There’s cork boards, cork coasters and cork bottle stoppers, but have you ever considered cork floors for your home? Cork is a plant-based, natural, renewable resource that comes from the bark of a cork oak tree, which can be harvested every nine years unlike most trees. Its biodegradable nature also allows cork to break down into the environment safely.
Not only are cork floors eco-friendly, but they are also DIY-friendly. Cork floors are made up of three layers of compressed cork, fiberboards and top-quality cork. Like vinyl tiles, traditional cork floors consist of solid cork tiles that are glued down. Or, similar to laminate flooring or luxury vinyl planks, a newer form of cork floors are laminate planks which are assembled with click-together edges for a floating floor installation. Cork floors are comparable in price to other flooring options such as carpet or hardwood, and with its easy installation, you can save on hiring a professional. The most critical step for installing cork floors is to apply several layers of sealer to withstand everyday wear and tear.
As with most floors, cork floors call for habitual sweeping or vacuuming and a damp mopping here and there. The most notable thing to be aware of is that spills should be wiped up immediately to prevent staining. While the sealant acts as a barrier and offers some protection, the sealant needs to be reapplied at regular intervals to be maximally durable and to keep it looking new. Simply sand down the tiles or planks so that all the imperfections are gone and then stain or reapply the sealant. This process can be repeated on thicker cork floors rather than thinner cork such as engineered cork flooring.
Other caveats to be mindful of are cat and dog nail scratches, which pose the largest threat to cork flooring, so trim their nails to reduce this possibility. Furniture coasters, flat wooden boards or other support pieces on heavier appliances or furniture will hinder the creation of divots in the cork. Discoloration may occur when cork flooring is exposed to direct sunlight constantly. Utilize curtains and blinds to block the sunlight. However, an advantage should your cork flooring become dented or scratched is that it visually blends into the overall pattern and looks more natural than say a scratch on wood flooring, so you can avoid the hassle of refinishing. Cork floors should be installed where a pristine looking floor is not desired.
Cork floors offer a warm, informal and natural look. However, if this does not suit your style or decor, new cork floors have been created to resemble hardwood, marble and concrete; but colors and designs can be manipulated as well to create a complete custom design. An added bonus is how soft and comfortable they feel. Cork floors are best recommended for rooms where you are standing for prolonged periods of time, like kitchens or laundry rooms since it eases stress and pressure on your back, knees and joints; or for children and older resident’s rooms where accidents like falling and tripping are more common given its cushion-like quality.
Installing cork in your home has the potential to better your health and lifestyle. Cork contains a substance called suberin which makes it hypoallergenic and antimicrobial so it naturally repels small vermin and insects as well as mildew. Millions of tiny air-filled chambers within cork flooring act as an insulator and sound absorber, promoting a quiet environment. Those same tiny-air filled chambers also have a thermal property that helps maintain a room's temperature, so in the winter you can save on heating costs.
While cork floors are not unfamiliar to the flooring landscape, their sustainable, comfortable, versatile and pliable disposition matched with their easy installation and maintenance has caught the attention of homeowners and we expect it to stay.