Category Archives: Cork Flooring Maintenance

Cork Flooring Maintenance

Why Humidity control is SOOO important for Flooring

The winter replica cartier ring is upon us – at least in the Northern hemisphere – and the heating season is in full swing.  That same season also means it is the time of the year when the air in our homes dries out.  In some situations the reduction in humidity is so severe it causes our finishings and our furnishings to change shape.  This is the case for almost all interior grade home products.  Our floors are no exception.

Cork flooring, which is wood, is just as susceptible to changes (perhaps more so) as traditional hardwood and softwood products.  In fact, a cork floating floor is one of the most dynamic floors on the market.  Over 25 linear feet, it can expand and contract as much as 1 full inch.  The expansion occurs in summer (higher humidity – no heat sources turned on) and the contraction occurs in winter (reduced Relative Humidity together with heated spaces).  Winter is the “shrinkage” time of the year.  And if the air in the home becomes TOO dry, your finishings will let you know – and some of them are none-too subtle about it.

A case in point.  I recently had (today in fact) a client reach out to me to inform me her 1 year old cork floating floor had seam cartier love bracelet knock off
separation.  Right in the middle of the living room.  This occurred over a few days…maybe the weekend.  Not the point.  The change was sudden and upsetting.

Usually there are several issues at play – but the biggest factor can and will be humidity.  Relative Humidity (RH) is THE defining requirement for warranty.  As soon as RH is OUTSIDE the warranty requirements, all bets are off!  No one will offer warranty replacement once the RH drops to low or pops too high.

What are the interior requirements for RH?  The Best Building Practices (which helps set all guidelines for all products) recommends a consistent RH be maintained between 40%-60%.  Some products, such as bamboo or certain species of hardwoods, require a slightly different, narrower range.  Whereas other products, such as cork, have a slightly wider range.  In fact, cork can “handle” a rather wide range of RH.  We require an RH range between 35% – 65%.  This is one of the widest humidity ranges for flooring. 

But for many homes, in the winter time, even the lowest possible RH of 35% is impossible to maintain.  In fact, most homes cannot meet this basic requirement.  What happens if your home falls outside the requirement?  What could happen?  Well, a very dry home (as seen in my example above) will cause excessive shrinkage.  The cork floor will contract so hard and so fast, it can cause the click edge to disengage – essentially unlocking the lock system and allowing the floor to walk itself apart.  This can be compounded by a less than stellar installation (perhaps that seam happened to be less than fully engaged and therefore easier for the floor to make the split).

If humidity is too high, then replica cartier love bracelets the opposite occurs.  The floors will expand beyond the required expansion gap at the wall.  The 1″ gap will be used up, the floor will jam itself against the wall and then the floor will buckle and heave.  It will look like an amusement park ride.

And to add insult to injury, the swings in humidity between the highest of the high and the lowest of the low, can cause the most upset.  A home that pops to 70% humidity in summer time and then drops to 25% humidity in the winter (a change of 45%) will cause the most amount of damage over the long term.  Even though cork can “handle” a range of 35% – 65%, it doesn’t mean it should experience the full range inside of 3 months. 

Consistent humidity is the key.  Consistent means control.  Humidity control comes with a Humidistat that is programmed cartier bracelets into the Heat and Cooling system of the house – and is fully functional.  That is an addition that most people do not own.  A hygrometer (or several) used in the home will help regular homeowners adjust their humidity through less complicated means (humidifier or dehumidifier).

No matter the situation, it is the homeowner’s responsibility to maintain their home to manufacturer’s guidelines.  It is the crux of all warranties.  And all materials have this requirement.  All of them.  Doors, windows, carpets, paint, drywall, flooring, cabinets, and furniture.  Everything hinges on those two little letters:  RH.

Seal cork floor, why do I need to?

Seal cork floor, why do I need to?

This is one of the most common questions we run into.  “Why do I need to seal cork floor?  Doesn’t it already have a finish on it?”

Almost all of today’s modern cork floors come with a factory finish.  Forna cork products are no different.  We finish our products with 3 coats of water based polyurethane at the factory.  This is good enough to use a floating floor laid in a bedroom or a living room without doing anything more than moving in and enjoying your new space!  A glue down cork floor is another story.seal cork floor why need

Glue down tiles are not click-together.  They are glued in place in areas that are required to be “water proof” such as bathrooms.  A glue down cork tile floor always requires site finishing.  Always.  The reason being is not for the cork but for the adhesive and the subfloor.  Because the tiles are held in place with adhesive and they sit directly over top of a subfloor the seams of the cork must be made impervious to water.  That means the tiles must be sealed once they have been installed.  Without this site finishing water, dust, dirt, mud, oil, etc. will work its way between the seams to reach the subfloor and adhesive.  The adhesive will then become contaminated and eventually loose adhesion.  That means floor failure.

To avoid floor failure, the solution is perfectly simple: site finish the tiles with 2-3 coats of polyurethane = sealed seams = water proof floor.  The subfloor is protected from water reaching it and the adhesive is protected from dirt and grime contaminating it.  It is a win-win situation.

