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How Much Does It Cost to Install Cork Flooring?

Low
$1,470
Average Cost
$2,120
High
$3,570
(200 square feet of long cork flooring planks, installed)

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How Much Does It Cost to Install Cork Flooring?

Low
$1,470
Average Cost
$2,120
High
$3,570
(200 square feet of long cork flooring planks, installed)

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If you want a natural flooring material for your home but do not love the look and feel of hardwood, cork flooring may be the perfect alternative. Cork is a great thermal insulator, helping rooms stay warmer. It is also naturally water and mold-resistant and feels soft and springy underfoot.

There are several types of cork flooring, from tiles to planks, including those that have been stained or finished in some way. This leads to a wide range of associated costs for the project. The national average range for installing cork flooring in the home is between $1,800 and $3,000, with most homeowners paying $2,122 for 200sq.ft. of printed cork tile flooring, professionally installed.

Cork Flooring Costs

Cork flooring installation costs
National average cost$2,122
Average range$1,800-$3,000
Minimum cost$1,469
Maximum cost$3,568


Updated: What's new?

Cork Flooring Installation Cost by Project Range

Low
$1,470
200 square feet of natural cork tiles, installed
Average Cost
$2,120
200 square feet of long cork flooring planks, installed
High
$3,570
300 square feet of long cork flooring planks, including subfloor prep work

Cork Flooring Cost Calculator

The cost to install cork flooring varies depending on materials used and labor needed. It comes in a variety of styles, with stained and textured flooring running at a premium. The cork tiles price also vary by brand, with many supplies offering a unique take on the product. While cork is an attractive and somewhat novel flooring option, you should consider installation and upkeep cost in your cork flooring cost per square foot estimates. For example, many cork floors should be resealed every two to three years. You can use this cork flooring cost calculator to guide your home improvement decision-making.

Cork Flooring Cost Calculator

Costs to install cork flooring vary greatly by region. Let’s calculate the cost for your zip code.
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NATIONAL COSTS
Average Cost
$2,122
Low Cost
$1,469
High Cost
$3,568
See Cork Flooring Cost Calculator Breakdown 


Cork Flooring Cost Per Square Foot

The bark of the cork oak tree is harvested and ground, mixed with resin, and then formed into sheets and baked in a kiln to create cork flooring. Cork comes in planks or tiles and in a variety of colors and designs. It is valued for providing softer walking surfaces, soundproofing, and insulating qualities. A homeowner pays $8.50 per sq.ft. for cork flooring on average. The table below lists the various cork types and the cost per square foot:


Cork Flooring Cost Per Square Foot

Cork Flooring Cost Per Square Foot


TypePrice (per sq.ft.)
Natural Cork$3 - $6
Printed Cork$4 - $9.50
Waterproof Cork$5 - $9
Nugget Cork$6 - $9
Color Cork$7 - $8.50
Natural Cork with Striata$8 - $8.50
Color Cork with Striata$10 - $10.50


Natural Cork Flooring

Natural cork is the least expensive of the cork flooring, starting at around $3 per sq.ft. Low-end cork is often thin, requiring additional work or support to bring out the quality and comfort. Because cork is natural and not manufactured, every piece shows slight variations in the light brown coloration. Expect to pay $3 - $6 per sq. ft. for natural cork.

Printed Cork Flooring

Printed cork comes in many colors with the design addition of digitally imprinted colors and textures. The pattern is printed directly into the cork laminate, making the design permanent. Printed flooring, at $4 - $9.50 per sq. ft., is among the most beautiful of the cork choices. The printed version of cork is versatile, with a pattern or design mixed with color to create floors suitable for any room, especially high-traffic areas that also must be attractive.

Waterproof Cork Flooring

Cork flooring is naturally water-resistant, with the natural sebum mixing with the resins in the flooring to repel water. However, it is not waterproof, which means that prolonged contact with moisture can cause swelling. If you plan to use the tile in a bathroom or other wet area, purchase a tile that has been given a further, waterproof finish for best results. Waterproof cork flooring averages between $5 - $9 per sq. ft. and is available in many colors and patterns.

