It's time to replace your flooring, and you're reviewing all of your options. Tile is durable yet can be cold-looking; wood is warm but you want something a little more unique. Have you considered cork flooring? This sustainable flooring option is growing in popularity. We examine the pros and cons.
Cork floors are made from the same material that is used for the wine stoppers: bark from a cork oak tree. It is a renewable material, as harvesting does not involve cutting the tree down. It simply regenerates the bark overtime, and it can be harvested again within nine to fifteen years. Cork is available in both sheet and tile format, and comes in a variety of patterns and stains beyond the typical look. This type of flooring is most commonly used in kitchens, but can also be used for other types of spaces.
Pros of Cork Flooring
It is an attractive, comfortable and durable flooring option:
Cushion: Since its structure is filled with air cells, cork feels soft underfoot. This is especially a plus in kitchens or other spaces in which you stand or walk around a lot.
Acoustics: Also, thanks to all those air pockets, cork floors are great at absorbing sound. They soften loud noises within the room and reduce echoing, and also mute footsteps in spaces below. Unlike with hard flooring, you don't have to rely on rugs.
Hypo-allergenic: Cork is a natural material, so it doesn't irritate your respiratory system like many synthetic flooring materials. Just be sure to use an adhesive that does not contain VOCs.
Durability: Cork repels insects and mold; it resists rotting, and also fire.
Aesthetics: It looks warm and attractive. A range of styles allows you to choose from more traditional looks to ultra-modern patterns.
Cons of Cork Flooring
It eventually succumbs to wear and tear and isn't cheap:
Tearing: Try sliding a heavy piece of furniture along a cork floor and it's possible you'll tear it. Even the weight of these heavy objects sitting in place can cause punctures or divots. Use coasters to prevent this.
Staining: Cork absorbs moisture well, which means cork can stain. These floors should be sealed with polyurethane, but a water leak or big spill can still be devastating.
Discoloration: Sunlight can cause cork floors to discover over time. Prevent this by drawing the blinds to protect them from direct sunlight.
Cost: Cork isn't prohibitively expensive, but it isn't a budget flooring option either.
Aesthetics: Both a pro and a con. If you aren't into the 'cork' look, then consider wood floors or bamboo instead.