Sustainable Surfaces: Cork

cork, flooring, sustainable, green

In the September 2019 Newsletter, we began the ’Sustainable Surfaces’ series, the first part focusing on bamboo flooring and the pros and cons of using it in a commercial or residential space.

In the second part of ‘Sustainable Surfaces’, we will talk about the benefits of cork flooring. First used in the late 19th century, cork flooring is now used as flooring underlayment, joint filler, and is formed into tiles and planks for a distinct aesthetic look.

 

PROS:

  • Resilience & Softness

Due to cork’s unique structure, heavy pressure does not break down the material, allowing it to give under weight and spring back when pressure is removed. Although it does not feel spongy, cork flooring’s cellular structure provides a soft feel underfoot. This allows people to stand on their feet for longer periods of time without pain in back, hips, and knees.

  • Green Harvesting

Beginning their life as bark on cork oak trees, cork bark is gathered by hand and harvested every nine years. This process does not destroy or harm the tree, allowing more bark to grow in its place.

  • Anti-Allergenic

Suberin, a naturally occurring waxy substance in cork, deters bugs, termites, and mold. It also prevents the cork from rotting, even when submerged under water for long periods of time.

CONS:

  • Light Sensitivity

The color of cork flooring will fade over time if exposed to sunlight. While cork is fairly water-resistant, liquids can stain and discolor the surface.

  • Permanent Damage

Cork can withstand pressure, but not scratches. Large furniture, such as office desks, should not be slid across the surface because they can permanently indent the flooring.

  • Specialized Maintenance

Flooring made of cork must be sealed with a polyurethane coat to prevent swelling. Improper maintenance can damage or remove this coating. If not properly coated, dirt and debris could easily permeate the surface and ruin the flooring.

With the current popularity of floating floors, cork is a sustainable option that can be easily installed in many different residential and commercial settings. Cork tiles may also be glued to the subfloor for a more permanent option. Stay tuned for the November newsletter, where we’ll explore another sustainable surface option!

Read more about: Origins of Cork Flooring  | More Pros & Cons of Cork Flooring