Nugget Cork Flooring

Nugget cork has long grains, with greater variety in coloration and a more noticeable texture due to the dominant light color. The design resembles little nuggets of wood against the lighter background. Nugget cork is available in natural or colors to coordinate with any home. A homeowner spends $6 - $9 per sq. ft. on average for this flooring.

Colored Cork Flooring

If you are looking for a particular color or shade, colored cork flooring is an alternative. Cork can be stained in many colors, from wood colors in light tan, golden honey, and dark brown or solid colors in any rainbow shade. Most colored or stained cork is given a coat of sealant at the factory, which helps it repel moisture even better than natural cork. Although colored cork can be used in any area, it may be more susceptible to fading from sunlight. Regardless of your decor, you can find a cork floor to accent any color scheme for $7 - $8.50 per sq. ft.

Natural Cork with Striata Flooring

Another option for cork floors is the striata pattern. The natural tones of cork flooring have dark flecks scattered over the top of lighter areas, which gives it a porous appearance. Striata texturing adds delicate long grains with a bit more contrast in the cork. The combination of natural brown tones blends well with any home furnishings for $8 - $8.50 per sq. ft. on average.

Color Cork with Striata Flooring

Staining or coloring cork produces beautiful variations on the natural flooring, but there is another option within the color category, which is color cork with a striata pattern. For $10 - $10.50 per sq. ft., this flooring has all the attributes of cork with the addition of a wide variety of colors from light to bright, accenting the fine grain pattern.

Cork Tiles Prices

Cork tiles are the most common form and generally come in squares that are 12” x 12” or 12” x 24”. Tiles vary in thickness with lower-grade tiles being around 3/16” thick and high-end ones about 5/16” thick or more. The thicker tiles tend to feel better underfoot and also provide better insulation.

Cork comes from the bark of the cork oak tree. As such, you can expect some slight variation in color between tiles or batches of tiles. Cork tiles are generally made from solid cork and may be stained with a water-based wood stain for added color and depth. The least expensive cork tiles cost between $3 - $6 per sq.ft. while you can find more decorative versions costing closer to $10 a square foot.

Cork Plank Flooring Cost

Cork planks look much like hardwood flooring planks, are typically around 4” x 36”, and cost $4 - $8 per sq.ft. on average. They consist of a bottom layer of high-density fiberboard (HDF), one or more inner layers of particle board, and a thin layer of cork on top. Cork planks contain interlocking joints that are designed to snap together via a tongue and groove joint 6. Hence, they do not require any adhesive, nails, or staples to bond them to the subfloor 9. This is known as a floating installation and allows you to float the cork over an existing floor as well as a new subfloor, making it a good option for encapsulating old floors.

Cork Floor Cost by Brand

When choosing cork, you have several high-quality brands to choose from. To help you decide, we listed* a few of the leading manufacturers as well as their top characteristics and a breakdown of the price.


Cork Flooring Cost

Cork Flooring Cost


BrandCharacteristicsPrice
iCork

Tiles and planks in a variety of sizes

Products are shipped directly to the contractor and not stored in a warehouse

$3.05 to $4.10 / sq.ft.
APC Cork

Available in matte or gloss finishes

Better indoor air quality, as flooring is CARB Phase 2 compliant

$3.10 to $5.95 / sq.ft.
Jelinek Cork

Partially made from recycled wine corks

Products come with a full ten-year warranty against manufacturer’s defects

$3.60 to $5.65 / sq.ft.
We Cork

Has an extra layer of vinyl 1 on top for added protection

Environmentally friendly (GREENGUARD certification)

$3.75 to $8.30 / sq.ft.
AMCork

Contains a built-in 2 cork underlayment 4 for additional cushioning

Offers a 25-year warranty on most flooring products

$4.70 to $5.50 / sq.ft.
CorksRibas USA

Planks are waxed on the end for added protection against water damage

Fire resistance testing performed to EN ISO 9239-1 standards

$5.25 to $6.52 / sq.ft.
Globus Cork

Wide variety of color, size, and pattern choices available

Offers 10 unique styles of cork inlay

$5.99 to $10.95 / sq.ft.
US Floors

Offers tiles that have the look of natural stone

Have digitally-printed planks that resemble actual hardwood

$7.51 to $8.65 / sq.ft.


