Advantages of Cork Flooring
Consider natural flooring that's resilient and easy to install
By Shelly McRae
The trend toward sustainable materials in construction during the early part of the 21st century has caused an upsurge in the popularity of cork flooring. Sustainability isn't cork's only advantage, though. Cork is tree bark harvested from the cork oak, which is indigenous to the Mediterranean region. Cork flooring came into use in the early 20th century and was used by the architect Frank Lloyd Wright in several of his buildings.
Bark from the cork oak can be harvested every nine years. Harvesting does not harm the tree, and the bark grows back. This makes it a sustainable material; the trees needn't be destroyed, and old growth is protected. That the bark grows back makes cork a renewable resource, one that can continue to be harvested without fear of exhausting the supply.
Cork as a material contains air, meaning that it is porous. Once manufactured into flooring tiles, the result is a lightweight, resilient material. Natural coloring for cork flooring ranges from a neutral tan to a dark, earthy brown. Cork can be dyed, though, to produce colored tiles for a designer appeal.
Cork is resistant to mold, making it an attractive choice for those who suffer from allergies, asthma or other bronchial conditions. Cork doesn't absorb water, making it resistant to rot. It can be further protected by sealants, making cork a long-lived material. An added feature to cork's durability is that it is biodegradable. When a cork floor has reached the end of its life, the cork will break down and be absorbed into the ground as a natural resource.
Cork tile is a renewable resource that can contribute to the "greening" of your home. It's naturally hypoallergenic and resistant to damage from termites and other pests. Cork flooring also feels good underfoot. It has a natural buoyancy to it that lessens pressure on your back and feet. The same characteristic that gives cork its buoyancy makes it a good insulating material. It reduces cold air exchanges when installed on concrete subfloors and reduces noise when installed on upper floors.
Cork flooring is also easy to install. It comes in tiles and can be laid on almost any type of subfloor. As with any installation, the subfloor should be clean, dry and level. Unlike other flooring products, however, cork flooring will not emit volatile organic chemicals while it is being handled or after it is installed.
About the Author
Shelly McRae is a regular contributor to DexKnows. She has experience with hydroponic gardening and other areas of the home improvement industry.
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