What Is Cork Flooring?
In this blog we will be explaining what cork flooring is and why it is an excellent and healthy choice for your home.
You may not know it, but cork is harvested from the bark of the cork oak tree which is in South West Europe and Africa. 34% of the cork forest population is situated in Portugal and 27% in Spain totaling in about 2,200,000 hectares of cork forest worldwide. The material itself is very buoyant making an interesting material for a wide variety of products and even sculptures.
This flooring is made from cork panels with additional supportive and protective elements to increase the durability of the raw material and thus lifespan of the product whilst still benefiting from the natural advantages cork can offer as a flooring. Each flooring panel will consist of multiple layers of various materials that create improved dimensional stability.
Why Choose Cork Flooring?
Cork has many interesting properties that make it an excellent material to use as a component for flooring. The most obvious is it’s water resistance meaning you can use the flooring in wet rooms as the cork will repel the water. As a flooring, cork is also beneficial due to the acoustic insulation properties that reduce the noise made from footsteps contributing to a more serene environment. Due to its natural material properties, you can enjoy the reduction of impact on your joints as the flooring will absorb a large amount of the impact compared to alternatives. Cork is flame retardant making it an astute choice for the home.
Trends In Designs
You may think that cork flooring limits you to a noticeboard looking cork aesthetic however, these days modern technology allows us to create many looks whilst retaining the practical benefits of the natural cork material within the panel.
True, you can opt for the traditional style and natural colour but even then you can choose designs that vary in the texture with chunkier patterns or more refined pieces. You can also choose from a uniform look or a panel style giving you a more blocky modern feel. You can also opt for cork that has been coloured using various methods resulting in creamy-beige tones and so on for an elegant appearance.
But the possibilities of cork flooring don’t end here. You can have cork flooring with a wood look or stone look to match whichever interior design style you are trying to create. It is in fact, possible to have flooring with cork in any style as the variants are made using high resolution images thanks to modern digital printing and a coating to protect the image.
The latest trend in the manufacturing of cork flooring is to use vinyl as a dimensional stabiliser in the planks adding significant years to the lifespan of the product.
Raw, Renewable And Recyclable
Cork flooring is not only great for a flooring, it’s great for you and for the environment. Firstly, it being 100% natural, it does not give out any harmful emissions thus making the air in your rooms that much purer. Secondly, as it does not absorb dust or mites it is well suited for asthma and allergy sufferers. In terms of being eco-friendly, it is a renewable resource that has strict regulations in terms of maintaining sustainability of the cork oak’s that it comes from. Only the bark is stripped from the tree and the oak continues to live on. Not just this, it is also completely recyclable meaning there is also very little wastage as often the cork can be ground into a useful solid slab.
How Is Cork Flooring Made?
The cork harvesting process is one that have been distilled into six steps:
1. Opening the bar, this involves making an incision that reaches into the bark of the tree up to the point at which the cork can easily be cleaved off.
2. The outer cork bark layer is then stripped from the tree exposing the virgin cork.
3. The inner cork is then divided into sections by cutting into the cork.
4. The cork is then extracted from the tree whilst leaving the rest of the tree healthy and alive.
5. Removal of the extracted cork from the site of the tree.
6. Marking the tree with the year it was stripped so that the forestry is managed in a sustainable way.
How to Install
Laying cork flooring can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, so always check the guidelines before laying. Generally speaking the steps are as follows;
- Glue down the cork flooring
- Allow the floor to dry over a period of days specified in your flooring manual
- Seal the cork flooring
- Allow the sealant to dry and repeat the number of times specified in your instructions to truly protect your flooring
Cleaning Guide For Squeaky Clean Cork
Cork is a low-maintenance floor covering. To keep the cork floor clean, it is sufficient to wipe and vacuum occasionally. In addition, cork as a natural product with its antistatic property ensures more cleanliness in the household, because it does not attract the dust so much.
When buying cork flooring, you should make sure that no solvent-based paints were used for the seal. There have long been numerous natural resins and water-based sealing paints that, unlike most chemical agents, do not cause unpleasant odours after the cork floor is treated. Cork and cork floors can be treated and refined naturally with natural oils or waxes.
In order to give the grain and the warm colour of the natural material new shine, a solid cork floor can occasionally be sanded off and sealed with a seal. Care should be taken however with printed cork floors, since they can lose their appearance with the abrasion.
What brands of Cork Flooring Should I Choose?
As an emerging trend, high quality cork brands are still sparse. The ones we recommend are Cortex, have a range of wood look flooring as well as traditional cork. From water resistant models suitable for the bathroom to vinyl core options designed for extra durability there are certainly a multitude of options.
Another big player in the cork flooring field is Granorte. Originally a family business that developed from reducing the waste of the wine cork factory. This authentic Portuguese company use cork straight from the source as the trees are native to their home country. Quality is not an issue as they follow strict guidelines to ensure the high standard in their produce.