*We selected different brands to improve and clarify the information contained in this cost guide. We do not receive any monetary compensation from these companies.

Labor Cost to Install Cork Flooring

Cork is an attractive flooring option but must be carefully installed to maintain its look. This flooring is highly sensitive to minor imperfections in the subfloor or even the slightest installation errors. That is why it is important to hire a contractor who is familiar with cork tile installation.

Installing a cork floor is also something that cannot be rushed. An average room can take one to two days to complete. To save time and ensure a proper job, always have your flooring installed by a professional. Contractors may charge between $2.50 and $6.00 per square foot 5 for installation. Several things are built into this labor rate, including the cost of insurance and the licensing requirements in your area. As such, you will pay more if your state has heavy regulatory requirements or higher-than-average insurance rates. The type of cork floor you install also impacts the labor cost. A cork tile floor costs more to install on average because it requires more labor in spreading the glue. A floating floor generally goes together faster and can be installed for less. If you use the floor in a kitchen or wet area, it may have higher installation costs because the seams should be sealed to prevent moisture from seeping between the tiles.


Installation of a cork floor by a floating method


Cork Floor Installation

Two types of installation are available: gluing and floating floor. Gluing is for installing cork tiles, and a floating floor is for cork planks.

When gluing tiles down, contractors begin at the center of your room, snapping chalk lines to determine the proper placement. Next, they apply either contact cement or mastic as an adhesive. Contact cement provides adhesion once it cures, thereby limiting moisture exposure. Mastic is somewhat thicker and does not require any additional time to cure. After placing the center tile, technicians work outward toward the edges of your room. They can go all the way to the edge of the room, so no expansion gap is needed.

A floating floor is laid by placing a plank in one corner of the room with the tongue side facing out. Workers then place spacers at least ½” from the wall to maintain the expansion gap. With the first plank in place, the crew continues attaching planks by snapping the pieces together. When shorter pieces are needed, they cut a full-size plank to size.

Glue-down tiles cost more to install than floating floors. Expect to pay anywhere from $1 to $2 more per square foot to account for the cost of adhesive and the additional labor required to spread it. This is included in the price of the project.

Cork Flooring Pros and Cons

Although cork has been used as flooring in homes for more than 100 years, it has only recently gained widespread popularity. As a result, not everyone is familiar with the advantages and disadvantages of cork.

Cork flooring is popular for insulation to reduce heating and cooling costs and is prized for comfort as a walking surface. Because cork is antimicrobial and hypoallergenic, the material makes an excellent flooring for people with allergies or sensitivity to mold.

Safety is also a strong point with cork because it is not only fire-resistant but does not release any toxic gasses if accidentally burned. Cork planks or tiles are an affordable option, but they may contract and expand with temperature fluctuations. Environmentally friendly cork flooring makes an excellent soundproofing barrier, but it will need sanding and refinishing with time.

While cork flooring has many advantages, it is not as durable as other flooring options. It requires regular maintenance, which may include applying a sealer like polyurethane after installation of natural cork floors and then every two to three years for the life of the floor. If not properly sealed, discoloration from humidity and staining from spills can damage the flooring, ruining the appearance and requiring replacement. Cork material is not recommended for areas that are subject to moisture or water unless they are waterproof. Cork should only be used for above-ground floors, not in basements.

Before installing cork flooring, consider the demands on the surface area. Sunlight is damaging to cork, so bright areas should be avoided. Protective pads are required underneath the legs of furniture to prevent divots and dents from forming in the cork. Also, cork is easily harmed by pet toenails or any other sharp object. Therefore, rooms where pets are kept or tools are stored have better flooring options.

