For some homeowners, they go searching for ways to reduce their carbon footprint, and make their homes more eco-friendly, greener places to live.
Of course, there are lots of ways to do that. But one of our favorites is with cork flooring.
When cork was first introduced in this industry, it’s greatest claim to fame was that it was an eco-friendly alternative. It was perfect for people who were worried about sustainability within the hardwood industry, or wanted something that was highly renewable and didn’t harm trees at all.
Natural cork fits that bill. Plus, it has the added benefits of being both biodegradable and recyclable, meaning when you decide to pull up your cork floors and install something new, you’ll have a way of maintaining the eco-friendliness of the product throughout its useful life.
Cork comes from cork oak trees native to Spain, Portugal, and Tunisia. While it’s been used for centuries in other parts of the world, and for different things, it’s only recently began climbing steadily in the flooring industry here in America, and for good reasons.
What are the benefits of cork flooring
Durability – Cork is an incredibly durable material. Cork flooring goes beyond the soft cork you use as a wine stopper or a bulletin board in your room. Cork does have a spongy quality to it, but when flooring manufacturers use cork to create flooring, they combine it with an adhesive resin to strengthen it and create a material that is resistant to dents and scratches. That means it won’t dent when you place furniture on it, it’ll bounce back instead. And if you properly maintain your cork floors over the years, you can easily expect a 40 year lifespan or more.
Comfortability – Hardwood flooring is just that – hard. And for a lot of people who are on their feet all day, that can mean back, hip, or leg pain. If you drop something on it, or fall on it, damage can be extensive. That’s why cork is a better alternative. The sponginess of cork creates a comfortable cushion underfoot. That same sponginess also acts as an insulator, meaning your room will stay warmer and quieter too.
Healthier – Do you have allergy or asthma sufferers in your home? Cork can be a great step in creating a healthier environment to live in. Cork is naturally resistant to biological growth, including mold and mildew, and can even stop termites from penetrating your home. It also has anti-microbial qualities, and when properly maintained, will not off-gas and negatively impact your indoor air quality.
Safer – Here in Colorado, depending on where you live, wildfires are something you have to consider with every building material you select. Cork is naturally fire-resistant, and will ignite and melt only at very high temperatures. What’s more, if temperatures do reach that point, because cork is an eco-friendly material, it generates less smoke, and produces less toxic fumes than other flooring choices.
Style – When you start looking at cork as a flooring choice for your home, you’ll be surprised at how many ways you can use it within your home. Use cork tiles to create a uniform look throughout a room. Or vary the tiles to create a more modern effect. Cork also comes in plank format similar to hardwood. You’ll find it in many styles, colors and patterns – if you can create it with hardwood, there’s a cork alternative. Like hardwood, cork runs through the thickness of the material, meaning it wears better over time when compared to vinyl or laminate.
Does cork flooring scratch easily
This is one of the questions we receive the most about cork flooring. Does cork scratch easily? Is it a good choice in flooring if you have dogs or cats? Will their claws hurt the cork material, or will it bounce back?
Cork is soft. And while it’s a durable material that stands the test of time well, a lot of it depends on the activity within your home. Pets included.
Some pets race around, digging in over and over throughout the day, playing chase or gaining traction. Some pets move slower. They aren’t as bouncy. They aren’t full of energy. They take life a bit slower.
Only you can truly know your pet and what it’s capable of. The only true flooring choice that can withstand constant pressure from a pet is stone – hard surfaces can’t be penetrated. But hard surfaces might not be the right choice for you or your pet.
Is cork flooring good for kitchens
Kitchens are one of the busiest rooms in a home. They are also one of the messiest. If your flooring can’t stand up to spilled water, messes from kids cooking dinner, or even a spilled bowl of food, you’re not going to love your flooring for very long.
Can cork stand up to all of that and more? Yes, it can. And while it isn’t as resistant as stone is, it can be a great alternative over other tile, and in some cases hardwood.
If cork is your choice for kitchen flooring, pay attention to the sealant. A polyurethane or similar sealant will help make the cork tiles or planks as durable as possible. These sealants should be reapplied every 5 years or so to help maintain the look and feel, and to keep moisture and stains at bay.
When spills do occur, clean the area as quickly as possible to avoid damage. The longer a spill sits, the more damage it can do. It can seep down to the backing of the tile or plank, move further into the adhesive layer and even the subfloor.
Cork flooring will continue to look great with minimal cleaning. Vacuum occasionally, and sweep on a regular basis. The key is keeping the floor free of dirt particles that can scrape the surface and leave a mark that will continue to wear over time. Wet mopping is too much; if you want a deeper clean, use a slightly damp towel or mop, making sure moisture isn’t left behind. Don’t use chemical cleaning agents, as they can wreck the polyurethane level and penetrate down into the cork material.
Is cork flooring good for high traffic areas
While cork flooring can be added to any room in your home, be aware that with higher traffic comes more chance of damage.
Cork may not be the best choice for your entryway, especially if you have guests coming and going all day.
It might not be the perfect choice if you have a home office with lots of action and activities.
It probably isn’t the best choice for commercial locations, especially if you have a lot of customers or clients. It might also not provide the wear you’re looking for if you consistently move inventory to and fro.
But cork flooring may be the perfect choice for you in many situations.
If you have any questions about using cork in your home, or if you simply want to see what’s available, stop by today and see our selection.
We know you’re going to love it as much as we do.