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Published on October 30th, 2007 | by Stephanie Evans

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Cork Flooring: Qualities, Care, and Cautions

Cork is a sustainable, versatile material that has been covering floors for hundreds of years.  Unlike other woods, cork floor is usually produced in easy-to-work-with 12 inch squares, which makes it an ideal do-it-yourself project for green home remodeling.  Let’s review some of the qualities, care, and cautions to keep in mind if you’re considering cork flooring.

Qualities

  • Cork is sound-absorbent and creates a soft, warm undersurface for foot traffic.
  • It is relatively hypo-allergenic and is thus great for use in kids’ bedrooms or playrooms, bathrooms, or even pet rooms.
  • Cork should not be considered a permanent flooring fixture.  It is resilient, meaning it tends bounce back after something dents it, but cork is also easily scratched and doesn’t last as long as many other flooring options.  Usually 10 years is the max, and depending on the foot traffic of a given area, this estimate can be even shorter.


Care

  • Cork flooring will need to be sealed and resealed again to keep it in good shape and prevent moisture damage.  Water-based polyurethane finish protects cork floors without introducing VOCs into your home, and the coat should last several years.  100% natural wax is also an effective coating—it requires more maintenance than polyurethane, but it is much easier to re-finish with wax. 
  • Cork can be easily cleaned with a soft mop or cloth and diluted natural detergents.  Any abrasive materials or cleaners will scratch and damage the floor.


Cautions

  • Cork tiles tend to fade and yellow more easily than acrylic tiles, so check the warranty for information about sun damage.  Keep your floors away from excess sun and slightly shift your furniture and rugs from time to time to prevent the harsh lines that appear and set-in after prolonged overexposure.
  • As with any wood floor, cork will respond to changes in temperature and humidity, so keep rooms at a moderate and relatively level temperature.
  • For even wear and equal weight distribution, apply padding and protectors under furniture items to protect cork floor from continual pressure at specific points.

One flooring option that contains cork without hauling along some of its biggest drawbacks is recycled rubber/cork flooring.  This eco-friendly composite material is an extremely durable, sound absorbent, water-resistant, and recyclable flooring option that contains cork granules and recycled rubber.

The combination of 100% recycled and post-production cork and rubber yields a floor that is easy to maintain and works well in areas where humidity and moisture are present.  The tiles come in a wide variety of colors and they can be recycled again once they’ve lived out their usefulness for your home.





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