Cork Flooring Prep-work

The preparation for cork is more critical than for most other materials, and the flooring must be acclimated to the room three days prior to installation. Before installing, the subfloor must be clean, free of paint, wax, and sawdust, and there should be no more than 1/16” difference in slope in a 10-foot section of floor. If the floor has too great a slope, it requires sanding or adding a leveling compound.

The installer will check for loose areas or nails in the subfloor and perform a moisture content check of the floor to make sure the humidity is no higher than 12%. Otherwise, a vapor barrier is required. After removing the baseboards and door jambs, the cork is installed, although the floor may be too thick for the replacement of the original woodwork. If the flooring is too high, the baseboards and door jambs will require undercutting. The flooring professional will examine all materials and determine the layout of the planks or tiles for the best arrangement, while minimizing the number of cuts. Keep in mind the need for an expansion gap around the room and the adhesive drying time.

Cork Floor Maintenance

Cork should be sealed at the time of installation with a high-quality polyurethane sealer, which is included in the project price. That sealer should be reapplied at least every five years after that to keep it waterproof. The sealer and other materials needed to re-seal the floors cost between $45 and $100.

Cleaning up spills and stains quickly is very important, even if your floors are sealed. That is because cork is very porous and can easily absorb liquids. Avoid harsh cleaning solutions, and opt for products that are designed especially for cork or hardwood floors.

Also, to protect your floor from scratching, place felt pads 8 underneath furniture legs. Never drag furniture or heavy objects over your floors because this can cause scratches or grooves on the surface. Keep your pet’s nails trimmed so that they do not create small dings on the surface. Avoid walking on your floors in high heels, and place rugs or carpet runners in high-traffic areas for added protection.

Regarding maintenance cleaning, sweep cork floors at least once or twice each week. Never use a wet mop or steam cleaner, but instead use a damp mop along with a mild cleaner that is recommended for cork or wood floors. Avoid using any harsh chemicals on your floor, such as ones with an ammonia base.

Cork vs Bamboo Flooring

Bamboo and cork are renewable resources, environmentally friendly, and low-maintenance. Both flooring types are available in various colors, ranging from light beige to golden honey to deep brown. Although prices are similar, the typical homeowner spends an average of $7.50 sq. ft. for cork but $8.60 on average or higher for bamboo. Bamboo should never be used in damp areas because high moisture or humidity levels cause it to warp and split. However, cork can be sealed to resist moisture better. Cork requires three days of acclimation, whereas bamboo needs five days. Compared to hardwood, bamboo is just as resilient and more durable. Stress on the body is less with bamboo than hardwood, but cork is even more comfortable.

Cork Flooring vs Hardwood

Cork is a natural flooring material made from the bark of the Quercus suber or cork oak tree. Hardwood is also a natural flooring material, made from the wood of many different species of trees. Cork only uses the bark, so the tree can continue to live, with the bark being harvested about once every 10 years. Hardwood uses the entire tree, which is cut and milled, so while both are natural products, cork is considered more sustainable.

Of the two, hardwood is much more durable than cork. Depending on the type of hardwood and its installation, it is possible for the flooring to last hundreds of years. Cork flooring lasts about 30 years on average, with proper care. Cork can be punctured by pet claws, heavy furniture, and high heels, while most hardwoods resist these issues, only scratching the finish in some cases.

Hardwood can be installed in three ways: nail down, glue down, or tongue and groove planks. It can be solid or engineered, with the later being appropriate for below grade like in basements. Cork comes in glue down tiles or tongue and groove planks and cannot be installed below grade. Wood is also more expensive than cork, costing around $9 a square foot for the material, while installation costs are roughly 2 - 3 times higher.

Wood provides a more traditional look for your home, while cork can be considered more modern. Cork also feels better under foot because it is softer than hardwood. Both options are good for people with allergies. Solid wood floors can be refinished multiple times over their lifetime, although most modern floors rarely need refinishing. Engineered wood floors can only be refinished a limited number of times, but again newer finishes rarely need work.

