I first became intrigued by cork flooring in 2000 after reading an article on the subject. I hadn’t given much thought to cork, familiar only with its use in stopping wine bottles and in bulletin boards. Nine years later and cork flooring still doesn’t appear to be mainstream. Hopefully the benefits of cork will soon make it a standard flooring option, especially now that being green is in.
Cork is harvested from the cork oak tree Quercus suber L., which is grown throughout the Mediterranean region, especially in Portugal. The cork itself comes from the bark of the tree, which can be stripped every 9 years. Cork oak trees also live about 150-200 years.(1) The longevity of the cork oak trees combined with their ability to be repeatedly harvested make cork a highly sustainable product.
The benefits of cork flooring go beyond its sustainability. According to USFloors, cork flooring is resistant to mold and insects, insulates sound and heat, and inhibits fire. It is also warm, comfortable, durable, and easy to clean. And don’t worry about being limited to the color of cork stoppers and bulletin boards. Cork flooring comes in many colors, especially from Globus Cork, which sells it in colors like red mahogany, tangerine, ocean blue, and slate gray. Make sure to choose cork flooring installed with adhesives and finishes with low emissions. To give you an idea of cost, Globus Cork sells tiles from $5.60/square foot for natural color in their standard size to $8.55/square foot for 24-inch square tiles in accent colors. Their floating floors, which don’t require adhesives, cost from $6.85/square foot for natural color to $9.00/square foot for accent colors.
Interested in having cork flooring installed in your home or office? Visit the following manufacturer websites for more information.
(1) Associação Portuguesa de Cortiça (Portuguese Cork Association) http://www.realcork.org/artigo.php?art=2