On April 15, 2008 we closed on a 1955 Mid-Century Modern home in Merriam, KS that was custom designed by the late Donald R. Hollis of Hollis + Miller Architects. We will be sharing our journey as we update the house to make it our own, while trying to stay as close to the original design as possible.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Cork Floors-if we can do it, so can you!

Given that we had to rip out all of the flooring upstairs, we had over 1500 square feet of flooring to cover. We intially thought about going with hardwood floors and LD fell in love with some exotic prefinished hardwood from Lumber Liquidators, but I was not sold on it. I wanted something with an expresso finish on it. We also considered bamboo flooring but dismissed it because it was easily scratchable. We have 3 dogs so the floors have to be really scratch resistant!!  LD really liked the idea of cork floors, but we were also concerned with how well they would hold up to the dogs. Laminate flooring was out of the question because Morgan (black lab also known as "Booboo") is deathly afraid of slippery floors and she is 10.5 years old (in our current house we have rug islands set up for her). Cheapo Home Depot carpet was also a consideration, but we both felt like we would be settling for something we were not thrilled with and felt bad about ripping it out in a couple of years.

Then one day while surfing the internet, I saw an ad for a flooring outlet in Kansas City. It sparked my curiosity because they were advertising hardwood flooring with an expresso finish for $2.99 a square foot. The price was right, so we decided to drive out and check it out. I was not convinced by the quality of it, but LD was willing to give it a shot. So she took some samples and business cards of a couple of installers and called them for estimates. I was hesitant about it, so we did not call to accept any of their bids right away (which turned out to be a very good thing).

Right around that time, our neighbors (who have since left the neighborhood for some sweet diggs near Eureka Springs) hosted the annual neighborhood association meeting. We met an architect who lives in our neighborhood, and happened to have a great appreciation for modern design. So we invited him and his wife over for a house tour. As we were dicussing our flooring plans, he pointed out that the hardwood floors would have to lay perpendicular to our ceiling because of the direction of the floor joists. This meant that the hardwood floors would be competing with our cypress vaulted ceiling. Not only that, but the floor joists are in the opposite direction on the other side of the house!  So the hardwoods would be layed perdicular to each other from the living room to the hallway and bedrooms.  He suggested cork, so we revisited the idea and decided it was meant to be. We placed an order through for APC's Apollo Brown plank cork flooring.  We chose APC cork because it has a 25 year warranty and 3 coats of urethane already on the planks.  This was the best we could find for us and our 3 dogs.

LD wanted to hire a pro to do the installation, but I talked her into tackling it ourselves (well more like her tackling it herself). With the money we saved from not having to pay any installation costs, we bought a table and miter saw at Home Depot. A freight company delivered our cork planks in a short while, but they had to acclimate to the house for at least 48 hours. We also held off on the installation for awhile because we were a little intimidated. LD was not too sure about our skills (but I had full confidence in her skills, she is a fast study). So I made a deal with her, we would give it a try and if things did not work out she could hire a professional to finish the job (yes I learned after my adventures with drywall patching). We started in the office, and it was slow at first, but LD got the hang of it pretty quickly (I knew she would). The very next day, however, the city was sponsoring a free large trash pick-up, so I left LD to tackle the floor on her own. I went into the backyard to pull some rotting lumber, rusty chicken wire, and other miscellaneous trash heaps that had been left behind by the previous owner. By the time I got done with that, LD had finished the office and had started in the second bedroom. Then Monday came along and we had to get back to work, so the floors had to wait for the following weekend. 

I left for San Diego that weekend to join my family on a cruise to Cabo San Lucas. I was not trying to get away from all the work, it was a crusie my sister had planned months before I even knew that we would be buying this house. While I was out enjoying the warm weather, the surf, and the sun, LD was hard at work. By the time I got back, she had finished the second bedroom, the hallway, and the living room! The cork is stunning!! We are now waiting for some drywall work to get done in the master bedroom so that we can finish our cork floor installation.

So far the cork floors have held up to 12 very active, rambunctious paws (two labs and a pointer)!!!  Time will tell how long it will be before we find claw marks!

Morgan making sure that LD was staying on task.
First room was all done!


  1. Morgan looks so cute. I saw a black lab puppy out at Twin Lakes that reminded me of the girls.

  2. What did you use for underlayment...and do you glue it down or is it floating. What other tools did you need...just mitre saw?

  3. Hi Gabriella,

    Sorry I have not responded earlier. I just saw your comment today! We bought floating plank cork floors, so no glue was needed. We used a foam underlayment, which did not need glue either. Other tools we used were a rubber mallet, tapping block, spacers, ruler, and a table saw. It was really very easy because the 1X3 plank floors are click and lock. It's not any different than laying down laminate flooring (ex/ Pergo). Hope this helps, and good luck!!

  4. For those of you who don't know, cork floors are beautiful, I have them in my home and they are super easy to maintain

  5. Great information. Are you still in love with them? Going for cork on our 50s mid century but I'm a bit overwhelmed by brands and price points. Any thoughts?

  6. Yes we still love them, only down side is that you do have to be careful with heavy furniture because it will leave "dimples" on the floor. We just recently moved our couch to clean underneath it and found some nice indentations from the legs. I have been thinking about using an iron on top of a moist towel to try and pop them out, but I haven't yet. Honestly I can't comment much on other brands, but the ones we bought came with a 25 year warranty and have three coats of polyurethane on them. We paid around $3.00 a square foot because we did not go with a very fancy pattern. The more intricate the pattern, the higher the cost. Good luck with your remodel, do you have a blog?

  7. luv luv luv ur blog, ur home and everything about it