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Why We Chose Cork
For a moment I thought I wanted to paint the cement floors in at least part of the basement. But as soon as winter hit, I couldn’t wait to cover up that cold, blah cement floor. I wanted a material that would warm up the floor. I also preferred using the same flooring material throughout the basement bedroom (my office), the kitchenette, and the bathroom.
I have always been drawn to less conventional flooring materials. In our last home, we installed beautiful bamboo floors in our master bedroom. As more and more cork options came to market, I got interested in cork.. There are so many beautiful bamboo and cork flooring color options. Here is the cork along with some other basement finishes we are planning (including bamboo):
Cork has some wonderful qualities that I was drawn to for our basement:
- Cork is insulating making it warm under foot compared to tile or wood floors. Cork is very resilient. With two rough and tumble boys and a 45 lb. dog we need a durable floor.
- Cork has self-healing properties from minor dents and scratches. Cork can bounce back.
- Cork is one of the few flooring types other than tile that is suitable for a bathroom. Cork is water-repellent and mold-resistant. With the floating cork floors I am using, which have a thick layer of cork on the top over wood/MDF, I have to take some precautions in the bathroom. The install will include silicone and glue for the bathroom.
Some Installation Tips
I thought about doing how-to post, but there are already so many. This is simply click-lock flooring, so the install is very straight forward. John and Sherry recently installed a cork floor in their kitchen and shared some helpful how-to advice on Young House Love. Instead, I am going to share my top tips for DIY flooring success.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. Our new cork floor is in the basement. I had to install a moisture barrier before putting down the floor. It was like rolling around in a big giant black trash bag. I sort of stressed about having it perfectly laid out, then I gave up. I realized it shouldn’t be that hard. So I smoothed it out the best I could and moved on.
- Use your boxes of flooring to your advantage. The moisture barrier is supposed to go up the wall a couple of inches during the installation and get trimmed down later. I saw so many tips online saying to use painters tape to hold the moisture barrier to the wall. Big fail! I used boxes of unopened flooring to weigh down the moisture barrier by the walls while I was spreading it out. It also works well to weigh down your first few rows of flooring so it doesn’t move when you are installing the other rows and using the tapping block.
- Use sheathing tape for the seams of the moisture barrier. The 6 mil black moisture barrier comes with adhesive strips at the edges for the seams, but they don’t hold. I found water-proof sheathing tape at the contractor’s checkout counter in Home Depot. It is a bright red, very sticky tape. It is water-proof. I used it to tape over any seams in the moisture barrier after overlapping them about 8 inches.
- Get the saw up off the floor. To complete this install we borrowed my dad’s compound miter saw. In the past, we have had a bad habit of using the saw on the floor for other projects, because we did not have a proper work bench. You will be crawling around on the floor enough, so don’t add to it when cutting the flooring. I was able to put the saw up on one of my Martha Stewart craft space cabinets. It was the perfect height. I plan to put a new countertop across these cabinets, so I was not concerned with scratches. Normally if I set a saw on a piece of furniture I would have put cardboard or something to protect the top.
- Measure twice, cut once, and make sure you are cutting off the right end of the plank. More than I care to admit I cut the wrong end. There is a tongue on one short side and one long side of the flooring. The tongues have to go in the grooves of the piece laid before it. You can’t turn them around. I made it a habit of laying the plank to cut on the floor in the right direction next to the plank it would attach to and measuring right there.
- Use the cut off end of the row to start the next row and you will always have staggered seams. This worked really well for me, except once I got into the kitchenette area with lots of angles. Then I just had to fudge it.
Properly installed floating cork floors are almost seamless. They are so soft to walk on. I think I am going will be very happy I extended the cork flooring into the bedroom which will be my home office.