Cork flooring has gained an enormous amount of popularity over recent years. Why? Well, there are many reasons why cork has become the material of choice for many homeowners when choosing flooring. Perhaps the most important reason, however, is that cork is a natural material, one that doesn’t have a negative impact on the sustainability of our planet and its resources like hardwood flooring does. But cork flooring isn’t simply the choice of environmentally conscious people. Many people are simply impressed by the gorgeous looks of a quality cork floor. And then, there are many other benefits associated with cork too. We’ll explain all the advantages of cork flooring in this article, as well as answer all the important questions that you might have about it.
What is Cork Flooring?
Cork is a versatile, natural material that’s harvested from the cork oak tree (or Quercus suber, to give it its proper botanical name). Cork is used for a wide range of products, such as for pinboards or as a stopper to be placed in a wine bottle to keep the wine in its optimal state. As we know it, the material is the bark of a cork tree, which is then ground into small particles before being compressed, and then it undergoes a forming process to put it into the desired shape.
If cork material is to be used for flooring, it will likely come in the form of a sheet or tiles. Cork floors come in a wide range of colors and styles. They tend to be available for a lower price than hardwood flooring and are much easier on the eye than vinyl flooring. There are many benefits to cork flooring, which we’ll cover later. Before we do, let’s have a look at the installation process of cork flooring.
How is Cork Flooring Installed?
Cork floors are most commonly installed in two different manners. The type of installation that’s available will depend on the style, thickness, and type of cork, while it will also depend on your home, as certain installations are easier in apartment buildings than others, for example. The first way in which cork flooring is installed is quite simple. The cork will come in the form of tiles. And just like vinyl tiles, the cork will be glued to the floor in your home.
However, before the installation, the floor in the home will need to be checked so that it is level. It’s also imperative that the sub-floor, whether it is made from plywood or cement board, is clean. And it can be detrimental to the cork if there is moisture in the sub-floor, so that needs to be checked, too. Once this is done, the cork can be applied to the sub-floor. However, before it does, the cork needs to be left inside the room for a little while. This is so that it can adapt to the conditions inside the room.
The second way in which flooring made from cork is installed in a home is in a manner referred to as a floating floor. As the name suggests, floating floors are above the ground floor. Installing a floating cork floor is the best option for many homes that are rented because they can be easily uninstalled without any damage to the sub-floor. To install floating floors, neoprene pads are placed upon the ground, and then the floating cork floor is installed above through a simple procedure that involves tongue-and-groove connectors.
How Much Does Cork Flooring Cost?
When it comes to installing cork floors, then there are two costs that one has to consider. First, is the cost of the material, such as the cork planks or cork tiles. The cork planks and tiles will vary depending on the quality of the planks and tiles. The lowest price that you can expect to pay is $4 for a square foot of cork flooring, which is the same whether you’re purchasing planks or tiles. But this is the lowest quality cork flooring that’s available. If you want the best quality, then you’re going to have to look at the high end of the scale, and that can be as much as $12 per square foot of cork flooring.
Again, this price will be the same if you’re purchasing cork tiles or cork planks. Even if you’re buying the very best cork, it will still work out a lot cheaper than hardwood floors, but more expensive than vinyl tiles. To work out your exact cost, you’re best measuring the area you want to cover in cork, then do simple maths, and this will tell you how much you’re going to have to pay for the material. Of course, you will also need to factor in labor costs, which will require getting quotes from installation companies.
Then again, the installation process is quite easy, especially if using cork tiles or cork planks that can be simply glued to the ground. So, some people tend to take on the job themselves, which means the cost of the material, such as the cork tiles and planks, is all that you need to pay for.
How Difficult is Cork Flooring to Maintain and Repair?
One of the biggest drawbacks of cork flooring is that it can be damaged more easily than other materials, such as hardwood. Of course, hardwood is almost indestructible, but that’s why hardwood costs so much, and hardwood also isn’t as sustainable as cork.
If you have cork flooring inside your home, then you need to remember that it can be scratched or dented. It’s certainly not a good choice for people who wear stiletto heels as they can cause significant damage to the cork, which is difficult to repair. One way of enhancing the durability of cork flooring is to coat it with polyurethane. This needs to be done at least once a year.
Cork also is susceptible to discoloration from sunlight. This cannot be reversed, so it’s not the best type of flooring for a home where direct sunlight will come into contact with the flooring regularly and for prolonged periods.
High humidity is another problem for natural cork flooring. Cork will alter in its shape, depending on the level of moisture in the air. Once again, this means that cork flooring might not be the best option if you live somewhere that has a lot of high humidity. A dehumidifier can help, though.
However, it is possible to sand down cork floors, just as you would with hardwood flooring. You can then coat the flooring in products such as polyurethane so that you can make the flooring look similar to its former state.
Is Cork Flooring Waterproof?
Cork flooring will require a sealant to ensure that water cannot damage the flooring. There are many products that can be bought for cork flooring to give it a waterproof seal. As long as the natural cork is covered in a sealant, then the flooring should be waterproof. It’s important to note that these products tend to vary in quality, and with something as important as flooring, you should only invest your money into effective products. Don’t try to cut costs when it comes to waterproofing products, as this could have a detrimental impact on the cork floor. Cork is a material that’s best treated with care if you want it to perform properly.
Key Benefits to Cork Flooring in the Home
Cork flooring has many advantages. Some of the most popular reasons why homeowners purchase cork flooring include the following:
- Cork flooring is a green alternative to other forms of flooring. You can purchase cork flooring in the knowledge that it is sustainable and kinder to the environment than other materials, even including vinyl. As you’ll know, vinyl isn’t a biodegradable material like cork.
- A cork floor is a cost-effective form of flooring. Not only is the material, such as the planks, much cheaper than other forms of flooring. But it can easily be installed by a homeowner without needing to pay for an expert laborer to do the job. A tile can be simply glued to the sub-flooring, or planks can be installed via a floating flooring process. Floating flooring is also a great idea, as it can be easily removed. You simply need to take out the floating flooring, or the planks that’s used for it, and then your former flooring is restored to how it was.
- Cork is a very absorbent material when it comes to sound. In fact, one of the main reasons people purchase cork flooring is that it soaks up noise, meaning that you won’t hear a sound when people or animals are walking on it.
- Cork isn’t just absorbent when it comes to noise. It also absorbs heat. And this can have a very positive economic outcome for homeowners as it will help cut down on heating bills throughout the year. It also retains heat very well, so that your house will always feel warm.
Cork flooring is a fantastic option that offers lots of benefits for many homeowners. Cork is a sustainable material that’s kind to the environment as it is naturally harvested without the tree needing to be cut down. Cork flooring is also affordable, and it is very easy to install too. Many homeowners install cork flooring themselves without needing to pay for laborers to do it for them, which once again helps to keep costs down if you have the time and patience to do so. Other great benefits of cork flooring include its excellent looks, cushioning qualities, and absorbent properties, which means that it helps create a quieter and more economical house.
Cork flooring does have some downsides, though, as cork is by no means indestructible. Cork flooring is particularly susceptible to damage from humidity, water, and sunlight. As long as you treat cork flooring properly, however, then it should offer you many years of good use. Overall, it can be easily stated that the advantages far outweigh the few drawbacks when it comes to cork flooring, making it a sensible, environmentally-conscious, and cost-effective choice for many homeowners looking to change things up.