If you haven’t heard yet, cork flooring is in.
It’s been crowned as one of the best choices for flooring, gaining more popularity as the demand for eco-friendly flooring options continues to grow.
In fact, the eco-friendly nature of cork flooring begins with the production process of the product, and the product in and of itself.
During harvesting, only the tree’s bark is taken, so it continues to flourish and replenish itself immediately after the product, or ‘cork’ has been removed.
The tree replenishes its bark completely every nine years, which also makes cork a renewable resource.
Cork flooring is also considered as a recycled product.
Instead of finding its way to a landfill, the waste created by cork production is made into cork flooring. On top of that, companies are using adhesives which are categorized as zero or low volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
If you’re not up-to-date on your common household pollutants, volatile organic compounds are gases emitted from certain chemical-based products which can negatively impact the air quality within a home or specific room.
So, not only is cork flooring beneficial for the environment, but it’s healthy for your home and family as well.
These eco and health qualities only scratch the surface of the long list of benefits that come from choosing cork flooring.
But, we’re going to be pretty honest in this article as well.
Along with the mountain of awesome facts and benefits cork flooring provides, we’ll also outline a few disadvantages so that you can head to the flooring store feeling all-knowing and totally confident in your next flooring purchase.
Benefits Of Cork Flooring
Cork flooring is popular, and gaining more popularity for a reason.
...Actually, for quite a few reasons.
And surprisingly, even though the eco-friendly benefits of cork flooring are fantastic, the majority of these benefits have nothing to do with the environment.
So, without further ado, the top 9 benefits of cork flooring:
1. Cork Has A Soft, Bouncy Surface
A main benefit that most owners love is the way cork feels beneath your feet.
Its soft and yielding nature feels absolutely wonderful, homey and comforting as you walk along it with bare feet. Most first-timers light up with excitement from touching cork for the first time — it’s so different from wood or vinyl, and in the best of ways.
The soft and comforting feel makes cork a popular flooring choice in rooms where people will be standing often, like the kitchen.
Also, this soft cork flooring acts as a protective cushion in case a family member trips and falls, making it a great choice for families with younger children or older parents.
2. It's A Great Insulator
Inside a piece of cork, you’ll find millions of small air-filled caves. These little caves can become barriers against noise, which properly insulates any room.
A room with cork flooring will muffle any noise being transmitted from the floor to the ceiling.
3. Cork Flooring Can Help Keep Your Bills Low
As cork is a good sound insulator, it also works as a great temperature insulator as well, reducing transmission of heat from a room during the summer and out of the room throughout the winter.
The only other material that offers a better R-value than cork is wool carpet.
4. You Can Refinish Cork
Another great aspect of cork is that you can refinish the surface whenever you want, just as you would with a hardwood floor.
This gives it a brand-new look, making you and your home feel like you were treated to a real makeover.
This refinishing involves sanding down the cork and then re-applying a sealer or stain to the surface of the newly sanded cork.
5. Cork Is Hypoallergenic
Cork not only is unable to hold, but repels hair, dust and small particles from the surface.
Cork as a material is also a lot easier to clean than let’s say, carpet. Because of its clean nature, cork tends to boost increase indoor air quality.
6. Cork Is Antimicrobial
Within cork, you’ll find a natural waxy material called suberin.
This type of material naturally repels small insects and vermin, making cork flooring resistant to any growth or colonization of these organisms, boosting the overall health of its surrounding environment.
7. Cork = 100% Environmentally Friendly
As we briefly mentioned earlier, cork is a natural recurring and renewable material. Derived from cork oak tree bark, this type of material is actually harvested without hurting the tree whatsoever.
After the cork bark grows back and old cork products are unwanted, it can be easily taken again without harm, while the unwanted products biodegrade safely and naturally into the environment.
Also, the manufacturing process of cork produces basically zero waste. Cork flooring is a byproduct of cork stoppers made by wine manufacturers and the residuals from the production are ground very finely before becoming recycled.
8. Cork Tile Installation Is Easy
Since most tile products provide a self-adhesive backing, installation of cork tiles is a simple peel-and-place job.
A lot of other flooring materials require a thin-set mortar adhesive which is more difficult than tile placing.
Once you’ve placed all the tiles down, all you need to do is finish up with layers of sealer. If a tile becomes damaged beyond repair, all you need to do is lift it up and replace it.
9. Cork Is Easy To Keep
If you’ve properly applied layers of water barrier sealer to the surface of your cork flooring, it’s simple to take care of from then on.
All you need to do is sweep or vacuum the surface to remove any dirt and wipe up spills to prevent stains.
Disadvantages Of Cork Flooring
While that’s quite the list of benefits, there are also a few disadvantages to keep in mind.
While buying cork flooring is almost always a great idea, not everything is perfect, and as long as you know the disadvantages ahead of time, you’ll be better equipped to deal with them efficiently if you experience any.
1. Cork Can Damage Fairly Easily
If you’re looking for a pristine floor, this may not be the right material for you.
Due to its soft texture, cork is susceptible to damage. For instance, if any sharp object is dropped, it can easily puncture the floor. Also, any chair or furniture legs may scrape the material. If your high heels aren’t properly padded, they can also puncture the floor, leaving marks.
Also, if you own very heavy furniture, it may sink down into the cork permanently, making it difficult to remove the furniture later on for rearrangement or cleaning purposes.
However, this can be avoided by prepping your furniture with furniture coasters or flat boards.
2. Dog And Cat Nail Scratches May Be An Issue
Especially if you own a heavier dog, these scratches may show up almost instantly. Make sure you keep your pet’s nails trimmed often, however even still, their nails will damage the cork floor eventually.
3. Water Can Be An Issue
While the finishing cork seal helps provide an invisible protective layer over the cork which helps it from any spills, it doesn’t help it completely from a flood.
A lot of water, liquid or high humidity may cause the cork to discolor and warp.
4. Sunlight Can Fade Cork
If you’ve placed your cork flooring in direct sunlight, allowing the material to be drenched in sun all day long, the cork may begin to discolor, making one patch of the floor look a bit different than the rest.
This can be prevented by using curtains or blinds to dull the sun’s glare a bit.
Before We “Cork It”
Cork flooring is available in two different types of finishes, water-based and polyurethane/acrylic-based.
The latter type has a tougher nature and will protect your flooring better than water-based. On the other hand, water-based cork flooring is more environmentally-friendly and won’t be as susceptible to yellowing. However, water-based finished flooring is more expensive than the polyurethane/acrylic choice.
There are pros and cons to both types of cork flooring as there are to cork flooring itself.
Cork flooring looks and feels modern, it’s extremely eco-friendly, home-friendly and offers a wide range of other benefits while in the home.
If you can deal with a bit of damage or if you don’t mind replacing some tiles from time to time, cork flooring may be the perfect choice for you.
After all, a home’s not truly homey if it doesn’t look lived-in in a long time.