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Cork Buying Guide Floor Types

Selecting the best cork flooring for your project includes choosing the right size, shape, texture, and color. This section provides a quick overview of your choices.

Cork Flooring Composition


Cork is ground up into a mixture, compressed and formed into sheets. It is then baked and cut into either planks or tiles. Homogenous cork can be sanded and refinished anywhere from one to several times, depending on its thickness.


This composition method typically consists of five layers. The bottom layer is a low–density cork underlayment that serves as the base for the other layers. The second layer is a high–density fiberboard (HDF) or medium–density fiberboard (MDF) which acts as a stabilizing core. The third layer is a cork core, which allows the flooring to better absorb impact and sound. The fourth layer is cork bark veneer, which is the layer that is actually visible on the surface. The final layer is a sealer.


Mosaic cork tiles are made of recycled wine corks. The corks are sliced into thin circular pieces and attached to a paper or mesh backing. Once the mosaic cork is laid on the floor, it is grouted and finished with a sealer. This type of cork flooring is suitable for wet areas when properly installed and sealed.

Cork Flooring Configuration


Cork planks come in various lengths and are installed using either the click and lock or floating floor method. This type of cork flooring does not require the use of adhesive or glue, and can be laid over the sub–floor or existing flooring. Check with your retail flooring or installation professional for exact guidelines.

Recommendation: Consider installing floating cork floors over existing floors that are damaged, to avoid the time and cost of removing them.


Cork floor tiles are made from solid cork and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They can be glued directly to concrete floors or wood sub–floors. Cork tiles can also be used on walls.

Recommendation: Use solid cork tiles in projects where you want to glue new flooring directly to existing flooring, such as plywood or concrete.

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Cork Texture

Cork comes in a number of textures, which gives you some unique design opportunities. Please keep in mind that different manufacturers will have different names for the types of cork flooring that they sell. Below are the commonly used terms.

Small/ medium/ large granule: Some textures of cork are created by simply mixing different size granules or pieces of cork. Small granules are used to produce a classic, evenly–textured floor, while highly–textured flooring is made with large pieces of cork.

Peeled: Similar to the appearance of a cork oak tree itself, strips of cork are laid together to resemble the look of peeled cork bark.

Burled: Various sizes of cork chunks are mixed with ground cork for a highly textured, wavy appearance.

Cork Color

Cork flooring gets its color during the baking process. As the cork is heated, the natural sugars in the bark caramelize and get darker. Basically, the longer the cork bakes, the deeper the color. The most common color choices are light, medium and dark. Light and dark cork granules can be mixed together to create a different shade, without the use of stains or dyes. Unfinished cork can be stained or painted, making it a truly customizable flooring choice.


Cork in its naturally light shade can bring warmth and brightness to your rooms.


Like hardwood floors, cork can be stained to achieve the color you desire. Stains range from an amber color to a deep, rich espresso shade. Many types of cork flooring have pre–stained versions available.


Cork flooring can be painted a variety of colors. If you're interested in unique colors and artistic patterns, cork tiles offer additional versatility.

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