Refinishing cork floors: what you need to know

Refinishing cork floors: what you need to know

Cork is becoming increasingly popular as a flooring material, and it’s easy to see why: not only does it look great, but its unique qualities also make it perfect for the job.

Yet, much like any other type of flooring, cork may require some attention every now and then. This article is about a topic that anyone with cork flooring should be acquainted with.

Here's what you need to know about refinishing.


Here are a couple of preliminary steps for you to check before you start refinishing.

Firstly, assess the condition of your flooring: if the damage or wear is too serious, an expert’s assistance may be required.

Secondly, make sure that you have all the tools that you’re going to need, which include:

  • Safety goggles and gloves
  • Sanding machine or sandpaper
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Cork floor cleaner
  • Wood stain or sealer
  • Paintbrush or roller
  • Clean, lint-free cloths

How to Refinish Your Flooring Step-by-Step

Before you start, make sure to wear your safety goggles and gloves, and ensure the room is well ventilated by opening windows or using a fan.

Now, it’s time to get to work:

  1. Give the flooring a comprehensive cleaning using a cloth or mop and a mild product appropriate for cork, taking care to remove any dirt or debris. Then, let it dry.
  2. Next, sand the surface to fix any problems and refresh the flooring’s appearance. If it is lightly worn, you can use a sanding machine with fine-grit sandpaper to remove the top layer, or alternatively, use sandpaper by hand.
  3. After sanding, clean up all the residue. Use the vacuum, and afterwards wipe the floor down with a clean, damp cloth. Let it dry again before moving on.
  4. It’s now time to apply the new finish. Choose a cork sealant specifically designed for that purpose and use a paintbrush or roller. Apply the finish evenly, taking care to follow the manufacturer's instructions, including the recommended drying time.

Once the finish is dry, you can apply more coats for added protection and durability, sanding lightly between each coat to smooth out any imperfections.

Your floor deserves a break (and so do you). Allow it to fully dry and “recover” before placing any furniture or rugs on it.

Cork maintenance

Keeping cork flooring healthy is an important job, but not a complex one: the main task is to clean it regularly with a broom or vacuum so that dirt doesn’t accumulate.

A few special precautions will be beneficial, though, if you want to maximize the longevity of the material and your new finish.

One of the most important ones is to wipe up any liquid spills as soon as you can, to prevent the liquid from seeping through.

Also, always avoid dragging heavy furniture. For added protection, it’s worth applying furniture pads, as well as placing rugs in areas where people constantly walk through, to reduce regular wear.

Finally, if you have pets, it may be a good idea to trim their nails or provide them with a scratch post.

Final thoughts

Refinishing is not hard to do, and it can be very satisfying to see your floor looking fresh and beautiful again, not to mention that you’ll be extending its lifespan in the process.

Follow our tips to keep it in good shape, and if, despite your precautions, you eventually find problems, it’s often easy to fix things with the help of a touch-up kit, wax, or sealant.

If, on the other hand, you are facing more significant damage – and though far from us to want to take the pleasure of a rewarding DIY project from you – seek out a professional, who will have access to more tools, knowledge, and experience to handle the situation.