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Semper D.I.Y.
Installing Cork Flooring

Hello, and welcome to my offical first post in your Forums!

I recently started on a project in the basement for remodeling one of the (semi) finished rooms in our house. One of the big parts of this project will be installing cork flooring over the foundation floor. It's my first time at it, but I'm not one to shy away from a challenge.

1. Currently there is a thin vinyl flooring covering the foundation in this room. It's been used & abused over the years and I figured I could just put down the 6mil Poly sheeting right over it rather than have to tear this all up. It sounds logical to me anyway, any thoughts?

2. I read in the TOH "how to" about installing the floor, but one thing I either missed or wasn't there was about Polying the floor after it's in. I had initially been told you didn't need to polyurethane the floor as the cork doesn't need it. Then I read that the seams for the courses can absorb water and swell and you need to poly it to keep this from happening? This was a headscratcher....I thought cork was waterproof?

Any other thoughts would be helpful too.

Thanks in advance for the help.

A. Spruce
Re: Installing Cork Flooring

Yes, you can lay right over the vinyl already on the floor. Keep in mind that if you've got transitions from where there is vinyl to where there is not, you're going to have to float this area with leveling compound to feather the two heights together. You'll also likely see and feel this transition point once the floor is down. If you'll have transitions such as this, I would recommend pulling the vinyl. You can rent a machine or do it by hand with a floor sc****r.

Can't answer the second question, I am unfamiliar with cork flooring. If there is a concern about moisture in the seams, then it's probably cork over a substrate, and it is the substrate that cannot handle the moisture. Again, I'm not familiar with the product, so I can't offer much about it.

Re: Installing Cork Flooring

It's highly recommend to contact the manufacturer or supplier of the product regarding installation on slab floors below grade. Depending on relative humidity levels in the basement ( which can be high ) and potential moisture issues, I wouldn't recommend any floating floor product or natural products like wood or cork. Those products will swell with moisture or high humidity.

Semper D.I.Y.
Re: Installing Cork Flooring

Thanks for all the input so far.

I checked into it a bit more and found that the polyurethane coating that's recommended to lay on the cork flooring is meant more to protect the cork flooring from scratching and normal wear & tear than to be a moisture barrier.

As for moisture problems in the basement, a couple of simple tests should give us an idea of our moisture level throughout the year. It's a finished basement, so I don't think the moisture has been too much of a problem previously. As long as a moisture barrier is installed over the concrete foundation, or a sub-floor that allows the concrete to breathe and protects the flooring, I think it should be ok. Any peaks of humidity throughout the year can be controlled by a dehumidifier which could be set to keep the relative humidity at a set point. That's sounds logical to me anyway.

I'll still check with the manufacturer though, thanks!

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