The Pros and Cons of Cork Flooring: Is This the Floor You’ve Been Looking For?
Cork: It’s not just for wine bottles and champagne. The elastic, impermeable, and fire-retardant material is excellent for gaskets, badminton shuttlecocks, fishing floats, space shuttle components, thermal insulation…and your home’s new floor!
Cork flooring has been used in Europe for over a century; thankfully, we are starting to see more of this elegant and functional material right here at home. What are the pros and cons, and how can you ensure your floors live their longest, most beautiful, life?
Pros and Cons of Cork Flooring
When choosing a flooring solution for your home, it is essential to weigh the benefits and the drawbacks. After all, we want you to love where you live – and the floors on which you walk every day play a starring role. So, without further ado:
Cork Flooring: The Advantages
When you install cork flooring, you enjoy a multitude of benefits:
Sustainability. Cork flooring is one the most environmentally friendly flooring solutions on the market. To manufacture hardwood planks, the entire tree must be cut down. Cork, on the other hand, is harvested by stripping cork oak trees of about 50% of their bark. This is done every nine years to allow regrowth. The tree is unharmed and simply regenerates another layer of bark.The manufacturing process, too, is geared towards maximum efficiency. To make flooring, manufacturers use virgin cork bark, as well as waste from the production of other cork products. All raw materials are used: whatever does not go into the finished flooring is used as an energy source.
Efficiency. Thanks to cork’s natural insulative properties, it maintains an optimal temperature year-round. No more frozen toes when you wake up in the winter! Likewise, in warmer months, the floor will feel cool underfoot and help contribute to the overall indoor temperature.
Comfort. Cork is inherently flexible; so, whether you’re working out, cleaning, or prepping dinner, you are reducing strain and pressure on your muscles, joints, and tendons. Fewer aches and pains in the feet, knees, and back? We’re in.
Durable. There’s a reason cork is used to stop wine bottles: it is exceptionally resistant to moisture. Your floor will not rot, even if it is in humid areas, such as the bathroom or kitchen. The honeycomb structure of the material also provides terrific shock absorption to ensure it holds up to heavy foot traffic. With proper care, including resealing about every five years, cork flooring stands the test of time.
Noise-Absorbing. Shh… Life gets loud sometimes. Each cubic centimeter of cork has 40 million cells, all of which can absorb the sound of your lively party in the great room while the kids are sleeping upstairs.
Clean. If you struggle with allergies, asthma, or other respiratory issues, you fully understand how important it is to have good indoor air quality. Your floors are critical, some surfaces and materials trap dust, dander, mites, mold, and mildew. Cork is antimicrobial and does not absorb these allergy/asthma triggers. Simply vacuum regularly and wipe it with a damp mop now and again.Additionally, cork bark contains suberin. This waxy, waterproof substance acts as a natural insect repellent. Negating insect activity helps people with health challenges breathe a sigh of relief.
Beauty and Elegance. All of this – and it’s sophisticated and attractive. Aesthetics are a key consideration as you search for the right flooring products for your home. Cork flooring is available in a wide range of finishes and patterns, ensuring you will achieve the look you want.
Cork Flooring: Potential Drawbacks
There is no such thing as a “perfect” flooring. Even gorgeous hardwood has its flaws (especially when it comes to moisture-resistance!). Here are some yellow flags to watch out for:
It may not be as durable as hardwood. If cared for properly, the lifespan of hardwood can be measured in centuries. When it comes to cork, most flooring comes with a 15-year guarantee. That said, with proper care, it can hold up beautifully for decades.
Cork may become faded and/or scratched. Yes, cork flooring is remarkably durable. But cork is a softer material, and it may get scratched or nicked if you, for example, drop a heavy object. It may also fade when exposed to direct sunlight. To be fair, hardwood does this too. Periodic resealing and refinishing are necessary components of your maintenance plan.
Cleaning may be a bit more involved. No, cleaning cork flooring is not difficult. But you do have to keep on top of dirt and grit, so they don’t scratch your floor. See below for some simple tips.
Installation is a bit trickier. Installation must be precise and meticulous. Though this is true of many other surfaces as well. When you have an experienced flooring team like ACo on your side, you can cross this worry off your list.
How to Care for Your Cork Floors
What are you looking at in terms of maintenance? As mentioned, cork floors should be resealed every five years or so to protect it from moisture, grit, and grime. But when it’s chore time, how do you take care of your flooring?
Wipe up any spills immediately. Like hardwood, you want to move fast when liquid is involved!
Vacuum or sweep your floors regularly. “Regularly” depends on a few different factors. It could be weekly; it could be daily if you have pets and/or children. Dust and grit can scratch the floor, so more frequently is always better than less.
Damp mop once a week or more frequently as needed. Notice we said “damp,” not “wet.” Again, excess moisture is your enemy.
Do not use regular cleaning products, oils, waxes, ammonia-based products, abrasives, or solvents. Damp mopping with water only is fine. For a once-in-a-while clean, you can use a gentle wood floor cleanser. If you have a stain or heavy spill, use a cleaner that is specifically made for cork flooring.
Give yourself a little extra protection. Use door mats with porous backings at your entrances to keep dirt and grit from making themselves at home.
Flooring for Your Life
The right flooring makes a significant impact on the overall aesthetics and functionality of your home. Cork offers an abundance of natural charm, and ACo offers a wide selection of flooring solutions from today’s top manufacturers.
To learn more about cork flooring and other options, connect with ACo for a complimentary consultation. With help from our team, you will soon be popping the cork to celebrate a successful project!