As flooring trends come and go, one fairly new entry to the market that shows some staying power has been cork flooring. Providing the same classy look and easy maintenance as hardwood floors, with a softer, warmer feel, these flooring panels come in a variety of shades and patterns to fit any decor. However, like its hardwood cousins, a cork floor needs some occasional maintenance, including refinishing to eliminate signs of wear. In addition, this floor's softer, slightly rubbery texture can make it more susceptible to dents or damage from heavy furniture. When should you refinish your cork floor, and when may you need to investigate replacement? Read on to learn more about the care and maintenance of these unique floors.
What should you do to maintain your cork floors in good condition?
Cork floors are relatively low-maintenance -- however, being cognizant of their differences from other types of floors even during the normal cleaning process is helpful in preventing damage. The most important thing to remember about your cork floors is that they are highly absorbent. These floor panels are made from the compressed bark of the cork tree, and are especially susceptible to water staining and damage if frequently exposed to wet or damp conditions. Although occasional spills that are quickly cleaned pose no danger to your floors, things like keeping a pet's water dish on a cork floor or allowing rugs to become moist and waterlogged can quickly cause your floors to look less than new.
Always use a cleaner designed especially for cork floors, and avoid using a hard-bristled brush to sweep the floor, as dirt and sand particles ground into the floor with the stiff bristles of this type of brush can cause scratching. A soft-bristled brush, portable vacuum cleaner, or dry dust mop are your best bets for removing dirt and other debris from your cork floor.
When is refinishing cork flooring a good idea?
If you have solid cork floors that are starting to show scratches, fading, or other signs of wear, you should be able to have them refinished to look just as good as new. During the refinishing process, the top layer of flooring is slowly abraded by ultra-fine sandpaper to reveal a fresh, unscratched layer of cork. Any dust is carefully vacuumed or brushed away, and the newly exposed cork is sealed or oiled to prevent damage. Depending upon the total thickness of flooring sanded away through refinishing, you may be able to refinish the same cork floors several times.
If your cork floors are veneer instead of solid -- composed of a thin top panel of cork overlaying a softer, more inexpensive type of wood -- refinishing may not be an option, as the cork veneer may not be thick enough to withstand any abrasion. If this is the case, you may instead want to replace damaged cork panels.
When may you need to replace flooring panels?
Replacing cork flooring is a good option if you have veneer floors or if there has been damage to the underlying layer of cork so that refinishing won't completely remove the mark or discoloration. If you know where your floors were purchased, you may be able to order replacement panels from the manufacturer -- in other cases, you'll want to contact a flooring company to see if you can find a close match. This company should also be able to provide you with contractors to help seamlessly incorporate this new flooring into your current floor.
Because of cork flooring's unique look and natural variations throughout the wood, it's easier to find color and texture matches than for other types of hardwood or tile flooring. For more information, contact a floor refinishing company.