Most cork is sealed at the time of manufacturing, but some unsealed corks may require resealing every 1 – 3 years.

Cork Flooring vs Laminate

Another popular flooring material is laminate. Laminate is a blend of wood pulp and resins that have been “laminated” together. It can mimic the look of wood, for less money, but it is highly susceptible to moisture, does not last as long as wood, and cannot be refinished.

Some laminates may off gas for roughly 5 years, although many manufacturers are producing materials that contain no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Cork contains no VOCs and does not off gas, making it a more environmentally friendly choice and a good option for people who are sensitive to VOCs.

Laminate is much less expensive than cork, costing around $1 - $5 a sq.ft. Laminate also comes in a much wider range of patterns and designs, but cork feels better when used under foot because it has a springier texture. Both materials can only be used above grade. Cork and laminate come in floating floor plank systems, but cork also comes in a glue-down tile.

Enhancement and Improvement Costs

Sand and Refinish Cork

Just like hardwood, cork will eventually wear over time. When this happens, you could need to have your cork floor sanded and refinished. Most floors will require re-sanding every ten years or so, at a cost of $2.50 to $6.00 per square foot. As an example, a 140-square foot room would cost between $350 and $840 to refinish.

Cork Inlays

Rather than outfitting an entire floor with cork, some homeowners will choose cork inlays. Cork inlays are sections of cork flooring surrounded by hardwood, linoleum 2, or bamboo. Cork inlays provide a stunning display, and will create a warm, inviting focal point for any room. It might be an ideal choice if you only need to replace certain sections of your existing floor. However, cork inlays can cost slightly more per square foot because more cutting and measuring is required. Expect to pay between 5% and 10% more per square foot when choosing cork inlays.

A typical cork inlay is around 3’ x 5’ and contains a unique border design along the outside. You could expect to pay around $150 for cork flooring and trim materials, along with $60 in labor charges for a total cost of $210.

Subfloor Repair

Your subfloor must be in immaculate condition before laying cork. If your subfloor is loose and needs to be nailed down your contractor may only charge you a few extra dollars. A professional may charge you between $25 and $40 per hour to sand and/or level an uneven subfloor. When replacing certain sections of subflooring, you can calculate the cost as being anywhere from $10 to $20 per square foot. For a 140 square foot room, you could expect to pay $1,400 to $2,800 to replace the entire subfloor.

Trim or Quarter Round

If remodeling a kitchen, have cabinets installed first, before laying cork flooring. Their heavy weight might leave dents in the cork if placed over top of your flooring. When replacing an existing kitchen floor, you will not need to remove cabinets first, but you do need to allow at least a half-inch space around them for expansion. You may also want to cover this space with trim or quarter-round. You could incur an additional $1 to $2 per square foot for quarter-round installation.

Additional Considerations and Costs

  • Cork flooring can be placed over the top of hot water radiant heat, but it is not suitable for use with electric radiant heat. Prior to installation, allow the slab to heat up to room temperature for at least 72 hours, or while the tile is acclimating. Do not let the surface temperature exceed 84 degrees. Following installation, the heat from the flooring can cause the adhesive to come loose. Using a little extra adhesive during installation can prevent this problem down the road.
  • If you have an existing linoleum 11, vinyl 10, or wood floor, it is possible to lay a floating cork floor over the top, provided your surface is even and clean. When installing cork tiles, you need to remove the old flooring first or lay a new subfloor 9 over the top.
  • While you cannot always lay cork on top of existing flooring, you can, in most cases, use it as an underlayment 4 for hardwood, laminate, stone, or ceramic flooring. So if you later decide to change your flooring type, you will not need to remove your cork flooring beforehand. Expect most cork flooring to last between 10 and 20 years.
  • Despite its natural warmth, some people nonetheless prefer the look of hardwood. Luxury vinyl 10 cork might be a better option for those who desire the benefits of cork, yet want the more traditional aesthetics that hardwood flooring brings. Luxury vinyl 10 cork provides a wood-grain appearance and comes in snap-together planks for an authentic look.
  • Some brands come with a warranty of 10 to 25 years against manufacturer’s defects. This warranty assures you will have no problems with your flooring, but it does not safeguard against installation errors. As such, you should ensure that your contractor also guarantees the work. A manufacturer’s warranty normally covers the original buyer only and is not transferable if you later sell your home.
  • Many older floor types were made with asbestos. If your existing floor was glued down before the 1980s, there might be asbestos 7 in the tiles or the adhesive. In most areas, you can have professional asbestos 7 removal performed for between $400 and $500.
  • One way to protect a cork floor is with the application of wax. Wax forms a shield against spills, scratches, and stains that help keep the cork floor looking good. For a beautiful and shiny result, use a pure, all-natural wax that is not diluted with other fluids like oil or water. Depending on the use and traffic, the wax must be reapplied every six months to a year. Then, in a few years or so, the wax should be stripped, and a new heavy coat reapplied.

