Cork floor tiles are an eco-friendly choice in flooring. Not only is cork a completely renewable resource, the tiles are made from what is left over from cork stopper processing.
Cork is harvested from the cork oak, Quercus suber, which grows around the Mediterranean.
The bark is peeled from the tree without harming the tree.
A tree has to be at least 25 years old before the cork bark is harvested and then it will have its cork harvested every 9-12 years thereafter.
Corks for stoppering wine bottles and other things, are then punched out of the bark.
What remains is sliced or ground in different ways to create different sized textures of cork that is then compressed into a block with non-toxic resin binders. The block is then baked to improve its durability.
Once baked, the block is then sliced into various products, including cork floor tiles.
As each block is unique, and each slice within the block unique, the tiles are sorted based pattern, particle thickness and colouration.
There is literally no waste in the production of cork floor tiles, so it is clearly an environmentally friendly choice. But what other advantages does cork flooring have?
The advantages of cork floor tiles:
1 – Natural cushioning: Cork can compress up to 50% of its original size, without distortion, which means it has natural cushioning properties. This means it is not only comfortable under foot, but its also impact-resistant, making it a great choice in kids rooms.
2 – Natural noise reduction: The same multi-cellular make up that makes cork a natural cushion, also makes it a poor sound conductor. This makes cork floor tiles a great option if you have a basement suite or other multi-floor living arrangement.
3 – Natural insulator: That multi-cellular property of cork, which traps air pockets, also makes it a natural insulator. Cork flooring helps to keep heat in during winter and stay cool in summer.
4 – Natural moisture resistance: The cork oak contains a high level of suberin, which is a rubbery material produced by higher plants to prevent water from penetrating their tissues. This is, of course, what makes it a desirable material for stoppering wine bottles. However, in terms of your floor, it means that there is a natural moisture resistance in your flooring product.
5 – Unique patterning: Cork floors are often a conversation piece as no two tiles will be the same. It has a distinct look that makes each floor unique and full of character.
6 – Renewable resource: I already went on about this, so no need to mention it again. However, I just need to stress that there is no waste in the production process, which is pretty rare.
7 – Easy to install: Cork flooring is very easy to install as you will see from the video below. The tiles can be easily cut to work around walls, corners and other attributes of your home and they are also slightly compressible, making them more forgiving than wood or ceramics.
8 – Very versatile: It used to be that cork floors, although beautiful, were only available in a very small range of natural tones. However, manufacturers have become more sophisticated in the processing, adding dyes to the process to create a wonderful diversity in colours that enables you to make very unique patterns and designs in your flooring. The video below has some wonderful examples of what you can do with cork floor tiles if you’re looking for some more color in your home.
9 – Durable: Cork, due to its compressibility is also very durable. It is able to recover from depressions made by heels or furniture.
10 – Easily repaired: Minor damage to cork floors can be repaired quite easily. First of all, due to the patterning, minor damage can usually be left and goes unnoticed. Minor divets can be filled with an epoxy and varnished to match the rest of the floor. Finally, if the damage is more serious, individual tiles can be lifted out and replaced, but this isn’t an entirely easy process so shouldn’t be undertaken lightly.
So, not only are cork floor tiles an eco-friendly option; they also have some natural properties that make them a durable and comfortable flooring option for home or office. My mom installed cork floor tiles throughout her condominium about five years ago and they look as good as they did the day they were installed.