Perfect cork tile floor installations

For over 20 years I have contracted for Duro Design Flooring as the architectural consultant, technical writer, field supervisor, trainer, troubleshooter, an installer and head of web development. In these years I have installed well over 75,000 square feet (I stopped counting a while back) of cork flooring and have earned a reputation as an authority on cork surfaces.

I love cork.

It is an incredibly beautiful material with very unique physical properties. It insulates, attenuates sound, absorbs impact, is anti-static and anti-microbial. The characteristics cork possesses make it a very comfortable and easy to maintain flooring material. Cork is surprisingly tough and resilient, yet a sensual material- pleasing to the eye, touch and ear.

However, amongst flooring installers, cork tile has a reputation for being one of the most difficult floors to prepare for and lay properly. You need a very experienced installer to install cork well.

Here are just a few of my floors:

Hand-crafted leather floor

Perhaps the most unique and challenging floor I can lay is composed of leather tile. These are vegetable tanned hides whereby every tile has been trimmed to size and bevelled by hand. The tiles are then sorted for thickness and colour to be racked and arranged in a harmonious manner on the floor. Several light coats of finish help protect this princely floor.

The result is a true pleasure to touch and behold.

Pull-out storage

A set of drawers and shelves hide behind a small door with a handle fashioned from a wonderful piece of driftwood decorated by woodworms.

Colourful tiled backsplashes

It's not often enough that a client has the sense of adventure (humour) to use vibrant colour in tile. It was a pleasure to install these beautiful tiles to create colourful zones in their otherwise monotone kitchen. Colour-matched grouts kept the blocks of colour bold and solid.

Compact powder room and laundry

_DSC9322This little powder room I made also had to house laundry machines. They ended up neatly hidden behind the hanging decorative screen. The micro vanity fit the bill for this compact guest bathroom.

Solid cherry kitchen

This kitchen badly needed an upgrade: I replaced the contractor-grade cabinetry from the 80's with quality solid cherry cabinets, new LED lighting,plumbing, countertop and tiled backsplash. Properly designed, the kitchen now boasts a tremendous amount of storage space, and is now efficient, bright and beautiful.

deck built to last

This was a deck reconstruction involving the replacement of the decking and railings with composite materials. Handsome, maintenance-free and built to last a lifetime.

seismic upgrade

An employee of Stantec Engineering hired me to evaluate and do a seismic retrofit on their basement walls, posts and beams. As typically found in our basements here in the Victoria, the cripple walls on which the house rests have very little resistance to the lateral forces of an earthquake. The result can be catastrophic if the first floor of the house slides off and lands a couple of feet off the side of the foundation. Shockingly, the beams under this house were not connected at all to the posts, and the posts were too short and shimmed with blocks of wood. I replaced these posts and reinforced all the others. The entire perimeter was bolted down, shear panelled and connected to the floor structure above. Some rot was discovered in the sill plates and they were replaced along the way, and of course the entire wall was insulated and a vapour barrier was installed.

reclaimed timber, salvaged doors and a missing closet

In this particular adventure, a client required a closet in a spare bedroom. The only space available was over the adjoining staircase. With the creative and whimsical re-use of reclaimed 100-year-old timbers from my collection, two matched stained-glass doors of the same vintage I salvaged from another house, I built a closet suspended over the stair. Lit from inside, the closet casts an intriguing glow over the stair.

white marble bathroom

This small bathroom needed to suit a family of four with two young children, but was certainly not going to work out very well. I decided to take down a wall to expand the bath by a couple of feet, and completely re-configure the layout. The bathroom is tiled in a gorgeous white marble tile with inlaid mosaics on the heated floor.

dream travertine master bath

A couple approached me to completely renovate the master bath in their 100-year old house. Needless to say, the floor was badly out-of-level, there was some moisture damage and rot in the wall behind the old tub and the space felt cramped. To make the bathroom feel more spacious, I demolished the low ceiling  and created a cathedral ceiling with an opening skylight and pushed out one wall to create a built-in storage unit. The tub was replaced with a custom walk-in travertine shower, worthy of a spa.

custom tiled shower and bathroom

In this project, the main bathroom was completely gutted and two adjoining closets were taken over and added to the bathroom in order to gain space for a double-sink vanity and a built-in shower. The shower enclosure, backsplash and tub surround feature niches, glass mosaics and metal trim profiles. The floor is heated.

bamboo flooring done properly


I see too many poorly laid out wood floors. Wood flooring, such as this bamboo floor is not meant to simply be pulled out of the box and immediately nailed down. Let's assume the flooring has been acclimatised (that is a subject for another post). The next step after properly preparing the substrate is to rack the material. Racking means selecting boards for proper colour, grain and the proper distribution of end joints. Unfortunately racking and selecting the flooring material before laying it is supposed to be standard procedure- but I don't see much evidence of it when I see other people's floors.

When choosing for colour, I end up opening a lot of boxes to a get a feel for the colour range of the wood. Wood is a natural material and has inherent colour variation. Sometimes it can be quite extreme- but it can be managed by transitioning gradually from light to dark areas of flooring. In these images you can see the same light and dark samples of bamboo flooring placed on opposite ends of the same 200 square foot room. The change in colour is gradual accross the floor and barely noticeable.

I lay every one of my floors with this level of attention for superior results.

Custom addition and deck

A small family had a really interesting backyard, but the house had a crummy relationship with it. I designed and built a small addition and a custom cedar deck to bridge over to and hover over the large outcropping that dominated their yard and extend their living space out into the yard. The resulting deck united the house with the bedrock that formerly dominated the yard.