Saturday, August 3, 2013

Refurbishing Cork Tiles

One of the many reasons that eco-friendly cork tiles are popular is that they are super comfortable to walk on. With their naturally bouncy resilience these tiles can be walked on with bare feet making them a popular choice for bedrooms and den areas. Homeowners with arthritic or stiff joints also find cork flooring more forgiving and places less stress on ankle and knee joints. With proper maintenance cork tiling will last the average user around 20 years before refurbishment becomes necessary.

Cork flooring should be sanded to remove all residual veneer and any wood floor repairs should be dealt with at this time. Although cork is a heavy tile it can be damaged by a heavy sanding so a rule of thumb is to sand light but several times. Never dig into the tiles as cork cannot withstand this type of treatment and cracking will inevitably result.

Sand up to the edges with a hand held sander. This will require close work on hands and knees so if fitness is a problem you might consider getting a quote from a flooring specialist company to do the work for you.

The next stage

After sanding carefully vacuum the tiles. If you are applying a varnish finish adhere strictly to manufacturer’s guidelines and always have a channel of fresh air in the room while you are working.

Allow maximum drying time for the varnish and only when it is fully dry do you apply another coat. Cork tiles will require two coats, possible three but that should be sufficient. Do not over-varnish or a lumpy effect will be achieved.

Time to harden

After the final layer of varnish your cork tiles will look sparkling and like new. However avoid walking on the tiles for 24 hours minimum and a full week for it to fully harden before returning furniture to the room. Leave 2 weeks before washing the tiles.

Cork floor tiling can be protected with a polyurethane sealant. Apply exactly as directed and make sure each coat is allowed maximum drying time.

Remember that cork tiles can be swept as well as vacuumed. Whilst this type of flooring can be wet-washed, care must be taken when applying a mop. Mops should be lightly moistened only avoid excessive dripping and water spillages as this will seriously damage cork tiles. Remove stubborn marks carefully with the edge of a spatula.

How to colour cork tiles

Choosing a cork floor has many plus points. Cork is versatile, warm, tough, strong – and brown. If you would like to stamp your own personality on your cork tile flooring then why not try adding a bit of colour? Colouring cork flooring is very easy to do and adds immediate character to a room.

If there is a finishing veneer on the floor this will have to be removed before applying the colour. You can, depending upon the size of the room, strip the veneer off by hiring a sanding machine or you can use an orbital hand-held sander. There is also the option of using sandpaper alone but this will be labour intensive, not to mention painful on the knees and is not recommended unless the room is very small.

When the tiles are smooth and even, vacuum away the residue and you are ready to apply the colour. Cork colour comes in super shades: bold and bright primary colours to subtle blends and pastels.

Wearing protective gloves, open the can carefully and stir with a paint stick. When the stain is well mixed apply to the floor one tile at a time. Use a clean cloth rather than a brush and begin in an area which is usually covered by furniture.

When the floor sanding is completely stained leave overnight to dry. If a darker shade is required apply a second coat. When this is completely dry you can apply a urethane protective sealant to lengthen the life of your cork tiles.

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