A floating floor that has been installed in kitchens or entranceways also require 2 coats of water based polyurethane to seal cork floor the seams against surface/standing water (aka: spills). Again, this extra bit of protection protects the middle core from having to deal with water working its way between the seams and damaging the High Density Fibreboard.  This extra protection reduces the likelihood that the flooring will swell or deteriorate after years of exposure to spills…which is common in kitchens.

Another reason seal cork floor is because cork shrinks.  Like any other wood, cork will slowly dry out over time.  This means that a cork floating floor will slowly begin to show gapping at each and every seam.  The locking system is unaffected by this…it is the cork wear surface, or “skin” that is slowly shrinking back from the edge of the plank.  In very dry climates (Okanagan Valley in BC, prairie provinces of Canada or Arizona/California/Nevada in USA) the shrinkage can cause the gaps to open inside of 8 years.  For this very reason we require all Forna cork floors to receive at least 1-2 coats of polyurethane SOMETIME before the floor turns 7 years old.  If you apply polyurethante at the time of install, then you have nothing to worry about.  If you waited or decided not to apply the polyurethane then you are responsible to have the polyurethane applied before gapping occurs.

Once the first coat or two has been applied it comes down to routine maintenance and concerns with wear through of the polyurethane.  The “gapping” issue will have been taken care of with the first application of polyurethane.

If you a question about Why do I need to seal cork floor, please contact us

How to Clean Cork Floors

How to Clean Cork Floors

Cleaning cork flooring is not much different from cleaning hardwood floors.  If you have questions about How to Clean Cork Floors or comments about How to Clean Cork Floors, I will answer them here.  Feel free to ask your questions about How to Clean Cork Floors and care for a cork floor.

The basics:

There is a “right way” and a “wrong way” to take care of your cork floors. Cork is a finished surface and should be treated in the same way a hardwood floor is treated.  Forna cork products are factory finished with water based polyurethane.  Polyurethane is a tough, surface finish that sits on top of the cork and protects it from damage and stains.  The polyurethane is in the same category as hardwood floors finished with urethane or polyurethane.  That means there can be no harsh chemicals, no wax based, no oil based, no solvent based products used on these floors.  If the bottle does not say “pH Neutral Hardwood Floor Cleaner” then do not buy/use it on cork or hardwood.

The RIGHT way:

  1. Sweep dust/dirt/sand off of the floor on a regular basis (3-5 times per week)
  2. Vacuuming is fine so long as you TURN OFF the beater bar
  3. Dry mopping with microfibre material or push mops that use static electricity to hold the material is acceptable
  4. Damp mopping with water is normally all these floors required (1-4 times per month)
  5. For a deeper clean or to remove stubborn dried on food/mud a “pH Neutral Cleaner for Hardwood Floors” is acceptable (1-2 times per month)
  6. For “natural” cleaning products we ONLY allow a water:vinegar mixture of 10:1 ratio (1-2 times per month)
  7. For very stubborn greasy floors the water:vinegar mixture can have 1 DROP of “Dawn” dish soap added;  if you proceed with this method the floor must be rinsed with hot, clean water to remove any trace of the soap.  Several rinses (2-3 rinses) are normally required for this procedure which is why most people choose not to use this method of cleaning; this format is recommended only a few times per year (2-4 times per year)
  8. After a damp mop, it is wise to wipe the floors dry to remove any concerns about water spots left behind on the floor

The WRONG way shows how these products will damage your floor:

  • #1 WORST thing to use is Murphy’s Oil Soap – will ruin the most expensive finish inside of a year or two and there is no way to apply more finish to save the floor; the only cure for Murphy’s = new flooring
  • “All Purpose” cleaners are not to be used on finished wood floors; they can to be used on glass, ceramic/porcelain/cement tiles and metal but NOT WOOD!
  • “Natural All Purpose” cleaning products are as bad as their “chemical” cousins; they are not meant for anthing other than glass, cement or metal
  • “Natural” Cleaning products are often derived from “oil based soaps” which puts these products in the same “floor killing” category as Murphy’s Oil Soap; best to avoid these products
  • Oil Based cleaners or “shine” products such as Mop&Glo or Orange Glo; these products leave heavy residues that rank in the same category as Murphy’s Oil Soap and should never be used on wood surfaces – ever!
  • Steam Cleaners will “cook” the finish to the point where it will turn white and hazy; this is quite common and often requires the floor to be fully sanded and refinished which means you will loose the pretty pattern and the colour of the cork you paid plenty of money for; or the cheapest option is to rip out the floor and install another floor while at the same time throwing out the steam cleaner
  • “Swiffer” style spray mops are not designed for polyurethane or urethane floors; they are allowed on ceramic/porcelain/cement tiles, linoleum and sheet vinyl but NOT WOOD!
  • Oil, wax or polishes should be avoided They are inappropriate for Forna cork flooring products

These are the basics of How to Clean Cork Floors.  Most of these products are heavily advertised with pretty pictures of the product being used on wood floors but the reality is that very few are acceptible for use with wood or cork.