Cork Flooring Types - Introduction
Cork flooring was popular in the first part of the 20th century and used predominantly in banks, government buildings, and universities. Many of these original installations remain to this day, creating a testament to the durability of cork itself.
As the 21st century moves forward, consumers are now offered with do it yourself products that do not require the painstakingly preparation and installation procedures that were common with older glue direct products. Click together floating cork panels generally measuring in dimensions of 12" wide and 36 inches long are common place in many flooring stores.
In our cork flooring review, these floors offer a simple installation because of their resiliency. In other words, they are more forgiving and install much easier.
Types & Styles Of Cork Floors
Aside from click together cork that is prefinished and ready to go once installed, unfinished cork tiles can be installed, sanded and finished much like hardwood flooring. However, we highly suggest seasoned professionals for this one. Other new ideas include mosaic tiles (see the slide show) that come from cork bottle tops. The circular pieces are connected to a mesh backing and set in a trowled mastic, grouted, and finished with a water proof sealer. Surprisingly from our research these types can be used in shower stalls!
Colors and More Colors
Numerous prefinished colors are available and some manufacturers can custom color to any desire on minimum sized orders at much higher prices. Prefinished colors run the gamut ranging from pure white to jet black. Custom coloring on site with unfinished cork can be achieved with the right professional. These floors are not a DIY job considering their properties. Extreme care and knowledge of how cork functions should be addressed.
Thicknesses & Appearances
There are several types of cork tile thicknesses used for both home and commercial applications. Thicknesses are more common at 1/4 and 1/2 inch with the latter preferred for commercial settings. Older more established cork floors used in recent years are much thicker than common prefinished products sold today. Most prefinished cork floors after installation present a square edged appearance, but several manufacturers also offer beveled cork flooring.
Patterns made from cork are very similar from one manufacturer to the next. More common names include Athene, Odysseus, Titan, Cleopatra, and Edipo.
Material and Installation Costs
Cork material costs run less than better quality prefinished hardwoods. Installation rates will be higher for glue down applications as floor preparation makes up a large portion of the labor involved. Floating cork floor labor rates are similar to that of hardwood floor floating systems. Unfinished applications generally follow that of finishing hardwood floors.
Commercial Cork Floors
Question: I'm looking to have some cork flooring installed in a bank here in Milwaukee, but most of the people I talk to have no idea about the thicker tiles they made years ago. Do they still exist?
Reply: Try reaching APC Cork Floors. They have a commercial 1/2" thickness line but you will not find it on their website. These floors are cork all the way through and not like the floating planks that have the MDF board in the middle.
Glue Down Cork Tiles; Edges Curling
Question: The guys at Lumber liquidators said to use Bostiks adhesive with the Lisbon cork I bought from them. Now all the edges are curling up and will not stay down. What's wrong with this picture? They are not very accommodating trying to help me with this.
Reply: Sorry to hear of your problems. Lumber Liquidators has never been one to handle product problems as they should. In any event it surprises me they would suggest Bostiks. The more preferred adhesive is a pressure sensitive such as DriTac 6200 (allow to flash properly) or a contact cement. I wish I could help further.
Sanding Cork Floors
Question: I'm looking to have my depression area cork floors refinished and wondering how much of a difference there is by sanding wood compared to cork?
Reply: First off, if you're considering this as a DIY project think twice and thrice! Some guys use pine floors as a comparison with softness and the type of sanding grit to be used. The floor should be started with a grit no less than 60, but really depends on the condition. Some guys won't start with anything under 100 grit, but it will take much longer to complete. Refinishing cork floors sometimes leaves some professionals balking at the opportunity because one or two bad moves and you'll be replacing the tiles.
How Fine Should Cork Be Buffed?
Question: We're getting to the last of our projects and the cork floor is now being installed. The question has gone round and round. How smooth does the final sanding have to be before the finish is put on?
Reply: 100 to 120 grit would be common. You don't want to overdo this procedure, otherwise constant buffing can heat the cork too much causing crumbling.
Poly or Wax On Old Cork Floor?
Question: How can I tell what kind of finish is on my old cork floor?
Reply: Dampen a clean white cloth with mineral spirits and rub into a section of the old floor. If it's a wax finish the wax will dissolve and the color will show on the cloth. Mineral spirits will have no effect with urethane finishes.
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