Sanding and Finishing Cork Floors

Sep 17, 2023

The Ultimate Guide to Sanding and Finishing Your Cork Floors

Cork flooring is renowned for its comfort, environmental friendliness, and unique aesthetic. Over time, though, like any flooring material, it may show signs of wear and tear. Fortunately, you can bring it back to pristine condition through sanding and finishing. This process can seem daunting, but you can breathe new life into your cork floors with the right approach and tools. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the step-by-step process of sanding and finishing cork floors.

In a home where elegance meets sustainability, cork floors invariably hold a significant place. This remarkable material, harvested from the bark of cork oak trees, provides not only a distinct touch to your interior but also promises comfort and resilience. However, with time, the charm might slightly fade, giving you a nudge to consider refinishing the floor to retrieve its former glory. Sanding and finishing are two pivotal steps in reclaiming the beauty of your cork flooring and ensuring it continues to grace your home with its presence for many more years. In this blog post, we embark on a detailed journey to explore the art and science behind sanding and finishing cork floors, guiding you through a transformation that promises both aesthetic appeal and enhanced longevity.

Cork Floor Sanding Tips

Understanding Cork Flooring

Before delving into the procedures, let’s first understand the characteristics of cork flooring. Cork is derived from the bark of the cork oak tree, a renewable resource, making it an eco-friendly flooring option. It possesses a cellular structure, which gives it a cushiony feel and sound insulation properties.

Importance of sanding and finishing

Sanding and finishing are vital procedures that help to maintain the beauty and functionality of cork floors. Sanding removes imperfections and evens out the surface, while finishing protects the floor from daily wear and tear, adding to its lifespan.


Assessing the Condition of Your Floor

Before you start, assess the current condition of your floor to determine the extent of the sanding and finishing required. Look for deep scratches, dents, and uneven areas that might need attention.

Gathering necessary materials and tools

Equip yourself with the necessary materials and tools. These include a drum sander, an edging sander, sandpaper with varying grits, a vacuum cleaner, and safety gear such as goggles and masks.

Preparing the Room

Before beginning, remove all furniture from the room and cover any fixed installations, like cabinetry, with protective plastic sheeting to prevent dust buildup.

Sanding and Finishing Cork Floors

Sanding cork floors

Initial Sanding

Choosing the right grit

Start with coarse-grit sandpaper to remove the old finish and surface imperfections. You can gradually move to medium- and fine-grit sandpapers as the floor becomes smoother.

Using a drum sander

A drum sander is a powerful tool that can help you get the job done efficiently. Begin sanding from the centre of the room, moving gradually towards the edges. Keep the sander moving to avoid uneven sanding.

Detail Sanding

Edge Sanding

After the central part of the floor has been sanded, use an edge sander to work on the areas near the walls where the drum sander cannot reach.

Corner Sanding

For the corners and other tight spots, hand sanding might be necessary. Use a hand sander or sanding blocks to reach these areas.

Fine Sanding

Transitioning to Finer Grits

Once the major imperfections are removed, transition to finer grits to achieve a smooth finish.

Checking for evenness

After each sanding phase, check the floor for evenness. If necessary, repeat the process in problematic areas to ensure a uniform surface.

Sanding and Finishing Cork Floors

Finishing Cork Floors

Choosing the right finish

Water-Based Finishes

Water-based finishes are popular due to their low VOC content and quick drying times. They provide a clear, non-yellowing finish that allows the natural beauty of cork to shine through.

Oil-Based Finishes

Oil-based finishes offer a rich and warm finish. They take longer to dry but are known for their durability and resistance to wear and tear.

Applying the finish

Preparing the Floor

Before applying the finish, make sure the floor is clean and free of dust and debris. Use a vacuum cleaner to clean the surface thoroughly.

Applying the First Coat

Using a roller or a brush, evenly apply the first coat of finish to the floor. Ensure that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding application techniques and drying times.

Sanding between coats

After the first coat has dried, lightly sand the floor using fine-grit sandpaper to remove any bumps and prepare the surface for the next coat.

Applying Subsequent Coats

Depending on the type of finish and the desired look, you may need to apply multiple coats. Follow the same procedure for each subsequent coat, allowing ample drying time between coats.

Sanding and Finishing Cork Floors

Maintenance and Care

Daily Maintenance

To keep your newly finished cork floor looking its best, sweep or vacuum daily to remove dirt and grit that can scratch the surface.

Preventing Damage

Use protective pads on furniture legs to prevent scratching. Avoid walking on the floor with high heels or sharp objects that can cause dents.

Regular Cleaning

Clean the floor regularly using a damp mop and a cleaner designed for cork floors to maintain its beauty and prolong its lifespan.


Reviving your cork floors through sanding and finishing is a rewarding process that can rejuvenate the look and feel of your space. By following this detailed guide, you can undertake this project with confidence and achieve results that you will be proud of. Remember to take your time and work methodically to ensure a smooth and durable finish that will serve you for years to come.

Cork floors are not just a sustainable choice; they also bring warmth and a unique texture to your home. Taking the time to sand and finish your cork floors properly will ensure they remain a focal point in your home, combining beauty with durability and function.


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