The Unbeatable Value of Cork Tile Flooring | Blog

Posted on May 8, 2024

Cork Tile Flooring - Bathroom

Cork tile flooring has been used for nearly a century; not just in homes, but also in high traffic locations from the Library of Congress to Sierra Nevada Brewing. This article explains the unbeatable value of cork tiles, and discusses both the commercial and residential applications for our Classic Collection of glue-down cork tiles.

Advantages of Cork Tile Flooring

People chose cork tiles for their naturally beauty, but also because of cork’s unbeatable value as a flooring material. This is due in part to cork’s amazing cellular structure, containing roughly 200 million enclosed air cells per cubic inch. As a result, cork tile floors are:

  1. Sustainable – material comes from the BARK of cork oak tree. Trees are never cut down, and are more carbon negative while bark grows back between harvests! Cork has the best sustainability story of any flooring material.
  2. Healthy – naturally anti-fungal, anti-microbial, and hypo-allergenic.
  3. Acoustic – reduces sound transfer between floors, as well as room echo.
  4. Insulating – stabilizes room temperatures.
  5. Comfortable – feels soft and warm.
  6. Durable – In addition to the compressibility, resiliency, and water-resistance covered on our benefits of cork page, see longevity below.

Longevity of Cork Tile Floors

Longevity is key component to the durability referenced above. As opposed to floors with a decorative veneer, our Classic floor tiles are solid cork all the way through. Although this may make them relatively more expensive, the longevity and value of the floor increases significantly. Classic cork floor owners buff and refinish them for decades, rejuvenating them to look fabulous! (See installation and maintenance instructions for more details.)

Classic Collection Glue-Down Cork Tiles

Our Classic Collection of glue-down cork tiles have been installed commercially and residentially since the 70’s, including nearly 70,000 sf in the world famous Mayo Clinic. They are a commercial staple, with applications including restaurants, hotels, museums, libraries, churches, educational buildings, and others. Residential applications for Classic cork tiles include bathrooms, kitchens, and any room in the house except basements. It’s important to always install cork tile flooring at or above grade, to prevent possible loosening of the adhesive should water seep up through the subfloor that is not properly sealed.

Cork Tile Pre-Finish & Stain

Unless ordered unfinished, Classic cork tiles come pre-finished with Greenshield. This high-performance water-based urethane finish with aluminum oxide delivers long-term wear and scratch resistance for the floor, and is four times stronger than most of the UV acrylic finishes on the market.

A natural range of colors will occur within each Classic shade (light, medium, and dark). If the goal is a more consistent color, order tiles stained, or order as unfinished and then stain after installation. The images below compare the look of our Classic Medium tiles with and without a stain. The tiles in the kitchen installation are stained, giving a darker and more consistent coloring. The museum installation is without stain, so the variation of tile colors is more pronounced.

Classic Medium Stained -Cork Tile Flooring -Kitchen

Classic Medium Shade cork tiles, stained – Kitchen

Classic Medium - Cork Tile Flooring - Museum

Classic Medium Shade cork tiles, not stained – Museum

Cork Floor Tile Comparison

The chart below shows the standard options for the Classic cork tiles that we keep in stock:

VisualColorStocked FinishStocked ThicknessesStocked Dimensions

Classic Light Shade Cork Tile Swatch

get sample
Light ShadeUnfinished or Greenshield3/16″ (4.8mm)
1/4″ (6mm)
5/16″ (8mm)
1/2″ (12mm)
12″ x 12″
23.62″ x 11.81″
24″ x 12″
24″ x 24″

Classic Medium Shade Cork Tile Swatch

get sample
Medium ShadeUnfinished or Greenshield3/16″ (4.8mm)
5/16″ (8mm)
1/2″ (12mm)
*see note
12″ x 12″
24″ x 24″
*see note

Classic Dark Shade Cork Tile Swatch

get sample
Dark ShadeGreenshield
*see note
3/16″ (4.8mm)
5/16″ (8mm)
*see note
12″ x 12″
*see note
*Other options for finish, thicknesses, and dimensions are available for any shade on special orders of at least 3,000 sf.

Installing Cork Tiles

The video below provides instructions for installing Classic glue-down cork tiles. Please note that for commercial installations, we recommend adding a few coats of BONA Traffic HD to seal the floor. Be careful to also adhere to our Classic Collection installation and maintenance instructions.

Cork Tile Adhesive

WECORK recommends 3M Fastbond 30-NF Contact Adhesive, as referenced in the installation video above. Please follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully when applying the glue to ensure success adhesion. For your convenience, you can purchase 3M Fastbond 30-NF Contact Adhesive in the WECORK store in quart and gallon sizes. It is also readily available elsewhere online.

Floating Floor Cork Tile Alternative

Our Serenity and Timeless Collections offer floating floor cork tile options. Serenity tiles have a special hot coating and are rated for full commercial and residential use, whereas Timeless tiles are rated for light commercial and residential use. Both collections of floating cork tiles feature an easy-to-install Uniclic system, as well as alternative visual patterns of cork, hardwood, and stone.

Serenity and Timeless floating cork tiles are great for use throughout the home (including basements), but we do not usually recommend installation in full bathrooms. Reason being, spilled water could seep in between the tiles and potentially damage the HDF used for the Uniclic system.

When Serenity floating tiles are used for commercial applications, it is generally on a smaller scale than Classic glue-down tiles. Practically speaking, floating floors require expansion joints every 30 ft, which may not be the desired look for larger commercial installments. Read our Floating Cork Tiles – Usage & Options to learn more.

Getting Your Cork Tile Samples

The chart above has links to our sample store for the individual Classic Collection colors, making it easy to get your hands on the cork floor tiles you are interested in. Order your samples today, and start envisioning how cork tiles can breathe new life into your home or building!