3 Types of Finishes That You Can Apply to Cork Tile Floors

Posted on: 7 November 2019

For the uninitiated, cork tiles are a naturally occurring flooring material made for a warm, comfortable underfoot and are extracted from the bark of the Cork Oak tree. While they are certainly beautiful to look at, they are not suitable for every location. You can install cork tiles in your living room or kitchen, but you will generally want to avoid installing them in direct sunlight or wet areas.

In addition to being aesthetically pleasing, cork tile flooring is durable and allows for refinishing. Finishing can either be on the surface or penetrative; this article looks at the most common surface finishes. Surface finishes combine a resin and a solvent to create a floor that is impervious to the original solvent. For instance, water-based solvent results in floors that are impervious to water. To better understand how these work, let's look at a few types of finishes available on the market.  

Water-Based Polyurethane Finish

Arguably the best cork tile floor finish, water-based polyurethanes are best known for their flexibility and durability. The application of this finish involves smearing several layers of water-based polyurethane. Compared to oil-based polyurethane layers, water-based ones are easier to apply as they do not emit harmful fumes.

Water-based polyurethane will need refreshing after two years for commercial floors and between five to seven years for residential installations.

Wax Finish

Wax finishes are high-maintenance floors that have become less and less common today and will mostly be found in glue-down tiles. People prefer polyurethane to wax finishes because technology has improved the former and made them more durable.

On the upside, wax is a naturally occurring substance making wax finishes volatile organic compound (VOC) compliant. In addition, these finishes are also easier to remove and re-wax without removing the original wax layer. Should the surface be scratched, they can easily be rectified by re-waxing individual tiles rather than the entire floor.

Acrylic Urethane Finish

Sharing similar benefits with polyurethane, acrylic finishes are made of acrylic urethane and resin. These finishes may have acrylic and urethane in any ratio, but generally more urethane results in a harder and more durable finish.

By eliminating the use of oil, acrylic urethane finishes are also able to stay clear for longer and do not yellow with age. The VOC levels are also low, meaning that acrylic finishes are eco-friendly.

All these are practical options, but your choice will depend on the durability, ease of application, suitability, foot traffic and environmental friendliness of a finish. Eventually, whether you are renovating your kitchen or laying a new office floor, cork tile finishes provide a stylish and comfortable floor to tread on.