Nov 23, 2011

Green and gorgeous - cork floors.

With eco-sensitivity as a hot button for remodelers and designers, the desire to select a great floor surface that is both sustainable and luxurious is growing. Less often used are cork floors whose variety and function are phenomenal.  This designer believes that long-term cork flooring is not a trend and here's why:

There are a number of US and Canadian companies that have developed cork flooring options for every style and nearly every application - living areas, bath areas, recreational areas, etc..  The diversity of colors, sizes and patterns is amazing. Adding decorative inserts provides an end result that is elegant and sophisticated. 

Why use cork? It's environmentally sound. It's a completely renewable resource harvested by trimming the bark from a cork oak tree, leaving the tree and the forest undamaged. Cork flooring is composed of 100% post-industrial recycled content from wine stopper production.  With no VOC color processing, there are many options available so that designs that were commonly done in wood or tile can now be done with cork. With the variety of tile sizes and shape offerings, the applications are nearly endless.

Did you know that for decades, cork flooring has been used in public buildings? A huge benefit to cork flooring is that the membranes are flexible allowing cork to be both compressible and elastic. What does that mean? It returns to its original shape so that - although its possible to make a dent in cork with a heavy object  - the cork will recover to its original shape. Cork flooring has a very long life and can be repaired if damaged. Its durability in moist conditions makes it a fabulous option for kitchens, laundry rooms, exercise rooms and yes, baths. The natural sponginess of cork comes from the air contained in cork cells, providing a cushioned feel underfoot. Whether standing on your feet at work all day, working in your kitchen, or having children playing on the floor, you'll appreciate the soft quality of cork floors.
Cork is an approved underlay for flooring in commercial buildings; it reduces the transmission of sound, vibration, heat and thus is a  great insulator. With its honeycomb structure, cork is a natural  thermal insulator. It maintains a comfortable median temperature.
Great news...bugs, mold, mites and even termites are repelled by cork due to a waxy substance in cork called Suberin. This same substance also prevents cork from rotting even when completely submerged under water for long periods of time.  It's fire retardant, hypo-allergenic, and if burned, does not release toxic gases.
So, with fabulous options for design and color, and outstanding durability, safety and function...cork flooring is a terrific flooring surface that is here to stay!