Cork flooring: one of nature’s best building materials

Cork flooring is enjoying a resurgence in popularity. Although many people think cork is a relatively new and possibly unreliable flooring option, you can find examples of cork floors that were installed in buildings over 100 years ago.

Cork is an environmentally sound product and a rapidly renewable resource.

Many types of trees derive their value from the lumber in the trunk. Cork, however, comes from the bark of the cork oak, which grows primarily in Portugal. Cork is only harvested by hand to prevent harming the tree. Portuguese conservation legislation dates back to 1209, which is only a few decades after the country was formed.

No trees are cut down to harvest the bark, and cork trees produce new cork for re-harvest every nine years. A single cork tree can be harvested more than 20 times during its 250- to 300-year lifespan.

Cork has many attractive qualities. In your home, cork floors create a warm, comfortable, resilient surface that is gentle underfoot and quiet to walk on. Unlike harder surfaces, cork flooring reduces stress on the lower back, feet and joints.

Cork is a healthy floor choice due to its natural ability to repel dust, germs and mold.

Cork flooring is durable and requires no more maintenance than a prefinished hardwood floor. It’s maintained without any harsh chemicals or cleaners, making it the practical choice for any room, especially bathrooms, kitchens and kids’ rooms.

Most cork flooring products now utilize the floating method for installation. This method allows the product to “click” together and float over your sub-floor, which eliminates the need for adhesives.

It’s important, however, to have a flat and dry sub floor. That’s why we recommend that consumers hire a professional installer to ensure the best installation.

Cork flooring design options have exploded in recent years. Products are available in tile to hardwood plank shapes. Colors range from the traditional cork look to vibrant and bold colors. The wide range of colors and styles allow cork to be utilized in all types of decorating styles, from traditional to contemporary.

So check out the new looks of cork, one of nature’s best building materials.

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Janice Howell is vice president of MODA Floors & Interiors, a flooring and window coverings resource in Atlanta’s West Midtown Design District.