Fitting The Cork Tiles


There are three sections to the baseboard section and, for ease of navigation, a link to each of the three pages is listed below:-

OK, so it's on to adding cork tiles to the baseboard. I was undecided about adding tiles as I've been receiving arguments from both sides of the fence about the need/worth of adding tiles to a model railway baseboard. Some people I've exchanged thoughts with swear by using tiles on their baseboards while others I've been speaking to say that the added cost and weight is not justified by, in their view, the resultant benefits.

I've decided to go the cork tile route on this baseboard for one simple reason. I've built baseboards before without and know what the result is. I've never used cork tiles before and figured the best judge of whether cork tiles are for me is me!

Adhesive used for attaching the tiles
The adhesive used

A trip to a semi-local B&Q in Ashford - the local one is being moved to a larger, purpose-built new store so the old one is currently low on stock - secured a supply of Floormaster 1' - approx as it turned out but more of that later - cork tiles as well as some adhesive from the same manufacturer that was suitable for securing the tiles to several types of surface including wood which made it ideal for my purposes. I bought several packs of tiles to make sure that I had enough to do the job. Not only did I want enough to do the surface of my baseboard but I intended to do a 4' board as well that I intend to use as a modelling bench. I figured that putting cork tiles on this board would make it a better work surface to use than plywood - especially on the arms when leaning on the work surface!

When I got home I realised that, not only had I bought enough tiles to do the main baseboard and the proposed workbench but that I had also bought enough to cover the remaining 6' x 2' section left over that I planned on using as a shelf underneath the main baseboard as well as have a few tiles left over!

The cork tiles being used
The cork tiles

I unpacked all the tiles and then laid them out on the surface of the baseboard to check the fit. It was at this point that I found out why the packaging that the 12 tiles contained within stated that the tiles would cover an area of approximately 1 square yard. The tiles were sold in metric meaning that each tile was 300mm x 300mm. 12", or 1', is actually 304.8mm! This means that the 2' width of the baseboard would have a coverage of cork tiles up to 9.6mm - or a little over 1/3rd" - away from one edge if I placed the tiles tight up to one edge. Lengthways it would be even worse with the tiles being 28.8mm - or over 1" - away from one edge if I placed the tiles up against one end when laying them. I would need to cut one of the tiles up to make up the shortfall. It was lucky that I had bought so many tiles that I had spare tiles. I could make use of that unwitting extra capacity to ensure total coverage of cork tiles on the baseboard. For once one of my many misjudgments bore fruit rather than dealing a mortal blow to a project.

The first application of adhesive
The first application of adhesive

Rather than stick all the tiles down at the same time only to find that I messed up, remember I've never used cork tiles before, and would need to remove them all, I decided to first do a small part of the baseboard as a "tester". As the photo to the left shows, I initially did an area that equated to 2 tiles. The instructions on the adhesive instructed to cover an area with adhesive and then to spread it out using the included notched spreader. A thorough check showed that there was no notched spreader included with the adhesive. Typical!

I jumped in the car and went to the local Jewson's as it's just down the road from me. 10 minutes spent searching in the store confirmed that they had plenty of tile adhesive but no spreaders. Lovely. I then popped over to the local Alsford Timber store to find the same thing. I ended up having to go 10 miles to Sittingbourne and Topps' Tiles to find one. It cost all of 99p. I probably spent more on petrol getting over there.

Anyway, once I got back I spread the adhesive out on the board the instructions said that the board would need to be left at least 45 minutes for the adhesive to turn putty-like before the tiles could be placed. This I did and then I put the tiles in place and pressed the tiles down. Again the board had to be left for a short period before pressing them down in place again to make sure they were stuck down firmly. This showed that the tiles were secured in place a treat. Excellent, now onto the rest of the tiles.

The second application of adhesive
The second application of adhesive

With the process now tested, I decided to do the whole of the rest of the baseboard. The photo to the left shows the application of the 2nd lot of adhesive. It took about 2/3rds of the pot of adhesive to sufficiently cover the baseboard and then out came the 99p notched spreader once more. It took quite a bit longer to spread the adhesive out this time as it tended to be spread really thickly in some places while being almost non-existent in others. A half-hour or so was needed to ensure consistent application of the adhesive, especially making sure that there was sufficient at the edges of the baseboard so that the tiles wouldn't lift.

After this I placed the rest of the tiles. After a short period - about 1 hour this time - I then pressed the tiles in place to make sure they were securely fastened. This was done by the simple expedient of walking up and down the baseboard and pressing the tiles in place with my feet. Once this was done I then checked to make sure that the tiles were still level with the edges of the board and each other and that there were no bumps or lips where the tiles joined. Returning to the board several times throughout the day to check the board and work on any areas that needed attention ensured that, by the end of the day, the board was covered quite nicely with cork tiles.

The adhesive spread out
The adhesive spread out

Once this was done, I decided to address the issue of the cork tiles not quite reaching the edge of the baseboard along one end. I took one of the tiles and measured an inch in and marked a line. I have a cutting mat and placed the tile on it. Then using a steel rule, I took a Stanley knife and scored along the line I had marked. I then kept scoring the tile until I had cut through. I now had a piece of tile 1' long by 1" wide. I then repeated the process which then gave me the 2 pieces I needed to do the edge of the board.

I then added some adhesive to the board, let it dry for 45 minutes and then stuck the 2 pieces in place. I finally went through the same process I had with the other tiles in pressing them into place to ensure they were securely stuck in place and level with the rest of the tiles.

The next day I checked my handiwork and was pretty pleased with the result. That should be the end of the story, right? Unfortunately not. While in the process of moving the board out of the way and into my shed in order to allow me to start on the 4' board, my leg gave way under me - I've had some medical problems with my leg and have had to have an operation - and I promptly fell on the board that I had spent so much time building and snapped one of the timber edges to the board. Blast it! All that work ruined. I had to strongly resist the temptation to exercise my extensive vocabulary and think about what I could do to rescue the work I had done.

The tiles placed
The tiles placed

I tried to repair the board but the board's structure had been inherently weakened so I decided to use the first board for the shelf in my shed and make use of the material I had left over to build another board. This time, I took the advice of a chap I know regarding the building of the frame and built cross-braces into the board from the start. I've been assured that it will be much stronger doing it that way. Once the board was built, I then addressed the issue of the tiles only to find that I now didn't have enough adhesive. This time, I went to the local B&Q to buy some more and spent nearly an hour before I found a couple of pots hidden away at the back of the shelf which was pretty annoying. Any annoyance was soon got past, though, when I got to the till, found that the pots were old stock that weren't on the store's computer and were promptly given to me as a present! Nice one.

I was also pleased to find that this adhesive didn't need to be left once applied and that the tiles could be put in place straight away. By the end of the day I had a completely new baseboard built to replace the one that got damaged.

So that's it. That's how I built my baseboard and fitted cork tiles to it. Now I can tackle the layout proper and get on with the track laying.


The differences seen when using imperial v metric measurements
The differences seen when using imperial and metric measurements
The edging when lined up
Showing the end result when mixing imperial and metric measurements
Another example of what happens when imperial and metric measurements are mixed
The edging when lined up properly




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Page last updated: 24th May 2007

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