Cork tile

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Ground cork bark compressed into tiles for use as insulation and flooring. John Smith patented a process in 1892 using high heat and pressure to compact granulated cork into a solid cohesive tile without the addition of asphalt binders that had previously been used. Cork floor tiles were first manufactured in the 1890s in Germany and 1899 in the United States. Their use was limited, until the 1920s when they gained popularity. Cork tiles were lightweight, had good compressive strength, low thermal conductivity and good sound deadening properties. They were specifically marketed for their sound absorbing qualities as flooring in churches, libraries, schools, auditoriums, hospitals and museums. In 1941, 25,000 square feet of cork tile flooring was installed in the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.(Grimmer, 1995). After World War II, cork tile manufacturers added phenolic resins and, later, urea resins for durability.

Synonyms and Related Terms

Kencork; Linotile; Corkoustic [Armstrong]


  • Tiles are affected by excessive moisture, sunlight, greases and oils.

Resources and Citations

  • Anne Grimmer, "Cork Tile", in Twentieth-Century Building Materials, T. Jester (ed.), McGraw-Hill: New York, 1995.
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 239