Is Cork Flooring Right for You?

Photo Courtesy of Domenic

Cork flooring is becoming very popular with people that want an attractive floor that is also considered “green”.  Cork flooring has many benefits as well as a few drawbacks.

Benefits of Cork:

– Renewable Resource.  It is harvested from the bark of the cork tree which grows in the Mediterranean.  Done every 9 to 10 years, there is no harm done to the tree if harvested properly.  In addition, cork is easily recyclable.

Anti-allergenic – Suberin is a naturally occurring substance present in cork.  It repels mold and pests and keeps cork from rotting.

Fire Resistant –Suberin at work again.

Honeycomb Structure.  This means it’s filled with a lot of air.  This makes cork resilient enough that it can be compressed (up to 40%) and still remain undamaged, in time returning to its previous state. 

Great Insulator.  Cork retains heat and warm floors can help reduce your energy usage during the winter.  Cork also insulates against sound.

– Soft Underfoot.  It’s a great choice for an area where you’ll be doing a lot of standing.  

Cork Tree

Photo Courtesy of notfrancois’

Drawbacks:

– Easily Damaged – While cork can heal itself from minor cuts, it can be easily gouged by heavy or sharp items dropped on it, by pet’s claws, kids or even high heels.  You also don’t want heavy furniture on it, as permanent dents can be left behind; if you must put heavy furniture on it, use coasters under the legs to distribute the weight a bit.  And never drag anything over cork.

– Naturally Absorbent – Cork is not ideal for bathrooms, kitchens or wet basement.  While the polyurethane will repel most water, if exposed to significant amounts of water, cork can warp and peel up.  Spills must be cleaned promptly.  When cleaning the floor, you CAN NOT use a wet mop.

– Must be Sealed – You must seal the floor with a few layers of polyurethane and this must be redone after 5 to 10 years.  When sanding, extra care must be taken because the cork pieces are very thin and brittle.

Color will Change – Cork will naturally fade when exposed to sunlight.  Even when protected from sunlight, the color will change over time.

Cork can be Expensive – There are more affordable brands available, but quality will vary and some brands may have additives you don’t want, such as formaldehyde and phenol.  So do research the various brands.  In addition, cheap cork flooring will be thinner which means it will not be as durable.

– Comes from Europe/Northern Africa – This is a drawback because the cork has to travel such a long way, increasing its embodied energy.

FreeStyle/Place N' Go Cork Flooring

If you love the look of cork but don’t think you have the right location for it, our Place N’ Go free-floating floor tiles are available in a cork finish.  With these tiles you can have the look of cork and the durability, ease of maintenance, and waterproof quality that Place N’ Go offers, all while knowing your flooring has one of the highest recycled content of any flooring product available!

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