Resilient like linoleum with the elegance of real hardwood, cork flooring is gaining popularity among contractors and DIY remodelers alike. And for good reason! Cork is quite possibly the most environmentally friendly, non-toxic, and sustainable of all flooring options today. It's durable, attractive, and best of all, eco-friendly from harvest all the way to installation.
Eco-friendly Cork Floors: Good for the Earth and People Too
Is cork wood? Well, yes and no. It does come from trees, but unlike traditional hardwood or bamboo, cork oak trees are not killed to produce cork flooring. Instead, once a cork oak matures, its outer bark is harvested in a sustainable process that doesn't harm the tree at all. In fact, cork bark can be harvested repeatedly every 10-12 years from commercially raised trees until they die of old age, after 200 years or more. Pesticides and fertilizers are rarely used throughout this time.
Cork flooring manufacturers are environmentally friendly as well, integrating the waste and surplus from other cork products, and employing a system of production that is essentially self-contained.
But cork isn't just good for the earth; it's great for people too. Those with allergies and sensitivities will find that cork is an ideal choice, due to its natural antimicrobial properties. It's also much more resistant to mold and fungi growth, and contains a natural insect repellent!
Other Advantages of Cork Flooring
- Appearance. Cork is great for giving floors an unusual, casual look with its attractive texture and interesting shape options – either planks or cork floor tiles in square, triangular, and hexagonal cuts. It can also be stained a wide variety of colors.
- Durability. Cork floors are tough enough to handle high traffic, children, and pets. If well maintained, cork flooring can last up to 80 years.
- Comfort. The resilience of cork makes it a very comfortable flooring material to stand and to walk on.
- Anti-static quality. Those nasty little shocks that carpet and laminate flooring give you in winter? With naturally anti-static cork floors, they’ll be a thing of the past.
- Sound muffling. Cork flooring’s absorbency makes it perfect as a sound barrier.
- Easy maintenance. See below for the best, easy-care way to maintain your cork flooring.
Cork Floor Care
If an adhesive is used to lay your cork flooring, wait at least 72 hours before regular use. If cork tiles are installed as a floating floor, you can walk on the surface right away.
Cork flooring does not stain easily, so avoid scrubbing or harsh chemicals. Dry mopping or vacuuming to keep dirt and grit to a minimum and occasional wet mopping with a gentle cleanser is all that will be needed in most cases.
Cork flooring tiles "rebound" more easily than some flooring materials. They are capable of recovering nearly 100 percent from compression. However, as with hardwood floors, furniture rests are recommended.
Also like wood, even though cork is water resistant, you don't want to leave excess water on the floor. Cork, similarly to bamboo or wood, will also bleach to some degree in bright sunlight.
Important to Remember
Cork floor quality varies widely, and the low end can be very, very disappointing. Even a high quality cork product may fail to impress, if it's been incorrectly installed. When you're selecting cork flooring, it's of utmost importance to choose the right flooring manufacturers, and to make sure you hire a reputable professional to install it properly.