Put a Cork On It – Cork Tile Walls

Cork Tile Installation – Easier Than You Might Think

I hope everyone had a nice weekend! I spent Saturday installing cork tile on one wall of my parent’s den.

The wall before

They’ve just moved to a new apartment on Roosevelt Island and we’re in the process of doing over their apartment. My mother wanted a cork wall to hang things on, and I suggested we do over the entire wall and make a statement with the cork. I did some research online and found a company that makes peel and stick adhesive cork tiles. You may have seen the YouTube video during which I installed cork tile on my own desk walls years ago, and used contact adhesive. It was sticky-messy yuck, so I was very interested in self adhesion.

Unpack the Tiles 48 Hours Before In

The tiles came and we unpacked them as directed on the instructions. They need to acclimate to the environment for 48 hours, apparently. We were a bit non-plussed by the appearance of the tiles on installation day. They were starting to resemble bowls – the corners were curling up quite a bit.

Acclimated cork tiles curling at the corners

We were afraid they wouldn’t adhere firmly. But we soldiered on, hopefully. I gathered the necessary supplies for the job:

tools needed

  • A laser level
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Tape measure (not shown)
  • Matt knife
  • Cutting surface
  • And, oddly enough – a rolling pin

Start In The Center of the Wall – Not On The Edges

The first step to installing cork tile is to establish a level horizontal and vertical line on the wall on which to place the first tile.

Start with level lines and planned spacing

We did this by measuring the tiles (just under 12″) and the wall (20.5″) and then placing the line so that the whole tiles were centered on the wall with two strips above and below them. We also placed a strip to the left of the first whole tile that was the same width as the strips on the bottom and top.

Peel, Stick, Repeat…

Next it was just the process of peeling off the backing and placing the tiles down and rollering them to make sure they were well adhered.

Installing cork tile with the aid of a rolling pin

It’s important to keep the tiles on the line or the whole wall will start to go off level as you progress down. Also, they have a bit of give, so matching all corners – not just the edge – as you lay them down is important too. Once I had placed all the whole tiles  I had to start cutting. Most of the cuts were just strips of differing widths, but there were a few complicated cuts to make around corners.

Complex corners can be hard to cut.

The end result was a warm, useful surface that deadens sound and gives the room a finished look. The tiles stuck very well, and are still sticking. I placed the first one off square and when I pulled it up it had stuck so well that it pulled some of the wall board surface off and tore the tile! We used it for some of the partial pieces…

The finished wall

I’ll be sure and post a picture when the room is completely styled!

Installing cork tile can add some drama to a room, and also give you some usable bulletin board space. Have you ever installed cork on a wall? Did you use tiles or sheets? Did you use contact cement? How did it come out?

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