• DIY | How to Install a Cork Wall

    We have been busy with home renovations since August this year and we still aren't done. We seriously underestimated the time it would take to get simple things done.
    Cork Wall Tiles
    With our holiday and then JP having to have his burst appendix removed (that was one hell of an experience), things have just been in a state of limbo. But this past Sunday I decided to get my butt in gear and start installing the cork tiles in our kitchen. I've been planning this since July so it is so nice to finally have it started!
    DIY Cork Wall

    What you'll need:

    1. Cork tiles or you can buy a large piece off a sheet roll at certain Builders and TrenDIY stores. There are various thickness and finishes to choose from. I chose a very textured finish that had a good mix of colours. This was to hide the very skew wall and corners that are very far from being perfect. The tiles I bought are Dekwall tiles by Wicanders - the style is called Hawaii Natural. Each tile is 600mm X 300mm and are 3mm thick (Cost was R549.90 for a pack of 11 tiles).
    2. Contact adhesive glue - this however will depend on the finish of the surface you want to apply the cork to. The wall we covered has a somewhat smooth plastered finish so the contact adhesive work perfectly. Read the back of the label to make sure you have what you'll need.
    3. Paintbrush
    4. Measuring tape or long ruler
    5. Craft knife (or a good pair of scissors will work too if you have thin sheets)
    6. Spirit level or straight edge
    7. Rubber mallet
    8. Pencil (Optional - chalk line)
    9. Newspaper or cardboard (to make templates if you don't have right angles and straight walls.

    In theory it is VERY easy to put up a cork wall but when you are dealing with a wall that isn't built with right angles, it can take a long time to get the cork cut properly to have a nice tight, clean join between each cork tile and the walls. Getting the tiles cut properly is what took most of my time. I used newspaper to make templates and then cut each tile to avoid any mistakes with my precious cork.

    Prep your walls
    1. Make sure the surface if free of dust, oils, grease, etc.
    2. The beauty of a cork tile is that it will hide some imperfections in the plaster, but if you have big holes, fill that up with a filler and sand smooth.
    3. Next up is to find the middle of your wall - I used a tape measure to find the middle then drew lines across the wall to act as guides for when I started sticking the tiles. 
    4. Decide on how you want your tiles to run, although it doesn't make too much of a difference from a distance because there aren't grout lines to define the tile. When you have a tight join, you hardy notice any pattern. I decided to place the tiles lengthways because it meant I could work with slightly bigger pieces of cork against the edges of the wall.
    Get sticking!
    1. Once you have your guidelines done and you know how you want to work, apply some adhesive to the wall area where you want to place your first tile. This stuff dries quickly so you want to work a little bit at a time.
    2. Apply adhesive to your cork tile, I used a paint brush for the wall as well as the tile. Make sure to paint right up into the very corners and against the edges to make sure the tile edges stick down properly.
    3. Take the tile and place it following your guideline and over the adhesive you painted on the wall earlier. This is what creates the instant bond. If you accidentally place the tile skew, you will have about a minute to re-position it without any problems.
    4. Apply firm, even pressure with your open hand on the tile to make sure it adheres to the wall. Pat it down for a few seconds then take the rubber mallet and gently tap the tile. This makes sure the tile adheres nicely to the wall. Make sure to tap around the edges and edges to ensure they are properly stuck down. I did read that you can use a clean paint roller to apply pressure and ensure that the edges are stuck down. 
    5. Next, stick your next tile. When you need to start cutting the tiles, measure and cut the tile before painting adhesive onto the wall. My advice is to measure, cut the tile bit bigger than you initially think then take off a little at a time. The aim is to have very tight joins with no spaces, you have to exercises patience (which I don't have much of) - I found that making a template using newspaper really helped me to get an idea of the angles needed. I held the paper up against the wall and then just ran my nail along the edge of the wall and cork tiles to get an impression of the area to be filled. Then I cut the tile, placed it in the gap to make sure it was a good fit - once happy I applied the adhesive.
    I tiled a small area where I keep all the small kitchen appliances. As I said, it took me quite a long time to do this small area of the wall, but it is because I was working with a space that wasn't great to start off with. I still need to tile the area behind the fridge which is a much bigger area - although it has straighter lines so the cutting shouldn't be too much of an issue as with this wall. Here are the "Before" and "After" pictures....


    DIY Cork Wall Tiles


    DIY Cork Wall
    I am toying with the idea of putting a shallow shelf up below the window to have some extra greenery in the area. We will be moving our microwave into the space as well to free up space around the stove area. It'll be so nice to have space while cooking. I really love cooking meals so it's fun having a space that works.

    Previously this corner of the kitchen couldn't be used because there wasn't a space for the fridge. It stood in the middle of the kitchen wall right in front of a cupboard...so we had a big area that just couldn't be used.  It's so nice to have a little coffee bar area! I shared a post on the renovations a while ago (click here to see it) if you want to get a better idea of the space.
    This photo was taken a few weeks ago, the backsplash wasn't 100% done (the grouting was still in progress) and we still need to install kickboards. The back of the fridge area still needs wall tiles put up and I want to put a divider up bewteen the wall unit and floor unit by the fridge, just to hide the back of the fridge a bit. But I am so happy with this layout. The sink area is to the right, we installed grey subway tiles in that area.

    Overall, I am really happy with the way things are coming together. There is still a lot to do, but it's so rewarding as we start working through our "finish off list" and seeing the end in sight.

    As mentioned previously, I bought my cork tiles from TrenDIY. Cindy Alfino (from 3 Kids, 2 Dogs and 1 House) recently redid her office (click here to see how amazing it looks) and she got her cork from Builders Warehouse. If you are interested in doing your own cork project, there are a lot of stockists online but I think going to a place in person is still the better option because you can choose the finish you like (believe me, there are a lot of options).

    If you have any questions, leave a comment below this post or tweet me (gee_whiskers).

    Big Hugs,
    Charlene XXX


    1. It looks awesome! Good job, will definitely bookmark this post. I think a shelf would look lovely. How does cork do with steam in a kitchen?

      1. Cork is naturally water resistant so it is perfect for kitchens. I am definitely going to get a shelf - I think some white ceramic pots with plants in will look so great against the cork. Thanks for popping by! xxx


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