Tag Archives: cork floor

Cork Flooring History

Cork Flooring History

Eventhough cork flooring is consider new or novel to the North America it has been around in one format or another for more than 125 years of Cork Flooring History. Cathedrals in Spain and Portugal have cork floors that were installed in 1870′s or even ealier. The US Library of Congress is the most famous American cork floor in existence. The Library received its cork floor before the building opened 1897. The floor is still in use today.

At that time, cork flooring installation was an exotic, expensive and laborious undertaking. Cork was imported at great expense as North America does not have cork oak forests. Great rolls or sheets of cork were glued in place, custom stained and then finished with hardwax or varnish. A complete installation could take weeks or even months depending on the stain and length of time it took the varnish to cure.cork flooring history

In the 1920′s to the the 1940′s cork floor came into vogue as every-day-flooring. Post-war bungalows around the USA and Canada can be found which still maintain their original cork floors. Many people have taken the time and the effort to refurbish these floors to bring them back to their former glory. These old floors are mainly a single colour and are now a deep orange due to the solvent based finishes of their day. Not many homeowners had the money to stain their cork floors with custom colours or patterns. Only in the more stately homes of this era will you find antique cork floors stained to match or enhance architectural detail.

Today’s technology has removed most of the expense associated with cork flooring. Namely the advent of the floating floor plank and today’s click-locking systems. Today’s floating flooring allows any homeowner who wishes to have a cork floor the opportunity to own and enjoy this luxury flooring product. The locking systems have allowed cork to be installed where it was never allowed before namely basements or in areas where high water-tables are a concern.

Glue down cork tiled floors are still a major investment in time and money. It is still the highest level of flooring available in the cork market, but the labour or installation costs are still as prohibitive as before. The labour costs needed to produce a medium to high end cork glue down floor will often triple or quadruple the cost of materials. In many markets today, to install the glue down format can be the same as installing a ceramic or porcelain tile floor. Because of the costs involved, the floating cork floor is now gaining ground and making cork flooring an excellent alternative to laminate or engineered hardwood flooring.

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.