Frequently Asked Questions About Cork Flooring
Cork flooring has been a popular choice for commercial buildings for more than 100 years. Famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright used cork floors in some of the public buildings he designed in the early 20th century.
Cork is also a great choice for home flooring. But most homeowners know very little about it. Here, we’ll answer some of the most common questions.
1. What is cork flooring?
Cork is harvested from the bark of the cork oak tree, which grows in the Mediterranean. A great portion of the world’s supply comes from Portugal. Cork is considered a type of wood flooring, although the physical characteristics of the material are quite different and the grain pattern is bolder and more distinct.
2. How much does it cost?
The price of cork flooring is affected by factors such as finish, density, color and pattern. Cork flooring usually costs about $6 to $8 per square foot, not including installation, but it can be found for as little as $3 or as much as $20. Installation usually runs another $3 to $4 per square foot.
3. Is cork flooring durable?
Yes. Cork flooring is highly resistant to pressure and impact. Air pockets trapped inside the cork give it the ability to bounce back from heavy foot traffic and the weight of furniture. Good quality cork will return to its original shape. However, cork flooring is not indestructible. It can be torn or damaged by dropping or dragging very heavy objects.
4. Is it eco-friendly?
Yes. Cork flooring is very sustainable, in part because cork harvesting is strictly regulated. Cork oak trees must be at least 25 years old and in good health before any harvesting is done. When properly harvested, the trees are unharmed by the process and simply regrow the bark that was lost.
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5. Are there other benefits?
Cork floors are comfortable and soft, thanks to the same air pockets that make the material resilient. The air pockets give cork natural shock absorption, making the floors easy on the feet, legs and back. Cork floors are quiet, and they are highly resistant to mold, rot and insect infestation. They make a great insulator, too.
6. How is cork flooring installed?
Cork flooring is usually sold in panels, and less often in tiles. There are two methods of installation: floating and glue-down. Floating is the preferred method of installation. It is more expensive but allows for easier replacement of damaged panels.
7. Can I install cork flooring in my basement?
No. As with any natural wood flooring, cork should not be installed in areas prone to dampness or moisture. Most experts recommend sticking to the main floor or above.