Cork flooring tiles aren't square or uniformly sized. Hahaheehee

deedlesNovember 11, 2013

First world problem, I know. Praying for the people in the Philippines.

So the guy installing our cork floor says, "Uh, I'm having an issue with your flooring. The tiles aren't square."


The cork tiles are not uniform. If you lay any two random tiles perfectly lined up along one side it's obvious that one tile is wider just slightly from the other. That wouldn't be so bad but also it's like the tiles are not perfectly square so the seam will be tight for part of the tile and then it will open up a bit as you look down the tile. And the color in the tiles are not uniform either, some look darker than others. Ugh.

We're one and a half boxes in and so far the full second box is showing the same defect. I can only guess that all the boxes will be like this.

It's not the installer at all, it's the tiles. We went through a whole bunch of tiles and confirmed for ourselves that it is the tiles. It doesn't matter how you turn them, it just moves the error to the other side.

Here you can see how the seam 'opens up' at the corner and then disappears as you look down the tile.

Here you can see the disparity in length.

color variation:

So, these tiles were from Jelinik out of Canada. They were a discontinued line on clearance and we bought all they had. No where was it mentioned that there was a problem with the tiles, just that they were discontinuing the color and the woman on the phone never indicated that there was anything wrong with the tiles. Possibly they didn't know?

We don't mind that the lengths are off.. when the seams are tight you can't even tell that... it's the small gaps that concern me.

The installer suggests that when he's done we sand some of the left-over tiles down to a dust and sweep it over the floor to fill the teeny gaps: then do what he called a 'scuff sanding' and apply a coat of poly. He felt this should make the gaps disappear but said, "you shouldn't have to do this, I've never ever seen this before in any tile flooring that I've installed".

(an aside, he's kind of a handy man, not an installer for a company. I work with him and he does this stuff on the side. He's doing our trim work and is doing a beautiful job. But, he doesn't do flooring sanding/refinishing... I already asked. Boo)

He also thinks the color differences will even out with time and light exposure.

Has anyone had such an issue and does the remedy he suggests sound like a workable one? (Hope so as we gave him the go-ahead to lay the floor anyway)

Also any thoughts on the color harmonizing over time?

Is it reasonable for me to contact Jelinik and request some kind of $$ back on this? We were going to order another of their product for our entry floor... maybe I could request some credit towards that?

How is it even possible for machine cut tiles to be not square?

Why is this song lyric running through my head?

"And They're coming to take me away Ha Ha
They're coming to take me away ho ho he he ha ha
to the funny farm where life is beautiful all the time, and I'll be happy to see those nice young men in their clean white coats
and they're coming to take me away ha ha"

Read more: Lard - They're Coming To Take Me Away Lyrics : MetroLyrics

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Yes, we have gaps too. I was very upset about it at first.
The company said I could "fill" the gaps with ground up cork and glue but the flooring people said it was too hard or something. They filled some of the larger gaps with wood putty. After they coated it with the clear coating it wasn't as noticeable.

At this point I don't really notice it as much, and at DH's request have decided to look at it as the variation of the way cork is rather than trying to make it look like one solid piece of floor. Our bigger issue is the scratches and dents and indentations that seem to come WAAAAY more easily that I ever thought.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 8:14AM
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I've noticed the color variation in photos I've seen of cork floors and I've always liked the look. Yours is looking good too!

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 9:47AM
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Fori is not pleased

I don't know but I like it! I mean I like the way it looks if I'm not looking at cracks. I don't know if the color variation is supposed to be there so my uninformed self would see that as feature, not a bug. But if it bothers YOU then it's a problem!

Overall it's gonna be great if you can stand it!

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 10:41AM
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The color variation wouldn't bother me at all; however, the uneven edge seems more of an issue with crumbs or liquid potentially making their way in there unless the seams are tight.

I would call a bunch of other cork tile sellers and ask them about how uniform the sizes are and the edges. Some quick googling hasn't come up with any kind of discussion of non-uniform sizes, so it may not be that common. Then, with that information, I'd call the seller.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 11:12AM
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I don't think the color variation would bother me that much. You are going to have things (chairs, tables, etc.) on the floor, right? You don't typically look down all the time, or at least you will stop after a while. :) Also, light can cause it to fade anyway. I think it looks kind of interesting with the slight (and it really is fairly slight) variation.

If the cracks can be filled, it might be fine. My hardwood (5" planks) has a few cracks that developed over time. One day I'll get them fixed (maybe), but I ignore them now.

Your floor is gonna be great, Deedles. Even if it's something you can live with, it might be worth a try to get some sort of concession from the dealer, maybe apply to your next purchase?

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 11:13AM
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Well, it looks great!

I think the color is just the nature of cork. All the cork floors I've seen online tend to have that, except for some of the lighter colors. I know that like wood it will fade in sunlight, so learn from my mistake and put some UV film on the windows. I had mine sitting here and was too lazy to put it up, and because my cork is so dark it really shows the color change. My fault, I knew that going in!

