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Cork Floor Tiles in Kitchens
Cork tile is becoming a stylish and popular choice as a kitchen flooring material. When properly treated and cared for, it is resistant to stains and spills, which are a common hazard in busy kitchens. It is also very comfortable to stand on, even over long periods of time, which is important when preparing large and complex meals for family and friends.
However, there are a number of factors you should know about before choosing cork tile for your kitchen. This includes the regular maintenance... that will be required to maintain it, as well as different environmental factors that can effect its life span and cycle.Continue to 2 of 5 below.
02 of 05
Cork tiles can be installed over plywood, concrete or un-primed drywall subfloors in a kitchen. The surface of the subfloor has to be completely smooth, with no more than a 1/8” deflection per ten feet of surface. Any bumps, indentations, or rises in the subfloor will show through the cork material.
Water Concerns: One of the major issues that you will have to address with any flooring that you install in a kitchen is moisture. With cork tile, the material needs to be completely sealed against... the penetration of moisture.
With pre-finished cork tiles, the material will have to be sealed with a matching varnish after it is laid in order to protect the seams between individual pieces and make them water tight. With unfinished cork, you will have to apply at several layers of varnish or polyurethane in order to seal the surface.
Cork tiles should be installed up to the edge of permanent fixtures such as cabinets and counters. Large appliances can be placed on top of cork flooring, but they will tend to sink into the material, causing permanent depressions. This can make it difficult to move the object at a later time. In order to avoid this, place large pieces on ¼” plywood or metallic steel sheets.
Unless you are experienced at working with tile you may want to consider having a professional do the work on your kitchen. The subfloor needs to be perfectly flat or seams will show. Sloppy placement and installation can also lead to a floor that looks unevenContinue to 3 of 5 below.
03 of 05
Kitchen Flooring Design Considerations
Cork is a natural product, which means that the colors, patterns, and features found in each individual piece are going to be unique and one of a kind. The background color of the cork comes from pigments being added to the material during the firing process. Generally, darker materials are fired at a higher temperature than lighter colors. Cork can also be stained and or dyed to virtually any color, allowing you to choose from a wide variety of aesthetic options for your kitchen.
When installing... cork in a kitchen it is often a good idea to do a dry run, laying the individual tiles out without adhesive so that you can create an attractive pattern from the natural variations in each piece.
One thing to note is that cork tends to weather rather quickly. Pet claws, chair scuffs, and high heals slipping on the surface can all cause scratches in the material, which can give the cork a weathered look. This can be attractive in some kitchens; however. if you want a material that maintains its perfection for a long time then this might not be the right option for you.Continue to 4 of 5 below.
04 of 05
Stains, Spills, and Cleaning Cork
The application of a sealant such as polyurethane, varnish, or wax will make the surface of your kitchen cork tiles as impervious as any natural material can get. Regular re-application will ensure that the cork is protected against stains and spills, while also creating a seal over it that will help to reduce some of the scuffing damage that can occur.
When spills do happen they should be wiped up immediately. Never allow liquid to rest on the surface of a cork tile floor, as it can penetrate... the material over time and cause damage from the bottom up.
Basic maintenance will require you to vacuum or sweep a cork kitchen floor every few days. It is important to keep the floor free of dirt particles which can scrape the surface, biting through the sealant, and damaging the tile. The material can also be dry mopped. Never soak a cork floor in water in order to clean it.
There are a variety of cleaning agents that are made specifically for use with cork flooring tiles. In the case of set in stains, the individual tile can be removed, replaced, and then sealed to match the rest of the application. Cork kitchen floors can also be refinished several times depending on the thickness of the tiles used.
Aside from basic spills, water accidents do sometimes occur in the kitchen. Floods due to faulty dishwashing equipment or leaking pipes beneath a sink can cause stains and warping to occur in tiles. Regular re-application of the sealing agent can provide some protection against these disasters.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
05 of 05
Is Cork Flooring Right For My Kitchen?
Cork is one of the most comfortable materials you can walk on. Soft and spongy, it will be easy on your feet, and your back, even when you are stuck in the kitchen for hours on end. It also tends to be a crowd pleaser when guests first step on the spongy surface. That same spongy surface can also cushion objects that accidentally fall. This can save even delicate objects from smashing or breaking when they accidentally fall.
Cork is also warmer underfoot than many other hard surface materials. It... can be combined with radiant heating systems which will increase this effect, keeping the kitchen toasty on even the coldest winter’s eve.
However, cork does have some drawbacks in a kitchen. Water damage is one major issue. Another is piercing damage. If a knife or other sharp objects falls on a cork floor, it is going to puncture the surface. While a slit in the material will tend to pucker closed visually, it will still remain in the material, making it susceptible to water penetration.
If a sharp object goes into the surface of the material at an angle, it can remove cork material relatively easily, leaving a rip, tear, or hole in your kitchen floor. With tile, however, it is often possible to replace the damaged piece and install a new one.