Cork in tife, panel, or sheet form is an easy-to-install, highly decorative, and warm-to-the-touch corkwall covering. It will also improve your peace and quiet by isolating you from outside noise.
You may decide to use cork to adorn one or more walls in your home just because you enjoy the look of it. However, there are certain practical benefits to doing so. You will also be adding additional insulation because, in addition to its ornamental advantages, cork deadens sound, is warm to the touch, and keeps heat in and cold out. It also does not produce condensation and will absorb some moisture. It can be quite tough, withstanding knocks and bumps without bruising, and many of the cork tile, panel, sheet, and roll variations available are treated to be entirely washable and steam-proof.
Where could you use corkwall covering?
Cork appears best as a feature wall or as a focal point on a chimney breast, in an alcove, or behind some display shelves due to its extremely decorative quality and natural texture. However, due of its insulating properties, it is suitable for use on the inside of walls that face away from the sun, especially if a headboard or chair is placed next to them. Cork tiles on a ceiling can assist reduce noise and provide warmth; a panel of cork can also provide a place to pin photographs, posters, and memoranda in children’s rooms, adolescent bedsitting rooms, family living rooms, hobby areas, and even the kitchen. Cork that has been pre-sealed is suitable for kitchens and bathrooms as long as it does not come into direct contact with the bath, sink, or basin edge (you can isolate it with a row of ceramic tiles). If you choose the proper product, it can also be used to face doors, cover window seats and ottomans, or cover screens and bath panels.
Types of cork
There are various varieties of cork for walls. Some are created by pressing cork into layers or by combining cork chippings with a binder and then cutting it into sheets, ties, or panels of varying sizes, thicknesses, and textures. The actual bark of the cork tree is often peeled, put on a backing, and marketed for ornamental reasons to achieve a rougher, more rustic effect. The backing can be coloured, and if the cork is sliced thinly enough, the backing will show through, giving the cork a hint of colour. This style is available in panels or sheets.
Another appealing corkwallcovering is formed by shaving the cork so thinly that it is virtually translucent, and the impression is similar to hand-crocheted lace due to the inherent uneven texture. This is then put on a foil backing, which gleams through the cork layer. This style is typically marketed as wallpaper in sheets or rolls.
A new innovation is a wallcork that has been laminated to crepe paper and can be bent around curved surfaces. This kind is available in a natural finish that can be painted, as well as a variety of colours. It is sold off the roll by the linear metre (yard).
Most wallcorks are pre-sealed, either waxed or coated with a sealant to make them washable; however, some, like as extremely textured types and very open granular tiles, are untreated.
Purchasing cork and making plans
Cork tiles, panels, and sheets are available in a variety of sizes. When you’ve settled on the type, you’ll need to figure out how much you’ll need to order from your provider. Remember the cardinal rule of ordering more than you will need to cover the wall to allow for any mistakes, mishaps, or blunders when putting the cork up.
You may choose to fix tiles or panels in a specific pattern, such as a diamond or herringbone design. If so, it’s better to sketch out the design first, then square up the wall and mark the place of each tile or panel on it once you’ve prepared the surface. (Remember that you may also create fascinating effects by arranging light and dark tiles in a checkerboard pattern or by creating a border or ‘framed’ look; however, you shouldn’t need to mark up the wall for this.)
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Getting the Surface Ready
Cork, like any other type of decoration, should be hung on a suitably prepared surface. If you are planning to cover an already decorated wall with cork, remove the existing wallpaper, scrape off any peeling paint, and fill any large holes; cut and re-plaster any disintegrating ‘live’ areas. If the plaster is porous, prime it with a 1:5 diluted PVA primer.
Gloss or matt-painted walls can be keyed by rubbing sandpaper over them to roughen the surface, but because the paint might cause the glue to break down, most cork providers advocate lining a painted wall with strong lining paper before attaching the cork in place. Follow the directions that came with the product you plan to use. If you’re going to use lining paper, make sure to cross-line the walls, which means hanging the paper horizontally just like you would before hanging a top quality wallpaper or fabric wallcovering to reduce the chance of seams overlapping.
If you’re hanging sheet corkwall covering with a heavy-duty wallpaper paste, you may need to prime the wall first with a layer of sizing or diluted wallpaper paste.
Instruments and equipment
Most of the tools and equipment needed to cover walls with cork are likely already in your possession, especially if you have previously hung another sort of wallcovering. A sharp knife, a straightedge, a notched adhesive spreader (often included with the glue) or a pasting brush, a plumbline and chalk or pencil, a T-square or set square, a wallpaper seam roller, and (for sheet cork) a wallpaper hanger’s roller are all required to trim the cork (which is wider than a seam roller). You’ll also need a tape measure and a fine-toothed tenon saw to cut bark-type cork. A pasting table (or other suitable surface) may be required; make sure that the rear surface of the tile or sheet (when these are pasted on the back rather than pasting the wall for fastening) is thoroughly covered. A stepladder will be required because you will be working at a height during the repair operation. Check that it is in good working order so that you can gain safe and secure access.
Repairing the cork
When installing cork tiles or panels, as with all tiling, proper layout is critical. The tiles should always be centred on a focal point or a wall, resulting in cut tiles or panels of similar width at corners or along the edge of a chimney breast. Once you’ve determined your central point and squared up the wall for the first line of tiles, tiling should be very simple; the tiles are held in place with contact glue applied to the back of the tile and the wall, or with an adhesive applied exclusively to the wall.
Sheet cork is strung in a variety of ways. The important thing here is to hang the cork lengths true vertically and to organise the layout such that any cork that has to be cut to fit in width comes at the corners where any unevenness (due to the walls being out of square) will be least noticeable.
Maintenance and finishing touches
If you instal unfinished cork tiles, panels, or sheet cork, you can seal them with a translucent polyurethane varnish (a matt finish looks best). Dust the surface thoroughly and apply two or three coats of varnish; a spray-on kind may be easier to apply than a brush-on type, but this is only affordable if you don’t have a vast area to cover.
Most wall corks (sealed or unsealed) can be cleaned simply by dusting them (use a cloth or the soft brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner). Most sealed corks and crepe-backed corks can be cleaned with a moist cloth. Check before you buy if the paper or foil-backed corks are w>pable, and don’t hang them in an area where they will get dirty quickly.
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