Greg’s Cork Flooring Project – Employee Project

Windsor Plywood’s Advertising Manager, Greg, sent in photos and comments about the 11MM Bevel Cork flooring he installed at home:

“We’ve been in our house for just over a year and had an 11′ x 10′ ground floor room with old carpeting that was not in bad shape but needed to be replaced to make the room more comfortable. The rest of the house is hard maple hardwood and this was the last room with carpet.

Old foam underlay beneath the carpet over concrete but it always felt cold to walk on and being carpet was hard to keep clean.  We decided to replace it with 11mm cork tiles.

Materials and Tools:
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  • 10 boxes of Winchester 11mm prefinished cork tile flooring from Windsor Plywood
  • 2 rolls of Quietwalk underlay (perfect for over concrete with it’s built-in vapour barrier)
  • Table saw is ideal or a Rockwell BladeRunner Tabletop Saw.
  • Safety mask or goggles
  • Dust mask and gloves (for the carpet removal)
  • Hammer and pry bar
  • Rubber mallet
  • Utility knife and a good pair of scissors (for cutting the underlay)
  • Pencil
  • Tape measure
  • Ruler or T-Square
  • Hygrometer
  • Gorilla Tape or Tuck tape
  • Flooring install kit with spacers, tapping block and pull bar
  • A box of finishing nails and construction adhesive (for reinstalling existing baseboards that need moving)
  • Baseboard chalking
  • Wood T-moulding for under the door

5_hygrometer-webPrep: Used a hygrometer to measure the room temperature and the relative humidity levels. I normally keep our hygrometer upstairs where we have solid hard maple hardwood flooring throughout our main level, stairs and upstairs bedrooms. For cork flooring, the room should be between 17-23 degrees Celsius with a relative humidity of 45 – 60 percent. The room is on the front of the house, always in shade and even on the hottest summer day the room only gets up to 23 degrees Celsius with the windows closed and A/C off.

2_before_carpet-webPulled up the old carpet and underlay. Carefully pulled up all of the old carpet tack strips around the perimeter of the room (strips of wood with small nails through it to keep the carpet in place), then scrapped away any residue and adhesive from the old underlay.

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Checked the bare concrete for moisture problems, holes or cracks and evenness. I was able to leave half of the existing baseboard mouldings in place as the cork tiles with the underlay fit under it nicely. For tight areas like the closet and the final row up against the wall with the hallway door,  I removed the baseboards to make it easier to click together and drop in the last row of tiles.  A small crowbar made removing the baseboards very easy.  Pulled out any bent nails in the baseboards through the back side of the mouldings to keep the face side clean for reinstallation later.

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The cork is a floating floor so no nailing or gluing required. Unrolled the Quietwalk underlay with the vapour barrier side up and butt taped the lengths together with gorilla tape.  I found that the best way to cut the Quietwalk underlay is with a good pair of scissors.  I tested making cuts with utility knives, shears and several pairs of scissors but found a heavy duty kitchen pair that cut it very cleanly and easily.

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I loosely put down the first roll of tiles along the length of the back wall (which is the longest length of the room) and cut off the tongue along the edge that faced the wall so the tiles fit in well under the baseboards.  Also used spacers, so the flooring was not fully against the walls to give room for expansion (required for all wood flooring … though cork is actually the bark of the tree).  Used a BladeRunner X2 portable table saw to make my cuts.

rockwell-bladerunnerA traditional handsaw would have worked fine but the Rockwell Bladerunner (it’s like an upside down jigsaw built into a table) made it very quick, easy and clean (especially with the built-in vacuum hose attachment). Also much quieter for indoor use than a full table saw with a rotating blade and the whole unit is only 15 pounds! Note that the photo does not show the jigsaw blade for safety reasons (quickly and easily pops out when not is use). A great tool for DIYers and quick little jobs. I’ve used it to cut ceramic tiles, melamine shelving, metal bars (to shorten a safety bar hanger that I installed between attic floor joists for a ceiling fan), rip flat stock moulding and for scroll work. However, for very fine cuts for mouldings or very thick materials you definitely need a circular table saw or a chop saw.  7_cork-web

The cork tiles click together and you use a tap bar and mallet to make sure the joints are tight; then a pull bar for the end pieces when you don’t have room for the tap bar. With all the tiles down, reinstalled the baseboards I pulled out and just need a piece of wood t-moulding under the door to cover the gap between the cork and the hallway floor.

We’ve noticed a big difference with the cork flooring. It absorbs sound and insulates so the floor is never cold, even in bare feet on a cold day. The Quietwalk underlay gives the flooring an R value. It’s also anti-allergenic, anti-static (no more zaps when walking around in socks!) and is very easy to clean. Prefinished with 3 layers of polyurethane for durability and very comfortable to walk on, not hard like ceramic tile or laminate floorings. No more carpet!

Greg, Langley, BC

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