Keeping Cork Like Cork

In recent years Cork flooring has experienced a resurgence that has led to its presence in just about every flooring showroom in the country, and for good reason.   Cork is a completely natural material that’s warm, quiet, and gentle on your body.  Time entertaining in the kitchen will pass more quickly than ever before with this wonderful material underfoot.  As well, it is a popular product for its eco-friendliness.

But for all its natural benefits most Cork manufacturers plasticize the material with toxic polyurethane finishes that rob the substance of some of its.  Though the intention of adding a urethane is sound – durability is always important – with cork this level of protection is unnecessary and less aesthetically pleasing.  That’s because cork’s closed cell structure is impermeable and non-porous, resists water and stains, and inhibits bacterial growth.  This is also made by a waxy substance generated within the cork called Suberra.  Finishes, however, are about more than protection; they also generate the look of a flooring and maintain the luster in the products color.  For all these reasons we’re big fans of Vida Cork planks and tiles.  Vida is one of the rare companies that works with the natural benefits of cork, not in contradiction to it.

Vida Cork Planks come pre-finished with a tough UV-cured hardwax-oil finish that has a natural, satin appearance.  Most cork floors, coated with a plastic finish that begins with a high gloss, age ungracefully. We’re fans of this finish on Vida Cork because it can last a lifetime and saves the need for expensive and intrusive renovation—it is easily rejuvenated with a dabble of Osmo Liquid Wax Cleaner and a swipe of a cloth.  In cases of heavier damage, the finish can actually be spot-repaired with Osmo Polyx-Oil.

Whether its cork or wood flooring, natural oil wax finishes offer a lot of advantages over urethanes.   Good oil wax finishes like Osmo PolyOl and AFM Natural Oil Wax not only protect wood and cork with a satin like wax, they also bring out the natural beauty in this materials.  But, if it’s a urethane finish your job requires, there are good options.  I’ll blog about those next week.

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