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.
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.
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