Cork floor finishes
One cubic inch of cork consists of not less than 200 million completely enclosed air cells, each measuring 1/1000" in diameter. Each minute cell is 14 sided to avoid empty spaces between cells.
This tightly woven structure results in a product that is highly resistant to moisture and liquid penetration. These air cells also make cork very resilient and facilitate its ability to compress, and still retain its original form. This is a very important factor in determining the durability of cork floors. If you were to drop an object on the floor, instead of the floor scratching or denting, it compresses and then returns to its original shape.
Cork tiles can be bought with a factory applied finish, or can be finished onsite after installation. Note that floating cork floors are all factory finished. The advantage of finishing cork floors on site is that the seams and edges will be sealed, offering better moisture protection as well as hiding the seams to a certain degree, resulting is a more consistent looking floor.
The following are the most common cork floor finishes:
Water based Polyurethane offers a very durable and scratch resistant protective surface, and is low in maintenance. The surface is however susceptible to minor scratching caused by small particles of sand. This should not be an issue however as urethane cork floors can be buffed to remove scuffs and can be refinished to remove scratches in the urethane finish. Polyurethane floors do not require periodical refinishing, instead the homeowner must evaluate the floor as to whether refinishing is required. Under normal wear and tear, a urethane finish should last for up to seven years, before requiring reapplication.
Wax finish cork floors. There are many qualities of wax available on the market, and the durability of your floor will be directly influenced by the quality of wax used. 100% Natural wax that has not been diluted with oil or water will perform the best and last the longest. Although requiring more maintenance, wax finish cork floors do offer certain advantages over other finishes. Wax finishes can be rebuffed and re-waxed without removing the existing layer of wax and their high level of durability makes them perfect for high traffic areas, including commercial applications. Scratches in the wax surface can be easily removed by re-waxing the affected tile, without having to refinish the entire floor. Wax floors do however have to be re-waxed every 6 to 12 months, depending on the amount of foot traffic.
UV cured acrylic floors do contain a small amount of urethane, however they are not as durable as wax and polyurethane floors. Acrylic finished floors are succeptible to scratching and cracking. As with the other finishes, acrylic floors can be refinished, however the existing finish must first be removed and the entire floor must be refinished.
Additionally, cork floors are now available in a variety of color stains. All cork floors will fade when subjected to sunlight and heat; however the surface can be buffed or refinished to attain its original color
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