People love the beauty and durability of hardwood floors, but sustainability is a hot topic for everyone. A solution to this comes in the form of cork flooring. Cork is, after all, a sort of hardwood. It is harvested from a type of oak tree that is grown in the lands bordering the Mediterranean Sea, including Portugal and Spain. The good news is that cork is the spongy outer bark on the tree and can be harvested without harming the tree. The oak simply grows another layer of cork that is ready to be harvested every five years or so.
A well-kept cork floor can last 40 years. Like a hardwood floor, it can also be refinished. Also, when the life of a cork floor is over, it is biodegradable.
Cork has the look of hardwood but feels soft underfoot, or in the case of pets, under the paws. The softness of cork flooring also makes it ideal for rooms where a person needs to stand up for long periods, such as the kitchen or the laundry room. Cork’s softness also allows it to regain its shape after it’s been dented.
Its Insulating Properties
Cork is filled with millions of tiny air chambers that soak up noise, so a cork floor goes a long way in keeping a room comfortably quiet. The air chambers found in cork also keep the room warm in the winter and cool in the summer. This cuts down on energy bills, as the homeowner does not have to use as much resources to keep their rooms comfortable throughout the seasons.
Cork Is Easy to Clean
Indoor pollutants such as pet dander and dust don’t cling to or sink into cork as they would with carpeting. This means that cork flooring is very easy to clean. This cuts down on allergy symptoms. A family doesn’t have to think twice about getting that too-cute puppy or kitten because of fear that any fur or dander that it sheds will be hard to clean up.
Cork also has antimicrobial and insect repelling properties. It is, after all, the protective covering of a living tree whose job is to protect that tree against attack by pathogens and insects. Cork has a waxy chemical called suberin, which is actually named after the botanical name of the cork oak, Quercus suber. Pests are repelled by suberin, so the cork floor is protected from damage.
Cork also resists mold and mildew, and doesn’t shed or give off noxious gases that can lower the quality and salubrity of indoor air.
Cork Is Fire Resistant
Only very high temperatures can cause cork to catch on fire. Even as it burns, it releases less smoke and noxious fumes into the air than flooring such as vinyl. This is important if the area has to be evacuated quickly.
Cork Is Versatile
Like hardwood flooring, cork comes in tiles or planks and can be stained a great variety of colors. Moreover, a cork floor can be laid in a way that makes it look seamless. This is unusual in hardwood floors.
It’s Also Affordable
It is often less expensive than hardwood flooring.