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Cork Flooring: Why Would You Use It? Why Would You Avoid it?

man laying down cork flooring

More and more homeowners are choosing cork for their flooring. Cork is comfortable to walk on, durable, beautiful and sustainable. There are many pros and some cons of cork flooring.

What is Cork?

Cork is the outer lining of a type of oak tree that grows in Mediterranean countries. What makes cork attractive is that this lining can be stripped off the tree without killing it. It then grows back and in time is harvested again. When the cork is taken from the tree, it is ground up and treated to turn it into floor planks.

The Pros of Cork Flooring

Cork is simply amazing to walk on with bare feet. It is soft and yielding, and a person can stand on it for a long time without fatigue. For many cooks, this makes cork ideal to install in their kitchen. It is forgiving of slips and falls, which makes it an excellent material to put in nurseries, playrooms and the bedrooms of older people.

Cork is an excellent insulator. This is because cork is full of tiny air chambers that keep heat out of a room during the warmer months but hold it during the winter. The air chambers also absorb sound waves.

A floor made of cork resists dust and allergens and is exceptionally easy to keep clean. It just needs a weekly vacuuming or sweeping, and spills should be blotted up as soon as possible. Cork comes with a natural material called suberin, which the tree uses to repel pests.

Like a regular hardwood floor, a cork floor can be refinished. This means sanding down the old floor, then staining and resealing it. How many times this can be done depends on how thick the cork floor is.

A DIYer can install cork tiles over a long weekend. Some tiles need thin-set mortar while others are peel and stick. After this, all they need is a sealant.

The Cons of Cork Flooring

Cork’s softness makes it vulnerable to dings and other damage. Coasters should be placed beneath the feet of heavy furniture to protect the floor from indentations. Another trick is to place heavy furniture on pieces of plywood.

People should never walk on a cork floor wearing high heels or shoes with cleats. Ideally, the homeowner should ask family members and guests to take off footwear that they’ve worn outdoors, for even a bit of grit can tear cork. The nails and claws of pets will need to be regularly trimmed to keep them from damaging the cork.

Cork swells when it is exposed to water, and a flood or even a sopping wet mop can cause the tiles to warp or cup.

Installing a cork floor in a room that gets direct sunlight will discolor the material. Place the cork in a room that gets indirect sunlight, cover parts of it with area rugs or block the sunlight with window treatments.

If you have any questions, reach out!