Did you know that the cork used in flooring is the same cork used to make wine-bottle corks? Did you also know that most of it is harvested from the Quercus Suber, also called the Cork Oak Tree? The bark is harvested every 9 years, which is a healthy amount of time, giving it time to regenerate naturally.
If you’ve ever had cork flooring in your home or office, you are well aware of how fantastically it complements your interior. It can also provide amazingly resilient flooring for your kitchen, giving it a warm, beautiful, and most importantly, functional look. Combine this with cork’s durability and what you get is beautiful, long-lasting flooring. This guide will show you everything you need to know about cork flooring.
How it Works
The bark of the cork oak tree is hand-harvested during its season (usually every 9 years). It is immediately dried right there, in the forest, for several months, after which it is sent to factories. Factories that were originally just manufacturing wine-bottle corks. It is in fact, the leftovers from the bottle corks that are boiled and ground up, compressed with adhesive resins, and then cut into shapes suitable for flooring. What was once industrial waste is now recycled and transformed into different shapes, styles, and designs of cork flooring.
Cork flooring comes in more than 40 colors to suit whatever purpose you intend to use it for. It is very durable and nearly lasts lifetime.
Cork flooring is actually one flooring you can install yourself. No serious technical skills or techniques are necessary to install it. Generally, there are two methods of cork floor installation. Whatever method you choose, keep in mind that cork flooring is wood and will naturally react to humidity, no matter how durable it is.
1. The Floating Floor Method
The floating floor method is a more recent process that is becoming very popular in residential houses. It is a very easy and flexible method. It allows you to spread your cork flooring on existing materials on the floor, whether it’s wood, vinyl or ceramic tile. It can be installed and removed easily with no hassles whatsoever. It follows a tongue-and-groove connection method that can easily snap back together.
2. Adhesive Connection Method
This is a more traditional method of installation that is similar to tiling. Before installing, be sure that your subfloor is clean and free from moisture. You can directly glue down your tiles or adopt the contact method. Any of these should be done carefully and thoroughly because cork has a tendency to fold up at the edges, especially if it is not bonded properly.
One amazing factor that makes cork flooring a great product to install is the fact that harvesting it doesn’t destroy the tree. All you need is the bark of the tree, which can easily be replaced through a regeneration process involving the protective inner layer. The Cork Oak tree excels in regions with lots of sunlight, high humidity, and very low rainfall.
All of this makes the production process incredibly sustainable. The fact that it is a recycled product is proof of its environmental benefit. Trimmed edges that would originally be disposed of off as waste are now turned into a beautiful product. This makes cork flooring very environmentally-friendly, and the tree can end up living for as long as 200 years.
Despite its amazing features, cork flooring is extremely affordable. This cost-effectiveness makes it easy for the average homeowner to afford. You can buy a basic design for as little as $4 per square foot.
- Cushioning Structure: The nature of cork makes it possible to condense under pressure. Just as you can squeeze a wine-bottle cork and it compresses then bounces back, cork flooring has that same effect under your feet which makes it very comfortable.
- Easy to Clean: Like most other hardwood floors, Cork flooring is very easy to clean. Conveniently, you can use your regular hardwood cleaning materials on it.
- Air Cells: By nature, cork has about 200 million closed-air cells on every cubic inch. This is not only responsible for the condensation that can occur but also serves as an insulator for trapping heat.
- Resistance: Cork is naturally resistant to sound. With its cushiony design, it also prevents the thumping sound of footsteps. There is also a level of natural fire resistance to this flooring. Furthermore, it possesses suberin, a natural wax, which makes it insect resistant and anti-allergen.
- Durability: This is a major selling point for cork flooring. Products can last for over a century. This durability is also cost-saving as you do not need to replace your flooring frequently.
- There is a high possibility of cork flooring showing indentations and scratching, especially when in frequent contact with hard objects.
- Exposure to light could lead to fading.