Cork Floors — Why and How to Choose Cork Flooring

Cork Floors - Why and How to Choose Cork Flooring

Cork Floors

Cork Flooring

Cork has been used as a flooring material for many years, though it has never really enjoyed the widespread popularity for residential appliations the way hardwood flooring has. While cork flooring may never supplant hardwoods as the number one choice of homeowners, the popularity of cork floors is on the rise now that consumers have become more environmentally aware and are making more earth friendly choices when considering building materials for their homes. If you are an environmentally conscious homeowner looking for new flooring or if you just appreciate the unique and beautiful look of natural materials, then you should consider cork floors for your next flooring project.

Benefits of Cork Flooring

In addition to looking great in almost any room, cork floors have a number of other benefits as well. Cork is environmentally friendly, extremely comfortable to walk on, and easy to take care of as well. For do it yourselfers, cork can be one of the easiest materials to work with during installation. The beauty of cork floors rivals that of any hardwood or other natural material. Each natural cork tile will have a unique texture, tint and pattern. Cork can also be mixed with dye and tiles can be formed in a variety of visually appealing patterns and striking colors.

About Cork

Cork is harvested from the cork oak tree which is native to parts of Europe and Africa. The country of Porugal is by far the largest producer of cork. Cork can be harvested without harming or cutting down the trees in the process. Only the bark of the tree needs to be removed and a new layer grows back. The bark can be harvested every nine to twelve years or so. The comfort of cork flooring is a result of cork’s cell structure. Cork is made up of millions of tiny cells that contain air. This gives cork its texture that is comfortable underfoot as well as the ability to dampen sound, and its ability to spring back quickly when dented or compressed. Cork floors can also retain heat in the Winter and stay cool in the Summer as a result of the structure of the material.

Cork Flooring is a Beautiful and Environmentally Friendly Choice

Installing Cork Flooring

Cork flooring is available in planks and tiles and is either glued down or installed as a floating floor. Floating cork floors are the favored option as glue down floors, while often cheaper, have many potential pitfalls. Cork tiles are pourous and resilient so your subfloor must be free of any defects if you plan to go with a glue down cork floor. You may also have to prime your subfloor before you apply adhesive. If you damage or misalign a tile, with a glue down floor you will have to cut it out in order to replace it. Floating cork floors are much easier to install. Floating flooring can generally be installed over your existing flooring provided it is level and not carpeted. Installation involves snapping the planks into place and applying the finish if the flooring is not pre-finished. Some manufacturers recommend that you do not install their floating cork flooring in potentially wet areas like bathrooms or kitchens so make sure you find out if floating or glue down is more appropriate for your intended application before you buy.

Durability of Cork Floors

Cork flooring will last a long time with minimal maintenance required. Because cork is so resillient and can be compressed to such a large degree without damage, cork has the ability to resist dents and scratching to a greater extent than many other materials. Cork flooring can be refinished if necessary or repaired when needed. Cork is also naturally more fire resistant due to the presence of a natural wax like substance called Suberin within the cork. Cork will not give off any toxic fumes in the event of a fire.

Cleaning Cork Floors

Cork floors are very low maintenance and cleaning cork flooring is pretty straightforward. Sweep the floor or vacuum using a vac without beater bar attachments as needed at least once a week. Periodically damp mop the floor, but do not flood or over wet the floor. The surface of your cork floors will have to be renewed occasionally according to the schedule and instructions provided by the flooring manufacturer. When it comes time, clean your floor and make sure it is completely dry. Use a solution that is specifically made for cork and apply it with a lambswool applicator or sponge.

Cork Flooring Cost

Cork flooring is neither the cheapest flooring material nor the most expensive. If you are patient, you compare prices, and you do your homework, you can find basic cork tiles on sale starting at around three or four dollars per square foot. Engineered cork flooring will be more expensive, but much easier to install. Deals abound, however, so take advantage of closeouts, year end clearance sales and look for deals at your local home improvement stores. Do your research on the web and check prices online as well. You can often find great prices online, but make sure you take shipping prices into account and be certain you can take delivery without too much trouble.

Your New Cork Floors

If you are thinking about buying cork flooring or are ready to install cork floors, you can do so with confidence. Cork is natural, sustainable and environmentally friendly. Cork floors are beautiful, durable, comfortable and can be easy to install and maintain. Compare cork floors to hardwood flooring or synthetic materials and you will see why more people are opting to buy cork flooring these days.

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