How to Install Cork on a Wall

By Gene and Katie Hamilton

Tools Required
  • Chalk line
  • Carpenter's level
  • Measuring tape
  • Straightedge
  • Trowel
  • Rolling pin
  • Utility knife
Materials Required
  • Cork tiles
  • Cork-compatible adhesive
  • Metal ruler
  • Pencil

Before You Begin

Below are the steps involved to complete this project. Sound too complicated and time consuming? Here's a link to Home Advisor, a free referral service that matches homeowners with local contractors.

  • Step 1 : Prepare the wall

    For the best results, make sure the surface of the wall is clean and dry and in sound condition. Remove wallpaper and fill any large holes with drywall compound.

  • Step 2 : Plan the tile layout on the wall

    Make a horizontal and vertical layout line in the center of the wall to help align the tiles. Draw the horizontal line about half way up the wall. To establish the vertical line, measure the width of the wall and mark the center, then draw the line through this point.

    Plan the tile layout on the wall

    You will begin installing tiles at the intersection of these two lines. The best layout has as many full tiles as possible with the border tiles no less that a half a tile wide so some adjustment to these lines may be necessary.

    Use a carpenter's level to make sure the layout is level both vertically and horizontally. Then dry fit the first horizontal tile by holding it in place at the intersection. Moving right along the horizontal line mark the location of the edge of the tile on the wall. Then move the other edge of the tile over to this mark. Again mark the edge of the tile on the wall and move the tile right repeating this until you reach the wall. Note how close the last full tile is to the wall. If it is less that a half a tile, shift the vertical layout line to the left a bit.

    Use this same procedure to adjust the horizontal layout line. You may have to move the horizontal line up or down to adjust the width of the last tiles. The goal is to avoid cutting narrow border tiles.

  • Step 3 : Apply adhesive

    Apply adhesive

    Apply adhesive with a trowel and let it tack up before installing the tiles. Follow the adhesive manufacturer's directions about how large of an area to work in and how long it takes to cure.

  • Step 4 : Install the tiles

    Install the tiles

    Carefully place the tiles along the vertical and horizontal layout lines. Push them gently against the wall so the tiles are embedded in the adhesive. Once in final position, use a rolling pin to roll over the tiles to insure a strong bond.

    Install the tiles

    Continue applying tiles. When cutting a border tile, place a new full tile on the last full tile next to the wall. Then place another full tile against the wall. Use the edge of the top tile opposite the wall as a guide and mark the tile underneath it. The exposed part of the tile is the exact width required to fill the gap between the wall and last full tile. Mark the tile with a metal ruler and use a utility knife to cut through it.

    Illustrations courtesy of Jelinek Cork Group