Cork makes for stunning flooring. Have you considered it for your home?
In this article, you’ll find perspective on why we love cork so much: what benefits it offers you, the styles available, how to care for it, and more, starting with what makes cork such an ideal sustainable and environmentally friendly flooring choice.
If you still have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out. Or come visit us in the showroom!
What Makes Cork Such a Sustainable Flooring Material?
Cork comes from carefully harvesting by hand the bark of the cork oak tree known as Quercus suber that grows in the Mediterranean basin. Portugal is the site of the world’s largest cork oak forest and produces a considerable amount of the cork used worldwide.
This is a sustainable process in that the bark can be harvested from the same tree repeatedly at ~9-year intervals once the tree reaches 25 to 30 years. And, since cork trees can live over a hundred years (the average lifespan of cork oak is over 200 years!), you can imagine how much cork one tree can produce over its lifetime! Harvesting cork bark in no way harms the tree. Rather, it helps the oak tree remain healthy and grow new bark.
From harvesting to end product, no cork is wasted. Any cork not used to create wine corks, flooring, gaskets, and other products will be ground up so it can be repurposed into corkboard and other products including Marmoleum.
For more information about the cork harvesting process, read Wikipedia on Cork.
Why Cork for Flooring?
Cork’s very makeup is what makes it ideal for flooring. Inside the cork are gas-filled pillows that give it elasticity and compressibility. That translates into flooring that is:
- Soft and comfortable to stand on
- Sound absorbent making cork quieter to walk on than hardwood or laminate
- Resilient so most objects won’t leave impressions when they fall
- A natural insulator so your feet are never cold
- PVC-free and won’t harm the environment (i.e., it’s natural)
- Naturally hypoallergenic and antimicrobial
It’s also so versatile that cork flooring can mimic stone, leather, ceramic, and metal, allowing you to get a different look in a room while offering a plethora of benefits.
Where Can You Use Cork Flooring?
Cork is like wood flooring (it comes from a tree), and you can use it anywhere in your home or other space where you would want hardwood.
Did you know that in the Library of Congress, cork floors create a comfortable and sound-absorbent space that is ideal for diving into books? The same goes for the U.S. Department of the Interior and other famous buildings.
Cork can bridge the gap between formal and informal spaces, and more modern designs. Frank Lloyd Wright used cork in many of his famous homes.
>> A Desert Oasis Designed by a Frank Lloyd Wright Apprentice Lists for $1.5M from Dwell Magazine includes three photos showing you magnificent cook floors (photos 8, 9, and 10)
>> See Atomic Ranch’s article All About Cork Flooring for images of cork flooring in kitchens, bedrooms, living rooms, hallways, and more.
How to Select Cork Flooring
Cork is incredibly versatile as a flooring surface material and offers you many options in terms of patterns, colors, and textures:
- Colors: you’ll find a variety of cork colors and textures to choose from – from natural hues to stained options – to match your home’s style.
- Texture: cork texture varies from small-grained to burled. Small-grained has a smooth, sophisticated look while burled cork flooring is strikingly unique. And you’ll find many options in between.
- Patterns & stains: cork comes in a variety of patterns and stains such as stone, whitewashed, rich dark leather, or hardwood, and is ideal in any room.
Because cork is hypoallergenic and antimicrobial, it naturally repels dust. It’s so comfortable to walk on with bare feet that you’ll want to consider it for bedrooms as well as more public spaces in your home.
Beware of Sunlight
If you have rooms with south-facing sunlight, you may want to reconsider cork flooring. The reason is that direct sunlight on unstained, natural cork will cause fading – as it would on any hardwood floors. That said if you have window coverings and regularly use them to protect the room from the sun, you should be able to mitigate the fading.
Cork Flooring Installation Methods
Cork is available in two installation methods: glue-down and floating click-together formats. Some collections come with a waterproof click system. You’ll want to discuss which method is available to you based on your product selection with your flooring consultant.
How to Care for Cork Floors
Maintaining a cork floor is similar to caring for wood flooring:
- Sweep or vacuum regularly
- Use only recommended wood floor cleaners
You’ll also want to invest in welcome mats and other walk-off mats at entrances from the outside so as to minimize the dirt and dust that gets tracked into your home and can scratch your flooring surfaces.
Beautiful Examples of Cork Flooring
When you visit the Classique Floors + Tile showroom, you’ll find samples of cork flooring from several manufacturers some of which have been providing affordable cork-based flooring since 1868. The cork samples represent beautiful examples of innovation combined with durability and performance to give your family the kind of flooring that will support all of your real-life moments whether in your bedrooms, great rooms, family rooms, and more. Here are a few examples.
Flooring From Duro Cork
Duro Cork features a made-to-order product in an extensive custom color line with different finish options. The products can be either glue down or click-together formats.
Opus Cork Collections
If you’re looking for large format cork tiles, consider Opus. Opus cork has a waterproof core and comes in a very large format 2’x3′ solid cork glue down tiles that could also go on walls.
Opus Cork also offers a collection of ‘mosaic’ patterns on cork. Above, you see a bold patchwork juxtaposition of cement tile-inspired patterns in contrasting colors. The look also comes in more subtle patterns.
Amorim’s Stone Essence
Stone Essence is a floating multi-layer cork floor system inspired by stone and tile looks. It offers walking and standing comfort, and thermal and acoustic insulation. It features a waterproof core.
Corkwise By Amorim
Corkwise comes in classic cork veneer looks with a waterproof core.
Wicanders By Amorim
Wicanders offers classic cork veneer looks.
WE Cork has been in the cork industry for 5 generations and offers the best-looking selection of cork floor products.
You’ll find an extensive collection of veneer options/patterns, in rich colors that look like tile.
Zandur Cork Collection
For commercial-grade solid cork flooring, consider Praxis by Zandur Cork. This product is considered best in class given that it consists of high-density stabilized cork with a commercial-grade finish.
This is classic, traditional cork with no veneers. It comes in three colors: natural light, medium, and dark. These are not stains; the cork is naturally shaded during the baking process and the color goes completely through the cork. Note that it is susceptible to fading. It comes in a glue-down format only.
In addition to the collections and manufacturers listed above, you’ll find others such as QU-Cork in the Classique Showroom.
Are You Ready to Explore Portland’s Best Assortment of Cork Flooring Firsthand?
We think you’ll love how cork’s multilayered structure offers you walking comfort, shock absorption, noise reduction, and perfect floor temperature. Furthermore, cork is highly resistant to wear and is certified for low emissions.
If and when you’re ready, we invite you to visit the Classique Floors + Tile showroom in Portland where you can see a full range of cork styles firsthand. We look forward to helping you.
Thanks for reading!