Cork Underlayment Installation Made Easy

  • 4 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 500
What You'll Need
Cork underlay
Underlay adhesive
Utility knife
Carpenter's square
100 lbs roller
Leveling and patching compound
V-notch trowel

Cork underlayment is both economical and provides good sound control for your flooring materials. Cork underlayment is environmentally friendly, easy to install, and durable enough to withstand many years of use If you are looking for sound reduction, protection from stress cracks, and making the floor covering warmer, then cork underlayment is a solid way to go.

Surface Preparation

For proper installation, your floor surface needs to be clean, smooth, and dry. The surface should also be free of any debris, loose materials, projections, grease, sealers, oil, or other surface contaminants. The maximum amount of floor variation in 10 feet is 1/8 of an inch. If a surface area requires patching or any amount of leveling, you should use a floor leveling and patching compound to make the necessary repairs.

Isolation Barrier Creation

Roll out your cork underlayment and cut it into sections of approximately 2-feet width. Adhere one strip around the entire perimeter of your floor with natural rubber, natural latex, cartridge filed urethane, urethane, or acrylic bead mastic adhesive. This will be your barrier cushion. You should never use screws, staples, or nails to mechanically flatten this barrier.

Underlayment Installation

Unroll the cork to the desired length and lay it loosely over the installation area. The ends of the roll should be curled down toward the subfloor with the cork butted directly up against the isolation barrier that you previously installed.

Pull the loosely laid material back at least halfway. Use a V-notch trowel to apply one of the aforementioned adhesives directly to the subfloor. Gently return the cork material that you pulled back, rolling it in both directions using a 100 lb roller.

Repeat the same procedure with the other unglued half of the underlayment. Cover the entire floor in this manner, taking care to make sure that all of the joints have been butted together properly.


Allow the adhesive to set firmly before you install any flooring on top of the cork underlayment. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for the recommended set time. If you do not give your underlayment enough time to set after adhering it to the subfloor, it will not function exactly as designed or as you expect it to.

Once the underlayment is in place, floor installation will depend on what type of flooring you choose. Wood flooring and ceramic tiles have different installation times and requirements. Take care to install the flooring properly in order to get the most benefit from the underlayment.