Chances are, you’ve come in contact with this material every time you’ve opened a bottle of wine, but have you ever thought about it for your kitchen floor? What am I talking about? Cork! Cork is a material that some homeowners are installing for floors throughout their homes. Understanding the pros and cons of using cork will help you decide if a cork floor is in your future.
Cork comes from cork oak trees, which grow mainly in Spain and Portugal. It’s actually a very environmentally friendly material to use in your home. Every nine years, experts harvest the live trees of their bark by hand, pulling it off in sheets. When carefully done, this process does not damage the trees. Wine corks are punched from the sheets of bark, and cork flooring is made from scraps left over from the wine corks.
Pros of using cork for your floor:
- Because cork consists of cells filed with air, it acts as a shock absorber to your feet. Cooks who spend long hours in the kitchen will appreciate this cushioned floor.
- A cork floor is a warm floor. The air cells in cork make it a natural insulator.
- Cork also absorbs sound waves, so cork is a quiet floor—a bonus if you have any downstairs neighbors.
- Cork contains a natural substance called suberin. Suberin is fire resistant, water resistant, mold and mildew resistant and insect resistant.
- If you drop utensils or dishes on the floor, cork helps to absorb the impact, lessening the chance the item will break.
- Using cork for your flooring allows your creativity to shine because the cork tiles and planks come in many colors and patterns. It is easy to mix and match different colors of the cork to make a one-of-a-kind floor. Unfinished cork can also be stained or painted before it is sealed.
- Depending upon the type of cork you have, you may need to reseal it periodically. Daily clean up is easy. Sweep and dry-mop it.
Cons of using cork for your floor:
- Heavy appliances and furniture can cause permanent indentations in cork, so you need to use pads or casters under them to evenly distribute the weight.
- Direct sunlight is damaging to cork. Over time, it will fade the color.
- Dirt that is left on your cork floor will scratch or wear away the top finish layer of the cork.
- You need to wipe up spills promptly so they don’t stain the cork.
- Pets can be hard on some types of a cork floor, so check with the manufacturer for their guidelines.
Basically, you have two types of cork flooring to choose from for your home improvement project: a laminate (floating) floor and traditional tiles of cork, which you glue down. Laminate cork floors are comprised of several layers of material including compressed cork, fiberboard and uncompressed cork. These have tongue and groove edges that fit together and are usually coated at the factory with a sealant. Laminate cork floors should not be used in bathrooms or rooms with lots of moisture. Tiles of cork, on the other hand, are glued directly to a sub floor or concrete and are suitable for every room of your house. Tiles come prefinished or bare, to be finished after installation.
Overall, cork is an up-and-coming choice for floors in kitchen renovation projects and other rooms of the home. Weigh the pros and cons to decide if cork will be used in your home for more than just your wine bottles!