Are click-on cork or linoleum tiles a good option for our kitchen, laundry area, and bathroom?


Are click-on cork or linoleum tiles a good option for our kitchen, laundry area, and bathroom?

Asked by Willy Scholten, San Jose, CA

Are there click-on cork tiles/planks suitable for placement in a bathroom? I am considering linoleum or cork for an area that covers our kitchen, laundry area, and bathroom. I am looking for something affordable and contemporary looking.

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Cameron Habel's picture

"Click-on" refers to the method of installation: the tongue of one tile clicks into the groove of the adjacent tile. This type of installation is also called a floating floor. Manufacturers do not recommend floating floors for bathrooms or other areas subject to high moisture levels. Instead, you can use a cork tile that is glued down to a properly prepared substrate such as concrete or an approved plywood underlayment. (Cork tile should not be installed over existing resilient flooring such as linoleum or nonporous surfaces such as ceramic tile.)

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If properly installed and maintained, cork is perfectly suitable as a bathroom flooring. Most manufacturers recommend the application of two to three coats of polyurethane finish to seal the joints and prevent water from getting underneath the tiles. Polyureseal BP, made by Safecoat, is a nontoxic, very low-VOC substitute for traditional urethanes. Another product I recommend is Bona Traffic. Floor wax is also an approved finish material. Be sure to check the manufacturer's installation guidelines before choosing your finishing product.

Manufacturers of cork flooring include Expanko, Wicanders, Natural Cork, and Globus Cork. Costs vary widely from manufacturer to manufacturer. Unfinished tiles cost around $4.35 to $4.95 per square foot, while pre-finished tiles cost around $4.95 to $5.95 per square foot. (Even for factory pre-finished tile, you should apply an additional coat of polyurethane onsite to protect the seams from water infiltration.) Installation costs vary around the country. In the San Francisco Bay Area, installation cost (including the material cost of pre-finished tile, but not including the cost of applying additional coats of urethane) is anywhere from $10 to $14 per square foot.

You mentioned you're also interested in linoleum. Linoleum is a great flooring choice for a bathroom floor. Unlike cork flooring, it is available in sheets. (It is also available as a tile that can be glued down or a tile that can be installed with the "click-on" method, but again, click-on tiles are not recommended for wet areas.)

For extra durability in rooms where the floor tends to get wet, the seams between linoleum sheets can be heat-welded and the edges can be turned up the wall using a method called flash coving. Armstrong and Marmoleum are two linoleum products with a great range of colors and style selections, both as tiles and as sheet goods.

Installed linoleum costs around $7 to $8 per square foot in the Bay Area.

For more information:

Check ourlinoleum flooringQ&A to see what homeowners and contractors are sayingabout its pros and cons, including cost.