Cork pretty much defines the term “sustainable.” This eco-flooring option is basically made up of bark from the cork tree. So, you can constantly harvest it without cutting down trees, or damaging the forest. This is a great thing for people who want sustainable flooring. But that doesn’t mean that it is a good thing for people that want a stylish floor.
Before we go into that further, it’s important to know some of cork flooring’s major benefits. A cork floor will:
Be easy to walk on. For people who dread walking on tile, or concrete flooring, cork is a viable option. Also, because it’s a softer flooring surface, it will be less stressful for those with lower back issues.
Stay warm. For those who live in very cold climates, a cork floor can help keep heat in because it absorbs heat. Now, if exposed to direct sunlight, a cork floor can be a bit too warm for some folks, but that’s ok if you’re willing to walk onto a warm floor in the winter months.
Absorb sound. If your wannabe rock star neighbor that lives above you installed cork flooring, the sound from his band’s practice sessions won’t be as clear, or as loud. While not entirely soundproof, it still has a noticeable effect in large rooms that echo.
Cork flooring color choices. The great majority of cork flooring comes in various shades of brown. More often than not, you’ll see color tones from tan to chocolate. However, new innovations are producing cork in many different colors and even some patterns. Because the color options are so limited, colored cork flooring is more expensive.
There are two major types of cork flooring: Floating & tiles. Each have their pros and cons.
Floating cork flooring usually is pre-finished with an acrylic-based sealer. However, general consensus among flooring installers and homeowners is that it is probably best for applications that won’t be exposed to water such as bedrooms, staircases, dens, and hallways. There have been reports floating cork floors failing in bathrooms, kitches, and entrance ways.
It’s also not recommended for high traffic areas where pets and high heel shoes are used.
What about cork tiles? They’re usually more versatile thanks to the many coats of polyurethane. The thicker finish lasts a bit longer and, from the advertising I’ve seen is supposed to last longer than a floating cork floor. However, after the finish wears down, you will need to refinish it with polyurethane.
Rule #1 when taking care of a cork floor. Sharp things are a no-no. Extend the life of a cork floor by making anyone who wears high-heel shoes leave them at the door. Also, trimming your cat and dogs nails will save you many headaches. It’s not that a cork floor is like toilet paper. It’s just that you don’t want to have a bunch of holes where a flat surface should be.
Because of it’s very nature, cork can also take the brunt of heavy objects pretty well.
Oh, and for those who smoke, or like to play with fire, beware. If you drop a cigarette onto a cork floor, you can severely damage the surface. In fact, a cork floor is not recommended for those who smoke because the likelihood of damage is that much greater.
Tell us what you think of cork flooring? What was your experience like installing and living with it? Do you have any cork flooring problems that you’d like to share?