Tag Archives: water based polyurethane

White Cork Flooring Whiter

White Cork Flooring Whiter How

So many people ask if they can making white cork flooring whiter and spruce up their floors by adding colour to the finish that I’ve had to investigate this ourselves.  I’ve relied on the expertise of Loba-Wakol to guide me through the benefits and pitfalls of adding tints to their finishes.  According to Loba-Wakol, Mixol Pigments can be added to the Loba 2K Supra AT without changing the characteristics of the finish.  That means you can add a pigment to their polyurethane without worrying about adhesion or wear changes.  At Cancork, we worry about wear and changing the characteristics of Loba’s amazing new product the 2K Supra AT.  As homeowners you are most likely worried about your floors fading or the white cork flooring slowly yellowing with age.

I have just done some tests to find out how to add white to our white cork flooring.  Using Mixol #25 Oxide White in 3 different concentrations I’ve managed to achieve several different variations of “brightening”. I produced subtle brightening without disturbing the back pattern using 100:1 ratio.  The 50:1 ratio partially obscured the pattern while producing significant whitening effects.  Our third mixture of 10:1 almost completely eliminated the pattern of the cork to produce a “painted” appearance.

Remember, these mixtures are what I’ve tested in small batches on sample planks of flooring.  It is always best to apply our mixtures to off-cuts of loose planks before moving on to coat your floor in product.  Once you apply the finish there is no going back!  Adding white pigment to a floor is a tricky business that requires plenty of trial and error before deciding on your own creative mix.  Do not take these levels for the absolute truth.  Take them for what they are: helpful suggestions that give you a place to start.  Read multiple times to decide on what you are looking for as an end result. Then work backwards to find out what was the starting point.  mixol tint oxide white for white cork flooring This is the easiest way to solve a maze – start at the end and work your way to the start.

My tests revealed the 100:1 mixture of Loba 2k Supra to Mixol #25 Oxide White changed the back ground patterns the least.  This level of mixture also produced the lowest level of “brightening”.  In other words, a single coat did nothing to the back ground pattern while producing a very subtle tone change to to the white.  A second coat at this intensity allowed the floors to brighten a bit more while leaving 95% of the background pattern unchanged.  The 100:1 mixture is an excellent choice for our “marble” patterns.  The beauty cartier love bracelet knock off
of the pattern is unaffected while the subtle brightening reduces beige and pink undertones.  Because this application is very subtle be prepared to do two coats.  Before you start a second coat, make sure you test your mixture on a previously coated test plank.  Again, you will need to decide if the first coat is “good enough” for your situation or if you are willing to risk another coat.

The next ratio we tested was the 50:1 (100:2 = double the amount Mixol Oxide White in the 100:1 ratio).  This produced a significant change in the brightness of the white compared to the 100:1 ratio.  The biggest change came in the loss of background pattern.  The background pattern of our “marble” white cork flooring were reduce by as much as 25%.  In other words almost a third of the pattern was lost.  This is a significant change compared to the 100:1 mixture.  When applied to our “white beach” or “granite” patterns the results were less remarkable because the pattern is not significant in these floors.  “White Granite” floating floor produced a startlingly strong white yet still maintained the sublte back ground blue hue of the original floor.  The beige of the “White Granite” glue down tile was reduced without disturbing the overall appearance of the cork. A second coat at this intensity may not be an option in most cases.  If you are a happy with a single coat of 50:1 but wish a bit more improvement of the “white” I would suggest applying another coat at the 100:1 ratio.  This subtle addition of brighter white does not affect the overall appearance of the floor.  It is pleasing to the eye without having a negative impact.  Applying a second coat of 50:1 risks the chance of having your cork look “painted”.  It is an unattractive look which should be avoided.

The third mixture was 10:1 Loba 2K Supra AT to White.  This produced the most abrupt changes over all samples no matter the background pattern.  The application removed most of the pattern in all but the “Ceramic Marble” glue down tile.  All of the patterns took on a “painted” look which would be considered unappealing in all but the rarest of circumstances. The only floor that appeared to benefit from this intense mixture was “White Granite”.  Because of the negative results with this mixture, I would restrict the use of this to “White Quartz” and only in certain circumstances.  I would reserve this level of coverage to “correcting” areas that appear to have come from different dye lots or if the owner is thoroughly displeased with the floor and demands a “perfect white floor”.  Other than these two situations, I would not choose to use the 10:1 mixture on anything but the most severe situations.

In a nutshell, here is what I found most pleasing and most appropriate without producing a “painted” finish:

100: 1 = White Marble, Ambrosia Marble, Ceramic Marble, White Leather (heavily patterned white cork flooring ) all benefit from this subtle application; 2 coats is an option that does not radically distort the pattern.  Tests should be done to prove a second coat would be benefical.

50: 1 = White Granite white cork flooring, Ivory White white cork flooring, White Beach white cork flooring, White Quartz white cork flooring, Ceramic Marble brighten significantly.  Background beige, pink, yellow reduce significantly.  A second coat is an option but care must be taken to stay away from the ‘painted’ look.  White Granite floating white cork flooring and White Quartz white cork flooring benefit greatly from a second coat of this mixture.

10: 1 = This mixture should be reserved for White Quartz to correct installation mistakes or to please a disgruntled homeowner.  All other patterns appear painted and should be considered a negative appearance.

Up next, adding “white wash” to natural coloured cork floors.

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.

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