Cork flooring is growing fast in popularity, although it remains one of the least well-known flooring types. At Floor Coverings International Greater Pittsburgh we have a great selection of cork flooring. Here is everything you need to know about this excellent flooring option.
Where Cork Comes From
The use of cork dates back to at least ancient Egypt and it was also widely used in various ways by the ancient Romans and Greeks. It has been used as flooring for over a century. Cork is harvested from the Cork Oak tree, which is an evergreen tree endemic to the Mediterranean. It is primarily cultivated in Portugal and Spain, as well as Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Italy, and France.
Environmentally Friendly Harvesting and Manufacturing
Cork is considered an environmentally friendly material because it is harvested without killing the tree. Rather, every nine years the outer layer of bark is removed from mature trees, leaving them to regenerate. This process can be repeated for the life of the tree, which can be up to around 300 years long. After the bark is harvested and dried cork stoppers are punched out. It is then boiled and ground up before being reconstituted into sheets by being compressed with resins. This process enables the reutilization of any waste materials created, which is another reason cork production is eco-friendly.
Cork flooring is quite versatile. It can either be glued down to a cement board or plywood subflooring, or it can be installed as a “floating” floor using tiles or planks that have a tongue and groove pattern that snap together. Installing cork as a floating option is convenient because it can be laid on top of existing surfaces such as wood, tile, and vinyl.
The Benefits of Cork Flooring
Aside from being a “green” flooring option, cork has many other positive features that make it a great flooring choice for almost any room in your home. Cork is a non-rigid material that provides excellent cushioning underfoot. This makes it a comfortable surface to stand on for long periods of time, which is useful in rooms like the kitchen. It is also a fantastic insulator of both heat and sound, so it will help keep your home warmer and quieter, which will be quite welcome during a cold Pittsburgh winter. Cork is also naturally fire-resistant, insect resistant, anti-allergen, and non-slip – everything you could want in a floor.
The Drawbacks of Cork Flooring
Although cork provides many upsides, as with any flooring material there are a few downsides as well. Cork is fairly moisture resistant, but it will expand in high humidity conditions, so it is recommended that humidity levels in your home be kept between 30 and 60 percent. It is also possible for cork to fade somewhat in direct sunlight, although this issue can be mitigated with proper care and maintenance. Lastly, although it is quite durable (with installed examples lasting over 100 years), cork can be scratched and dented. For this reason it is advisable to use furniture pads or coasters underneath your furniture, and to avoid heavy traffic from high heals and pets with long nails. Taking just a few steps to address these concerns will keep your cork floor looking fantastic for the life of your home.
At Floor Coverings International Greater Pittsburgh we want you to choose a flooring material that best meets your needs. In many cases, cork is a strong candidate to do so. Contact us today to arrange a free in-home design consultation with our flooring experts, and discuss the reasons why cork might be just the flooring for you!