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Restoring cork floors

I have recently bought my grandparents house - and would like to spruce up the cork floor in the living room. The floor was installed in the 50's and is square cork tiles. It is still well attached to the sub floor. It is largely still in good shape, except for an area that is around the exterior door that is more worn.

Should I just wax the floor several times? Or could I do a polyurethane seal? Would that be better for the floor in the long run? And should I / could I buff or very lightly sand the floor before hand?

Thoughts and opinions very welcome! Thanks in advance!

Re: Restoring cork floors

Were you ever successful? I am looking at a house that has 6 inch x 6 inch cork tiles.... installed in 1952. They have picked up dirt (almost ground in from the years). Any ideas? e-mail is a @hotmail.com.....front part is MEKUNSEL (just put @hotmail.com after that). Thanks.

Re: Restoring cork floors


I would be very careful about using a urethane finish. Urethanes are known for bad adhesion unless the substrate is compatible. If there is any wax, regular shellac or lacquer type finish on there, it probably will not stick . I certainly would make a test in an obscure corner before committing to the whole floor. Urethane a small corner and after 24 hours see if you can scratch it off easily.

You might want to try sealing the floor first with a de-waxed shellac such as Zinssers' Seal Coat or other "universal sealer". Again, I would hedge my bet and make a sample first.

If you have old fashioned full thickness cork, it can be sanded. Given the age of the house, it probably is full thickness. If you get down to the virgin cork underneath, the urethane would be fine. I would use one of the square pad type sanders rather than a drum sander.Drums are very aggressive and you could be through the cork in a couple seconds. Start with a rouge 60 grade to break through the surface and then finish it off with a 120 grit. After smooth, vacumn up the dust and follow with at least 4 coats of WB urethane or 3 coats of solvent based.

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