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Pros and Cons of Cork Flooring

Updated on June 26, 2012
Duro-Design Cork Flooring
Duro-Design Cork Flooring

Cork flooring has gained a lot of popularity because of it sustainable qualities, but is a cork floor the right choice for your home? Cork can be a great choice or a horrible choice for your new floors depending on where they are located and what you expect from them. Do your research before remodeling!

Cork is the outer bark of a cork oak tree (Quercus suber). Cork is harvested from the trees without permanently damaging them. The bark will grow back and then it will be harvested again. This makes cork a renewable resource and a very sustainable building material. Some cork floors are manufactured from recycled cork, which makes it even more green. In these cases, wine stoppers or scrap cork from the wine stopper manufacturing process are used to make new cork tiles.

Here are the pros and cons of installing cork floors in your home.

Cork Flooring Manufacturers

  • Duro-Design
  • Wicanders
  • Globus Cork
  • WE Cork
  • Yemm & Hart

Pros of Cork Flooring

  • Cork contains a naturally-occuring wax called suberin that is fire and water resistant.
  • Naturally insulating, so it won't feel cold to bare feet! Cork floors can also help save on energy bills.
  • Cork is scratch and dent resistant. The material will easily spring back from minor mishaps.
  • Cork is a natural shock absorber. The material's spring provides cushioning and is easy on your joints. This makes it great for work areas, like kitchens, where you spend a lot of time standing.
  • The softness of the material also means that it absorbs sound, helping reduce echoes and background noise.
  • Most cork floors are sealed with a low-VOC, water-based polyurethane. This is much better for the environment and healthier for the building occupants. Although this is fairly standard, it is best to check that the cork flooring manufacturer you choose uses this type of sealant.

12" x 12" Cork Tile
12" x 12" Cork Tile

Cons of Cork Flooring

  • Because cork is a natural material, it can be damaged by long-term sun-exposure. It will fade in direct sunlight over time. Coating your floor with water-based polyurethane will protect it some, but will not completely prevent damage. You can also apply a UV filter to nearby windows to try to prevent exposure.
  • Cork is a soft material which mean permanent Indentations from heavy items left for long periods. Put pads under heavy pieces of furniture to help prevent damage.
  • The softness also means that cork can be torn or cut by dragging heavy items across floor. Be especially careful moving furniture and appliances.
  • If a colored cork is used, scratches will be obvious, since color is usually only on surface layer of cork tiles. Some manufactures do have the color integral to the whole tile. Do your research before buying!
  • Avoid getting your cork floor wet. Spills should be cleaned immediately and never wet mop. Sweep regularly and damp-mop occasionally to keep your floors clean. Although suberin (the cork's natural wax) will help repel water, frequent or heavy exposure will damage your cork floor, just as it would for hardwood floors.
  • Cork requires regular maintenance, just as hardwood floors do. You'll need to reseal your floor every 2-5 years depending on which manufacturer you choose and how much traffic the floor gets.

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    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I love the feel of cork flooring but would never use it in my own home because of its delicacy. I much prefer concrete floors, which are indestructible. Voting this Up and Interesting.

    • Modern Lady profile image
      Author

      Modern Lady 4 years ago from Chicago, IL

      Concrete can be quite pretty, and it is indestructible. Though, cracks can be a problem. It is also very hard on joints. Cork is at the other end of the spectrum, but also very lovely.

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 4 years ago from Thailand

      A useful hub for anyone considering this option. As you say, cork is a renewable resource that looks good and provides many benefits when treated correctly.

      Shared, up and interesting.

    • Modern Lady profile image
      Author

      Modern Lady 4 years ago from Chicago, IL

      Thanks, Brett! Cork is really a great option for flooring.

    • lindacee profile image

      lindacee 4 years ago from Southern Arizona

      I just love learning about eco-friendly flooring surfaces. Your Hub is a great source of information for someone considering this renewable material. The pros and cons help homeowners make a well-informed decision. Hopefully alternative flooring choices will lessen our dependence on old-growth hardwood floors. Voted up, useful and interesting!

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