Replacing a Cork Tile Floor

Technical Procedures Disclaimer

Prior to inclusion in GSA’s library of procedures, documents are reviewed by one or more qualified preservation specialists for general consistency with the Secretary of Interior Standards for rehabilitating historic buildings as understood at the time the procedure is added to the library. All specifications require project-specific editing and professional judgement regarding the applicability of a procedure to a particular building, project or location. References to products and suppliers are to serve as a general guideline and do not constitute a federal endorsement or determination that a product or method is the best or most current alternative, remains available, or is compliant with current environmental regulations and safety standards. The library of procedures is intended to serve as a resource, not a substitute, for specification development by a qualified preservation professional.


We’ve reviewed these procedures for general consistency with federal standards for rehabilitating historic buildings and provide them only as a reference. Specifications should only be applied under the guidance of a qualified preservation professional who can assess the applicability of a procedure to a particular building, project or location. References to products and suppliers serve as general guidelines and do not constitute a federal endorsement nor a determination that a product or method is the best alternative or compliant with current environmental regulations and safety standards.




A. This procedure includes instructions for the removal of glue-down carpeting or synthetic flooring and the installation of a cork tile floor.

B. See 01100-07-S for general project guidelines to be reviewed along with this procedure. These guidelinescover the following sections:

1. Safety Precautions

2. Historic Structures Precautions

3. Submittals

4. Quality Assurance

5. Delivery, Storage and Handling

6. Project/Site Conditions

7. Sequencing and Scheduling

8. General Protection (Surface and Surrounding)

These guidelines should be reviewed prior to performing this procedure and should be followed, when applicable, along with recommendations from the Regional Historic Preservation Officer (RHPO).


A. Samples: Submit samples of each type of proposed replacement tile to the Contracting Officer for approval of size, color, finish and texture.


A. Environmental Requirements: Prior to installation, the new tile should be removed from boxes and allowed to stand at room temperature for at least 72 hours. The temperature should be between 60 degrees (F) and 85 degrees (F), with a relative humidity between 50% and 70%

Temperature should be maintained for at least 48 hours after installation.


A. Vacuum daily to remove any loose dirt and grit. Floor may be cleaned daily with a dry, treated dust mop or damp mopped using a mild, non-ammoniated detergent. Avoid abrasive and alkaline cleansers. Do not flood floor with water. As necessary, use a liquid solvent wax.



A. ECORE Commercial Flooring

B. Amorin Cork Composites

C. Globe Cork


A. Natural cork tiles:

1. For new floors, finish may be natural, waxed, or finished with a synthetic coating such as polyurethane or given a factory finish.

2. New tiles may be "through -chip", with granules of the same size throughout the depth of the tile, or have a decorative cork veneer with a granular cork core.

3. For replacement tiles, new tile shall match existing tiles in size, color, finish and texture.

B. Adhesive: Adhesive as specified by tile manufacturer.



A. Remove all existing flooring and underlayment.

1. Scrape off all adhesive material to provide a dry, clean and smooth surface.

2. To remove old glue and backing, carefully score residue with knife.

3. Sponge (or mop--large areas only) solution of commercial wallpaper remover onto surface and allow to soak into adhesive until residue has softened and can be removed with a putty knife.If adhesive is water soluble, a wallpaper steamer may be used to soften the adhesive.

B. Before installation, clean subfloor of all paint,varnish dirt, grease, oil, etc. Level surfaces to within 1/8" in 10'-0".

1. For wood subfloor:

a. Remove any paint or varnish with a chemical paint remover.

b. Fill cracks and holes with plastic wood and sand uneven edges.

c. Seams and nail holes may also be filled with latex underlayment and the surface sanded after the underlayment has cured.

d. Re-nail loose boards. Give surface a final sanding to smooth out any rough areas.

2. For concrete subfloor: Patch any holes or depressions with a Portland cement-based patching compound mixed with a latex mixing liquid.

C. Install new tiles in accordance with the manufacturer's latest printed instructions.

1. Mix flooring materials from various cartons to diminish noticeable color and pattern variation and to obtain uniform appearance.

2. Lay flooring beginning at center of room, working towards perimeter. Cut border tiles to fit within 1/32" of abutting surfaces to allow for natural expansion and contraction of tiles due to normal changes in humidity.

3. Fit flooring material into breaks and recesses, against bases, around pipes and penetrations, under saddles or thresholds and around permanent cabinets and equipment.

4. Apply adhesive with 1/16" by 1/16" by 1/16" notched trowel to only that area which can be covered by flooring material within the recommended working time of the adhesive. Remove any adhesive which dries or films over.

5. Press flooring in place by hand, achieving bond with substrate. Cut tiles as required to fit irregular spaces.After all the flooring is in place, roll, in both directions, with a 100-lb roller. Roll carefully so that floor does not shift out of position.

6. Re-roll within one hour after installation. All joints, edges and corners shall be level and flush.

7. Clean adhesive off of face of tiles as work progresses. Dry adhesive can be removed with a soft rag or cotton and mineral spirits.

8. Keep all traffic off of newly installed floor for 48 hours to allow adhesive to cure.


A. After adhesive has cured, damp mop floor with mild, non-ammoniated detergent and clean, warm water, and rinsewith new clean, warm water. DAMP MOP ONLY, DO NOT WET MOP OR DELAMINATION WILL RESULT.

B. Do not scrub or clean thoroughly until 4-5 days after installation to allow adhesive to set properly.

C. If floor is to be waxed or given a polyurethane finish, do so after the five days are up. Follow manufacturer'sinstructions.

D. Instruct maintenance personnel in maintenance procedures. Furnish names of products used and sources.