What Is Cork Flooring? Cork Flooring Installation
What Is Cork Flooring?
Cork, a natural material obtained from the bark of the cork oak tree is a sustainable and easily renewable resource. The bark is periodically harvested from living trees in plantations for commercial purposes.
To create cork flooring products, the cork is ground up, compressed and bonded with resins to form sheets. Although cork flooring has gained popularity and can be found in various spaces within a home it is not as durable as some other flooring materials and is susceptible to damage.
Therefore, it is crucial to understand the fundamental characteristics of cork before deciding to use it in a specific space. Despite its drawbacks, the benefits of using a sustainable and natural material like cork for flooring are noteworthy.
Cork Flooring Installation
The process of installing cork flooring involves various options for the material, including solid cork tiles, laminated planks with a fiberboard core, and different adhesives or locking systems for installation.
In addition to glue-down applications, cork flooring can be installed as a floating floor over a foam underlayment pad. For prefinished cork flooring, the installation process typically concludes with a sealer coating.
Cork flooring offers a relatively straightforward DIY project compared to solid hardwood or bamboo flooring, which can present challenges for non-professionals. This advantage is due to the ease of installing cork flooring, which includes various options for the material and installation techniques.
The Advantages Of Cork Flooring
Cork flooring is a popular choice for homeowners due to its unique properties and numerous benefits. Here are some of the pros of cork flooring:
Firstly, cork is known for its comfortability. It is a soft material that has a unique, cushy feel, and it “bounces back” when you step on it. This makes it an ideal choice for rooms where you stand for long periods of time, such as the kitchen or bathroom.
Cork floors are also a good choice for children’s playrooms and elderly homeowners because they provide a much softer landing than hardwood or vinyl when someone falls on them.
Secondly, cork is a hypoallergenic material. It repels dirt, dander, and dust mites, which makes it a good choice for homeowners who suffer from asthma and allergies.
Additionally, cork contains suberin, an impermeable, waxy substance that gives it antimicrobial properties. This makes it resistant to mold, mildew and harmful microorganisms that can harm indoor air quality.
Thirdly, cork is an eco-friendly flooring option. It is harvested from the bark of cork oak trees without damaging them and the bark sheds naturally and grows back quickly. Cork is completely biodegradable and its manufacturing process generates almost zero waste.
Therefore, if you are looking for an environmentally friendly flooring material, the cork should be at the top of your list.
Fourthly, cork acts as a good insulator. It is composed of millions of tiny, air-filled chambers that absorb sound and can help improve the acoustics of a room. Furthermore, cork also acts as a temperature insulator, reducing your energy bills. Its typical R-value, which is the capacity of an insulating material to resist heat flow, is 1.125, which is significantly higher than the R-values of tile, hardwood, vinyl and even carpet!
Lastly, cork flooring is easy to install and maintain. It comes in large sheets or tiles and both types of cork flooring are easy to install. Large sheets are installed with a standard thin-set mortar adhesive, while cork tiles have adhesive backs.
With basic maintenance, a cork floor can last for many years. Cork floors only require occasional sealing and regular sweeping and vacuuming. If you notice some wear and tear on your cork floor, it can be sanded, stained and sealed to remove imperfections.
In conclusion, cork flooring offers several advantages over other types of flooring, including its comfortability, hypoallergenic and antimicrobial properties, eco-friendliness, insulation properties and ease of installation and maintenance. If you’re considering a new floor for your home, cork may be a great option for you to explore.
Disadvantages Of Cork Flooring?
Cork flooring is an environmentally-friendly and comfortable option for flooring but it does have its downsides.
One of the main drawbacks of cork flooring is that it is vulnerable to damage. Due to its softness, it is more susceptible to scratches from pet nails and indents from heavy furniture and appliances. To extend the life of your cork floor, it is recommended to trim your pets’ nails and use furniture coasters. Additionally, shifting furniture pieces just a couple inches every few months can help reduce divots.
Another disadvantage of cork flooring is its cost. While it is not the most expensive flooring option available, it is more expensive than vinyl, laminate and many other materials.
The cost of cork flooring can range from $5 to $20 per square foot. If you like the appearance of cork but don’t want to pay for the real thing, there are artificial flooring options available such as printed laminate or luxury vinyl tiles.
Cork flooring is not completely waterproof, although it is more water-resistant than other flooring materials. Regularly sealing your cork floors can help protect them from spills but excess moisture can warp and stain the flooring.
To avoid this, it is recommended to avoid mopping with a lot of water and investing in a dehumidifier for rooms with cork flooring, especially if you live in a humid area.
Another limitation of cork flooring is its limited color palette. Unlike hardwood, laminate, vinyl, and carpet, cork has a very narrow range of colors to choose from. Although there are variations in light and dark shades, natural cork flooring is mostly beige.
If you like the appearance of cork but want more freedom with colors there are artificial flooring options that can mimic the look of cork such as printed laminate and vinyl flooring.
Finally, cork flooring can fade if exposed to too much sunlight. While an average amount of natural light is fine, cork is not the best flooring material for bright rooms that receive an excessive amount of sunlight. To avoid this, it is recommended to use window treatments to limit the amount of direct sunlight that reaches the floor.