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refinishing cork flooring story - how to refinish cork tiles

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  • refinishing cork flooring story - how to refinish cork tiles

    I was thinking of refinishing my 50's era cork floor tiles, but I couldn't find much first-hand info about it, so I'm posting my story here so the next guy will have more to go on.
    First of all, you can only refinish old school solid cork. My tiles are about 3/8 inches thick. The new engineered stuff has a very thin veneer of cork that doesn't have enough meat to be sanded.
    I called a couple flooring guys in the phone book; one said he'd do it for $3 a square foot, the other said that cork can't be refinished because it's too soft.
    I always like a challenge, so I was off to the rental yard.
    There are three types of flooring sanders generally available: drum, random orbital and square pad. Get the square pad because it's the least aggressive.
    I started with 60 grit pads, they lasted about 100 square feet each before they were gummed up with the old polyurethane. After finishing the room with the 60s, I switched to 120s and that was all that was necessary, I now had a very nice smooth finish on a newly exposed, virgin layer of cork.
    The vacuuming was tedious. Since the tiles have a beveled edge, you really have to get on your hands and knees with a powerful shop vac to get all the dust out of the "grout lines" between the tiles.
    I went with a water based finish system because it's less toxic, and this rec room only gets sock-footed traffic so I didn't need the more durable oil based poly. I used a fuzzy applicator pad on the end of a broomstick to apply. After a coat of sealer, and four coats of the water based urethane, she was looking good.
    For a medium-sized den (300 square feet), it took two days of labor, $40 for the machine rental, and $200 for the materials (sandpaper, urethane and applicators).
    I was surprised at how easy it was to get good results and I don't understand why some pros would claim that it can't be done.

  • #2
    Re: refinishing cork flooring story - how to refinish cork tiles

    Originally posted by Dairylander View Post
    I was surprised at how easy it was to get good results and I don't understand why some pros would claim that it can't be done.
    Most likely most pros either haven't done it before or are worried about damaging the cork and having to replace it (at a loss).

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    • #3
      Re: refinishing cork flooring story - how to refinish cork tiles

      Call the guy that said it couldn't be done and invite him over to check out you job. After he sees what a great job you did offer to share your technique with him for the paltry sum of $240.
      Teach your kids about taxes..........eat 30 percent of their ice cream.

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      • #4
        Re: refinishing cork flooring story - how to refinish cork tiles

        Thank you for the information,
        Push sticks/blocks Save Fingers
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."
        attributed to Samuel Johnson
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        PUBLIC NOTICE: Due to recent budget cuts, the rising cost of electricity, gas, and oil...plus the current state of the economy............the light at the end of the tunnel, has been turned off.

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        • #5
          Re: refinishing cork flooring story - how to refinish cork tiles

          Originally posted by BadgerDave View Post
          Call the guy that said it couldn't be done and invite him over to check out you job. After he sees what a great job you did offer to share your technique with him for the paltry sum of $240.
          Brilliant...

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