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Everything You Need to Know About Cork Flooring – Part I

Cork Flooring

Cork flooring has recently gained a lot of popularity among owners of residential and commercial properties. Since it’s harvested from the bark of living cork oak trees which makes it a renewable resource, cork has emerged as an excellent eco-friendly alternative to hardwood flooring. Traditionally used in spaces such as churches and libraries because of its amazing sound control properties, cork flooring is now being preferred almost everywhere.

It’s important that you understand the characteristics of cork before you decide to invest in it. In today’s blog post, we’ll share a comprehensive guide to cork flooring. Starting from how cork flooring is made, its different features, the locations where it’s the best choice to its advantages, disadvantages, installation methods, cleaning and maintenance, all will be covered in this guide.

  • What is cork flooring?

Cork is a natural material that is hand-harvested from the bark of Cork oak tree or Quercus suber tree. Before the first harvest can take place, the tree must mature for 25 years. Once ready for harvesting, skilled workers extract the bark with the right amount of pressure using sharp equipment. The extraction is done very carefully so that the equipment doesn’t reach the living part of the tree.

After removing the bark, it is sliced into planks and then stacked for 6 months exposing them to external elements such as the sun, rain, and air. These external elements chemically transform the planks which are then steamed to remove the outer layer of the bark and eliminate contaminants and bugs.

Stored for another 3 weeks, the treated planks are then taken to a factory to punch out wine bottle stoppers. The leftover material or waste is boiled, ground and then compressed with adhesive resins. Cork flooring is achieved from this processed leftover material. Different varieties of patterns and styles of cork flooring can be created from this product by using pieces of treated bark as veneers on top of the grounded material.

  • How durable is cork flooring?

Cork flooring is very durable and has a long life as a result. It can resist abrasions and cracks. The soft surface of the material bounces back making indentations caused by heavy furniture or heavy foot traffic temporary.

  • What are the best areas to install cork flooring?

Cork flooring can be installed in almost all places. The soft surface also makes it an excellent flooring choice for spaces where you need to stand for a long time such as the kitchen. However, it’s advisable to avoid installing cork flooring in areas where there’s a lot of moisture and dampness, such as the bathroom and the basement. Since cork is very accommodating, it can be installed over tiles, wood, and concrete subfloors but it’s important that the subfloor is dry, clean, and level before installation.

  • How is cork flooring affected by temperature and moisture changes?

Although it’s more stable and flexible than wood flooring products, cork expands and contracts in response to extreme or rapid temperature and moisture changes like other wood products. When temperatures rise and moisture levels drop during the summer season, cork can contract and make the joints between the tiles or planks more noticeable. When subject to high moisture or humidity levels, cork can expand and cause cupping. It’s recommended that you maintain a steady temperature and moderate moisture level in your space to keep your cork flooring in the best shape.

  • How healthy is cork flooring?

Natural cork is hypoallergenic which makes it an ideal flooring choice if you’re allergic to dust, mould, mildew, and other air contaminants. It’s also a healthier option than other floors if you suffer from back pain, knee pain or joint pain because of its soft surface.