Cork floors are made from tiles derived from the bark of the cork oak tree. Sustainably grown and harvested, and completely renewable, cork is the perfect flooring option for your eco-friendly home.
Environmental Benefits of Cork Floors
Cork oak trees as old as 200 years can continually produce oak bark, which is harvested every nine years by peeling it away from the tree trunk. Then, completely unharmed, the tree begins its growth cycle again.
According to the World Wildlife Foundation, cork oak forests primarily in Portugal, Spain, Algeria, Morocco, Italy, Tunisia, and France are an exceptional example of conservation and economic development.These Mediterranean landscapes encompass the world’s highest level of biodiversity, including several endangered species, and provide income for thousands of people.
With the increasing use of synthetic materials in building and packaging, the cork industry is quickly becoming threatened. If the cork oak loses value, the cost benefit of harvesting cork will take a substantial hit. The ensuing range of devastation will inevitably include regional poverty, increased risk for forest fire, and loss of animal habitat.
Benefits of Cork Flooring for Your Home
As architects and designers turn to nature as inspiration for functionality and aesthetics, cork has risen to the top of the list as a perfect balance of both. It is versatile, easy to craft and install, and works to cushion and insulate your home just as it would the tree it once encased.
Affordability: At a total cost of around $2.50 per square foot (if you do the simple installation yourself), cork becomes one of the more affordable options when put up against such materials as bamboo and hardwood.
Availability: You can find cork flooring at most major home improvement chains, local flooring shops, or online via manufacturer web sites or Amazon.com.
Durability: The same cork that once protected the tree for many years offers that same type of strength to your floors. Where a hardwood floor might scratch or dent, a cork floor will often give a bit. This is because of its porous, spongy quality. Even if the floor does end up with a small nick, the texture of the cork will easily hide any blemishes. Sealed with either polyurethane or wax, these floors will stand up to just about anything your family (or your family pet) doles out.
Maintenance: A weekly sweep and gentle cleaning with a damp (not soaked) mop, and occasional resealing with wax (every six months) or polyurethane (only when wear is showing) is all this floor needs to keep its beautiful finish. No harsh chemicals, such as the soaps and cleaners used in carpet maintenance, are ever necessary.
Comfort: People who have installed cork floors in their home love them. The fibrous material provides cushioning underfoot, absorbs sound, and is surprisingly durable. As a natural insulation, the cork also helps keeps your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer without increasing your utility consumption.
Added Health Benefits: Cork fibers contain a naturally occurring insect repellant called suberin, which fends off invasive pests like ticks, fleas, dust mites, and even termites. Suberin also organically repels dust, germs and mold spores, making it a good choice for allergen sufferers and families with small children or pets.
Getting Started with Installation
Now that you’ve read through all of this information about the ecological and practical benefits of cork, you’re probably ready to install your new floor! If you’re planning on doing it yourself, check out this simple video by John Petersik to get an idea of the process.