unlike its cork tile counterpart, installing floating cork floors is a little simpler and it is possible for a DIY’er to tackle. If you ever want to replace the floor down the track, you won’t need to go through the trouble of ripping everything out and spending hours and extra money on fixing the subfloor. Just unclick the planks and sweep!

The installation process involves:

  1. Preparing the subfloor: Ensure the existing floor is level, dry, and clean.
  2. Installing the planks: Interlock the cork planks to create a floating floor that requires no adhesives or fasteners.
  3. Seam sealing (optional): Some homeowners may choose to apply seam sealants or topcoats for added protection, although it’s not always necessary.


Advantages of a floating cork floor

  • Easy installation: As long as the pre-existing floor is dry, level, and clean, a floating cork floor offers a straightforward installation process. 
  • Versatility: They work well in most domestic and commercial interiors and can be installed over existing subfloors like vinyl, laminate, or ceramic.
  • Durability: Cork floor planks can withstand wear and tear. In the event of damage, replacement is easy and affordable. 


Disadvantages of a floating cork floor

  • Limited moisture resistance: They are not suitable for moisture-prone areas, and additional sealants or topcoats are required for added protection.
  • Limited lifespan: Cork floating floors may have a shorter lifespan compared to glue-down tiles, especially in high-traffic areas.

The takeaway: Cork floating floors are easier to install, can be conveniently repaired plank by plank, and are compatible with various subfloors. However, they can be vulnerable to moisture if not properly sealed. 


Get in touch with the cork flooring experts

At Market Timbers, we’re passionate about sharing the remarkable sustainability of cork flooring. Our knowledgeable and friendly team is here to provide expert advice and inspiration, from eco-friendly flooring installations to choosing the perfect colour palette. Reach out or drop by our showroom today! 

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