Forum Archive : Equipment

What finish to use on a cork board?

From:   JP White
Date:   22 April 2003
Subject:   What finish to use on a cork board?
Forum:   GammOnLine

I am in the process of replacing the surface of an old cork BG board.
The old surface got pitted where players finger nails chipped up pieces of
the board surface over time. Now I have a new cork surface does anyone
know the best way to finish the playing surface? I hate to leave it
unfinished because finger nails will soon ruin it. Will a polyurethane
finish make it too slippery for the dice roll without skating?

Chuck Bower  writes:

I tried water-based polycrilic spray (Minwax brand) and it was a huge
failure. The coating wasn't at all durable and fingernails left white
(powderlike) streaks. I think the cork caused this. Polycrilic on wood is
supposed to be quite durable. Polyurethane usually has an amber cast,
which I was trying to avoid. (Polycrilic is supposed to be transparent.)

Sorry that all I can do is warn you away from one method. I don't know
the answer as to what is best.

Alex Zamanian  writes:

If you go to a store that sells high-end sandals, you should be able to
buy a paint on cork protector (some sandals have soles made of cork).

Warning: I have never used it on backgammon boards, but it might be worth

TarHeelFan  writes:

JP, I've done quite a few boards and have had great success with Minwax's
Polycrylic Satin. Chuck is correct that the spray is the wrong approach.
He's also correct than you can get some white marks in the finish from
fingernails. I did not find the marks to be a problem. They were not bad,
and I re-coated my surface periodically, anyway. I recommend using as
many coats as you have the patience for. I also never had a problem with
slippy-slidyness. In fact, that's one of the things I'm looking for when
I coat a cork board -- I want the checkers to move smoothly.

I once played on a board that the owner claimed had "I don't know -- well
over 100" coats of Poly. You could see that the Poly had depth. He had used
regular Poly, but the board didn't look bad. It was brown and white, and
the Poly had ambered it some. It would not have looked good on anything
other than brown. The board played really well, and the glare was not bad.

Another time I played on a board where someone had obviously poured Poly
into it and set it aside (probably for weeks!) to set. The Poly was
probably at least 3/16 inch (4-5 mm) thick! This board also played nicely,
but I would not recommend this approach! The Poly was pretty dark, and
there were slight ripples in the surface.

> Jeb, did you have any problems with foaming? Did you attempt to put on
> as thin of a coat a possible (each step)? Any runs? What kind of brush
> did you use? How much time between coats.
> When you recoated (weeks later), did you rough up the previous finish?

I did not have trouble with foaming or runs. I was not trying for "as thin
as possible" on each coat, but I was certainly not putting a thick coat.
I used a good quality 1 1/2" brush with long, soft bristles that frizzed
at the end. I think it was natural -- not nylon. I remember it cost around
6 or 8 bucks. I usually waited an hour between coats, sometime a bit less.
Whenever I recoated, I simply removed as much dust and crud as I could
before starting. No ruffing of the previous finish.

Somebody  writes:

Has any one used a rubbing wax (minwax paste wax) or a natural oil
(mineral oil or an oil with resin like tung oil or deft/watco)?  I'm a
furiture finisher and have never used these methods on cork but after 30
years of finishing all kinds of wood those would be my first samples.
Even Briwax could be an option.

Wax cures over time so if you don't want an oily feeling finish rub a thin
coat on with one rag and rub it off with another rags before it dries then
buff it with a clean rag after it sets up.  If you rub oil into it first,
it might swell.  If so, take sand paper (220 grit) and sand the surface
after it dries. You may want to do that after your first  few coats of
resin based oil then hit it with the paste wax.  That surface should be
soft and slick when finished and it is not a "clear-coat" so you won't be
marring a plastic coating.

Wax does not damage "white" like water based polies do nor does it damage
amber like oil based polies do.  When it's marred, any color change is
eliminated with the next coat of wax because each new aplication softens
the old coat.  Like I said I haven't experimented with it yet but that is
where I'd start coming from a back ground of using all types of finishing
products over the last thirty years.  Tell me if my hunch is wrong.
Did you find the information in this article useful?          

Do you have any comments you'd like to add?     



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