The size thing doesn't seem right, I would call them and see what they say. I do have some small gaps, but they look just like the ones in my vinyl tiles in the basement so I'm not worrying about them. I'd like to add a coat of poly to seal over them, but haven't had a change to get to that. I really don't notice them.

Has it set long enough to walk on that part yet? I love how the cork feels. I haven't had any scratching or denting issues other than dropped appliance dents (of course it was the corners that hit). But really, those can dent hardwood too, and the tiles were replaced easily.

I hope you can get some answers. It looks like the floor will be beautiful once it's finished!

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 11:50AM
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"Variations in color, thickness and tile size are natural attributes of cork."

You were told ahead of time.

I don't like the sawdust and polyurethane idea. Use a straight edge and router and clean up every third row or so.

Here is a link that might be useful: Jelinik

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 12:01PM
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Well, I called Jelinik and they were more than accommodating. Said they'd get me a refund or credit or send different tiles.

I said a credit would be good as we need to order more tiles for our entry, so we'll wait until we get through all the boxes to see if all are messed up or what and then go from there.

Her thoughts (said she's never had this complaint before) was that since it was a discontinued tile, that maybe all the lots were put together and that accounts for the difference in size?

She was way nice to talk to contrasted with the local tile lady that yelled at me to shut my mouth and turn on my ears.

So, we'll see how it all plays out.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 12:06PM
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I have over 2000 sq ft of cork in my basement and had none of these issues on installation.

The brand is Natural Cork. It is 8 yrs old.

They offered you a refund. I would take it and get it somewhere else.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 12:14PM
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"Her thoughts (said she's never had this complaint before) was that since it was a discontinued tile, that maybe all the lots were put together and that accounts for the difference in size? "

Quite probably ... as the machine that cuts the tiles wears out and blades are changed or sharpened and sizes changed you can get small variations. It's "drifting" out of spec.

A single lot would be made on one cutting machine from one batch of material and the machine would not drift much in that time.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 12:16PM
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She was way nice to talk to contrasted with the local tile lady that yelled at me to shut my mouth and turn on my ears.

Oh deedles, I hope you didn't let that pass without comment.

If they are offering a refund, I'd be inclined to follow redlover's advice to take it and buy elsewhere...but not from the woman who yelled at you.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 12:31PM
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Ha, no I didn't let it pass but can now say it wasn't my finest moment as a grown-up. Oh well :/

The other stuff I want to buy I've only found with them... it's this cork mosaic tile that is grouted in so this type of thing wouldn't be a problem. If they really do compensate us for this tile, I would be happy to order this other stuff from them, I think.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 12:53PM
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I'm going with glue down cork too and from the zillion of same colored samples I have, the color is not uniform throughout. That doesn't bother me as much as tiles not being square would. It's a nice pattern anyways and you'll be getting a credit, so it's a win-win.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2013 at 12:13AM
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I am really going to miss your posts when your kitchen is done. Thought I better amend this statement. I am truly sorry you're having problems with the floor tiles and I hope you get a satisfying resolution. With all the work you & DH have done, you deserve it. I have read pretty much all your posts. Your approach to decision making and problems is both refreshing & entertaining. Just glad your sharing your renovation on GW.

This post was edited by romy718 on Sat, Nov 16, 13 at 13:50

    Bookmark   November 16, 2013 at 12:59AM
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I like the color variation.

I think that I am too late with this, but....Many years ago, when I installed vinyl floor tiles, they also were not uniform. I was getting very frustrated. My neighbor told me to let them sit in the sun and get very warm, then press them firmly when placing. It really did help match up the edges. I wonder if that would work with cork tiles?

We used fine sawdust from the sanding, mixed with wood glue, to fill in nail holes, gouges and cracks in the wood floor. Then stained and polyed. Worked very well to disguise these areas (although still visible if I look for them). Seemed like a variation of that should work for the gapping seams. I think some people put a top coat of poly on their cork anyway to seal the joints and give extra protection.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2013 at 1:27PM
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mags: Now that the floor is almost done I'm finding that the color variation isn't bothering me like it was when it was just a strip of flooring. It's uniformly, randomly varied now if that makes any sense. The floor guy is now slicing them on a straight edge so at least as the floor progresses into the kitchen, he'll be starting even.

romy: Oh, you are so nice to say that...thank you and please, continue to play along... I'm sure there are more posts as this kitchen gets really moving forward. (Hopefully they'll be of the "I love my ....." instead of " AAHHHHH", type.)

raee: It's understandable how that would work with vinyl... I wonder. Maybe we can set the boxes by the heat vent... it certainly would hurt them at all. What you explained about the sanding and finish coat is exactly what the floor guy suggests doing for exactly the reason you outlined. He thought sanding down some of the leftover tiles into dust and then sweeping that into the cracks with a poly overcoat would be the way to go. So, we're going to do that as I really don't want to risk water getting between the tiles and blahdeblah. As I said above the more tiles that get laid, the less the variation bothers me. I'm really liking the floor a lot and this size thing oughta get us a nice reduction in our entry floor cost, so yeah, win win.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2013 at 5:35PM
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