Cleaning Cork Tile Floors

Cleaning Cork Tile Floors

Cork flooring is becoming all the rage with the renewable resource crowd.

Cork comes from the cork oak tree that grows in the Mediterranean. The cork is the bark of the tree that splits from it naturally every 10 years or so. The cork used in floors is the same type of cork that comes in a wine bottle.

While cork may seem soft, especially after it’s removed from a wine bottle, it’s actually a very durable substance. After it’s made into floor tiles, it’s treated so its durability and functionality are increased.

Cork is as durable as most hardwood and laminate flooring, but it does require occasional buffing and sealing.

To learn more, pour yourself a glass of wine and read the following.

How To Clean:

Cork tiles are usually treated with one of two finishes: Wax or polyurethane. Regardless of which kind of finish was used on your tiles, the initial cleaning steps are the same.

You should sweep or vacuum daily to remove sand, dirt and grit. These can scratch the surface if dragged across the floor.

Cork, just as every other floor should have spills cleaned up immediately. It’s very important to not allow any liquid or highly acidic foods like tomatoes to sit on the floor for any length of time

Cork should be mopped regularly. Plain warm water is best, you can add a few drops of detergent to the water if needed. It’s important to use a soft mop- no hard bristles or scrubbers allowed. Because of it’s type and matte finish, cork floors will not streak if allowed to air dry.

  1. Fill a bucket with 1 gallon warm water.
  2. Add 5 drops of liquid dish detergent. Don’t use more than this because it won’t make your floors any cleaner, and the soap will leave a residue
  3. Dunk the mop into the pail and wring thoroughly to remove excess water.
  4. Place the mop on the floor and move about in a circular motion.
  5. Repeat the process over the floor, rinsing and wring the mop completely
  6. Allow to air dry or dry it with a soft cloth or chamois

Don’t use too much water on a cork tile floor, as water can seep between tiles that are not sealed properly. Water that gets between tiles will damage them and will also promote mold growth.

Cleaning Waxed Cork Tile:

Occasionally, you’ll want to use a liquid solvent wax on the floor. You can buy this from the flooring store at which you purchased your tiles or from any major hardware store.

Be sure to follow the directions exactly. If your cork tile floor is extremely dirty, you’ll need to use an electric buffer and a 00 steel wool disk. Following buffing, lamb’s wool pads will need to be applied and the floor may need to be sealed again.

Cleaning Tile With a Polyurethane Finish:

To clean a very dirty cork tile floor with a polyurethane finish, you’ll need a power floor machine and 00 grade wool disks. After cleaning, apply a new coat of polyurethane.

Always Follow the Manufacturer’s Directions:

Just as you would with other specialty flooring such as wood, laminate or vinyl, always make sure to follow all of the manufacturer’s directions when cleaning cork tile floors. Improper cleaning can lead to a dulling or deterioration of the finish. Never use harsh, abrasive cleaners.

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