Cork Flooring Problems?

The vast majority of problems with cork flooring are associated with “improper installation” techniques. The majority of calls are due to “lipping” of the edges, gapping between the seams, swelling due to excess moisture or floors that are buckling (lifting).

All of these problems can be sourced to the same issue – improper installation. The question should become, “Why so many installation problems”. The main culprit is lack of education. Cork floating floors, while they appear to be as easy to install as laminate, require a certain touch and understanding that the floor will expand – sometimes tremendously – once installed.

Another issue is “lipping” or visibly raised seams. These seams can appear overnight or at the time of installation. Sometimes they will become apparent months after installation. This lipping is an expression that the seams are too tight. Whether they were installed too tight (too much pressure/knocking them around) or not is a concern that many people have. If installation was too rough this lipping will appear within a few days of installation. A lot of times a floor that is laid too tight in one area will often show gapping in other areas. Again this comes down to lack of technique. The same poor technique that slammed together two planks in row “X” will have caused gapping in row “Z”. Too much force without using the necessary amount of patience will lead to both lipping and gapping in the same room over the same expanse of floor. This is more common than all other concerns combined. Most lipping is minor and should be considered aesthetic, not functional. Seams that are gapping are dysfunctional and never aesthetic!

A floor that is showing that it is “too tight” should be examined more closely. Check to see if the expansion gaps at the wall are still visible (remove baseboards to view). If the prescribed 1/2 inch gap is no longer there (the floor is touching the wall) then the floor will go on to have mechanical and functional issues. This is a problem that needs fixing.

Corks’ expansion properties can never be overestimated. A cork floor laid in a moisture laden room such as a basement without expansion gaps can have a catastrophic effect. Planks can expand as much as one inch in every direction. This leads to buckling, or floor planks bending off of the subfloor and into the air. This is a floor in trouble. Call the installer back and have them fix the problem. If you installed it yourself, you need to call the manufacturer to find out the best way to deal with the issue. If it is this bad, the only real fix is to remove the floor and fix the underlying issues = moisture and lack of expansion gap.