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An honest assessment of Cork flooring: 11 helpful points

Advantages and Disadvantages of Cork Flooring

Cork has been a great flooring option for many years but with an increased need to look for sustainable options it has seen a recent surge in popularity. In this post we are going to try and answer as many questions as possible to help you decide if it is the right floor for you.


What is cork?

Cork flooring is made from the bark of a particular type of oak tree that most commonly grows in the warmer Mediterranean climate with the vast majority coming from Spain and Portugal. The tree is remarkable in that it is the only tree that can re-grow its bark after it has been harvested, making it a truly renewable material. Even more incredible is that once the bark has been harvested, the tree consumes and stores up to five times more carbon than usual to stimulate the regeneration of the bark meaning it is actually environmentally beneficial to harvest it. Few, if any other materials can claim to be as eco-friendly as cork making it a popular choice for us here at Flooring by Nature!


What does cork flooring feel like?

The cellular membranes in bark are very flexible, meaning the material possesses great elasticity and flexibility. The construction of the bark is filled with millions of tiny cells that are primarily filled with air allowing the material to easily compress and then regain its original shape. In flooring terms this means your floor will feel much softer underfoot than a traditional hardwood floor. For this reason, it is a popular choice for areas where you may stand for a prolonged period such as kitchens and bathrooms etc. The same properties will also help the floor recover from impact if items are dropped on it etc although this cannot be guaranteed.

Beautiful Cork Flooring

Is cork a good insulator?

Yes. The millions of tiny air pockets within the bark make it an excellent thermal insulator. It possesses better insulation properties than hard wood or vinyl and can even rival some carpets.


How long does cork flooring last? 

How long your floor lasts will of course depend on how much foot traffic it is subjected to but provided it is properly cared for, your floor can last for decades and would usually be expected to outlast a hardwood floor. Cork is naturally resilient to mould and mildew as well as termites. This combined with excellent moisture tolerances all helps to prolong the life of a your floor.


Is cork high maintenance? How do I maintain my cork flooring?

Cork floors require very little maintenance to keep them looking their best. Simple practices of regular vacuuming and wiping with a slightly damp mop (avoid over saturation) will help prevent the build up of dirt or grit that may eventually become abrasive and damage the finish. Avoid strong floor cleaners with high levels of ammonia or chemicals as these can damage the floor. Periodically the floor will need to be re-sealed/polished to give the best levels of protection and ensure the maximum life span of the floor. In standard residential environments, sealing the floor every year or two would normally be sufficient but you should make your own judgement on how frequently to do this as everyone will use their floors/homes differently.

Ambient Naturtrend Marmor Cream An honest assessment of Cork flooring: 11 helpful points

Is cork flooring easy to fit?

Our cork flooring is a really great simple option to fit. Our floors are designed to be fitted as floating floors with only a basic plastic (PE) sheet required as underlay to provide a vapour barrier. The flooring panels feature the industry leading Uniclic fixing system for the best binding without the need for adhesive. Fitting is a very similar process to that of fitting laminate with similar tools and skills involved. Please remember that as the boards will contract/expand in response to temperature changes an expansion gap will be required around the full perimeter of your floor. This also means that unusually heavy furniture or fixed units like those found in kitchens should not be fitted on top of your floor as these will restrict the movement of the floor. If fitting in a kitchen, the units must be fitted first and then plinths/end panels can be used to cover the required expansion gap.


Is cork flooring waterproof?

Cork is naturally resistant to moisture (think stoppers in wine bottles!) and can easily withstand spills etc. Standing water may not damage the floor quickly but should be removed as quickly as possible to avoid marking the floor. Floating floors are not usually recommended for bathroom fitting but our Inspire Cork Flooring options are suitable for bathrooms.


Is cork flooring good for people with allergies?

Yes! The bark is naturally hypoallergenic as it repels dirt and dust mites etc. This makes it a great choice for people who suffer from allergies or asthma as well as making the floor easier to keep clean.


Is cork good for soundproofing?

The same properties that make cork a great thermal insulator, also give it good acoustic insulation properties so could be a useful option in rooms with naturally poor acoustics.



Disadvantages of cork flooring:


Does cork flooring scratch or mark easily?

Yes and no. Because of its soft texture, cork is better than some other floor types at absorbing impact but less good at dealing with abrasive contact. Excessive dirt or grit build up can result in scratches as people walk it over the floor. Similarly, pets with longer claws may leave scratches on the flooring. Ideally, your floor should be vacuumed and pets claws trimmed regularly to minimise the possibility of any damage occurring. Luckily, scratches can be sanded out and re-sealed if required.


Does cork flooring fade in the sun?

Yes, in strong direct sunlight the floor will fade and lose colour so caution is advised if you are considering laying this type of flooring in a conservatory or rooms with large amounts of windows.

If you have a question that hasn’t been answered here, please get in touch and we will do our best to find the answer for you!

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