Cork is the light but tough material that is the outer layer of bark of a cork oak and is used especially for stoppers and insulation. Traditionally, it is used to preserve the quality of wine. It is also most common to find cork as posting boards in schools and offices. Surprisingly, not many are aware of its most unique application: as a flooring material.
The Essence of Using Cork as Flooring Material
Cork is made from the bark of cork oak trees that freely grows in Mediterranean countries. It is a sustainable building material that will keep growing back even after its bark is being harvested. In a span of few years, bark will grow back making it one of the best renewable materials available. Most commonly used as wine corks and bulletin board, it is also one of the most versatile as well as stylish floor given the right attention it deserved. Leftovers or scrap can also be used for other products. Therefore, nothing is wasted.
Because of its natural properties, cork when used as flooring is sound insulating which is very good for areas that requires serenity. It is also resilient and very comfortable underfoot. It is also advisable to be used in workplaces that requires heavy footwork as it helps fatigue. It is naturally resistant to molds, insects and mildews.
A core fiberboard which is an engineered plank is sandwiched between two layers of cork. The planks have interlocking edges that snap together and are installed over a thin cushion underlayment to create a floating floor system. Nailing is not needed anymore. Therefore, it can be installed over an old floor.
Solid cork tiles must be installed over a smooth wood or concrete surface. Strong adhesives are needed to ensure that the edges of the tiles don’t curl over time. A water-based adhesive is recommended in installing cork floors.
Cork flooring can easily be maintained and cleaned with occasional vacuuming and sweeping to remove grit and dust. Cork flooring can be sanded and refinished once in a while depending on the thickness of the cork top layer just like any ordinary wood flooring.
Advantages of Cork Flooring
Because cork has a soft, cushion like surface, it is recommended for rooms where you will be standing for a long time. It is soft and comfortable underneath your feet. It is good for kitchens and living rooms. It is also good for children playing in the living room.
Noise pollution is one of the top-ranking stressors humans face in an urban setting. Noise is being produced 24 hours a day seven day a week. Multiple family housing units such as apartment towers and stacked townhomes, while affordable, increase the noise entering our dwellings. More noise equates to more stress. Cork is a good insulator. Cork has natural sound inhibiting properties that allow it to reduce the amount of noise travelling thru walls and floors. The inside of a piece of cork is made up of millions of tiny air-filled chambers. These act as barriers against the transmission of noise, effectively insulating any room. Any room floored with cork will reduce noise from being transmitted through the floor to the ceiling below.
It is the air which fills the cells in the cork that makes it an excellent thermal insulator. The cork insulation floors will provide enough insulation and will keep the warm air inside to turn it into a comfortable and cozy living space. The same protective principle can also be found in other natural products, such as wool and feathers, and in industry, such as double-glazed windows, for example. However, none of these materials have such a high level of insulation as cork.
Cork can be refinished. One of the best things about a cork floor is that you can refinish its surface periodically like what you can do with hardwood to make it look new. This involves sanding, staining and re-applying the finish sealer to the surface. This can be done several times depending on the thickness of the material or the look you wish.
Cork promotes higher indoor quality. Your children may play safely inside the house. It is also hypoallergenic unlike carpet which tends to collect dusts, hair and other small particles.
Cork contains suberin, a waxy substance that serves as its antimicrobial property. It naturally repels insects and vermin. It is also resistant to the growth of other organism that naturally grows in other flooring materials. This makes cork one of the best choice if you are health conscious house or property owner.
Cork is environmentally friendly. Cork is a completely natural, recurring, and easily replenishable material. It is made from the bark of the cork oak and is harvested without harming the tree. The cork bark grows back every few years. Cork is also biodegradable and will break down into the environment at the end of its life cycle.
Installing tiles is easy. Installing cork tiles is quite simple since most tile products have a self-adhesive back. Installation is a simple peel-and-stick operation. When individual tiles become damaged, you can simply lift them up and replace them.
Cork is easy to maintain. It requires only regular sweeping or vacuuming to remove small grit and dirt particles. Just like any other type of floors, spills need to be wiped up to prevent staining.
Disadvantages of Cork Flooring
Cork is prone to damage. This is not the right material for heavy traffic areas. This is not also right for you if you want pristine, spotless floor. Since its very soft, it is very susceptible to damage. It is not good for places with heavy furniture or those who keep moving things around like chairs and carts.
Animal scratches will also be a big problem. Damage can show easily specially from bigger animals. Though, it can be avoided by constantly trimming the nails of your pets.
Water can also be a problem. Spilling and high humidity can warp the floor or it can cause the floor to curl up.
Sunlight can be a big issue too. Too much exposure to heat can cause cork to fade. Direct sunlight can cause discoloration to the floor’s surface. This can be prevented by blocking sunlight with curtains or blinds and constant care.