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Cork Flooring Information - Tiles, Floating, Finishes

Cork flooring offers some great advantages to traditional wood flooring. Likely to be near the top of the list today is the eco-friendliness of cork itself. It's not a tree that gets cut down and takes 50 or 60 years to replenish.

Cork is a bark harvested from the Mediterranean Cork Oak tree. It does no harm to the tree as it grows back and is re-harvested every nine years. According to the Cork Quality Council, removal of bark is actually positive for the tree itself by improving its health and hardiness.

 


Benefits of Cork Floors

Cork provides superior insulation and acoustical values and is often used for sound deadening in floors and walls. Apartment and high rise residential construction has been using cork for years, proving its valuable properties.

This product is also extremely resilient. Close to 90% of the cork product is not a solid matter, but a safe gas. When cork is compressed, stepped on for example, the cork itself does not compress, it is the gas inside. Releasing the pressure returns to its original form.

Cork cells contain a substance called suberin.


According to dictionary.com:

"suberin acts together with waxes to protect plant surfaces from water loss and microbial attack, and also helps to close tears and breaks."

In effect, it offers natural impermeability becoming an ideal seal from moisture.

Another benefit of cork includes the inability to absorb dust so it will not cause allergies, like carpet. Furthermore, research finds cork to be fire-retardant, as it does not introduce toxic gasses when set ablaze and is not combustible.

 


Cork Flooring is Ecologically Sound

Cork flooring is a plus for those that may be concerned with indoor air quality opposed to carpet. Both prefinished and unfinished cork is available for flooring uses.

Finish applications include wax, varnish, oil-modified urethanes, or can be coated with friendlier water-based finishes.

 


Cork Floor Products Today

Today, user friendly do-it-yourself products include click-together floating cork panels generally measuring in dimensions of 12" wide and 36 inches long. These floors offer a simple installation because of their resiliency. In other words, they are more forgiving and install much easier.

Aside from click-together cork that is prefinished and ready to go once installed, unfinished cork tiles can be installed, sanded and finished much like hardwood flooring.

Other new ideas include mosaic tiles that come from cork bottle tops. The circular pieces are connected to a mesh backing and set in a trowled mastic, grouted, and finished with a water-proof sealer. These types of cork floors can even be used in shower stalls!

Numerous prefinished colors are available and some manufacturers can custom color to any desire on minimum sized orders at much higher prices. Prefinished colors run the gamut ranging from pure white to jet black.

Custom coloring on site with unfinished cork can be achieved with the right professional. These floors are not a DIY job considering their properties. Extreme care and knowledge of how cork functions should be addressed.

There are several types of cork tile thicknesses used for both home and commercial applications. Thicknesses are more common at 1/4 and 1/2 inch with the latter preferred for commercial settings.

Older, more established cork floors used in recent years are much thicker than common prefinished products sold today. Most prefinished cork floors after installation present a square edged appearance, but several manufacturers also offer beveled-edge cork flooring.