FAQs

  • Do I need underlayment for cork flooring?

Cork naturally has cushioning properties, so no additional underlayment is required. All you need is a clean, dry, level subfloor, which can be either wood or concrete.

  • What are the benefits of cork flooring?

Made from renewable materials, cork flooring is an environmentally-friendly option for those who enjoy a wood look, but are concerned with the prospect of harvesting trees. It provides a soft, cushiony surface to walk on, making it practical for anyone with joint problems.

  • Is cork good for basement floors?

Cork is not recommended for basement floors or any other area where there is a high moisture content.

  • Does cork flooring need to acclimate?

Yes, cork flooring should acclimate inside the room where you are having it installed it for at least three days.

  • Is cork flooring durable for a kitchen?

Cork flooring is highly susceptible to spills and water damage. That doesn’t mean you can’t place it in your kitchen, but it does mean you should use caution when doing so. Caulk 3 all areas where the floor meets the wall and around any fixtures such as cabinets and sinks. Consider an extra coat of polyurethane for even greater protection.

  • Are cork floors expensive?

Although cork comes from an imported material, it is nonetheless comparable in price to many other flooring options, including bamboo, laminate, hardwood, and vinyl.

  • Does cork flooring stain easily?

Unfinished cork has a sponge-like quality that allows it to readily absorb spills. Even so, most brands come with a polyurethane coating to protect against spills and water damage. Your contractor may also apply an additional coat during installation, or paint or stain your flooring with a product that also safeguards against stains.

  • How do you seal a cork floor?

Use a foam roller to apply three coats of urethane to a clean cork floor, allowing the floor to dry completely between applications. It may require up to a week to cure.

  • How do you clean a cork floor?

Sweep and vacuum the floor regularly, using a slightly damp mop monthly or as needed with only cork flooring products. Water damages cork, so dry off any water immediately.

Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
glossary term picture Vinyl 1 Vinyl: A synthetic plastic made from ethylene and chlorine. Vinyl has many applications in the construction industry and it is widely used in sidings, window frames, roofing and gutters, among others
glossary term picture Linoleum 2 Linoleum: An inexpensive flooring material made from linseed oil, resins, recycled wood flour, cork dust, limestone and mineral pigments, on a canvas or jute backing.
glossary term picture Caulking 3 Caulk: A chemical sealant used to fill in and seal gaps where two materials join, for example, the tub and tile, to create a watertight and airtight seal. The term "caulking" is also used to refer to the process of applying this type of sealant

Cost to install cork flooring varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

Updated:
The information provided by our cost guides comes from a great variety of sources, including specialized publications and websites, cost studies, U.S. associations, reports from the U.S. government, contractors and subcontractors, material suppliers, material price services, and other vendor websites. For more information, read our Methodology and sources.
Brown nugget textured cork floor
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Cost to install cork flooring varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

The information provided by our cost guides comes from a great variety of sources, including specialized publications and websites, cost studies, U.S. associations, reports from the U.S. government, contractors and subcontractors, material suppliers, material price services, and other vendor websites. For more information, read our Methodology and sources.