When you finished up your spring cleaning earlier this month, maybe you cast your eye around your home and realized the flooring in one or two rooms looked beat-up and worse for wear. If you're searching for a flooring option that's eco-friendly, comfortable to walk on, durable, and attractive, think about cork floors.
Eco-Friendly and Healthy Flooring Choice
Harvested from the bark of the cork tree without killing the tree, cork flooring is very sustainable, making it a great choice. Cork flooring is actually manufactured from the by-products that are left from making corks for wine bottles, which makes it even more environmentally friendly. And it's a healthy material because it doesn't trap allergens like pet dander, pollen and dust the way carpet can, making it an appropriate option for homes with family members who have allergies or asthma. Cork does trap both heat and sound however, due to the air between its cells. When used as flooring, cork can help cut down on your bills by keeping your rooms warmer. And its natural insulating properties make it a great choice if you don't want to hear all the sounds and footsteps coming from an upstairs room. For instance, if you use cork flooring for the playroom, your children will have a warm, soft floor to romp around on without giving the grown-ups a headache, and if you're a condo dweller, your downstairs neighbors will bless you for installing a cork floor! Also, cork is fire-resistant, and it's more slip-resistant than vinyl or linoleum, which makes it a good pick for kitchen flooring.
Comfortable, Warm and Attractive
If you've ever tried to stick a cork back into a wine bottle, you'll appreciate that cork is a naturally springy material that has a lot of bounce. Cork is comfortable to walk on and the air between its fibers gives it shock-absorbency and makes it supportive if you spend a lot of time standing—when you're prepping food in the kitchen, for instance. And the natural appearance of this material is so attractive! If you haven't yet looked at the options available, you might be surprised at the range of shades and textures of cork that are on offer. The natural color of cork is a beautiful golden-brown, but it can be purchased in a variety of stain colors too. Cork can also be cut into numerous shapes and sizes, increasing its flexibility for design.
Cork is a low maintenance form of flooring. It's usually purchased with a protective sealant already applied but check with your vendor or a flooring contractor to see if they recommend coating the brand of flooring you've chosen with polyurethane to protect it further. Regular sweeping and dry mopping will keep your floor clean and also prolong its life. Cork is very durable, but it can be scratched or nicked by heavy objects. It's a good idea to put pads on the feet of any furniture that gets moved around frequently, like chairs, to prevent scratches. Cork is naturally water-resistant and is resistant to mold and mildew. However, it's not waterproof, so if you install a cork floor in the bathroom, place bathmats around the shower, tub and sink to protect the floor, especially if the kids' bath time gets a little too lively.
If you're installing cork flooring, it's recommended that you unpack the flooring 72 hours beforehand and leave it in the room where it will be laid, so it can acclimatize to the space. If you're installing “click-together” flooring, you need to remember that cork will expand and contract due to changes in the surrounding environment. You should leave a half-inch expansion gap around the edge when you install cork flooring, which can easily be covered by the baseboard.
If you've decided that cork flooring is a good choice for you, use our Services Directory to find top flooring contractors. And our system of reviews will allow you to rate the performance of your contractor once the job is done.