How to Care for Cork Flooring
Sustainable and eco-friendly, natural cork flooring is durable, reliable and looks great in homes and office spaces. Some people wonder, however, how to take care of a cork floor. Still considered to be a relatively low maintenance option, especially with the improvements manufacturers have recently made, there are specific cleaning tips to adhere to if you want your cork floors to look great for years to come.
How do I care for a cork floor?
If you’re thinking about installing a cork floor, or you already have one in your home, here are five easy ways to maintain it.
Keep it clean
One of the most important steps when caring for a cork floor is to sweep or dust mop every day to remove dirt and avoid the possibility of debris scratching and wearing down the finish.
Keep it soft
Cork is soft and pliable, so it makes sense to use only soft materials when cleaning it. Use a broom with soft bristles to sweep, a soft sponge mop to clean, and soft microfiber cloths to dry the floor.
Keep it dry
Remember, never use too much water when cleaning a cork floor. Grab paper towels ASAP to clean up spills, put extra protection under your pet’s water bowl, and never drag your furniture when moving. Also, avoid steam cleaners as they may ruin your floor’s finish.
Keep it mild
Don’t use harsh or abrasive cleansers on a cork floor. It’s safe to clean natural cork with vinegar and water. Otherwise, chose a pH-balanced cleanser or cork floor detergent diluted in water.
Keep it dark
Well, not vampire dark. Like other wood flooring, cork can fade if exposed to excessive sunlight. Make sure to utilize window treatments such as drapes, shades, or blinds to minimize and soften the light.
Should I seal a cork floor?
Since cork is a naturally porous material, sealing it helps to protect it from absorbing spills and stains. Today, many manufacturers produce cork floors with sealant pre-applied to the tiles or planks. Other sealing options include polyurethane and wax.
This clear sealant protects cork floors from moisture and stains. Refinishing and resealing with polyurethane every five to seven years will help protect your floor from scratches, especially in high traffic areas.
A less common method, wax creates a protective layer and nice shine but needs to be stripped and reapplied about every six months to one year. As a benefit, wax finishes allow you to buff out scratches found in only one area without having to redo the entire floor.
Characteristics of a cork floor
Some people believe that the thicker the floor, the more durable it will be. This is not necessarily true. Here are three characteristics of a cork floor and their purposes.
Larger cork granules are used on the top layer to create a denser, more durable floor surface. Some manufacturers use a cork veneer as a top layer, taken from the outside of the cork bark which is denser. The point here is, denser is better in terms of a long-lasting cork floor.
Some manufacturers pretreat cork flooring with a UV-cured finish. This not only protects the floor from sunlight and general wear and tear, it’s also abrasion and slip resistant. Today, most cork floors come with a finish. If, however, you purchase an unfinished cork floor, you need to apply a protective finish after installation.
Contrary to popular belief, thicker cork does not affect durability. In this case, thickness improves acoustic and thermal insulation to help keep your room quieter and warmer underfoot.
Common types of cork flooring include tile and plank.
Cork floors commonly come in two options, traditional plank or tile. A floating plank installation uses a tongue and groove method and is not adhered to the subfloor. Tiles, on the other hand, are glued down. So, which one is right for you? It depends on the condition of your subfloor. If it’s not level, a floating floor helps hide imperfections.
Whether you have an adhered tile floor or floating planks, cork floors require special care to keep them looking beautiful. For more information, read about the advantages of cork flooring.