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What makes cork flooring so sustainable?

Monday, 5 February 2024

a grey sofa set in a living room where the floor is cork flooring

Cork flooring is increasingly competing with laminate and vinyl flooring. Not only is cork appreciated for its original look and outstanding natural properties, but cork flooring is also sustainable. As a renewable raw material, cork is very environmentally friendly, but unlike wood, it has a decisive advantage: trees do not have to be felled to produce cork.

In this article, we explain what makes cork so sustainable and the other advantages of this trendy floor.

Why is cork sustainable?

Cork is not the first floor made from a natural raw material. Parquet flooring also consists mainly of the natural raw material wood. Strictly speaking, however, cork is not wood, as cork is extracted from the bark of cork oaks. The cork is not usually harvested by machine but is carefully removed from the tree by hand. The trees are therefore neither damaged nor felled. Unlike the production of parquet flooring, which involves felling and damaging the trees.

a person is cutting the bark of cork trees with an axe

Why cork flooring is sustainable can be answered in one sentence: as the cork oaks do not have to be felled, they can continue to bind CO₂ from the atmosphere. This makes cork a particularly ecological material. Some cork floors are not only climate-neutral but even climate-positive. This means that the cork oaks can absorb more CO₂ from the atmosphere than is produced during the manufacture of the cork. But be careful: if the cork floor is to be sustainable, it also depends on the supply chain and further processing.

A man on a cork tree cutting the bark of the tree with an axe

Cork flooring - a robust floor covering for green living

As cork flooring is sustainable, it is particularly suitable for contemporary living concepts with high demands on a good ecological balance. But what happens to the cork floor when it has had its day? You don't have to worry about your cork floor being damaged quickly or the ravages of time leaving their mark all too quickly. This is because cork floors are extremely durable, which manufacturers such as Granorte often honour with a 10-year guarantee in the living area.

Cork flooring is not only suitable for living areas. The environmentally friendly floors are assigned to the same service classes as vinyl floors. Class 23 cork flooring, for example, can withstand the heaviest wear in residential areas, while class 34 cork flooring can even withstand heavy foot traffic in commercial and commercial property areas.

A natural raw material of superlatives

Cork can be described as a natural raw material of superlatives. Its outstanding wear resistance, high level of comfort and not forgetting its first-class environmental balance make cork an ideal material for floor coverings. In the world of natural raw materials, cork is the best insulating material. This means that good ecology can be further improved by saving heating energy!

a tractor in the forest carrying cork

Whether cork flooring is sustainable also depends on supply chains and further processing. Many manufacturers of cork also set high standards for a good environmental balance in addition to cork harvesting. Most cork oak forests are found in Portugal. Here, cork harvesting is a craft that contributes to electrification thanks to cyclical harvesting. The cork industry often contributes to the stabilisation of social conditions. Cork flooring is also impressive on a geological level: cork binds organic substances in the soil and thus counteracts desertification, ensuring fertile and healthy soil.

a man hugging and grabbing bark of cork tree

Sustainable use of cork floors

In itself, cork floors are sustainable and durable - especially in comparison with vinyl flooring. However, how hard-wearing the floor is depends on the wear layer of the flooring and the installation method. As with most floor coverings, the higher the wear layer, the more the floor can withstand.

As a rule, glue-down cork is significantly more durable than click cork. However, a prudent and environmentally friendly lifestyle also involves making long-term decisions. Replacing the floor every two years is not particularly green. A cork floor is usually a good choice here thanks to its long service life.

a quote picture

Depending on the type of cork flooring you have chosen, the cork can be recycled at the end of its life. The cork flour obtained can be further processed. Please note, however, that not every cork floor is made entirely from cork. Many manufacturers rely on a very natural product structure, but there are also cork vinyl floors, for example. Cork has now also arrived in the design flooring segment.

Click vinyl with cork insulation impresses with its high durability and first-class comfort.

Advantages of cork flooring

In addition to its good environmental balance, cork flooring is also celebrated for its naturally comfortable properties. It is not without reason that cork is often used in sandals, as the material provides a pleasant feel underfoot. The good ergonomic properties and thermal insulation are due to the structure of the cork. Cork is characterised by a honeycomb-like structure that is both "soft" and able to store heat.

several layer of cork flooring

Its joint-friendly and heat-insulating properties make cork an ideal material for floor coverings. Cork is also very light and elastic. In addition, cork contains suberin, a water-repellent, plant-based biopolymer that makes cork floors water-repellent. Nevertheless, not every cork floor is suitable for bathrooms or kitchens. Make sure you check the manufacturer's labelling accordingly.

As cork flooring does not absorb dust, it is also suitable for allergy sufferers. Your safety is also taken care of, as cork is flame retardant. Cork also ensures good room acoustics and absorbs impact sound.

a woman sitting on a pouch on the cork flooring while reading a book
Granorte Spectrum "6721000 Basic unfinished"
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